Categories Hardwood

Are There Any Benefits to an Unfinished Wood Floor

You can buy your hardwood floor or one of two ways: you can buy it unfinished or prefinished. Prefinished floors are made from planks that are stained and sealed in a factory. They’re then brought to your house and installed. Typically, they have beveled edges or tongue and groove joints. They’re nailed into place or even allowed to float on a subfloor. They’re quick to install but you have limited options. You also will have a difficult time matching a replacement plank should you need to replace one or more of them.

Installing an Unfinished Floor

An unfinished floor is also known as a site-finished floor. These are pieces of wood that are delivered as bare stock. They have been sanded to be workable but still need a final sanding. Also, they do not have stain or finish on them. So, why would you choose that?

You would choose an unfinished floor if you want to see what the stain might look like in your house. With prefinished wood, it might look different in the store lights than it does under your living room lights. You’ll be able to test the stain on a spare piece to make sure you like it if you choose unfinished flooring. Also, the subfloor is not always completely level. So, an unfinished floor gives you the option of installing the floor and then sanding it so that it’s perfectly level.

Finally, an unfinished floor is more easily repaired since you can replace the damaged plank with an unfinished plank. Then you can sand, stain, and seal it in place to match.

The Options

There are limited options with a prefinished floor. They’re basically stained and sealed in a way that is most likely to sell. So, if you want something outside the box like a blue floor, you’ll need unfinished hardwood and a lot of blue stain. Alternately, if you want to mix and match your flooring, you’ll have that option. Many people are choosing to make their floors look rustic and cabin-grade by mixing and matching different stains and finishes. Mixing gray stained planks with greige planks, for example, can give you the appearance of an antique patina. That’s not as easy to do with prefinished wood.

The major caveat is that finishing your flooring on site is a big job. It is messy and smelly, and you’ll have to stay off the floor for several days.

Categories Hardwood

Why Do Hardwood Floors Warp?

Solid hardwood floors are made of planks of solid wood that are installed on top of a subfloor. Eventually, the floor can become damaged by warping. The warping generally occurs in one of two ways; the planks either cup or bow. Cupping is when the edges of the wood planks bend upwards to form a sort of bowl shape. Bowing is when the middle of the wood plank bends upwards. They are caused by several different factors.

Heat and Moisture Cause Cupping

Generally, heat and moisture will cause your wood planks to cup. Since wood is porous, it absorbs moisture. It can even absorb moisture from the air. Heat also drives moisture into the wood more efficiently; therefore, very humid environments are most prone to create cupping. Furthermore, the wider and longer a plank is, the more likely it is to cup. That’s because the wider planks have less rigidity.

Therefore, experts will often recommend that you not install wide solid hardwood in your basement or other very humid areas.

Excessive Moisture Causes Cupping

Your floors can cup if you are not careful when you wash them. Many people choose to mop their floors. That’s a perfectly fine choice, but you need to be careful. The water used when mopping can warp the wood if you don’t dry it up. The best options are to wring out the m op so that it’s only damp when you mop. Then, make sure that you dry the floor after you are done mopping.

You can dry the floor in a few ways. You can mop it again with a dry mop if the area is pretty small. You can also use towels to dry up the floor. Alternately, you can open the windows and turn on fans to help dry the floor. If you have standing fans, you can aim them at the floor to speed up the drying process.

Sanding Can Cause Bowing

One of the best ways to address cupping that has already occurred is by sanding the wood flat again. However, you need to make sure that the floor and the subfloor are both completely dry before you do that. Otherwise, the floor might dry and then bow.

You should consult a professional if you notice bowing or cupping. Dealing with it can be very complex and time-consuming. A professional will be able to address the cupping, replace planks that can’t be repaired, and advise you on preventing it in the future.

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Categories Hardwood

What is a Wire Brushed Floor?

There are several ways that you can make your new hardwood floor look aged. Aged floors have become very trendy recently. You can see that with the trend towards live edge floors, hand scraped wood, reclaimed wood and more. One of the ways you might distress the wood is by brushing it. Essentially, the wood is brushed with a wire brush to scrape away some of the wood and create irregular blemishes. When applied to a complete floor, it can look great.

Wire Brushed Floor

Once your floor has been installed, but before it has been finished, you can brush the floor with a stiff-bristled wire brush. It can be brushed by you or it can be brushed at a factory. If it’s brushed by a machine, the brushing will look somewhat uniform. That will slightly negate the authentic feel of the wood. It will make it look more modern and not antique. If you want a great antique feel, you need to brush it by hand. Brush it with different lengths and pressures as you go over the entire floor. That will create the authentic look.

Then you need to choose the right finish for your wire brushed floor.

Choose the Right Finish

A wire brushed floor look antique and distressed because of the scratches that the wire brush creates in the wood. If you choose a high gloss wood finish, it will likely reflect too much light and make the scratches stand out too much. If the scratches stand out like that, they’ll look inauthentic. However, if you choose a matte finish, the scratches will blend and make the floor look somewhat cloudy. You need something that draws attention to the scratches without making them stand out too much. A satin or a semi-gloss are often a great choice for finishes for wire brushed floors.

If you want the wood to grow darker and richer over time, we should consider using oil or wax instead of sealing it with polyurethane. Oil and wax will darken the wood as they age.

Choose the Right Stain

If you’re looking for an authentic, antique feel, you don’t’ want to choose a stain that is too dark. Most antique home hardwood floors were not stained; therefore, anything that is a noticeable stain will look inauthentic. Something warm is a great choice. A warm color such as a deep amber will help your floor look great while also accentuating the wire brushing.

Categories Hardwood

Explaining the Hand-Scraped Wood Trend

If you’ve been looking for a hardwood floor, especially reclaimed or distressed hardwood flooring, you’ve likely noticed that certain floors are billed as “hand scraped” wood. It’s obviously something that has to do with aged wood floors, but what does it mean?

What Does It Mean

Before sandpaper was invented, wood had to be smoothed by hand. This was done with a draw knife. A draw knife is a knife with blade and handles on either side of it. The crafter of the floor grips both hands and pulls the knife across the surface of the wood. This is the scraping. Ideally, it scrapes away the rough surface of the wood, creating a smooth surface. However, it does not create a uniformly smooth surface. There will be scrapes of different depths and lengths. That creates the look of antique hardwood flooring. If you’re looking for new flooring that looks antique, hand scraped is a way to go. It’s a subtle touch that makes the floor look aged.

Authenticity

Hand scraped wood flooring can lend authenticity to your faux aged hardwood floor. However, it needs to be genuinely scraped by hand. There are also floors that are scraped by machines. While they mimic hand scraped wood somewhat, they’re too uniform. The charm of a hand scraped wooden floor is the unpredictability. Each draw of the knife is a different lethn and pressure. That creates irregularity in the wood. That’s not something that can be mimicked by machines. Make sure you buy a hand scraped wooden floor that’s actually scraped by hand.

The floor can be scraped by the person installing the floor, by you, or it can be scraped at the factory. Typically, the only wood that can be hand scraped is solid plank hardwood. Solid plank is the only wood thick enough to withstand the scraping process.

If you choose to scrap the wood yourself, you should make sure you practice in an unnoticeable spot or with extra wood. Also, you should make sure you buy an actual draw knife. The design of the knife is important to getting the right look. If you choose machine scraped wood, it can look great too.

You should make sure you look at the different types of scraping and make sure the matching pieces are installed as far away from each other as possible. That’s the best way to mimic an authentic floor with a machine processed floor.

Categories Hardwood

How to Remove Mold From Hardwood Floors

Mold is a problem for all kinds of floors, but it is a particularly difficult problem for hardwood floors. Because the floors have a subfloor beneath them and the wood itself is porous, it can absorb and trap moisture. When moisture is trapped in dark spaces, it becomes a magnet for mold. Mold spores are always present in microscopic amounts and when they find fertile breeding ground, they begin to multiply rapidly. Mold can occur in old homes as well as new homes. It’s important that you remove it as soon as possible when you spot it. It can lead to breathing problems, illnesses, and just generally ruin the aesthetics of your floor. Here is how to tackle the problem.

Step 1: Get the Right Equipment

Mold spores are very tiny; therefore, you need to wear clothes you are prepared to throw away or to have dry cleaned. A run through a normal washing machine won’t be enough to get all of the mold spores. Also, you need to be wearing rubber gloves and goggles. Finally, you need a respirator. A standard dust mask will not work to trap mold spores.

Seal the room with the mold as well as you can. That means using plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal around cracks and windows. If you have a ventilation fan that points to the outside, that would be a great addition as well.

Step 2: Remove the Mold

The most efficient way to remove mold from your hardwood floors is by physically removing it. You can purchase a scraper at a local hardware store or use a sander. A sander is faster, but you have to be extra careful as that can put mold spores in the air. Double check your seals around doors and windows.

Sand or scrape away the mold and seal it in a trash bag.

Step 3: Discarding the Mold

You do not want to take the discarded mold through your house if at all possible. Even a few spores of mold can spread to the rest of the house. If at all possible, throw the mold out of the nearest door or window. If that’s not possible, be sure to double bag it.

Step 4: Treating the Floor

You need to also get to the root cause of the mold. If you know where the moisture came from, then you simply need to sand the floor and refinish it. If you do not know where the moisture came from, you need to get in touch with specialists before you refinish the floor. Otherwise, you’ll have the same problem again.

Categories Hardwood

The 5 Hardest Hardwood Floors You Can Buy

Hardwood floors can last decades if they are well maintained. In fact, hardwood floors in some parts of the country were installed before the Civil War. These were largely made from the heartwood of old growth trees. That is some of the densest and hardest wood that you can find. If you want a hardwood floor that you won’t have to replace for a very long time, you should consider the hardness of the different exotic flooring materials. That hardness is rated on the Janka scale.

1 – Patagonian Rosewood – 3840 on the Janka Scale

Patagonian rosewood is a very rare wood that is sourced from Argentina. Rosewoods are so named for their beautiful, rich coloring. They’re prized for everything from small chess pieces to entire floors. It is the hardest wood commonly used for flooring. It is also rich with many oils that will help to repel pests and resist moisture. It responds well to a semi-gloss polyurethane. This floor will last you for a very long time.

2 – Brazilian Walnut – 3680 on the Janka Scale

A Brazilian walnut floor is sourced from walnut trees in Brazil, as the name indicates. It is a very hard wood that resists scratching. It is typically a deep brown color with strong grain that manifests in long lines. You cannot go wrong with Brazilian walnut.

3 – Brazilian Ebony – 3585 on the Janka Scale

Ebony is not as dark as many people might think; many people associate it with actual black wood. Brazilian ebony is not black; instead, it is a rich chocolate color with dark grain throughout. The grain swirls in very exotic patterns that are not replicated by any other wood. If you choose Brazilian ebony, it will be hard enough to resist pets’ claws and attractive enough to draw people’s attention.

4 – Cumaru – 3540 on the Janka Scale

Cumaru comes in the standard variety as well as red cumaru. Often called “Brazilian teak,” it is a very dense wood with a very tight grain. If you’re looking for the seamless, modern floor, cumaru or red cumaru would be an exceptional choice.

5 – Brazilian Pecan – 3540 on the Janka Scale

A species of hickory, the Brazilian pecan variety, is almost twice as hard as domestic hickory. Brazilian pecan is also probably the most visually striking of the different very hard hardwoods. It is known for the huge color differences that can arise even within the same plank of wood.

Any of these five woods would last a very long time even in high traffic areas or with pets. The differences are largely aesthetic and economic.

Categories Uncategorized

Why you should switch from carpet to wood

The idea of switching your flooring from carpet to hardwood flooring is a popular one and for good reason. Carpet is often a cheaper product but has some major drawbacks. Hardwood is a better choice for a lot of reasons.

Carpets can collect dirt and stain. Spilling liquids on carpets is easy to do but hard to clean. Soaking up the liquid, shampooing or scrubbing the carpet is a lot of work. While some liquids can be easily removed from carpet there are some liquids that can be really difficult to remove from carpet like wine or koolaid. Carpets also need to be cleaned professionally once or twice a year which can be an expense.

Hardwood floors need much less maintenance and can be cleaned up much more easily. They need vacuuming, dust mopping and occasional mopping. Hardwoods look clean with little effort and don’t trap smells or stains like carpet.

Carpets also wear out. When people walk on your carpet it can start to get matted town and create a wear pattern. Traffic patterns are a common occurrence on carpet and can make it look dated and worn. There isn’t much you can do to remedy a traffic pattern because they are the result of worn carpet fibers and pad. When carpet gets worn it has to be replaced. Carpet can also get wrinkles which requires a professional to re-stretch and fix.

Wood floors handle foot traffic better than carpet. Wood flooring can last 10 years on average before it needs to be professional cleaned or refinished. After refinishing the wood will have another 10 years of maintenance free use. Solid hardwood can be refinished multiple times which makes it economical and practical. The look of hardwood can be changed with different stains and finishes.

Carpet is not ideal for people with allergies. Allergens like pet dander and dust mites can live in your carpet. The carpet fibers and carpet pad can trap the allergens and make it very challenging to remove with a vacuum. Hardwood flooring does not trap allergens which is great for allergy sufferers.

Finally, adding hardwood flooring to your home is a great update over carpet. Hardwood flooring can add value and style to a room. Hardwood is beautiful, durable and has great longevity. Hardwood is generally more expensive at installation than carpet but has the ability to be resurfaced. Hardwood flooring is a classy update to your home and can be a true statement piece.

 

 

 

Categories Hardwood

French Oak Hardwood Flooring

Oak flooring is one of the most popular wood choices in the United States and for good reason. Oak is durable, easy to work with and easy to obtain. American oak fits into two categories- red oak and white oak. Both of these choices are popular and durable. Oak is great because it can be stained and the oil content of the wood doesn’t interfere with the finish. White oak is denser than red oak and has a higher janka rating. Both are grown in many states in the US as well as south central canada.

White Oak and Red oak have different color and graining patterns. White oak has a tighter graining pattern and it is darker than red oak. White oak can have some pinkish hues but it is generally more brown/gray in color. Red oak has a more prominent grain and it more linear and open than the graining pattern of white oak. Red oak has some brown hues but also has a pinkish/red to it.

Another commonly used oak is a European oak. European oak is commonly used in Germany, England and France – when installing hardwood floors. It can also be called english oak or French Oak. The janka rating of european oak is the same as white oak. The geographical difference changes the look of the wood and it has different color, graining and hues than american oaks. The grain pattern is generally softer and waiver. European oaks have a darker color with a warm brown town.

The milling of European oak is also different and it is sought after because of the longer lengths and wider planks. These trees grow differently and the sapwood is wider and thicker than the heartwood. THe sapwood is where you get clearer wood so the wider sapwood allows you to get pieces that are clearer at wider widths.

European oak is processed differently than American oak. The wood is live-sawn which means the log of the tree is cut right through from the front to the back. The live-sawn process allows the different cuts of hardwood to be incorporated in this type of cut. THe flooring will have the natural graining showing through and creates a very stable floor. American oak is cut with three different sawing methods- rift, quartered, and plain

European oak or French oak is a beautiful option and has a unique look. The wide planks are very popular and french oak is growing in popularity for good reason.

Categories Hardwood

The Best Hardwood Options for Homes with Dogs

Hardwood flooring is not invincible but there are some choices that will work better with dogs than others. There are lot of hardwood flooring products on the market these days and you may be curious if one is better choice for pet owners than others. We will go over all the different flooring choices and help you understand the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Site Finished and Prefinished Hardwood Flooring-

Prefinished floors and site finished hardwood are both durable solid wood. Some prefinished hardwood flooring includes an aluminum oxide finish which is very durable and can be more durable than a site finished coating. Aluminum oxide finish include flecks of aluminum oxide which helps to create a very strong wear layer. Also prefinished flooring is likely UV finished. UV finished products can be added on site but not all companies offer it. UV coats are fully cured immediately which is a big benefit. Prefinished flooring has a slight edge over site finished flooring in the scratching department.

Color- THe color of the hardwood may not prevent scratching but it may be able to help hide it. Lighter wood with more grain patterns like oak can help camouflage scratching and some dents which is something pet owners should pay attention to. The surface texture of the wood is also something to consider. A hand scraped floor can be great for hiding scratches because the surface is already textured and it will be less noticable.

When looking at engineered wood you may want to look for acrylic impregnated engineered hardwood flooring. This wear layer can help increase the durability on engineered products making it a great option for pet owners. The pores of the wear layer are injected with acrylic finish to help strengthen the wear layer. These engineered products have less room for movement which helps with dents and scratching. Engineered products can be a great choice for pet owners.

The species of hardwood you choose can also help with scratch resistance. Some hardwood flooring materials are harder than others because of the type of wood they are. American cherry is considered a softwood species while brazilian walnut is an incredibly hard wood. The Janka Hardness rating is used to rank wood species on their relative hardness. Both exotic and domestic woods are tested. Maple and hickory are both great options because they are light in color and have a higher hardness level then some other woods.

In the end there are a lot of options for hardwood flooring in pet friendly homes. Keeping your dog’s nails short, reserving play time for outside and keeping water dishes off the floor are all steps that can help protect your floor from your dog and keep it beautiful for years to come.

Categories Hardwood

Orientation of the Wood Floor

If you are are planning a hardwood update to your home you may be thinking about some of the details like the orientation of the floor. The direction your hardwood flooring is installed relies on a few factors. While you may see hardwood flooring running in all different directions in a showroom or commercial space there are some factors that have to be taken into consideration within your home.

The factors that affect the installation direction of hardwood flooring include the installation method, visual aesthetics and the structural integrity. A contractor is a great resource for choosing the best direction for installation based on these factors.

The subfloor is something that must be considered for the direction of the flooring as well as the method of installation. Concrete subfloors require different installation methods than a plywood subfloor. Concrete floors have little effect on the direction of installation for your flooring. If the flooring will be installed over plywood there is more to consider. First the flooring will probably be installed with the nail down method. Then the floor joists will be considered the flooring will likely run perpendicular to the floor joist. There are exceptions and was around this but this is the general rule of thumb.

When choosing the direction based on visual aesthetics there are more factors to consider. The general rule is to run the planks into the front entry way to create a sense of openness and flow to the home. Hallways should have the planks running with the hallway. Directional changes with the home should be avoided because they affect the flow of the space. If you want to define a space you can alter the direction of the flooring to create the feeling of a divide, this technique is used in some dining spaces or studies. Depending on the design of a home an angled installation can even be utilized. It is all dependent on the look you want.

While structural integrity should be considered first the orientation of the wood becomes a big design element. Flooring can really change a space and talking with your contractor

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