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Categories Hardwood

Which Hardwood Floors Survive Dogs The Best?

If hardwood floors have any natural enemies, it is dogs and cats. Dogs are typically a little harder on floors than cats. They’re more likely to urinate on a hardwood floor, and they tend to be heavier. So, their claws dig a little bit harder into the hardwood floor. Those are the two big dangers from dogs: claws and urine. There are different woods that will hold up better than others; there are also ways to treat the wood to make it more resilient to dogs.

Harder Woods

Woods are ranked on the janka hardness scale. The scale measures the amount of force needed to press a metal ball halfway into the wood. It’s an odd way to measure but all you need to know is where the woods rank relative to others. White oak and red oak are generally around 1300 on the hardness scale. They are the most common woods used for American hardwood floors. For contrast, Brazilian cherry is 2820 on the scale. Brazilian ebony is near the top of the scale. It’s about 3692 on the scale.

For several reasons, imported hardwoods tend to be harder than domestic woods. So, if you’re looking for the wood most likely to stand up to your dog the longest, you should probably consider something imported. Hickory is typically 1820 on the hardness scale; it’s the hardest widely-available flooring wood produced in the United States.

Textured Finishes

Textured woods are a little easier on the dogs because they have something that they can grip as they walk around. Your dogs will be less likely to slide around on the floor trying to gain traction. Your dogs will likely appreciate that, but also, it will reduce the amount of scratching. Textured woods that have knots, burls, holes, and scrapes will also hide scratches better. If the hardwood is already finished in a rustic manner, a few more scratches won’t stand out.

Prefinished or Site-Finished?

Prefinished hardwood is finished in a factory with a heat-cured finish. It is a very thick and hard finish that will last a long time. A site-finished floor is typically finished with polyurethane that will scratch a little bit faster. However, it can be difficult or even impossible to sand and repair prefinished hardwood. Depending on the hardwood, it could be more hassle than it’s worth. A site-finished floor can be screened and refinished fairly easily.

The finish on the floor will also be what protects it from urine. These are a few of the things to consider when choosing a hardwood floor.

Categories Hardwood

Designers Are Installing Multiple Kinds of Hardwood in One Home

The most common method for installing a hardwood floor is to choose a type of hardwood that will cover your entire floor. If you want to have hardwood in your kitchen and your living room, you would likely choose the same type for both rooms. They would be stained and sealed the same as well. However, new trends have emerged of mixing hardwood floors for different rooms. For example, you might have a white oak in the kitchen and red oak in the living room. That trend grew for a while and has naturally evolved into mixing different hardwoods in the same room.

How Did It Start?

The trend of mixing different hardwoods in the same room began the way many trends begin; it began with people attempting to save money while staying stylish. Since wood is cut, shipped, and processed in batches, there will always be little bits of wood left over after each order. For example, if a white oak tree produces 500 square feet of wood planks and a customer orders 450 square feet of white oak, there will be 50 square feet left over. That’s not enough to cover more rooms. So, a supplier might sell that 50 square feet at a steep discount.

Customers would then buy that small amount of hardwood and mix it with odds and ends from other batches of hardwood.The result is an eclectic look of different woods in one room. The style also evokes the look of many older homes and cabins. Early American homeowners didn’t have the money to be picky about their choice of hardwood. So, these early homes often had floors that were patchworks of different hardwoods.

How Does It Work?

There are a couple of basic ways to employ this trend. You could create blocks of different wood on the floor. So, you would have a block of white oak, a block of hickory, a block of ebony, and so on. That is the patchwork look. It can be employed to great effect, especially if you have similar amounts of each kind of wood. The look is similar to a checkerboard.

Alternately, you can install the different types of wood in haphazard ways. Installing the wood on two different planks and attempting to keep two planks of the same wood from touching will create a more rustic look. It looks less intentional and more rustic, which is a trend in and of itself.

Categories Hardwood

The Price of Engineered Hardwood vs Solid Plank

There are more hardwood flooring options than ever. Also, as manufacturing processes become more automated, the price tends to fall somewhat. However, solid plank hardwood remains the standard bearer in the industry. The highest priced and most sought-after hardwood floors are solid plank. They are, as the name implies, planks of solid wood. For example, a white oak hardwood plank would be a single plank of oak cut from an oak tree. Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, is made of several layers. There would be a thin layer on top of your preferred oak. This layer would be stained and sealed like any other hardwood floor. Below that would be layers of plywood, typically of a more affordable wood. They might even have a softwood under the layer of hardwood. Finally, there might be a bottom layer that is waterproof or vaporproof. This new type of construction has many practical benefits. It also might save you some money.

 

The Costs

 Obviously, prices tend to change based on the availability of certain woods. A solid hardwood floor will cost you between $3 and $10 per square foot. A rare, imported wood or a reclaimed wood might cost you more than that. Something common and domestic such as white oak might cost you on the lower half of that spectrum. Alternately, an engineered hardwood floor will cost between $2 and $10 per square foot. If you are looking for something like white oak, it will again be on the lower half of that spectrum.

So, depending on supplier, you could save a dollar or two per square foot in your home. In the United States, the average home square footage is 2,600 square feet. The average living room for those homes is 319 square feet. That means that engineered hardwood could save you $300 to $600 on your living room alone. If you want to do hardwood flooring in every room of your house, you could save $2,600 to $5,200 per square foot on engineered hardwood. These are just generalities, obviously. Every home will be different, and so will every type of wood.

 

Installation Costs

 There are differences in installation as well. Solid plank hardwood flooring has to be affixed to a subfloor. If you have a quality subfloor already, that won’t be an issue. However, if you want to put wood planks in the basement, garage, or attic, there might not be a subfloor there. That will mean you have to have one installed. That will add to your costs as well. An engineered hardwood floor, on the other hand, can be installed directly on top of your existing floor.

Categories Hardwood

Is white oak hardwood flooring pet friendly?

White oak is one of the hottest floor trends right now but you may be wondering if its a good option for your pets. White oak is a great choice for homes with pets because of a few key reasons. It is durable and stronger than a maple or birch but doesn’t test as high on the janka scale as hickory.

The grain pattern in white oak works well for homes with pets. Depending on the cut pattern of your white oak you may see different grain patterns but all white oak has rich open grains. These grains are ideal for masking scratches from your pets nails. The scratches and dents will blend into the wood. Also if you can choose longer boards this will help keep your eye from stopping at the seams which can cause you to notice more of the wear and tear on your floor.

The finish option you use may also affect how the floor holds up to animals. Wire brushing is one option you may want to consider. This gives the floor a lot of texture which can help hide scratching and fur. Matte finishes are also great for masking scratches. Do not get a high gloss floor if you have pets, you will see every scratch.

The character of the wood adds a lot of what we love to white oak but also works great for hiding imperfections. Because the white oak planks are “busy” the scratches and dents are not as noticable. The grade of white oak you choose will affect what character marks are present.

If you want to stain your white oak you will want to keep your pets in mind. Dark floors and white dogs are not a great combination, the fur will stand out in the contrast. If you are interested in staining you may want to do a nice neutral stain, a light brown or one of the trendy grays that are talking the industry by storm.

White oak is a great option for your home and pets. White oak isn’t popular just for its looks, its popular because it is a great wood for creating a lifetime floor.

Categories Hardwood

Radiant Heating & Wood Floors

Radiant heating is an efficient way to heat your home and gives your home a wonderful cozy feel. Space heating is costly and inefficient. Forced air and baseboard heating are good options but there is still room for improvement. Radiant heating may be something you have some questions about but after we go over the common questions, information and other specifics.

How does radiant heating work?

Radiant floors heat the house from the ground up. There are heating coils or water tubes installed in the floor to radiate heat through the room and warm it. This type of heat works similar to how the oven heats the house. Heating coils use electricity while water tubes can be heating with different techniques like gas or wood fire.

Cost of radiant heating

Radiant heating and the forced air cost comparisons are a big concern for homeowners. This is an important are to consider when deciding if radiant heating is right for you. Radiant heat can cut your heating bill by up to 50 percent. Radiant heat cuts out the air ducts which loss a lot of heat. Attics and basements are cold and the heating vents running through these spaces can cool significantly Radiant heat also eliminates the stratification. Stratification is what happens when the cool air falls as the warm air rises. These can create drafts and additional issues.

Base-boarding heat is another heating option that is commonly considered and used. When radiant heat and baseboard heat are compared radiant heat comes out on top again. Baseboard heating again falls short of being as efficient as radiant heating. Baseboard heating has to combat against large windows especially in cold spells. Baseboard heating does have its advantages but is also very costly.

Floor based heating has been studied for efficiency and performance. The Scientific American stated that occupants feel warmer at a lower temperature with radiant heating. This form of heating transmits heat at 15 percent greater efficiency.

Forced air is still the most popular way to heat a home but radiant heat offers a lot of benefits. Radiant heating can be installed under a lot of different flooring types including real hardwood floors, engineered wood and even some laminate flooring choices. Radiant heating can make your home feel cozy and warm all winter long while reducing costs.

Categories Hardwood

Choosing a Wood Species for your Home-

White Oak-

White oak is a beautiful flooring species. White oak boasts open grain with natural wood character including knots and checks. The rustic features of the white oak can be showcased with specific cuts. White oak is a great option for homes with pets and high traffic. White oak is a great option for homeowners looking for low maintenance flooring.

White oak can be life sawn, quarter sawn and a few other cuts. Different cuts feature different grain patterns and color variations. These specialty cuts are a great way to get a more custom finished product and an ideal look for your home.

Hickory

Hickory is another very common flooring material. Hickory features a tight grain pattern with rich color variations. The natural beauty of this wood is unsurpassed. The color variation can add a lot of depth to the boards and showcases the beauty of the wood wonderfully. When selection hickory you can choose between different grades to achieve a more rustic or more contemporary look. Some of the grades feature more knots and checks while others keep them to a minimum.

Hickory does stand up well to high traffic and pets. It is very durable and requires no additional maintenance steps. Hickory can also be stained so the look can be changed over time.

Ash-

Ash is beautiful unique wood choice for your home. Ash isn’t as common as hickory or oak but offers a lot of rich character and pronounced grain patterns. Ash can contain knots and checks or higher grades can eliminate these. High traffic spaces and homes with pets can be ideal for Ash flooring. The grain pattern can help to mask imperfections. The pronounced grain pattern in ash can add a lot of visual interest to your space and when stained it can be very sleek.

Maple-

Maple is a great choice for homeowners looking for less grain pattern and color variation. Maple has very little color variance and a minimal grain pattern. Maple is a great neutral wood flooring and can be very modern and sleek. Maple is not a great wood to stain so it is commonly left natural. Depending on the grade of maple chosen there may be some knots.

Walnut-

Walnut is another loved flooring species. Maple boosts a warm brown tone and will continue to warm over time. The grain pattern and color variations add a lot of character to walnut flooring. Walnut is best in moderate traffic areas and may not be a good choice for pet owners. The warm brown town that walnut is known for is timelessly beautiful and inviting.

Red Oak-

Red oak has been a top flooring choice for a century. It has a rich grain pattern with mild color variations making it an ideal choice for many people. Longboards can better display the grain pattern and color variations. Red oak is resilient and depending on the finishing technique it can last for years and years to come. Red oak can be stained but some of the more hip stains like white or gray do not work well with the red tone. Red oak is the ideal neutral flooring choice for a timeless and traditional home.

Categories Hardwood

Protecting Your Floors During a Move

If you want to prevent your flooring from becoming damaged during a move there are a few steps you need to take. Moving is a stressful process but there are lots of ways you can reduce the stress. Moving in different seasons can cause additional stress because of extreme temperatures.

When you are moving into your new home you will want to take some precautionary methods to help ensure your flooring does not get damaged. The foot traffic, boxes and furniture can really add some wear and tear to your floor. The more precautionary methods of protecting your floor you use the better it will look in the end.

First use masonite. Masonite is a hardboard that comes in 4 foot by 8 foot sheets and can be laid on the top of the floor to act as a shield. These boards are ideal in the main walkways and create a path that will protect your floors.

Ram board is another ideal option for creating a temporary floor protectant. Ram board works well during moving or construction. A roll of ram board will cover a lot of space and is easier to use than masonite sheets. Ram board is great for using in hallways, and other areas with wood flooring. Place ram board in walkways, hallways and any other high traffic spaces.

Moving blankets should be used to help soften any bumps or scrapes from furniture or electronics. The moving blankets will protect the floor as well as your furniture and walls. Moving blankets are a great option and can be rented from moving companies if you plan to move yourself.

Do not slide furniture or any boxes. Sliding from room to room may be tempting but it is awful for your floor. It can leave minor scratches or scuffs and in some cases gouges. Picking up furniture and boxes is the best way to keep the floor safe.

Use a mat to wipe feet before entering your home. Keeping an entry mat at each doorway will help prevent debris from entering your home which can cause scratching.

Adding felt pads to your furniture and chair legs helps to protect your floor from your furniture. Add then while moving in and keep extra on hand to replace regularly.

Use measurements to ensure the move goes smoothly. When you plan on the placement and how to carry your furniture into your space you can prevent any potential scratches or damage to the walls or floors from furniture that won’t fit or is dropped trying to make it into the space.

Hiring a moving company is ideal if you have a lot of wood flooring that you need to protect. A moving company is experienced with how to move furniture into spaces and how to keep it from damaging the flooring.

There are a lots of simple methods for protecting your flooring while moving to ensure it is beautiful after you get all of your belongings inside.

Categories Hardwood

American Hardwoods Are On the Rise Again

For a long time, American hardwoods were considered less desirable than imported hardwoods. Imported hardwoods, also known as exotic woods, were considered to be the pinnacle of hardwood construction. While there are some types of imported hardwood that offer benefits not common to American hardwoods, for the most part, American woods are perfect for every installation. The prestige of imported wood is often simply the price and the rarity. There are benefits to domestic hardwoods.

Sustainability

One of the reasons domestic hardwoods are on the rise again is because consumers and producers both have become more concerned with sustainability. Sustainability is the idea that wood is a renewable resource but it does not replenish naturally as quickly as consumers consume it. Therefore, the company that feels the trees or the one that buys the felled trees must do everything they can to replace the trees as quickly as possible. There are ways to do that.

One such way is for a company to take care not to cut down more trees than they need. In the past, companies would speculate on how much they might need and end up removing far too many trees. Now, they are more conservative with their logging. Also, cutting down certain trees has less of an impact. For example, new trees are often starved of sunlight by the canopies of larger trees. Cutting down one larger tree might allow multiple smaller trees to grow.

Lastly, companies can simply plant new trees to replace the trees they cut down. That is a gesture of goodwill, but it’s also simply a way for them to have a crop in the future.

Cost

Another advantage of domestic hardwoods is that they are often less expensive than imported hardwoods. They’re less expensive for several reasons. For one, the United States is simply larger than most other countries and therefore has more forest than most other countries. Also, the shipping is not as onerous to move something through the United States. There are no import or export tariffs or borders to cross. That will reduce the price and the shipping time.

Options

There are certain options, such as black wood, that are not quite as common for domestic woods. However, that does not mean they’re unavailable. The United States has every kind of climate, which means it has a diversity of trees that are unmatched by any imported hardwood from anywhere in the world.

Categories Hardwood

How to Find an Environmentally-Friendly Hardwood Floor

Hardwood floors are some of the most popular of any kind of flooring. They have been used since the time of antiquity. Wood is a great choice because it can be cut, shaped, and styled to fit just about any home. It is long-lasting, insulating, and attractive. If you want a floor that will last for a long time, you can’t go wrong with hardwood. However, hardwood does have a significant drawback. In some cases, the hardwood can actually harm the environment. Obviously, hardwood is sourced by cutting down hardwood trees. There are ways to mitigate the damage that might do to trees; some companies even improve the environment with every floor they sell.

Diseased Trees

As living entities, trees are susceptible to damage from pests, fungus, and disease. There are ways to limit these problems, but in some cases, trees become hopeless afflicted. For example, emerald ash borers are a pest that infests and eventually kills ash trees. They’re very difficult to guard against. For that reason, ash trees that become infested are cut down and removed from the area. If they’re not, they’ll infect more trees. Some hardwood flooring companies specifically use wood from trees infested with ash borers and other pests. Alternately, the wood might come from trees that have diseases such as citrus greening or other incurable illnesses. If you buy these trees, they’ll actually be improving the environment by removing dangerous trees.

Fallen Trees

For many different reasons, trees will die. Many of them will fall as a result. Some timber companies specifically source fallen trees or dead trees. Removing these trees from the forest can improve the undergrowth and improve sunlight getting to saplings. That will help grow new healthy trees.

Salvaged Wood

Most sustainable companies do what they can to reduce the number of trees they cut down. If they can salvage wood, they won’t have to cut down any trees. Salvaged wood can come from many different sources. The simplest option is to salvage a used hardwood floor and install it in your own home. Alternately, the salvaged wood might come from scrap wood, construction projects, demolition projects, or wood shipments that were damaged.

Some types of salvaged wood are actually more valuable than any kind of new wood. One such example is milled lumber that fell off boats decades ago. It has sat at the bottom of rivers for decades and now has character that cannot be replicated. This wood is sustainable, responsible, and very valuable.

Categories Hardwood

The Ancient Flooring Techniques That Are Trending Again

In the ancient world, the most common type of flooring was dirt. In ancient Rome, all but the wealthiest citizens had floors made of dirt and straw. Some of them had animal hides, leather, or cloth draped over the floor. Some would use shards of pottery, stone, and sand. The shards and stone would be ground into the floor until it formed a hard surface; this was the earliest origin of pavement. The wealthiest Romans had floors made of stone and hardwood. In the New World, forests were so abundant that hardwood floors were fairly common for colonists. Interestingly, the ancient Romans, ancient Egyptians, British imperials, and American colonists all created their hardwood floors in about the same way.

Floors were laid from straight planks of wood. The floors either just sat on the ground level, or they were built onto a subfloor. The ancient Romans, for one, utilized subfloors. Then, they would smooth the floor with hand scraping and literally sanding the floor. The sanding process left tiny scratches all over the floor.

Wire Brushing

Before the invention of sandpaper, the process for sanding a floor was to literally cover it in sand. Crafters would pour a bunch of sand on the floor. They would then rub the sand on the floor until the floor was smooth. It didn’t sand as smoothly as sandpaper and an orbital sander from the modern era. So, that meant there were tiny scratches all over the floor. The floor would then often be left bare. The oils from feet would eventually soak into the wood to create a waterproof finish.

Wire brushed hardwood now replicates the look of that antique sanding process. A wire-brushed floor can be brushed by hand or by a machine. Basically, the floor is brushed with a stiff-bristled brush to create billions of minute scratches. If done by a machine, it won’t add much expense to the cost of your floor. If done by hand, it will better replicate the random scratches of ancient floors.

Hand Scraping

The other way to smooth wood was to use a draw knife to scrape away the top layer of wood. The floor can be brought fairly smooth when you do that.

Both of these different techniques fell out of favor in the 1930s when sandpaper was made available in basically every hardware store. Hardwood flooring fell out of favor after WWII. These techniques have just recently become prominent again.

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