Monday, February 18, 2013

Hardwood Flooring Basics

Beyond Tradition: the Hardwood Flooring Advantage

Hardwood flooring is looked upon by many as the flooring option that lends a sense of permanence to an interior. Whether it's a residential interior, or an office installation, hardwood flooring adds an air of class, as well as structural strength. For these reasons, hardwood flooring remains to be a classic choice. It is a flooring option that has the advantage of tradition behind it; many cultures and civilizations have used hardwood flooring, and have done so for centuries. But, there are reasons beyond those of tradition that make hardwood flooring a practical and decorative choice.

One of the most attractive attributes of hardwood flooring is the range of options open to you in terms of finish, surface, stain, and species. All of these aspects play a very important role in determining the look of your flooring. With all of these choices, hardwood flooring is known to make for a unique effect in each interior. To this point, an advantage you will experience will most likely be all of the compliments you'll get because of your hardwood flooring for years to come.

Pre-finished and Unfinished Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring can be purchased in either prefinished or unfinished varieties and there are distinct advantages in both. For pre-finished hardwood flooring, the obvious advantage is that of convenience. No sanding is required for these types of hardwood floors, and therefore more time is saved on preparation as well a mess; sanding a hardwood floor involves both. Also, no time must be allowed for the finish on your hardwood flooring to dry, a period which can take a half a day to longer, depending on the kind of finish you use.

As far as unfinished hardwood flooring goes, the most compelling advantage is that of a more uniform seal. This is the reason why many professionals offer unfinished hardwood flooring to clients; it is easier to make sure that all of the minute gaps between the hardwood flooring boards are sealed when finish is applied on the whole surface of the flooring, and not on a board-by-board basis. This means extra protection against moisture, the hardwood floor's most dangerous enemy. In this sense, all of the preparation and mess is worth the effort.

Hardwood Flooring Surfaces and Stains

The diversity of hardwood flooring extends not only to finish, but also in the range of surfaces and choices in stain available to the customer. Some hardwood flooring is planned evenly at the mill, offering a smooth, refined surface that many consumers have come to admire in hardwood flooring. But another variety of hardwood flooring that is becoming popular with flooring professionals and homeowners is that of the handscraped hardwood flooring. In this case, the hardwood plank is actually worked by hand to create a contoured, seasoned surface that gives the hardwood flooring a more rustic, lived-in appearance.

The variations in hardwood flooring are further extended by the variety of stains available as well. Some stains serve to bring out the natural range of color in a chosen species. Others effectively change the color altogether, allowing a consumer to enjoy the benefits offered by one species, while enjoying the color of another. Hardwood flooring is probably one of the more flexible choices with regard to appearance and personal taste.

Hardwood Flooring: the Luxury of Choice

Overall, hardwood flooring is not just an option which relies upon tradition, although hardwood flooring has been relied upon for centuries because it is such a durable material. What hardwood flooring offers is the luxury of choice and an ease of integration into an interior design. Along with the advantages of appearance, hardwood is and continues to be a choice in flooring that can add structural strength to a residence or office.

Popular Species of Hardwood Flooring

  • Red and White Oak - These species are naturally pale in color, with hints of pink running through the Red Oak. Both are known for their utility across all kinds of applications. White Oak is known to be slightly harder than red oak, although red oak in turn is slightly easier to saw and nail.
  • American Cherry - Used for cabinet making as well as flooring, American Cherry is known to be an attractive species that is very easy to work with. It is not as hard as either red or white oak, but offers a greater tonal range of color that darkens over time to become even more rich in tone, due to photosensitivity.
  • Hard Maple - Harder still than oak, the uniform texture of maple as well as its naturally abrasion-resistant surface makes it an excellent choice for hardwood flooring. Early North American settlers relied upon maple for its hardy nature, and it continues to be popular today.
  • Brazilian Cherry AKA Jatoba - One of most notable features of this exotic species is its color - a rich, reddish brown that eventually ages into a lustrous burgundy. Another important as aspect of Jataba is how hard it is; it is harder than some species of mahogany. So for look as well as durability, Brazilian Cherry excels.
  • Wednesday, February 6, 2013

    Hardwood Floor Care Will Keep Your Hardwood Looking Fantastic

    Hardwood FloorHardwood is still the homeowner's favorite choice of flooring and caring for it takes minimal effort. Unlike laminate or engineered wood, hardwood can be refinished many times, and will add years of beauty and warmth to your home, as well as increase its value and speed its resale. Ongoing floor care is needed to keep your hardwood looking its best, however, and there are four major aspects of hardwood floor care:

    1. Hardwood floor cleaning

    2. Hardwood floor repair

    3. Hardwood floor refinishing

    4. Hardwood floor protection

    Clean Your Hardwood Regularly

    Knowing how to clean hardwood floors is important because the bane of hardwood is dirt and grit, which will scratch and mark the floor if not removed promptly. As well, dust is seen more easily on wood floors than it is on linoleum or on carpet, especially in the sunlight and especially if the floor has a dark stain. Hardwood floor care, therefore, means sweeping and dusting regularly - once a week, at least, and after any event that leaves dirt and grit behind. Regular household dusting and cleaning products will cause damage, however, and you must use only products specifically designed for hardwood. Vacuuming is preferable to sweeping because it allows the dirt and dust to be pulled from between the boards, but use a vacuum with a bare floor attachment, not a beater bar, which can damage the wood.

    When a more in-depth cleaning is required, use a cleaning method appropriate to the finish on your floor. If your floor has a glossy finish, it means that polyurethane, or a water-based urethane, or a similar finish has been used to form a protective barrier over the hardwood. If it has a matte finish, it means that the floor is protected with a penetrating seal of oil and/or wax. On neither of these finishes is water an acceptable cleaning agent, but both of them can accept a surface, damp-mop cleaning, which means the mop is not wet but only damp to the touch. You are cleaning only the surface and not using enough water to penetrate even the oiled-and-waxed hardwood. When using a damp mop on oil and waxed hardwood, you can add a little neutral ph hardwood floor cleaner to the water before dipping the mop into it. A floor with a protective glossy barrier can accept a generic hardwood floor cleaner providing it doesn't contain any wax or oil.

    The don'ts are every bit as important as the do's in hardwood floor care;

    1. Don't use ammonia, regular floor cleaners, household cleaners, or dusting products on hardwood.

    2. Never use wax on a floor with a urethane or other glossy finish.

    3. Never wash hardwood; use only a slightly damp mop.

    Repair Any Damage to Your Floors as Soon as Possible

    In most cases, when your oil and waxed hardwood floors have suffered surface damage, you have to remove the finish with a wax or oil stripper before dealing with the damage. After completing the repair, you then re-wax or re-oil the area. Surface damage occurs less often on hardwood protected by polyurethane or a similar type of sealer, and when it does, the damage is not as obvious. When repairing floors with such finishes, strip the finish from the entire board or boards where the damage has occurred. Make your repairs and then apply a finishing product to those boards that is consistent with the rest of the floor.

    1. Water marks: Remove the protective finish, rub the marks with fine grade steel wool. Repeat if necessary, clean, and then refinish.

    2. Burn marks: Lightly sand the area, use a damp cloth to pick up the grit, and then refinish as desired.

    3. Scratches and gouges: Conceal shallow scratches with matching wood putty or a putty stick. After the area is dry, sand and refinish.

    Refinishing Your Worn Hardwood Floors Will Recapture Their Original Beauty and Value

    In a home with shabby hardwood floors, the biggest improvement you can make is to refinish the floors. Begin by making any necessary repairs, and then removing all the furniture and drapes and sealing the vents and registers in the room so that you won't spread dust throughout the house. Sanding floors is easiest to do with a drum sander and an edging machine for the sides and corners of the room. You can rent these machines, and it is a good idea to rent a buffer or floor polisher at the same time. Plan to make three passes with your sanding equipment, using increasingly finer sandpaper each time. Vacuum carefully and pick up every bit of fine dust and grit with tacking cloths. All dust and dirt must be removed. You can now apply a stain if you wish or you can leave the natural color and design of the wood - such as the popular oak, maple, or cherry - to be displayed.

    Polish and clean the dust and dirt from the floor again, and then apply your sealer - a polyurethane or a water-based urethane that provides a protective barrier, or oil and wax, which penetrates the wood and protects from within. Carefully read all the information accompanying each product, follow the safety advice, and apply as many coats of stain or sealer as suggested by the manufacturer of the products you are using.

    Hardwood Floor Care Means Providing Ongoing Floor Protection

    As well as regular cleaning, and repairing and refinishing when necessary, there are a number of protective measures you can take to preserve the beauty of your hardwood:

    1. Use area rugs and mats in high traffic areas and sites of frequent spills (e.g., in front of the stove, sink, and refrigerator). Move these rugs frequently so that these areas of the floor remain the same color as the exposed floor. As well, it is best to choose cotton mats as they do not trap water under them as rubber or vinyl might.

    2. Keep high-heeled shoes in good repair and avoid using stiletto heels.

    3. Keep nails trimmed on pets.

    4. Clean up spills immediately with a paper towel or dry cloth. A damp cloth can be used for sticky spills, but dry the spot immediately afterwards with another towel or cloth.

    5. Lift rather than drag furniture when moving it and use felt contacts under furniture legs to prevent scratches and gouges.

    6. Use sheers or blinds to protect your floors from the discoloration caused by direct sun rays.

    With proper care and maintenance, your hardwood floors will retain their beauty and enhance any d├ęcor that you choose. When your floors become worn, or if they become damaged, they can be restored to their former glory with a little time, effort, and money. Use the Internet to check out quality products, read the information on how to use them, compare prices, and place your orders. We can help with all your hardwood floor care needs - everything from discount hardwood flooring to hardwood cleaners - and all items can be purchased online and delivered to your door. Let us help you keep your hardwood floors looking their best.