Have some hardwood flooring questions you need answered?
How do I Care for My Hardwoods?
Preventive maintenance is imperative. Here are some tips for keeping your floors beautiful:
- Use dirt-trapping entry mats at all exterior doors to help prevent dirt, grit, and sand from getting onto the floor. Throw rugs or small sections of carpet just inside the entrances are also helpful.
- Use furniture glides on all furniture that will be sliding across the floor (chairs, bar stools, etc). Thick, peel and stick, fabric glides work best. Check and clean the glides regularly since grit can become embedded in them. Avoid any type of plastic glides or casters.
- Dust mop, sweep, or vacuum as needed.
- Damp mop as needed with Dura-Seal® or BONA® wood floor cleaners.
- Wipe up spills as soon as possible.
- Keep high heels in good repair. Heels that have worn down or lost their protective cap, exposing the steel support rod in the heel will dent any floor surface, even concrete.
- Have the floor cleaned, buffed, and re-coated when the flooring is dull. Normally, a kitchen will need re-coating every 2-3 years.
- Do not use wax, abrasive chemicals, or oil-based cleaners because they leave a residue.
- Do not use paste wax, oil soaps, vinegar, ammonia, silicone or solvent based polishes.
My floor has gaps, is this normal?
Because wood is a natural product, it will react to changes in its environment. Shrinkage and swelling of wood flooring is to be expected in any wood floor. The most common cause of separations and shrinkage is loss of moisture. Most gaps are seasonal – they appear in dry months, or the cold season when heating is required, and then close during damp, warmer periods. This type of separation and closure is normal. You must live with normal gapping or add humidity to the air in drier months.
How are Prefinished and Unfinished floors different from each other?
- Prefinished wood flooring is stained and finished at the manufacturer.
- There are advantages to prefinished wood flooring; quick completion with no sanding or staining, no dust, and very little odor because the stain has already been applied elsewhere.
- There are disadvantages to prefinished wood flooring as well; The boards have beveled edges which catch dirt and dust, there are limited color choices, and finishes do not hold up as well as site-finished installation of unfinished hardwood floors.
- Unfinished wood floors are the most popular floor installed today.
- There are many advantages to installing unfinished wood flooring. One of the advantages of is that they can be sanded 8-10 times in their lifetime. There are many choices of stain color and any time the floor is refinished, the stain color can change if so desired. The floor boards have no bevels and are sanded smooth to help keep dust and debris from gathering. They are easy to repair, add on to, and can be designed with decorative details such as borders and inlays.
- The few disadvantages with unfinished wood floors mainly occur during the installation period. It takes a minimum of 2 days to complete the installation and the sanding may produce dust if not utilizing a dust containment system.
Once installed, will the wood flooring ever need to be replaced?
Not usually in our lifetime. There are hardwood floors in existence that are more than three centuries old and still holding strong. Simple care and maintenance (dusting, sweeping, mopping) keeps floors looking beautiful for many years. If the original flooring becomes worn, the wood floors can be rejuvenated with sanding and refinishing. Typically this only needs to be done once every 10 to 15 years. And if the flooring is ever removed, it is completely biodegradable.
Is there such a thing as recycled wood flooring?
Yes. Wood is recovered from many sources; old barns, factories, riverbeds or old logging operations. Heartwood pine is now primarily sourced from reclaimed timbers that come from warehouses and factories built during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Recovered, or recycled, wood creates a truly unique flooring option.
Hardwood floors vs. carpet?
While carpeting may be more economical in the beginning, wood floors are a smarter choice in the long run. Carpeting may only last 7 years under normal use as where hardwood floors can last a lifetime (or two). In a 30-year comparison test, you would have to install new carpeting four or five times as opposed to installing wood flooring once. The cumulative cost of the carpeting will actually be higher than if you install hardwood floors.
Cleanliness is another factor. According to a major carpet recycling company, 35 percent of the weight of recycled carpet comes from the household dust and dirt it holds. Wood flooring does not hold this type of debris, making it a cleaner, smarter choice all around. In essence, hardwood floors are the better buy and most solid investment.
How does selecting wood flooring when building or renovating compare to selecting less-costly materials?
Research shows that homes with wood floors sell faster and fetch higher prices. Real Estate agents say that a house with wood floors will sell 4 times faster than a house without wood floors.
Do wood floors go well with different home design styles?
Whether you have a modern, a traditional, or a transitional style home, wood flooring works well and signifies beauty, prestige, style, and durability. Natural wood floors rate as superior to man-made materials according to 96 percent of interior designers, and with so many choices of wood and finishes, they are sure to complement any style.
There are so many choices of wood, what should I consider when trying to choose for my home?
In addition to choosing a suitable color to complement your décor, you should consider texture, grain, and the cut of the wood. Qualified installers will know and understand the more technical qualities like dimensional stability, machinability, and ease in finishing. You will want to also consider availability and cost. You can find more detailed information about the different species of wood from the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA).
How does installing hardwood floors lead to a healthier indoor environment?
Other types of flooring harbor bacteria, dust, and dirt, trapping it in your home. Wood flooring does not. With simple cleaning (dusting, sweeping, or vacuuming) you keep your wood floors free from the debris that causes an unhealthy environment.
Is wood flooring hypoallergenic?
Allergy experts have proven that wood flooring does not harbor the irritating dust and microorganisms that cause allergy flare-ups. By installing wood flooring you are creating a healthier environment for everyone.
Is our natural environment protected during the harvesting and manufacturing of wood flooring?
Now, more than ever, hardwood is sustainable and commercially available. More wood is added in new growth (90 percent more) than is harvested on the millions of acres of forestland in the U.S.
Why do most gymnasiums use wood flooring?
Wood flooring provides greater resilience, improved shock absorption, and a long-lasting surface, just as it does in your home. This is why the majority of gymnasiums at every level of competition have a hardwood court surface. Athletes can testify to the durability of wood flooring; even after a hard-pounding game, the floors still look beautiful. The finishes on new wood floors can stand up to heavy foot-traffic, making them perfect for kitchens and bathrooms, as well as your other living areas.
What type of wood flooring can I install in my house?
For below grade installations or installations over concrete you must use an engineered or laminate product as the solid wood products would encounter too much moisture.
For above grade installations you have many choices. The listing below can help you choose the hardwood you would like to use based on its hardness rating.
The Janka hardness test measures the force required to embed a .444-inch steel ball to half its diameter in wood. It is one of the best measures of the ability of a wood species to withstand denting and wear. Northern red oak, for example, has a Janka hardness rating of 1290. Brazilian cherry, with a rating of 2350, is nearly twice as hard.
There are light boards and dark boards in the floor, why is that?
A hardwood tree grows and matures over 55-65 years, absorbing the elements that may change its color and appearance. Younger wood closer to the outside will be lighter than the wood from the center of the tree.
There seems to be some variation in what different brands call “select” and “better”. Why is this?
While “select” and “better” classification is governed by certain criteria, some manufacturers merely meet the standards while others exceed the standards.
My carpet was removed and we found plant and/or pet stains on the existing hardwood floors. Can they be sanded out or repaired?
Deep stains are rarely able to be sanded out completely. The solution would be to replace the damaged wood, however the new wood may not perfectly match the existing floor. The best and most effective solution when there are multiple areas that have been stained is to replace the entire floor.
What does it mean if the wood floors are cupping and buckling?
Moisture from plumbing leaks, damp basements or wet crawl spaces can cause a wood floor to buckle. Identifying and eliminating the cause of the excessive moisture will help to save your floors from further damage.
I’ve seen some floors that have gaps in between the boards, what makes that happen?
In humid summer months the hardwood floor may absorb the humidity and begin to expand. When winter arrives and the heat is turned on, the floor dries out and may produce gaps. To avoid this you can try keeping the room at a constant 40-50% humidity level. This will help reduce the chance of any compression and expansion.
In other instances it is possible that the flooring was not allowed to acclimate to its surroundings prior to installation. If you are using a qualified hardwood flooring installer, this should not happen as they are trained in the proper handling of the wood.
How do I prepare for the day my floors are going to be sanded?<
The preparation often depends on the size and complexity of the job. But there are few things you can do to prepare for your new flooring.
- Place your pets in the care of someone out of the house or find an area where they will be securely contained while the floors are being installed or refinished. Avoiding damage to the new flooring as well as the safety of your pet is what is important in this situation.
- If you take on the removal of the old carpet or tile yourself, be careful not to damage the wood. Hardwood floors that sustain damage from tools might be impossible to repair with sanding. If you will be removing older tile or linoleum, consult an expert or have a sample tested first. Many older tile and linoleum products contain asbestos and should be removed by a professional.
- All furniture will need to be removed from the room. A large plastic tarp should be put up to separate rooms that are not being sanded. This will help to keep as much of the dust out as possible.
- Do not turn off your heating or air conditioning system. The temperature in your home should stay consistent, either warm in the winter or cool in the summer.
How can I keep my hardwood floors clean?
Simple cleaning practices will help keep your floors looking brand new. Dusting, sweeping, and vacuuming regularly usually does the trick. There are floor cleaners made especially for hardwood floors that will protect your floor from additional wear. Preventative measures should also be utilized such as floor protectors on all furniture as well as lifting, not sliding, furniture when rearranging your space.
Can water be used to clean hardwood floors?
No. Mopping your floor with a wet mop can dull your finish, discolor the floor, and damage the wood. If water spills on the floor, wipe it up as quickly as possible. Only use products that are recommended for hardwood floors and you will save yourself from having to replace the flooring.
How do I prevent scratches on my hardwood floors?
Placing area rugs in heavy traffic areas like entryways, hallways, in front of your sink, stove or refrigerator helps to prevent scratches. Keeping up with regular cleaning (dusting, sweeping, or vacuuming) will help keep debris from collecting on the floor. Use floor protectors on the legs of furniture. And remember to lift furniture, as opposed to sliding it, when moving furniture in the space.