How to Choose the Right Hardwood Floor for Your Home

When deciding to renovate your home, one of the biggest decisions you will make is what to do about your floors. While it is certainly acceptable to opt for carpeting, there is no denying that nothing can truly outdo beautiful hardwood floor refinishing in Portland.

If you do choose to do hardwood floor refinishing in your Portland home, however, you must keep in mind that there are many important decisions that go along with it. What type of wood is best to use? Do you want solid or engineered wood? Do you prefer prefinished or unfinished and would you rather have oil-based or water-based polyurethane?

While there are quite a few types of hardwood you can use, oak flooring is far and away the most popular. There are many reasons for this, most notably its incredible durability. Not only do oak floors hold up remarkably well structurally, they also look great visually for an amazingly long period of time.

It also offers attractive grain patterns while lending itself well to a wide variety of staining and coloring options, which result in superior aesthetics. It is also widely available, so prices are competitive and it is resistant to most insects and fungus, resulting in little money needed for future repairs.

How to Choose the Right Hardwood Floor for Your HomeWalnut is another strong option due to its sturdiness and excellent aesthetic features. It is highly resistant to water and mold damage, and like oak, walnut is unaffected by most insects. The dark grains that hide dirt is a favorable feature, as is the fact that it is easy to install, so some homeowners may decide to save money and opt for self-installation.

The downside of walnut flooring is it tends to be more expensive than most other types of wood, though a well-installed walnut floor could add quite a bit to the overall monetary value of the home.

In North America, other quality choices of wood for your floor include cherry, hickory, maple, and ash, and the best choice is simply a matter of personal preference.

So when it comes to hardwood floor refinishing in Portland, is it best to go with solid wood or engineered? That, too, largely depends on what your preference is and what your home requires.

Solid hardwood floors are made from thick pieces of solid wood that can be sanded down or refinished at virtually any point in time. Being that solid wood expands and contracts based on temperature and moisture, it is generally recommended only for use at or above ground level. It is also for this reason that it is wise to leave a gap between the wall and floor to accommodate the swelling that can occur from the changes in moisture and temperature.

Whereas solid wood is generally very difficult to install, engineered hardwood can be installed fairly easily in most areas of the home, and unlike solid wood, it is thin and largely resistant to heat and moisture. It also tends to be a cheaper option than solid hardwood and is less likely to wear down from outside conditions, making it a preferred option for below-ground level construction. Unlike solid wood, engineered wood can go on top of concrete. However, engineered wood is much thinner than solid wood, which can be a disadvantage since it usually cannot be sanded down or refinished in the future.

One of the most important, but often overlooked, aspects of hardwood floor refinishing in Portland is whether you choose prefinished or unfinished wood. There are advantages to both, so once again, this largely comes down to a matter of personal preference and what works best in your particular home.

Prefinished wood flooring offers the benefit of knowing exactly what you are getting since the finish has already been applied and so its appearance is already a given. It also takes less time to install because time does not need to be spent on color or sealant and it is generally less expensive because factory finish saves on labor costs. Further, prefinished tends to be more durable, especially in areas where temperature and humidity can fluctuate, so it would make especially good sense to use it with a basement or anything below-ground.

While it can be more labor intensive and costly to use, the major draw of unfinished wood is the customization factor. If you already have hardwood flooring in your home and need to create an exact match for an adjacent piece, unfinished flooring is the way to go. In addition, there is a greater degree of control over what the wood will ultimately look and feel like because the stain will be tailored to your wishes and the wood itself will be sanded after being nailed down, which can produce a smoother surface.

Hardwood floor refinishing in Portland would not be complete, however, without choosing between oil-based and water-based polyurethanes to finish the floor. Both offer quality protection, but there are some differences worth taking note.

Water-based polyurethanes have minimal odor with a clear finish. The process is relatively quick as it requires a coating every two hours, so it can theoretically be done in a single day. The downside is that it may not look as full and rich as oil-based polyurethanes and tends to cost significantly more as well.

The cheaper price of the oil-based polyurethanes can be attractive, but if time is of the essence, oil-based is not the way to go since you must wait five hours in between each coat and 12 hours after the final coating. It also produces a strong odor, which is not present in water-based polyurethanes.

While there are many different aspects to hardwood floor refinishing in Portland, each one is uniquely important, and as such, should always be tailored to the needs of the individual homeowner. There is no uniform answer to what is best and while there are pros and cons to each step of hardwood floor refinishing, only the homeowner can truly make the “right” decision.

How to Remedy Cold Hardwood Floors

Has the chilly winter left you feeling a little cold? Probably…perhaps even more so if you have hardwood flooring installed throughout your home. While cold hardwood floors can make your feet feel a little chilly, don’t worry. At Wall 2 Wall Hardwood Floors, we have the perfect cold floor remedy.

First, you’ll want to determine whether your hardwood floors are uniformly cold throughout the house or if one room’s floors are chillier than others. That will help you assess what you need to do in order to fix the problem. For instance, if one room is freezing and another is consistently warm, it could be an issue with the air ducts in your home. Not only do poorly insulated ducts heat your home inconsistently, they could also be contributing to higher energy bills. You should have your ducts inspected by a trained professional for any problematic issues.

How to Remedy Cold Hardwood Floors

If your ducts check out fine or you’re looking for a temporary fix to hold you over, a quick and easy way to solve the wintertime hardwood flooring blues is to purchase an area rug. This is an especially good solution if there’s a specific room or area of your home that gets colder than others. Likewise, another quick fix is to purchase an air deflector to better circulate the heat in your home. Heat and air deflectors are inexpensive options that don’t require a ton of money and are easy to install. Unlike area rugs, they also have the added benefit of allowing you to keep those shiny hardwood floors on full display.

Similarly, a smart zoned thermostat is a great solution for homes where some rooms and floors are chillier than others. A smart zoned thermostat can be programmed to heat certain rooms more than others. This helps ensure heat is distributed evenly throughout your home while also helping you reduce energy costs by avoiding the unnecessary heating of already warm rooms. Using a smart zoned thermostat can keep your floors feeling toasty and also save you money in the long run.

If you have stripped hardwood floors, you may want to consider draft proofing them. The small gap between the boards can allow cool air to enter your home. It’s basically the equivalent of leaving a window open on a chilly winter day. The best way to fix this problem is by draft proofing the floorboards. You can do this yourself with some relatively inexpensive materials, or you can contact the professionals at Wall 2 Wall to give your floors a professional quality look.

Once your floors have been draft proofed, you should also consider refinishing them. Over time, floors can lose their luster. Refinishing is an attractive option because it can make your hardwood floors look shiny and new at a fraction of the cost of new hardwood floor installation. At Wall 2 Wall, we can also stain floors a new color if you’re looking to upgrade the look of your home without breaking the bank.

If your hardwood floors were recently installed by a skilled professional or are in good shape, then your home could be in need of new insulation. It might be a good idea to contact a home inspector to assess your insulation. You should also check to make sure the windows and entryways of your home are properly sealed. The problem could have little to do with the hardwood floors themselves and more to do with drafty windows or doors. Weatherstripping them is an easy and inexpensive way to keep your floors feeling warm. It can even reduce your energy bills.

If everything checks out fine with your home’s insulation and your floors aren’t in need of refinishing, consider radiant heating. While this is not recommended for solid hardwood flooring, it can be an excellent option for engineered hardwood floors. Hydronic radiant floors are typically the most popular and cost-effective option. If this is an upgrade you’d like to consider, our experts at Wall 2 Wall would be happy to provide you with a free estimate.

If you prefer to turn up the thermostat in your home, remember to be mindful of moisture levels. Low humidity levels can cause wood to shift and lead to cracks or gaps between the planks. Hygrometers are inexpensive tools that will help you measure your home’s moisture level.

If you’re cranking up the heat, make sure that you’re not warping your hardwood floors in the process. With solid or engineered hardwood floors, you’ll want to keep the humidity level between 35% and 55%. If the levels reach about 55%, moisture could seep into the wood, creating gaps or causing the floor to cup. If the humidity level drops below 35%, it could weaken the wood and cause it to split. Installing a hygrometer will help you gauge the humidity level in your home and help you prevent any damage to your home’s hardwood floors.

If you want a professional to help assess which of our solutions would work best for you, contact our experts at Wall 2 Wall. We’re your local source for all your hardwood floor installation and maintenance needs. Your hardwood floors can and should be enjoyed year-round and we’re more than happy to help you do that.

10 Questions to Ask When Considering Hardwood Floors

When you consider hardwood floor installation, you’re not just making a quick decision. This is a long-term investment you’re making into your home, and you need to know your options and the ramifications behind each element. That’s why it’s important to ask the following 10 questions.

What type of hardwood is best for my home?

There are many different types of hardwood that can be considered when preparing for installation. You need to know what is most important to you. According to DIY Network, the best hardwood floors are made with wood species that are readily available and — you guessed it — very hard. Oak flooring, maple flooring, and cherry flooring are all good choices. Other species include bamboo (which is actually a grass), walnut, ash, and mahogany.

What is the cost?

10 Questions to Ask When Considering Hardwood FloorsLaminate is your cheapest option at $3-$7 per square foot. Right behind it is ceramic or porcelain tile at $4-$12 per square foot and engineered wood for $4-18 per square foot. Regular wood starts out as priciest floors at $6-$15 per square foot.

Do you charge for an estimate?

Some contractors will reach into your pocket as soon as they enter your front door. Make sure you know all the facts, including whether or not they charge for an estimate. While that may not be the ultimate deciding factor on who does your floors, you want to know where every penny is going, especially if you’re on a tight budget.

Are you insured and certified to install my flooring?

Do not overlook this step. You need to protect yourself in case something goes wrong, and that’s what insurance is for. If you trust someone else’s word (who could be a friend of the contractor), it could come back to bite you. Make sure they provide the appropriate documentation. Proceeding with an uncertified or uninsured contractor is not advisable in any business venture.

Can you provide me references and testimonials?

This is another key component to the process when deciding who will do your hardwood floor installation. Even if referred to the contractor by a friend, you want to see iron clad testimonials. It’s okay if there are a couple that aren’t perfect because that proves the contractor is being honest with you. If they have a legitimate explanation about the negative comments, then it’s up to you to be the judge and see if you want to do business with them. Call the references too, because then you can hear some thoughts from people who were once in the same position as you.

What can you tell me about moisture in my area and how that may affect my hardwood floor installation in the long term?

It’s no secret that moisture and hardwood flooring don’t mix, and sometimes, geography plays into it. Local contractors should know the area, especially if they’re experienced, and they can give you the low-down on what to expect with your flooring. The good ones should also give you some tips on how to combat moisture or even take some preventative measures to fight moisture before it even becomes an issue in your home. Depending on your area, it’s just one of those things you have to stay on top of. If you’re lazy and don’t do your due diligence, it could come back to bite you in the long run.

How is the old flooring disposed? Is there an additional charge?

Much like the question asked earlier about there being a cost for an estimate, this is one of those things that you have to ask beforehand. Some contractors take the old flooring and dispose of it themselves for no charge, but that’s not the case with everyone. This way, if your contractor is one of the ones who charge, you won’t be surprised. Also, you can play hardball sometimes and negotiate, and some may be willing to waive such a fee to ensure they get your business.

Who moves all the furniture, electronics, etc. before installation?

This is one people don’t usually forget because everyone worries about their valuables during construction. Sometimes, it’s the homeowner’s responsibility to move everything prior to the construction team’s arrival, but other times, it’s a package deal and the contractors do everything themselves. Whether there is a fee or not, this is a necessary evil, because your valuables need to be protected during the overhaul with your home’s hardwood floor installation.

What does the warranty cover?

A lot of times, you’ll get in writing the complete breakdown of what the warranty covers. READ IT! If anything is unclear, ask the contractor before construction begins. You don’t want to get into a situation where your wood flooring has a problem and it’s not covered. You need to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, both financially and logistically. If you fail to read the paperwork, and you have issues not covered, you will bear the financial burden associated with repairs.

How do I keep my flooring looking new?

There are a number of steps, according to One Good Thing, you can take, some of which are preventative, to ensure your hardwood floor is looking shiny and glorious. First, make your guests take their shoes off! When you walk on a wooden floor with dirty shoes, you are leaving lots of sand and dirt behind. Next, make sure to get rid of dirt and grime with a vacuum or dust mop before you attempt to wash a wood floor. Rubbing dirt into your floors is never a good idea. Dust the floor with a mop that has been treated with a dusting agent (or use a microfiber duster) to pick up dust, dirt and pet hair. For occasional deep cleaning (dirt, oil and grime will build up over time), the best solution for cleaning wood floors is one cup of vinegar mixed with one gallon of water.

Top Ways to Protect Your Hardwoood Floors

There are many things people can do to ensure that their hardwood floors have a long and luxuriousTop Ways to Protect Your Hardwoood Floors lifetime. Whether it’s certain precautions to take or scheduled maintenance, there are plenty of steps you can take to keep your hardwood floors in tip-top shape.

One simple idea includes stopping dirt at the door. You probably don’t regularly consider this, but grit getting stuck on the bottom of your shoes is a finish-killer. Keep a doormat by the front and back doors, and ask people to take off their shoes. High-heels and soccer cleats are also hardwood floor killers as they can actually dent the floors, so make them no-no shoes in your home.

Here’s some other suggestions:

  • Prevent Scratches: Put felt pads on the bottom of your furniture legs. Don’t forget about your canine companions. Keeping dogs’ nails clipped can prevent long-term damage to your hardwood floors as well.
  • Keep it Clean: Sounds simple, right? Not so much. Make sure you are an avid vacuumer, and follow up by mopping with a moist microfiber pad. Also, if there’s a spill, don’t panic. Just promptly wipe it up, or else you risk water warping boards or damaging the finish.
  • Renew the Finish: Is your surface getting dull? Don’t fret as a light sanding and fresh coats of polyurethane should help. If you do this every few years, dullness should not be a problem long-term.
  • Beware of Build-up: There are certain cleaners you should watch out for, especially ones that include ammonia, vinegar, wax, polish or oil soaps. Any of these can dull a top-coat and cause refinishing issues down the road. If you’re not sure if a cleaner is good, spray your window with it and let it dry. If it leaves any residue, junk it.

While chair-glides and furniture pads can be purchased at any home improvement store, Bona has some do-it-yourself suggestions for people who are looking at a cost-saving alternative that’s still effective.

This includes:

  1. Old Carpet. Old scraps of carpet can be cut and placed on furniture legs. Make sure these pads are installed with the carpet-side touching the floor.
  2. Felt Pads. While felt furniture pads can be store-bought, any thick felt will do nicely. Cut the felt into the appropriate size and glue on.
  3. Velcro. If you have industrial grade Velcro, use the soft side of the Velcro (looped side) as an effective furniture pad.
  4. Towels. Old towels can be cut into pads, making sure they are of appropriate thickness.
  5. Tennis Balls. Tennis balls that are slightly cut open can make good DIY slip-on pads if you don’t mind how they look on your furniture.
  6. Leather. Leather is another soft, durable material that can be made into a good furniture pad.

There’s also steps you can take proactively to protect against any long-term issues with your hardwood flooring.

Protect your investment from moisture damage.
When you think of moisture damage, you probably first think of flooding or large spills. While this is possible and should be dealt with promptly, moisture damage can also stem from climate changes related to the humidity levels in your home in the summer. You should ensure your home is kept at a reasonable level for air conditioning and humidity control throughout the season.

In the winter, when the air is dryer, heat can cause the opposite effect and cause wood to pull apart at seams of planks. Once again, if you keep humidity levels constant throughout the area where your wooden floors are laid, there shouldn’t be any issues.

Beware of any changes in your hardwood flooring.It’s a phrase you’re familiar with since childhood, but it applies true. If you see something, say something. Since hardwood is made from natural products, expansion and contraction is natural. When your flooring raises and dips in areas unnaturally, this is called cupping, which is caused by humidity, a plumbing leak or sitting water. You should investigate the root of the issue before your floor is ruined. For areas cupping over long periods of time, entire plank replacement is the likely solution, and possibly more than one plank.

Either way, in a case like this, get an expert into your home before a small problem becomes a major disaster.

How do I keep my hardwood floor looking shiny?
This is an age-old question, but the solution is actually quite simple. There are several products, theories and suggestions for how should keep hardwood floors looking shiny and fantastic, but water and vinegar sprayed on a sponge mop will get the job done. It also protects your finish without stripping, which is pivotal.

Nobody wants to ruin their floors, but if you do any of these, your floors will have a very short lifespan. Call below the “what not to do guide” on handling your hardwood floors.

Animal/Pet Urine Stains
You hate them as much as your floors do! The key is to clean them up before they dry, but too often these stains are only discovered after carpet or rugs have been moved. Your best defense is early detection.

Pet Bowls
Unless your dog is incredibly dainty, water bowls pose a potential long-term water damage risk. Your best protection is prevention. In this case it means making sure that the water bowls are not on hardwood flooring or have something under the bowls to catch drips and spills.

Mopping Your Floors with Water
Hardwood floors and water simply don’t mix. In fact, water should be removed ASAP and never added when cleaning.

Failure to Keep Dirt/Debris off the Floor
This is about more than not just being a slob, it has to do with the long-term care of your hardwood floor. Yes, floors will get dirty, but as hardwood floor owners we need to do our best to prevent dirt. Use welcome mats at doors and keep those mats clean.

The bottom line? Take care of your hardwood floors. It’s not that difficult. With a little tender, love and care, and maybe some money from time to time, your floors will last you a very long time.

Not All Hardwood Floors are Created Equal

Not All Hardwood Floors are Created Equal

When you consider making flooring upgrades in your home, there are several options, but nothing seems as truly beautiful as when you install hardwood floors. Their presence just adds a genuine warmth, and it’s a popular choice among consumers. But remember, not all hardwood floors are the same, and you must keep that in mind when deciding what you want.

Solid hardwood floors are made out of solid wood. Each board is made from a single piece of hardwood that’s about 3/4 of an inch thick. Because it’s thick, it can be sanded down and refinished for however long the flooring is in the home. Solid wood flooring expands and contracts with changes in your home’s relative humidity. Normally, installers compensate for this movement by leaving an expansion gap between the floor and the wall. Base molding or quarter round is traditionally used to hide the extra space.

On the contrary, engineered hardwood is more versatile and resilient, and it can be installed in most areas of the home. It’s made of genuine wood and it gives you an updated look and feel. It’s made of a core of hardwood and plywood with a layer of hardwood veneer affixed to the top surface. It’s more resilient to moisture and heat compared to its counterpart, hardwood.

Solid wood floors are only recommended for rooms at ground level or above. The unique construction of engineered wood creates a structure that is less likely to buckle, gap or react to fluctuations in humidity and temperature. You can install engineered flooring on any level, including below ground. It’s a great choice for finished basements and bathrooms.

Both types of floors are designed for beauty and durability and can stand up to active homes. However, they have different performance attributes. Solid wood is permanently nailed to the subfloor. When engineers install hardwood floors, they typically leave a gap between the wall and the floor to accommodate swelling. Engineered floors tend to have enhanced stability, making them more reliable against everyday wear-and-tear and also to buckling or rippling. In the right conditions, engineered hardwood can go over concrete.

Solid hardwood flooring installation is perhaps the most challenging of all flooring types. However, with the right tools and planning, skilled DIYers can handle the job with stunning results. Engineered hardwood flooring is an easier and faster DIY installation.

In terms of cost, solid wood tends to be cheaper overall, but it takes more time to install, as previously mentioned. Exotic or highly-coveted hardwood, such as maple, may be more expensive than engineered flooring. In terms up upkeep, here are some major differences.

Conveniently, upkeep for all types of hardwood floor is simple. Just avoid moisture, use pads on the feet of furniture to prevent scratches, do not let water sit and ensure you’re using the proper cleaning supplies.

Engineered floors, on the other hand, are considered more environmentally friendly and sustainable than most types of flooring, including solid hardwood as it makes use of “leftovers” from other wood manufacturing processes. However, solid hardwood could also be considered environmentally friendly if it is bought from a responsible supplier. Look for hardwoods certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Here are more differences between solid and engineered hardwood.

Solid

  • Deeper color with age: It depends on the species, but many exotic solid woods will change color after being exposed to ultraviolet light over weeks or months. Usually, the color becomes deeper and darker.
  • Choice of finish: Since our solid woods are unfinished, you can choose whatever finish and number of coatings you like. This includes the sheen level of the finish, as well.
  • Easily cleaned and maintained: Solid flooring is sanded and sealed at the job site. So there are no cracks between wood strips that act as dirt traps. And most cleaning jobs can be handled with a damp—not wet—cloth or mop.

Engineered

  • Capable of refinishes: Because of the thick, sawn top-layer, engineered flooring can be refinished 2 – 3 times.
  • Attractiveness: With engineered hardwoods, you’re not getting a thin veneer. You’re getting genuine hardwood on the top layer. That layer is just sawn more thinly than with solid wood, so you have the same kind of natural beauty and rich color that you get with exotic solid woods.
  • Stability: Engineered flooring is structurally stabilized. The cross-grain pattern resists expansion and contraction caused by changes in temperature and moisture. The result is flooring that is more stable than solid wood.

When refinishing these floors, it is also important to be aware that many refinishing products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Varnish and lacquer are the most dangerous, while water-based finishes are less so.

To recap, consider the following factors before deciding on solid wood or engineered flooring:

  • Location: Traditional solid hardwood flooring is not well suited for below-grade installations because of the possibility of moisture issues. The construction of an engineered hardwood gives it enhanced structural stability that allows it to be installed at any grade level
  • Type of Subfloor: If you plan to install over concrete, you must use an engineered product to ensure structural integrity. Solid wood flooring or engineered flooring may be used over plywood, existing wood floors or OSB subfloors.
  • Moisture in the Room: If you are considering floors for a bathroom where continuous moisture is expected, you will want to select a product other than hardwood. While the moisture resistance of an engineered hardwood makes it suitable for rooms below grade or ground level when installed with a moisture barrier, it is not advisable to install any hardwood flooring in a bathroom.

All in all, you have to think about what’s best for you and your family in your current living situation. While one may be more affordable, it may not be the most financially-responsible decision in the long run. You need to consider all factors before making any concrete decision about installing new wood floors. For more information and for help having your hardwood floors installed, click here.

Most Common Problems When Restoring Hardwood Floors

hardwood floor restoration

Hardwood floors are an elegant and long-lasting feature in your home that have a variety of practical benefits as well. They are much easier to clean than carpets, they are environmentally friendly and sustainable, and they are generally low-maintenance. With these advantages, many homeowners are choosing to have hardwood floors installed in homes both new and old.

Some homeowners even discover that they had hard hardwood floors all along, hidden under their carpets! If you have a newly discovered hardwood floor or want to restore an old one, you will have to keep a few things in mind. Here are a few of the most common problems that come with hardwood floor restoration:

An uneven gloss or sheen
A well-kept hardwood floor will have a distinctive luster to it, having been polished to a high shine. This gloss comes from the finish, which is applied after the floor has been sanded and polished. If the shine is uneven, the most likely cause is the failure of the finish to cure properly. When you have your finish applied, make sure that there is proper ventilation in the room. Too much humidity in your house can cause water to be trapped between the finish and the floor, preventing it from drying properly. To keep this from happening, make sure you apply your finish on a day that is not too humid; you can open windows and turn on fans to get the air circulating in order to facilitate this. If you do notice that your floor isn’t shining the way you would like, you may have to have the floor sanded again and the finish reapplied.

Black mold stains
Another problem caused by humidity is mold growth. Excessive moisture in the floorboard will create ideal conditions for mold to thrive; it can then spread, leaving unsightly stains across your wood floor. Just as with the previous problem, the first step is attempting to remove the moisture from the atmosphere. Open windows and fans will help a great deal with this process. Next, you can kill the mold spores by applying wood bleach to the stained areas. After you have applied the bleach, use baking soda to neutralize it before you take the next steps in restoring your floor. The bleach will raise up the wood, so in order to remove the stains you will need to lightly sand it back down. Using a 120-grit sandpaper is usually the best choice for this. Then you can reapply a new stain to the area to leave it good as new.

Cupping or warping
Here is another problem caused by moisture. Are you sensing a pattern yet? Changes in the humidity level can also cause your floorboards to change shape. If the sides of the floorboards curl up, this is known as cupping. This can sometimes be subtle and require the trained eye of a professional to notice. Other times, it can be very dramatic and even pose a safety hazard to people living in the house. If the damage has become too extensive, then you may need to replace the floor completely. It’s a good idea to have a professional assess your floor and make recommendations regarding the refinishing of it; they can catch small problems that might otherwise be missed. The first thing you will want to do if you see your wood floor warping or cupping is locate the source of the moisture. While it may be caused by weather, there may also be another source of moisture in your home. Make sure you don’t have any leaks in your plumbing or poor seals in your windows that are letting in humid air. A moisture meter can also be used to test the levels of humidity in the floorboards themselves. You can check this against a chart which will tell you the acceptable moisture content for your floor. Removing the source of the moisture can often help your floors go back to normal, but if not, you may need to take steps to have them fixed or replaced.

Scratches in the floor
Refinishing your hardwood floor involves sanding it, and this process must be undertaken with great care. Too much sanding can damage the floor; too little can leave it rough and make it impossible for it to accept a new finish. Even if you treat your wood floor with the utmost care, scratches will accumulate over the years through normal wear and tear. There are a few ways to deal with a scratched floor; a simple wood marker may be able to cover them, or a light sanding followed by a small amount of finish can help as well. Deeper scratches may require the use of a wax filler stick, which you can purchase at your local hardware store.

If you are thinking about hardwood floor restoration, it’s a good idea to have a professional come take a look. They can often discover problems and issues you may not see and help you to repair them. Since a wood floor can last for many years and save you money over the cost of carpet, this should be considered a sound investment in your home’s future.

How to Find Sustainable Hardwood Floors

Choosing to have hardwood floors installed is one of the best choices you can make for your home. Hardwood floors bring with them a wide variety of benefits, not the least of which is boosting the value of your residence. In addition to this, they are easy to clean, they do not trap dust and dirt the way carpets do, and they require far less maintenance than other types of flooring. With all those advantages we’d say that hardwood flooring is already an excellent choice for your home, but they offer an even greater benefit: sustainability.

While carpets come full of chemicals left over from the manufacturing process, hardwood floors are a natural alternative that literally grows on trees. Since they’re made completely from trees, they are an excelleHow to Find Sustainable Hardwood Floorsnt choice for a “green” household. If you’re looking to have wood floors installed in your home, you have several options to maximize sustainability.

Reclaimed Wood
Reclaimed wood is, quite simply, wood that has been reused. Quite often it has been repurposed from a very old building (such as a 100-year-old barn) and turned into flooring. This type of flooring provides a unique vintage appearance for your floor as it can come from trees that were harvested centuries ago. Besides its aesthetic advantages, you can rest easy knowing that your hardwood floor is sturdy and built to last since the wood has already weathered the test of time.

Suppressed Wood Flooring
Forests can become vulnerable to fires and diseases when they grow too dense. To prevent this, people will often remove the trees that are at the highest risk, leaving the healthy trees to grow safely. When a forest is deliberately thinned out by humans in order to prevent fire and disease from spreading, the trees removed are usually the smaller, slowest growing trees. While for many years the wood from these trees was simply used as firewood and not much else, recently they’ve started to be repurposed as “suppressed” hardwood flooring. They are great if you’re looking for a wood with a close grain and fine texture, and they have the added benefit of protecting the world’s forests as well.

Bamboo Flooring
Bamboo is one of the fastest growing hardwoods in existence. A bamboo tree can reach full maturity in as little as five years! Contrast this with other hardwood species, which may take decades to reach their ideal strength and size. Due to the speed of growth, bamboo is one of the most sustainable choices for hardwood flooring. Bamboo can also grow to be extremely strong and durable, providing you with a floor that can last for years and years. It’s not without its drawbacks, however, as bamboo floors are also particularly vulnerable to scratches and have no standardized grading system to help you decide which floor to purchase.

Engineered Wood
“Engineered” wood is made from several layers of plywood covered with a veneer of hardwood. Since it uses less hardwood than a traditional wood floor, it tends to be cheaper, not to mention more sustainable. It has other advantages as well: it is less vulnerable to moisture than traditional hardwood flooring and provides more stability as well. If an engineered wood floor is properly installed, it’s extremely difficult to tell the difference between it and a traditional hardwood floor.

How to check if your hardwood flooring is sustainable
While you are shopping for new hardwood flooring, you’ll want to check to see if it really is sustainable or not. There are a number of ways this can be done. Check if the wood has a label from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Both organizations place stringent standards to ensure the wood collected is environmentally friendly, in particular the FSC. Woods they recommend include Long-Leaf Pine, American Cherry, and Central American Teak. You can also check if the wood has been rated by LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, which is another leading environmental certification program. LEED has four levels of certification from Certified to Platinum. If the wood you purchase for your flooring has a high number of LEED points then it’s an excellent choice for sustainability. The fact of the matter is that currently only about 10 percent of the flooring that’s available is truly sustainable so you will have to do some research before making any decisions.

Going green for the life of your floor
Keeping your home sustainable doesn’t end after your hardwood floor has been installed. Being green is an ongoing process and you’ll need to stay on top of it for as long as you are living in your home. Try to avoid using any toxic glues when you are having your floor installed, for example. In addition, make sure that any cleaning products you purchase for your floor are non-toxic to the environment. As long as you are diligent in your research, you will be able to proudly live in a green home made from sustainable materials for years to come.

The 10 Best Reasons To Use Hardwood Floors

Whether you are building a new home, or planning on making some big changes in the home you’ve lived in for years, hardwood floors are an absolutely worthwhile investment. Depending on your individual needs, hardwood floors can provide a variety of benefits that other options, such as carpeting, do not. While hardwood flooring can provide a challenge to install and veer toward the expensive side, the payoff you receive over the years will make it well worth it. Here are our top 10 reasons why hardwood floors are the best choice:

1. They are easy to clean 



These days, many people suffer from allergies that can severely diminish their quality of life. Dust, pollen, and other small contaminants can make for a nightmare of itchy eyes and sneezing to people who are vulnerable to them. In a carpet, the material hides the particles of dust and dander that cause allergies, and even vacuuming doesn’t necessarily remove all of it. With hardwood flooring, however, you simply need to wipe up every once in a while. There is no place for those allergens to hide, making your life a lot easier and more comfortable.

The 10 Best Reasons To Use Hardwood Floors2. They are low maintenance

If you have a carpet, you’ll need to invest in occasional steam cleaning to deal with the aforementioned dust particles that build up over the years. You’ll be spending even more money to deal with stains from coffee, red wine, and anything else that gets into the fibers during the life of the carpet. A wood floor, on the other hand, only needs to be wiped up regularly. In the long term, you will need to get a wood floor cleaner and do some more in-depth cleaning but overall keeping your wood floor in good condition will be easy.

3. They are a sustainable resource

Because they actually do grow on trees, hardwood floors are a sustainable resource. This is in contrast to other types of flooring; often, carpets are made from synthetic fibers and come packed with chemicals. Wood flooring can be made from a variety of different plants, including bamboo, which grows extremely fast and is a great choice for sustainability.

4. They don’t trap odors

In addition to their other issues, carpets have a tendency to trap odors, making your home smell unpleasant until you pay for an expensive steam cleaning. Wood floors do not trap smell-causing molecules, but do provide a pleasant scent of their own. The air quality of your home will improve greatly just by having a wood floor.

5. They increase the value of your home

Wooden floors put your home into higher demand. Estate agents report that homes with wood floors sell twice as easily as those with carpets. Often times, if you’re selling a house, you will need to replace the carpet (at your own expense) before doing so as it becomes dirty, unsightly and stained over time. A wood floor will save you this cost. Installing a wood floor is also considered an upgrade and can boost the value of your home as well.

6. They last a very long time

Tiles, grout and carpets have a tendency to wear out and require replacement over time. A good quality, kiln-dried wood floor, however, is built to last and will look just as good after a few decades as it does when it’s first installed, provided it is properly cared for.

7. They can stand up to a lot of wear and tear

Not only will a good wood floor last for years with proper care, it can also stand up to a tremendous amount of punishment. If it’s built properly and kept to a certain standard of quality, a hardwood floor can bear a great deal of weight and stay elegant and beautiful even in areas of heavy foot traffic.

8. They will improve the acoustics in your home

Have you ever wondered why dance studios and music halls often have hardwood flooring? It’s because of the acoustical benefit they provide; wood floors reduce vibrations and hollow sounds that detract from the quality of the performance. In your home, that translates to a quieter and more pleasant atmosphere as well as better sound playback for your home theater system.

9. They are much more cost effective than other options

In the short term, a wood floor may seem like an expensive option when choosing what type of flooring to use in your home. But over the years, a hardwood floor will more than pay for itself with all of the money you save in everything from cleaning to replacement tiles and carpeting.

10. They are a great choice for timeless style

The problem with a lot of factory produced flooring is that it has a tendency to go out of style and date your home. This is true whether you have carpeting, tiles or anything else with a manmade pattern. Hardwood floors, however, sport beautiful natural patterns that don’t repeat and never go out of style. By installing a wood floor, you’ll give your home a timeless look that can last for decades to come.

5 Hardwood Flooring Mistakes To Avoid

Whether you’re planning on building a new home, buying one, on making some changes to your current home, having hardwood floors is an excellent investment to make. There are a multitude of advantages to having wood floors in your home; they are sustainable, easy to clean, and relatively low-maintenance as well. Besides, they are absolutely beautiful and will provide your home with a real sense of charm.

If you have decided to invest in a home with hardwood flooring, congratulations! We think it’s an excellent decision that will pay off in the future. But like any investment, proper planning is essential. Here are five big mistakes unprepared homeowners often make when installing wood floors:

1. They Rack Them Wrong

5 Hardwood Flooring Mistakes To AvoidThe racking of your wood floor makes a huge difference in how it appears. You have to take time and care when you’re placing the pieces of your floor, or you will have a disaster on your hands.

If you have purchased a prefinished product, then make sure to follow the recommendations of the manufacturer. Figure out what direction your floor is going to be installed in and place all of the flooring with the tongue facing in that direction. Longer pieces should be used at the starting and ending areas. You’ll want to make sure that the end joints are kept staggered around 6-8 inches apart from each other, avoiding H joints (which will really take away from the aesthetics of your wood floor), as well as clusters. Make sure you plan where each floor board is going to go; keep an eye on the look as a whole and not just the individual boards.

2. They Don’t Plan Properly

An all-too common mistake among those who install wood flooring is to slack off when planning the layout of the floor. They simply go in and begin installing the boards without thinking about the bigger picture. People assume that the rooms the floor is being placed in are completely square (which they rarely are).

Study the subfloor in the room where you’re doing the installation. If you can determine what direction the floor joists of the subfloor go, you can install the wood flooring perpendicular to them. You should mark the positions of the floor joists along the wall (your marks will be covered anyway when the floor is installed) and use an underlayment that suits the type of subfloor you have. Then you can use a chalk box to snap a line to guide where your floorboards will go.

3. They Fail To Check The Moisture

Remember that wood is a very sensitive material and will readily absorb any moisture in the atmosphere. This can lead to problems down the road so you’ll want to check the moisture regularly. What you want to check for is the relative humidity in the room, which of course will change depending on the time of year, climate, and any use you might make of a heater or air conditioning. During the colder parts of the year, as people turn their heaters on, the air dries out. This draws moisture out of the wood and causes the floorboards to shrink. Once the air becomes more humid again, the floorboards will expand, and eventually they will warp after repeating this process a few times. This is why a wood moisture meter is an excellent investment for any homeowner.

As its name implies, a wood moisture meter can measure the moisture content in your floor. Once you know the moisture content, you can adjust the humidity to match it. You will not want to exceed a twenty percent difference between the humidity of your home and the humidity of your floorboards, as this is what will eventually lead to the wood warping.

4. Failure To Fasten

If you don’t install enough fasteners in your floorboards, a wide variety of problems can occur. This may seem like common sense, but a shockingly large amount of homeowners attempt to cut corners by only putting a few nails in each board. If you do this, however, your floorboards won’t be securely fastened. If they are loose, they will make noise and spread apart, causing gaps. Follow your manufacturer’s directions for fastening floorboards; never ignore them or attempt to bypass them.

Each board should always have at least two fasteners in it, and the distance apart depends on the type of floorboard. If you are using plank flooring that is four or more inches wide, there should be a nail about every six to eight inches. If, on the other hand, you are using standard strip flooring, there should be a nail about every eight to ten inches.

5. They Don’t Prepare Their Subfloor

Your wood floor is going to be sitting on top of a subfloor, made of concrete or some other material. If you simply install your floorboards over the subfloor without properly preparing it, that can lead to loose, noisy boards and other problems. It’s very important that you clean the subfloor before installing anything else, making sure that there is no dust, drywall chunks, or other debris scattered over it. You’ll also want to make sure the subfloor is flat and dry; check the most recent industry standards and of course, be aware of the moisture in the room.

Of course, you can avoid all these costly mistakes by contacting Wall2Wall for all your flooring needs, today! With us at hand, you should be able to enjoy your hardwood floor for many years to come.

My Hardwood Floors Are Warping, What Can I Do?

Having a hardwood floor is absolutely a worthwhile investment. They are low-maintenance, easy to clean, gorgeous to look at, and an excellent sustainable choice for your home. However, wood is also susceptible to its own set of problems since it’s a living, breathing material. For many homes, the biggest problem is warping.

If the floorboards in your home are warping, then your home most likely has a problem with excess moisture. Before you panic, in many cases, this is preventable and if it does occur, it can often be fixed, so don’t worry. This guide will aim to help you deal with the problem of warped floorboards.

Cupping
There are several different types of warping that hardwood floors can face; the first, called “cupping,” is when the sides of the floorboards curl upward, creating gaps between the floorboards. This occurs when the flooring swells up, pushing the sides against each other and forcing them upwards.

My Hardwood Floors Are Warping, What Can I Do?Crowning
The second problem is called “crowning” and it occurs when there is bulging in the middle of the hardwood floors, which is also caused by the wood swelling and being forced upwards.

Buckling
The third type of warping is called “buckling” and occurs when the flooring lifts up and away from the subfloor; this is an extreme case and generally occurs after flooding or if the floor has been installed incorrectly. Ultimately, the primary cause of these problems is moisture. Too often, homeowners do not pay proper attention to the moisture content of the wood when the floor is being installed or maintained.

Moisture in Hardwood Floors
Wood is a particularly sensitive material and absorbs moisture easily. That’s why it is necessary to keep an eye on the relative humidity in the room. The humidity changes depending on the time of year, the climate, and whether or not you are making use of a heater or air conditioning. When winter comes and it becomes cold, people tend to turn the heat up, drying out the air and drawing moisture out of the wood floors. Once the weather warms up again, it becomes humid and the wood floors begin soaking up moisture once again. Losing moisture causes wood flooring to shrink and absorbing moisture causes the floorboards to expand. Repeatedly absorbing and losing moisture can, over time, cause the floorboards to warp.

Preventative Measures
The first step you should take as a homeowner is to purchase a wood moisture meter. This is a tool you can procure to measure the moisture content in your floor up to about 3/4” of an inch deep into the wood. Favored by woodworkers, a moisture meter is a gadget that measures the effect of moisture on an electric current that it sends through the wood. The best type to purchase is a pinless meter (as one with pins requires putting holes in the wood which is of course not ideal).

For best results, it helps to know the species of the wood that makes up your floor. The moisture meters can be calibrated to the specific density of whatever species you have. Once you have used your device to measure the moisture content of your wood floor, compare it to what the ideal for your particular species of wood should be. If you find that the moisture content of your floor is too high or too low, you may be able to prevent problems before they occur. It’s important to keep an eye on humidity because it isn’t always obvious; oftentimes problems will sneak up on you.

Once you are aware of the moisture content in your floorboards, you can begin taking steps to control the humidity of your home. As a rule, you do not want to exceed a twenty percent difference between the humidity of your home and the humidity of your floorboards. If the room is at a low humidity and the floor is at a high one, the floorboards will shrink as moisture escapes from the wood into the air. Alternatively, if the room is much more humid than the floor is, moisture will slip into the floorboards and cause them to swell up.

It’s important, then, to take charge of the humidity in your home. During the summer, when the air becomes particularly humid, invest in a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air. An air conditioner will also dry out the air, as will an industrial fan. Once again, it’s a good idea to be aware of the species of your hardwood floors, since some are more stable than others. Red oak, for example, can handle changes in humidity more successfully than hickory wood.

During the winter time, using the heater is a good idea as it will dry out the air; however, if the air becomes too dry then consider using a humidifier to level out the moisture in the air. Being vigilant about the humidity of your floors is the best thing you can do to prevent warping.

If, despite your best preventive efforts, you find that the floors continue to warp, they can often be repaired. Repairs are best conducted in springtime, when the moisture in the air is relatively stable. Cupped or crowned flooring can be diagonally sanded to straighten them; you will lose about 1/4 of an inch of thickness but this is usually acceptable. If you have a floor that has already been sanded or is too far gone, you may have to have your wooden flooring replaced.

Ultimately, the key is prevention when dealing with hardwood floors but repairs are possible. When the problem has gone far enough, you may need to call in a professional.