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Categories Hardwood

Do You Have to Finish a Hardwood Floor?

The short answer is, no. You do not have to finish your hardwood floor. Most hardwood floors are stained some color that enriches and deepens the natural color of the wood. They’re then finished with a polyurethane or a varnish on the surface. Alternately, they might be finished with a penetrating oil that seeps into the wood. You don’t have to do that, though. It’s not as common as it used to be, but you can leave the floor unfinished. These are often called raw floors or bare floors. Stains and finishes keep out dirt and moisture, though. Why would you leave your floor bare?

Why?

The main reason people leave their floors bare is so that they will absorb dirt and moisture. It might seem counterintuitive since you’ll have to clean your bare floors regularly. However, there’s no way to eliminate all dirt, oil, and dust. Oil and moisture from your skin and from your pets will seep into the wood. Dirt tracked in on your shoes will get ground into the pores of the wood. Spilled drinks will stain the floor if they’re not cleaned up immediately. All of these things are prevented by finishing the floor. However, they’re also the exact same things that give antique floors their desirable patina.

Rustic, distressed wood and reclaimed wood typically have watermarks, oil stains, runs in the finish, and other imperfections. If you want these for your hardwood floor, the easiest and most authentic option is to let them happen naturally. Oftentimes, these imperfections happen to reclaimed wood because the wood was not finished when it was installed long ago.

Finish Later

After several years, you might notice that your floor has taken on a lot of character from being unfinished for so long. Fortunately, there’s no reason you can’t finish your floor later. You can seal in all of that natural aging and patina. You can even enhance it with certain types of stain that will deepen and enrich the colors of the wood.

The main concerns with bare wood are being safe and keeping it clean. If you sand your floors smooth with a very fine grit sandpaper, there’s no reason it will give you any splinters. You’ll clean the raw wood floor with dry methods. Sweep and vacuum it. You can even use a mineral oil or a wax to clean it, but you should know that will act like a temporary finish for your floor.

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

Three Signs You Need to Refinish Your Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are known for many features; one of them is their longevity. A hardwood floor can last decades, if not longer. One of the main reasons they last so long is the finish. When hardwood floor is laid, it can then be stained. This stain will provide a richer color to the wood and help to enhance the look of the wood grain. The final step in the installation process is to finish the floor. The floor is typically finished with polyurethane.

Polyurethane can be oil or water based. The polyurethane is a liquid that eventually dries and forms essentially a hard plastic layer on top of the wooden floor. That plastic layer will slowly degrade over time. Once it is degraded to the point of exposing the wood, the hardwood will be in danger of being damaged. To prevent the wood from becoming damaged and keep your floors looking great, you need to keep a solid layer of polyurethane. Here are some signs the polyurethane is wearing thin.

1 – The Floor is Cloudy

Polyurethane comes in several different shades ranging from matte to glossy. Even a matte polyurethane can be polished to something resembling a shine. Over time, as the polyurethane degrades, it will become scratched and scuffed. Those scratches will prevent it from taking a shine. If you sweep and polish your floor and it doesn’t shine in certain areas, you likely have thin polyurethane.

2 – It Feels Rough

You might need to test this with bare hands or bare feet. If you are walking on your floor, you might even be able to feel where the polyurethane is missing. The hard shell of polyurethane should be smooth. The actual wood surface will be a little bit rougher.

3 – You Have Warping

If you notice warping or cupping in your hardwood floor planks, you could have a problem with your polyurethane coating. The coating is designed to keep moisture out of the wood. If moisture is getting in, it could be a problem with the polyurethane. Look for the other signs of missing polyurethane on the planks that are warping.

These are just three of the signs that something has gone wrong with your polyurethane coating. Lastly, you should probably have your floors refinished about every ten to fifteen years. So, if it has been longer than that, you might need to call an expert to apply a new finish.

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Categories Hardwood

How to Prevent Moisture Damage When Cleaning Your Hardwood Floor

A hardwood floor is fairly easy to maintain; generally, you just need to sweep it from time to time. If you allow dust and dirt to accumulate, it can begin to scratch the surface of the wood. From time to time, you’ll need to also mop the floor or clean it with a mild detergent. You’ll need to clean up different types of spills or pet urine occasionally as well. There is a danger to mopping the floor, though. The biggest threat to your floor is going to be moisture; if moisture seeps into the pores of the wood, it can cause the wood to swell, warp, or grow mildew. To prevent that, you need to be careful.

Check the Finish

The first thing you should do is sweep the floor. While you are sweeping the floor, you should look for thin spots in your floor’s finish. The floor is likely finished with polyurethane, but it could also be oil or wax finished. You need to make sure that the protective layer is thick throughout the entire floor. Typically, you can do this by running a hand over the floor to feel the polyurethane coating or simply look at the floor under the light. Even a satin or matte finish will reflect light more than bare wood.

Wring the Mop Well

If you decide to mop the floor, you want to reduce the amount of standing water as much as possible. You can do this by wringing the mop very well before you apply it to the floor. Soak the mop in the bucket, wring it until the mop head is just damp, and then mop up the floor. Also, make sure that you are not using a very acidic cleaner. Make sure it is a mild cleaner designed for hardwood flooring. That will protect the coating on the floor.

Check For Cracks

You need to also check for anywhere that moisture can get under the hardwood planks. The planks, if they are solid planks, are set into a subfloor. That subfloor can trap moisture, leading to floor damage. The most common places for cracks are between different planks or where the plank meets the wall. Make sure that they have not warped or changed to the point that they no longer fit.

Use a Cleaner

If you want to reduce the amount of water on your floor as much as possible, you can use a cleaner instead of mopping. That will keep the amount of water to an absolute minimum.

The post How to Prevent Moisture Damage When Cleaning Your Hardwood Floor appeared first on hardwood marketing.

Categories Hardwood

Should You Use Vinegar on Your Hardwood Floors?

A hardwood floor is a great-looking floor that can last for decades; however, they do require some maintenance to stay in good shape. The maintenance involves sweeping your floors regularly as well as cleaning it with something a little bit stronger. A mild detergent is typically sufficient to clean a hardwood floor. However, you might be wondering which substance is right for your floor. Many people who clean their own homes use some combination of vinegar and water as a standard go-to cleaning solution. It’s so simple to mix some vinegar with water to make a mild detergent. Others even soak orange peels or cloves in the water to add a different scent to the solution. Is this right for your floors?

Don’t Use Vinegar

It’s important to remember that when you are cleaning your hardwood floor, you’re not actually cleaning the wood. You’re cleaning the finish on the surface of the wood. Typically, this is a polyurethane finish, but it could be made of some other substances. Vinegar is an acidic solution. When you apply an acid to the finish on your floor, you will actually eat away at the surface a little bit. Every time you spray an acidic solution such as vinegar on your floor, you will be degrading the finish a little bit more.

It might not be noticeable at first, but the floor will begin to look cloudy. It will seem like it is more and more difficult to get your floor to a shine. Eventually, it will no longer polish at all. At that point, you’ll need to have your floor refinished.

Water Concerns

You need to be careful with a vinegar and water solution because of the water component as well. In fact, you should be cautious with any solution that uses a large amount of water. Water can soak into your hardwood or get underneath the planks. That can cause swelling, warping, and mold. If you use any cleaning substance that uses a lot of water, you’ll need to make sure that you do not saturate the wood too much. Also, make sure that you mop it quickly and get it completely dry.

Using towels or a dry mop is a great way to dry the floor. You can also open windows and turn on the fan to get the floor dry. You should keep in mind that a hardwood floor with a good polyurethane finish should be water and stain resistant. That means that it will not take a strong chemical to clean the floor.

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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.

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