Category Archives: Learning

wall-2-wall-how-does-laminate-flooring-compare-to-hardwood-flooring-in-portland

How Does Laminate Flooring Compare to Hardwood Flooring in Portland?

If you’re considering a home remodel or update, you’re probably looking into redoing your floors. Upgrading flooring can make all the difference in the feel of a home, and it adds a significant amount of value. In fact, if you choose hardwood floors, you can increase your home’s value by as much as 10 percent. No other flooring type matches the financial value of hardwood floors. But how does hardwood compare to laminate floors?

Laminate is becoming increasingly popular, but it doesn’t last as long. If you’re looking into flooring options in the Portland area, what is going to be the right fit for you? Is laminate the best choice, or is hardwood flooring in Portland going to ultimately be better?

What Is Laminate Flooring?

Even if you haven’t started your home remodel yet, you’ve seen it everywhere. You may know someone who used laminate or has been in a business with laminate flooring. Even with the prevalence of laminate flooring, however, you may not understand what laminate floors actually are. Laminate flooring is made from a composite material. They have three layers:

  1. Base layer. This is made of plywood or high-density fiberboard to give stability and strength.
  2. Image layer. This layer usually mimics the look of wood, but not always. There are many different options, such as stone, metal, tile, and so forth.
  3. Wear layer. This layer provides protection, makes the board hard, and contributes to durability.

What Is Hardwood Flooring?

It’s in the name so it’s easy to figure out what hardwood flooring is made of: wood. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The best hardwood floors are made from different types of wood, and those that are both readily available and extremely hard are going to be the best options for value and durability.

There are also engineered hardwood floors available. Engineered hardwood is frequently more stable, but this isn’t true for all hardwood choices. Because engineered hardwood has layers that are perpendicular to each other, it’s often stronger than solid hardwood and usually experiences less expansion and contraction, which allows for a tighter fit.

Differences Between Laminate and Hardwood

So the obvious difference is that they’re two different materials, but how do these different materials measure up to wear and tear?

Laminate Features

  • Cannot be refinished
  • Lasts about 10 years
  • Allows for DIY installation
  • More affordable
  • Made of thin fiberboard with an image
  • Best for radiant heating and pets
  • Has come a long way, but the “wood” image still doesn’t compare to the real thing

Hardwood Features

  • Can last a lifetime
  • Can be sanded and refinished many times
  • More expensive
  • Best if installed professional installed
  • 100% wood
  • Better resale value
  • Better appearance

Water- and Heat-Resistance

Although hardwood and laminate are both popular in kitchens because of their aesthetic appeal, neither is recommended for wet areas. Hardwood flooring can be damaged by standing water, and while laminate surfaces are very water- and stain-resistant, if water gets into the joints between the planks, swelling can occur that will damage the planks.

With winter comes dry air and heated homes, leading to wood flooring that loses some of the moisture it maintains otherwise. In these conditions, the hardwood shrinks as a result and ends up showing thin gaps between the wood planks. Thanks to advances in the heated floor industry, it’s still possible to have hardwood flooring installed over radiant heating. Finding a professional hardwood flooring company for this type of install is necessary. And it will give you peace of mind and confidence to know it’s done right.

Laminate experiences the same shrinking with cold weather and dry air. During the warm and humid months, laminate is prone to expand, which can give the floor a crowned look. As long as proper precautions are taken, however, laminate does well if installed over radiant heat.

Hardwood Installation vs. Laminate Installation

When it comes to installing hardwood or laminate, there are many similarities, but the methods are different.

Hardwood Installation

Before you can even start installing, hardwood floor planks should have about three weeks to acclimate. Once the subfloor has been prepped and leveled, it’s time to install.

A vapor barrier must be laid down when working with hardwood flooring. This helps prevent too much moisture from contacting the flooring so there isn’t rapid expansion. Taking this measure will prevent the wood from cupping.

Hardwood planks should be installed alternating seams for aesthetic reasons as well as to maintain the integrity of the floor. The hardwood planks are then stapled with either a flooring staple or a finish staple.

Laminate Installation

As with hardwood flooring, laminate planks also need some time to acclimate, and a subfloor must be prepped before installation can begin. After these steps, the moisture barrier can be added, and then installation of the planks can begin.

The biggest difference between installing hardwood and laminate is the tongue and groove feature for laminate planks. There’s no need to staple the planks into the subfloor. Instead, you slide the tongue part of the plank at an angle into the groove side and snap it in. This makes installation easier and quicker. With laminate planks, you also want to alternate the seams as you go, just as you do with the hardwood.

Choosing between laminate and hardwood flooring in Portland really comes down to what your preferences and priorities are. That’s why Wall 2 Wall Hardwood Floors is the perfect place to help with your home renovation. Our friendly and experienced team is dedicated to giving you the flooring you deserve.

We can help you decide what will best fit your needs, and help you reach your goals of increasing the value of your home. Whether you want to install new flooring or restore or repair your old flooring, we offer services to cover all of your needs. Installing hardwood flooring in Portland is our passion. We love that what we do brings joy to our customers for decades to come. For unparalleled craftsmanship for incredible hardwood flooring, call Wall 2 Wall Hardwood floors today.

wall-2-wall-how-to-fix-a-wood-floor-thats-buckling

How to Fix a Wood Floor That’s Buckling

Hardwood floors are aesthetically pleasing. A timeless addition to your home, they are relatively easier to maintain compared to carpeted floors. They are also easy to install, last incredibly long, and lend a sophisticated and chic look to your space.

Unfortunately, many homeowners have a tough time due to the buckling of their wood floors. Buckling is the reaction of a hardwood floor to the presence of excess moisture. This results in a slight elevation in the floors and creates an uneven surface.

Finding out the proper wood floor buckling fix can be stressful, but the experts at Wall 2 Wall Hardwood Flooring have you covered. Read on for a quick guide to you get started with the repairs.

Know What Is Causing the Moisture

Unless you identify the root cause of the excess moisture and address it head-on, buckling floors are going to become a recurring problem. Ensure that there is a normal moisture level in your house to prevent any further damage to your floor after repair.

Check if you have any leaking appliances or pipes, any drainage issues, or if groundwater is getting trapped in your floor due to any perforations. You should be careful about any flooding incidents, as prolonged exposure to moisture is always bad news for your wooden floors.

Buckling is also a common issue if you live in an area that experiences heavy rainfalls and high humidity. Consider getting a wood moisture meter to keep track of the seasonal changes that cause the wood floor to buckle. These moisture meters can assess the moisture content below the floor without causing any damage to the flooring.

Remove and Repair the Damaged Wood

Start by removing the wood planks carefully, without damaging the wood or paint. Depending on the extent of the damage caused by moisture, you may need to get rid of the entire plank or a part of it. Use a circular saw for partial removal and make a cut to remove just the damaged portion.

If you need to remove the entire plank, you may need a chisel, hammer, and screwdriver. Use the chisel and hammer for loosening the joints, and carefully use the screwdriver to remove the plank. Be extra careful not to disturb the nails that are holding the grooves in place.

Change the Damaged Planks

Repair the damaged planks you can and reinstall them. Then it’s time to replace the floorboards that are beyond repair. Again, make sure to pick planks with the same color and quality as the rest of your flooring.

Make sure to get the correct measurements so that the new planks fit the space. You may need to move the plank around a bit till it sits on the grooves. Then, use a hammer to gently fix the plank in place. Get rid of any nails that remain to prevent the planks from getting splintered.

When you’re installing new planks, leave some gaps between the boards so that there is enough room for the wood to expand. This will ensure that the flooring doesn’t buckle as soon as there is a change in the moisture levels. However, the spacing shouldn’t be too large, as that can spoil the aesthetics.

Replace the Spacers of Your Floorboards

Spacers are an essential part of hardwood flooring, as they help separate the floorboards from the wall. They also help to create a uniform expansion gap in the floor when there are changes in the temperature and humidity.

However, these may get damaged over time. That’s why once you have replaced the buckling planks, you need to check whether the spacers are damaged or the wrong size—if they are too big, they could be preventing the wooden floor from expanding in a uniform manner. If that’s the case, it’s time to get rid of these spacers and opt for smaller ones.

Make sure that the new spacers flatten out completely during installation so that there is enough space for the flooring to expand appropriately.

Add the Finishing Touches

Grab your sandpaper, preferably a fine grit, to start wet sanding the new plank to match the finish to the rest of the flooring. Don’t skip this step—you don’t want mismatched flooring in the house. Wait for the floor to be completely dry before you place the furniture back. Otherwise, moisture can get trapped and cause the floor to bend upward.

Tips to Prevent Your Wood Floor from Buckling

Use these easy tips to protect the floors from buckling:

  • Ensure that your HVAC system is installed correctly and keep the moisture levels in check. You can also consider getting a humidifier to maintain appropriate humidity indoors. Just don’t make it too dry.
  • Acclimatizing the hardwood floors is a non-negotiable step, especially when you get the floors shipped from a different city. When the floors are in a new environment, you need to give them time to adjust. If there is too much moisture content in the new environment, the floor will immediately start to show signs of buckling.
  • Complete all the wet work in your house before you start to install wood floors. This includes fixing the drywall, plastering, and painting.
  • Avoid putting too much furniture or weight on the floor to stop the moisture from getting trapped in the corners.
  • Fasten the floorboards properly. Use high-quality spacers, nails, and staples.
  • Use minimal water while cleaning the floors. For example, vacuuming is a better bet than using a wet mop, resulting in high humidity levels and causing the floor to absorb more moisture. You should also wipe up spills as soon as they happen.

While you can handle a minor wood floor buckling fix on your own, if it’s a bigger job or you’re unsure of the work, it’s important to hire professionals to make sure that the planks are correctly installed. Remember that improper installation can result in continued buckling and cause other issues.

At Wall 2 Wall, our flooring experts are here to take care of hardwood floor repair, no matter what the problem is. Allow our experienced team to make your floors look brand new once again.

wall2wall-what-are-the-layers-of-hardwood-floor-installation

What Are the Layers of Hardwood Floor Installation?

Hardwood floors have a long history as one of the most durable and attractive flooring options available. A well-cared-for hardwood floor can last a lifetime, but to get there, there are some things to think about. The durability and life span will depend on several factors, such as the type and quality of the finish, the periodic maintenance, and most importantly, the supporting structures of the hardwood floor.

In terms of the finish and maintenance, the average homeowner can expect to have their hardwood flooring refinished every 10 years or so, depending on the quality and durability of the initial finish itself. Regular maintenance will keep that finish in proper working condition, which, in turn, protects the hardwood flooring beneath. So just what is the flooring beneath? Let’s get back to our original question: what are the layers of hardwood flooring?

Essentially, there are four layers to a hardwood floor installation: joists, subfloor, underlayment, and decorative floor covering. Sounds easy, right? It probably is if you’re a professional that has the knowledge and expertise that can be found at Wall2Wall Hardwood. We have the experience and equipment to handle the job, despite whatever challenges may arise. So let’s take a closer look at the four layers.

1. Joists

Joists are essentially the dimensional lumber used to create the foundation of the floor. The joists are strategically spaced across the desired span and fashioned to create the most supportive framing necessary to hold the weight of the flooring over the duration.

Traditionally, joists were made from wood. Common types include pine, fir, hemlock, spruce, and redwood. Today, additional options include steel or engineered wood. Steel is mostly used for office buildings, apartment complexes, and large spaces that may have to support substantial weight. It’s important to consult with state and local building code administrators to make sure you’re following all the current guidelines and regulations, and a professional installer will have the ability to navigate the legal details.

While solid wood and steel joists may have more specified applications, manufacturers have created a plethora of engineered wood options that can address virtually all of the other hardwood floor installation requirements.

Engineered joists may have some features that are appealing to property owners and, according to the American Plywood Association, should also include ratings for quality, performance, and fire protection. Engineered wood is often light but incredibly strong and durable. Technically, the only flooring installation that may not require joists would be a cement floor, however, even then it might be beneficial to your decorative flooring choice.

It’s a complicated task to calculate the flooring joist framing. You need to determine the right size and composition of the joist, choose the right spacing for the span, and ensure that the potential load is fully supported. The joist support is the bottom-most layer, but it cannot function without the next layer, the subfloor.

2. Subfloor

The subfloor is the floor beneath the “floor.” It’s the layer that is directly above and fastened to the joists, which then becomes the complete foundation for the underlayment and decorative flooring (layers three and four). It is generally plywood, composite wood, or concrete. In the case of plywood or composite wood sheeting, the best practice is to arrange the largest continuous sheets available in a staggered pattern with spacing to allow for natural flex. It’s important to avoid a four-corner meeting to reduce the potential for weakness or buckling. The subfloor bears significant wear and tear over years, moisture being the most damaging. Moisture can swell, warp, degrade, and rot a subfloor in very little time.

Sagging, warping, squeaking, or a funky odor are all good signs that you may have a serious problem underfoot. Subfloors are important, so it’s a good idea to get any issues resolved as soon as you can. The longer it goes unaddressed, the more significant the damage may be to the other layers.

3. Underlayment

The third layer is the underlayment. It’s an exceptional situation for a hardwood floor installation not to include the underlayment. Underlayment for hardwood flooring is usually cork, rubber, or a cork-rubber composite. Be aware that there are additional underlayment options. In fact, underlayment can be any number of materials from felt or foam to concrete, depending on the decorative flooring to be laid above. Your flooring professional can help you decide what underlayment is best for your installation.

Having the appropriate underlayment is important for a few reasons. First, this layer provides extra stability to the decorative flooring above. It also smooths out some of the imperfections of the subfloor below it. For the homeowner, the right underlayment will provide some sound reduction, and it will add moisture protection preventing spillage from becoming seepage. Finally, the appropriate underlayment will protect and extend the life of the entire hardwood floor installation.

4. Decorative Hardwood

This is the layer that represents your entire project: the decorative, durable, and personal aspect of your flooring that you have been anticipating. There are several decisions that you must make when picking your decorative layer, and the choices are numerous.

There are two types of hardwood flooring, solid wood or engineered wood, and the choice is entirely personal because each has benefits and drawbacks. Wall2Wall Hardwoods has experienced professionals who can walk you through the specifics and make sure you have the information to make a confident decision.

To give you an idea of some of the complexity, a solid wood layer is often one of five species: cherry, maple, walnut, hickory, and oak. Solid hardwood installation is usually the traditional plank style, nailed, and finished. Each wood option will have its own ratings and properties.

Engineered wood can be manufactured to an assortment of characteristics, and a variety of installation methods giving you a lot of great options. There are manufactured wood systems that are fabricated with an integrated underlayment material, those made for floating installation, others designed for “click-systems.” The options are robust, so having a guide can help reduce the stress and uncertainty associated with such an important decision. Contact us to get started on your dream floor today. Wall2Wall Hardwoods is here to help get you there.

wall-2-wall-3-hardwood-floor-problems-you-can-diy-and-3-you-probably-shouldnt

3 Hardwood Floor Problems You Can DIY and 3 You Probably Shouldn’t

Many homeowners dream of having hardwood floors. Whether new floors were laid down some years back or original hardwood was discovered under carpeting, these floors will require maintenance or repair at some stage. Depending on their condition, you may or may not be able to tackle some of these hardwood floor problems yourself.

But which ones can you DIY and which ones should you leave to a professional? Before investing a lot of time, money, and hard labor, let’s look at some common problems and the degree of difficulty for these repairs.

Do It Yourself

1. Scratches

Light wear and tear over time is unavoidable. Though hardwood floors are durable for many years, it’s impossible to completely avoid scratching your floorboards. Typically, cosmetic repairs are easy to DIY. These can include light surface-level scratching and even deeper scratching that has gone into the wood.

Scratches are often removed by either filling them in or sanding down the scratched wood. A surface-level scratch will need minimal materials, such as a fine steel wool pad, mineral spirits to apply after standing, and touch-up markers to match the stain and finish on the flooring. If the scratch is deeper than the surface, you will also need to fill it in with wood filler before recoating. Neither process is difficult nor costly, making it a good DIY project.

2. Dents

Dents are not quite the same as scratches and involve a different process. However, if the wood dent is not too deep, you can attempt to repair this problem yourself. If no wood is missing or splintered, it may be possible to raise the wood back up with heat and moisture.

Steam will cause the wood to swell back in place. This can also be achieved by placing a damp towel over the dent, followed by a hot iron. Once the wood has swollen back into place, lightly sand and refinish. If the dent is too deep for this method to work, you can fill it in with either a lacquer inlay or an epoxy.

3. Noticeable Wear

If you have done some minor repair to your floorboards, such as removing scratches or filling in gaps and dents, you may opt to recoat your floors. This may also be necessary if the floors don’t have the luster they used to and are showing discoloration from heavy use.

Recoating a hardwood floor is a much easier process than refinishing it and doesn’t require taking the floors down to unstained wood with a high-quality sander. To recoat, you will need to wash the floors well and then sand them to remove the previous finish. Once you have removed the finish, clean them again to remove sawdust and other debris, then stain and finish. Recoating is time-consuming and does require hard work, but it can be a satisfying do-it-yourself project.

Call the Professionals

1. Squeaking

Squeaking floors typically indicate loose floorboards that are either rubbing against each other or the subfloor. In order to fix squeaking floorboards, you have to be able to access the source. Easier fixes simply require lubricant or replacing loose or missing nails.

However, this may not solve the issue. If there are gaps between the hardwood floor and subfloor, shims can be hammered in to eliminate these gaps; this requires relaying the hardwood floor.

Improperly supported floorboards can also cause squeaking. Additional bridge supports may have to be inserted to increase support. This requires access to the subfloor and exact measurements. This is probably not a project you should attempt yourself. If not done properly, the squeaks won’t be eliminated and new squeaks may be discovered later.

2. Water Damage

If your floors have had severe water damage, creating visible physical damage, floorboards may need to be replaced. If the stains are white, then most likely the damage is mild and mostly cosmetic. However, if the stains are black, then water has absorbed into the wood and this may indicate mold. Severe water damage will also cause floorboards to separate from the subfloor and stick out. This is called buckling and is one of the more severe types of damage. The boards will need to be replaced.

This type of repair requires specialized skills and equipment. If not done properly, it can lead to more damage and costlier repairs. When dealing with water damage, it’s important to properly assess how much of the floor is damaged so that all damaged boards are either repaired or replaced, as well as all mold removed. Hardwood floor problems such as water damage and buckling should be repaired by a professional trained to quickly resolve such issues.

3. Cupping and Crowning

Other visible signs of damage are cupping and crowning. Cupping is when the edges of the floorboards expand and cup upward. The edges of the floorboard become higher than the center, creating an uneven surface. This also happens due to a buildup of moisture, typically from flooring that has been installed over a wet basement or crawl space. The top of the wood and the bottom of the wood experience two different levels of humidity, causing the bottom of the wood to be wetter than the top and expand across the bottom.

It may seem that the simple solution is to sand the floors down flat. However, if you sand the floor too soon, it will lead to crowning. Crowning is the opposite of cupping, in which the center of the board is higher than the edges. Additionally, if the moisture problem isn’t resolved, then the floorboards will suffer the same repeated problem.

If you’re having issues with too much moisture and physical damage such as cupping, buckling, or crowning, it’s time to call in a professional. Wall 2 Wall specializes in hardwood floor installation, repair, and refinishing and can help fix your hardwood floor problem. Whatever the level of repair needed, our experienced crew will resolve any issues and restore your beautiful flooring, making old floors look like new again.

wall-2-wall-5-tips-for-caring-for-your-wood-floors-in-winter

5 Tips for Caring for Your Wood Floors in Winter

Winter is a welcomed season for many in Oregon because it brings with it a glut of snow sports, a handful of blustery nights spent cozy at home, and plenty of busy days filled with holiday traditions old and new. The change of season is felt distinctly. We are starting to see the coming rain that will wash us in shades of emerald next spring. The crispness in the air indicates it’s time to pull out the winter gear: hats, gloves, scarves, base-layers, and boots. It’s also time to tackle the household winterizing too. Here are five tips for caring for your wood floors in winter.

1. Clean Appropriately

Knowing the type and condition of the finish on your floor is essential to choosing the appropriate cleaning product. Hardwood floor finishes come in a variety of compounds, and each finish has specific cleaning guidelines. For example, if your flooring has a urethane or polyurethane finish, you don’t want to use a wax paste or oil soap because they can leave a slippery residue, which creates a serious slip hazard.

Other cleaning products can discolor and dull a finish in as little as one application, so it’s important to use the right cleaning agent. Even natural cleaning agents such as baking soda, vinegar, and water can cause visible damage to the shine and color of some polyurethane finishes.

In fact, it’s best to avoid water altogether, and never use a steam cleaner. Water damage to hardwood flooring can cause staining and swelling, and if the damage is extensive or prolonged, it can result in cupping, crowning, and other costly repairs. There are a number of high-quality products that are specifically formulated to clean quickly and efficiently while drying thoroughly.

2. Leave the Muck at the Door

Once you have made the effort to clean your floors, keep that shine as long as you can by controlling the amount of the world that makes its way into your home. We have tons of reasons to keep outside elements outside, and fortunately, there are loads of products to help us do that. You can mount thick bristle shoe brushes leading to your entry points and then place deeply grooved mats at both the outside and inside of the door itself. Once inside, you might adopt a Mr. Rogers sneaker habit and slip into some comfortable house shoes.

The health benefits of keeping a clean floor are numerous, and when it comes to wood floors in winter, there are extra factors to consider. Beyond the known culprits of water and mud, the Oregon Department of Transportation uses sand, magnesium chloride salt with an added corrosion inhibitor, and sodium chloride salt as anti-ice/de-ice storm maintenance measures, and any one of these things can inflict significant damage to flooring if tracked across your floor.

3. Protect Vulnerable Areas

Hardwood floor finish wears down disproportionately in high-traffic areas, and other places can become discolored from exposure to sunlight and UV wavelengths. It’s a good idea to put down rugs or floor runners to reduce wear and to use sheer curtains at windows to reduce UV light damage. Additionally, moving rugs and furniture periodically can help to minimize fade. Avoid high-heeled shoes and abrasive boots, and keep pets’ nails trimmed to minimize scratching. Also, consider refreshing your finish in high-traffic areas to extend the life of the flooring.

4. Avoid Water Contact or Moisture Collection

Most experts agree that water is quite problematic for wood floors in winter because of its ability to seep into the tiniest scratch or crack and then to be drawn into the wood fiber, where it naturally creates opportunities for stains, mold, warping, and cupping. It’s best to prevent water damage through diligence. Use mats at areas susceptible to splashing, such as near sinks, water bowls for pets, potted plants, and entryways because it’s there that water is joined with abrasives and caustics like sand and salt.

If you find water on your wood floors, immediately dry it completely. Whenever possible, regulate the moisture in your home with consistent temperature and humidity control. A dehumidifier is a great tool to keep moisture in check.

Even with all the preventative measures, it’s likely you will still be tracking water, mud, and sand onto your floors, and once the damage begins, there can be a rapid deterioration and degradation of the area. At the point that your finish has become damaged, it becomes necessary to evaluate the options. Fortunately, the experts at Wall 2 Wall Hardwood are readily available to help assess your needs.

5. Renew the Finish

Ultimately, there will come a time when your regular four to six deep cleanings each year just can’t deliver the look and performance you’re accustomed to seeing. You have done all the preventative measures and cared for your floors with great attention, but as with all things, there is a life expectancy.

Each type of finish will come with its own rating. Urethane and polyurethane may need refinishing every 6 to 10 years, depending on several aspects, especially the amount of traffic your floor supports. A family of four with two dogs is likely going to need to renew their finish significantly earlier than a retired couple.

Wax finish may need more frequent renewal, whereas some of the engineered finishes are rated to last anywhere from 10 to 30 years. As mentioned earlier, it’s really important to know what kind of finish you have because it will determine what your renewal options are.

Other considerations include the degree of wear, any damaged areas or repairs, stains, and water marks. The type of wood and thickness will need to be evaluated beforehand if your renewal includes significant sanding. Refinishing your hardwood flooring can be a DIY project, but it’s important to understand that it’s not necessarily quick, easy, or even that cheap. In all reality, hiring a professional to do the job is in the average homeowner’s best interests of time and money.

Wall 2 Wall Hardwoods offers a variety of professional services that deliver excellent craftsmanship. We know the job, have the tools, are familiar with the common snafus, and have the expertise to make your floors look amazing.

How Does a Contractor Install Heated Floors with Hardwood?

 

Heated floors have been around since the Romans fanned wood-burning fires under elevated marble floors. Fortunately for us, technology has come a long way, and heated floors are now available to anyone for much less hassle. With a new build, it’s easy to heat an entire house with a radiant heat system.

Certain types of heated floors are better as a supplemental heat source in your home, most commonly used in rooms such as bathrooms, basements, kitchens, and bedrooms—especially when the bedroom is above a garage or other unheated space. Whether using heated floors for the whole house or just certain rooms, they could arguably be one of the most luxurious additions you add and can be installed under many different types of wood floors.

If you have never experienced walking around barefoot in the cold of winter on a cozy, warm floor, you are indeed missing out! Take a look at what exactly heated floors are, how they work, and if adding them to a renovation or to your new build is right for you.

How Do Heated Floors Work?

Heated floors are an incredible heating system for your home, but how do they actually work? It’s a very simple concept, with the heat starting under the floors and rising, it feels warmer than heat being pushed in through the walls or ceiling. In more detail, since hot air rises, when you have heat, the air around the heat expands. When the heated air expands, it becomes less dense than the cooler air around it and then rises. When the heating system starts from under the floors, we get the benefit of feeling all of the heat rising, and there will be no cold drafts.

This can be seen with water as well. When there’s a less dense object, such as a log, the log then floats up to the denser water. When you heat under your floor, the hot air rises, thus helping to create a cozy warm home for you. This page offers a great visual of why heated floors work so well.

Typically, floor temperatures are set between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit but can be set as high as 104 degrees. Radiant floor heating systems often feel similar to the heat from the sun. Even when the air in the room is cooler, the warmth from the floor will help make you feel warmer. It’s similar to standing in the shade versus standing in the sun. It’s the same temperature, but you’re much warmer when you’re standing in the sun versus in the shade on a brisk day.

Pros and Cons of Radiant Heating

Pros

  •       Even heating—radiant floor heating systems heat the entire floor so there will always be an even temperature throughout the room or house, and no more cold drafts.
  •       Quiet—because there’s no air being forced through a duct system and no furnace that kicks on, radiant heating systems are very quiet.
  •       Fewer allergens—without a forced-air system, there are less dust and allergens being blown through the home.
  •       No maintenance—once your heated floors are installed, they don’t require a lot of maintenance.
  •       Energy-efficient—because the heated air from the radiant heat system rises up from under the floors, the heat is felt right away. There’s nowhere for the heat to escape. Even on a very cold day, having the heat right under your feet will keep you from needing to constantly raise the temperature.

Cons

  •       Replace Flooring—if you haven’t installed a radiant heat system during construction, your flooring will need to be replaced. Both hydronic and electric systems will require the current flooring to be removed before installation.
  •       Elevated floor—there are some thin systems available, as thin as ⅛ inch thick, but typically, a radiant heat system will raise your floor about a ½ inch. This can cause some issues when only some rooms of the house are being heated using this method.
  •       Cost—radiant heating systems are an investment up-front, but they do save in the long run, especially if you live in an area where the cost of electricity is high. Taking into consideration the cost of electricity versus the cost of installation will help determine if heated floors will be beneficial in your home and budget.

Electric vs. Hydronic

There are two popular options for radiant floor heating systems—electric, which is typically supplemental, and hydronic, which is usually designed to heat the whole house.

Electric radiant heating systems aren’t meant to be the only heat source in a home and are installed over the subfloor in a bed of thin-set mortar. The cables that are the heat source are often pre-attached to puzzle-like mats to allow for easy installation. If you’re pretty handy, you could do an install yourself, but it’s an easy project for a contractor, and you’ll ensure a quality job. Electric radiant heating systems heat up in 30 to 60 minutes so homeowners can turn them on and off as they need to help keep their heat costs down.

Hydronic radiant heating systems are typically designed to heat the entire house. Plastic tubing that holds water is heated to a temperature between 100 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit and circulated through that tubing under the floors throughout the house.

The most popular way to install the tubing is over subflooring and covered in thin-set mortar or with specially designed panels that hold the tubing or cables in place. These panels are then covered in cement or mortar.

Hydronic radiant heating is ideal for whole-house heating and should be installed during construction, as it can be difficult to add to a renovation that doesn’t already have the proper equipment. Because the hydronic radiant heat system requires pump lines, gas lines, and a broiler, it usually costs more up-front. However, the cost of heating with this system is generally lower when heating the entire house with the hydronic radiant heat system, even though the system takes longer to heat up and is usually kept on around the clock.

How Is It Installed?What Can I Do About My Cold Hardwood Floors

In recent years, the installation of radiant heat flooring systems has been simplified. Some subflooring has become available with pre-fitted tubing channels. There are also pre-made panels with insulation, a vapor barrier, and a holding system for the tubing or cables. Your contractor will start by making sure the floor is level. They can then build up the floor with plywood and sleepers to the height needed.

Once the contractor installs the tubing or cables, a thin-set mortar is poured over the top to encapsulate the cables and help distribute the heat. When that has been leveled and dried, flooring can then be installed after acclimating to the conditions of the house.

Installing heated floors can be very rewarding for your day-to-day comfort. At Wall 2 Wall, we can help with construction or restoration needs. Please reach out to us with any questions you have about your hardwood floors. We are happy to help.

Help! My Hardwood Floor Is Splitting

No one wants to think about their hardwood floor splitting, but it is, unfortunately, more common than you may realize. Hardwood floor splitting occurs more commonly if your hardwood floors are on the newer side. Why is that? Well, hardwood floor splitting occurs due to water, typically excess moisture or humidity. And if your hardwood floors aren’t properly installed or sealed, that can lead to moisture getting into your floors and causing the hardwood to split.

Potential Causeswall-2-wall-help-my-hardwood-floor-is-splitting

For instance, if the wood was installed in an environment that wasn’t humidity controlled, extra moisture could have been trapped in the boards. An uncontrolled environment is one that’s outside the ideal humidity range used throughout the hardwood flooring industry, which is 35 to 55 percent.

Another way the installation could have been done improperly is if the wood wasn’t acclimated correctly before it was installed, which means your floorboards could have either been too wet or too dry during installation.

There are other reasons your hardwood floors could be splitting that have nothing to do with installation. The levels of humidity in your home could have increased or decreased significantly. This can also lead to splits. For example, if it’s an excessively humid summer and the humidity gets into your home, that could cause splitting. Additionally, moisture can seep through the subfloor, causing a damp crawlspace, which will, in turn, cause splitting. Your floor will take on the moisture and then release it to the rest of the room.

Now that you know why your hardwood floor could be splitting, what can be done to solve the problem?

Call a Professional

The first thing you should do is call a professional. Don’t attempt to fix the splitting on your own. Not only can it be dangerous, but it could lead to further damage to your floors if the repair isn’t done properly. Additionally, you’ll want to call a professional because they can fix, not only the problem, but also the source of the problem to help ensure that your hardwood floors stay fixed.

At Wall 2 Wall Hardwood Floors, we can do all of this for you (and more!). We’re pros when it comes to hardwood floor installation, hardwood floor repair, and hardwood floor restoration, just to name a few of our specialties. We’ll use our expertise to fix your splitting hardwood floor and get to the root of the problem to prevent it from happening again. For example, if there’s a damp subfloor under your flooring that’s causing the splitting, we’ll help you remedy that issue.

You should only take action on your own if you’re entirely sure the issue isn’t due to an underlying water or moisture issue and that it won’t reoccur. If this is the case and you know how to use the proper equipment safely, you can sand, fill, and refinish the floor if the splitting is getting extensive. If you’re at all hesitant, call for assistance.

Check the Humidity in Your Home

As we mentioned above, moisture in the air is a common reason hardwood floors split. Double-check the humidity of the room where the floor is splitting and of your home in general. You don’t want to fix your split hardwood floors only for it to happen again a short while later due to excessive moisture in the house.

Just as high levels of moisture in a room can cause the hardwood floors to split, low levels, resulting in it being too dry, can do the same. For instance, if it’s wintertime and you have the heat pumping throughout your home, check the humidity level in the room where the floor is splitting. It might be too low. If it is, you can get a humidifier and run it in the room. This humidifier will help to bring more moisture into the room. It’s all about finding that happy balance in the range we mentioned above (35 to 55 percent).

Don’t Feel Like You Need to Act Right Away

Of course, if you see a split in the flooring of your home and it’s right after installation, you should call the company who installed your floors. However, if the floors aren’t new, there’s no reason to call for help immediately. It’s good practice to wait a full season to see if there are any further changes in your flooring before you get the problem fixed. This is because, as the weather and humidity changes, it’s normal for hardwood floors to change somewhat. Sometimes, the splits can close by themselves when the humidity rises again. Wait a while and see—there’s no reason for you to spend excess money if you don’t have to.

Whereas moisture—whether there’s too much or too little of it—tends to be the main factor when it comes to hardwood floor splitting, if the floor is older and the finish on the floor is worn, the splits could simply be a sign of age. This is something that a professional can diagnose so you know for sure.

When the splitting is due solely to age and not because of a water problem, there’s no need to fix the splits—as long as you’re okay with them, of course. If they don’t cause a safety risk to anyone walking around, if they aren’t that big, and if you don’t mind the look of them, it’s okay to simply leave the splits as they are. When, however, the splitting is a concern or you suspect an underlying water or moisture issue, call in a hardwood floor professional to assess the situation.

If your hardwood floor is splitting and you’re in the Portland area, please give us a call. We can come to inspect and fix the problem for you.

5 Tips for Installing Hardwood Flooring Wall to Wall

A hardwood floor is one of the most elegant upgrades you can give your home. A wood floor brings benefits both aesthetic and practical. Compared to a carpet, it’s easier to clean and longer-lasting, and it won’t trap allergens and bad smells in the way that carpet will. What’s more, a hardwood floor can have a profound effect on your home’s value: up to 2.5 percent, depending upon other factors. Since a hardwood floor doesn’t need to be replaced every few years the way carpeting does, you’ll easily find that the initial cost of installation pays for itself over the lifetime of the house.

Of course, installing wall-to-wall flooring is an art and science unto itself. Below, we offer our top five tips to ensure your home has a floor that can last generations.

Tip #1: Know What’s Involved

Attempting to install a hardwood floor yourself is not a job for a beginner. You should have a solid background in carpentry and know your way around the tools of the trade. Because installing wall-to-wall flooring requires extremely precise measurements—even a minor error can lead to serious problems with your floor—you shouldn’t try to undertake this job on your own unless you’re confident of your skills. You’ll also want to be sure you have the patience to undertake a task of this size. It’s a long and difficult job.

If you’ve considered all the above factors and have decided that you can handle the installation process on your own, great! If, on the other hand, you’ve decided you need the help of a professional, there’s no shame in that either. Contact Portland’s top hardwood flooring professionals at Wall 2 Wall and ask them for a quote for the job.

Tip #2: Choose the Right Materials

So you’ve decided you want to install a hardwood floor. Of course, that’s only the first of a series of decisions you’ll have to make. “Hardwood” can mean many different types of material, and you’ll need to decide exactly what’s best in your situation. While most people imagine that hardwood floors are always made from solid planks of oak, cherry, or other similar materials, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.

In fact, modern technology has led to advancement in the hardwood flooring world, just as it has in other areas of home design. For example, a popular and relatively new type of hardwood flooring is known as engineered flooring. These are planks covered with only a thin top layer of the hardwood of your choice, and it has a variety of advantages over other types of hardwood floors. In particular, engineered flooring can be installed directly onto concrete, without requiring the layers of plywood traditional floors have beneath them. This means that they can be installed essentially anywhere—and also that they can be installed over floors that have radiant heating systems.

Solid flooring still has advantages over other types, though. It can be sanded repeatedly and therefore can easily be refinished every few years, meaning it will stay in amazing shape for decades.

Besides these choices, you’ll have to make aesthetic choices as well. What type of wood do you prefer to have in your home? Oak, cherry, mahogany, or something else entirely? Oak is a popular choice, owing not only to its durability, but also to its ability to take stain well. If you prefer something with a darker finish, walnut is also an excellent choice, although it’s a little softer than oak.

Tip #3: Decide On the Size of the Wood Planks

As with any home improvement project, preparation is key when it comes to installing wall-to-wall flooring. You’ve settled on the material to use, but you have a few other important decisions to make. For example, what’s the width of the planks you want to use? Do you prefer wide planks or thin planks? Each has its own distinct advantages.

Thin planks—in the four- to six-inch range—are standard and a bit cheaper. Wide planks—seven inches or more—are considered to be a “luxury” feature that exudes a sense of elegance in the home. It’s more expensive than thin planks. Thinner planks also tend to warp less over time, although this can vary depending on other factors.

Tip #4: Consider How You’ll Install Your Floorwall-2-wall-5-tips-for-installing-hardwood-flooring-wall-to-wall

After you know all the details regarding what your floor will look like and what it will be constructed from, you’ll need to know how your floor will be installed. How the floor is installed depends a good bit on what it’s constructed from. Solid hardwood planks usually need to be nailed straight down onto the plywood beneath them. Engineered flooring can usually be glued down or even stapled into place.

Tip #5: Prepare Carefully Before You Begin

Once you’ve made all the decisions regarding installing your wall-to-wall flooring, you’ll need to actually begin ordering the materials. Begin with careful measurement of the rooms you’ll be installing the flooring in. Always order at least 5 percent more material than you actually need. This is to allow for cutting and a margin of error.

The next step you’ll have to take is rolling out your underlayment, should it be required, and then you’ll lay out the hardwood planks. Line the planks up parallel to the longest wall. If you’re nailing the floorboards down, you may have to drill holes in them first. With each step, take care that there are no large gaps between the planks of your floor, and then you can begin the job.

As with any massive building project, it helps if you have a few extra sets of hands to assist you. Ask friends or neighbors to help with the job. Of course, don’t be afraid to call a professional if you believe the job requires it.

Why is My Hardwood Floor Buckling?

Hardwood floors are a classic and timeless addition to a home and have grown to become an extremely popular flooring choice among owners. Apart from adding beauty and warmth to your space, it’s also easy to maintain and has a long shelf life compared to other alternatives.

However, given the wear and tear floors are subjected to on an everyday basis, one cannot escape from all of the common problems that could arise as even though hardwood floors are high on aesthetic appeal, remember that there will be times when you will notice abnormalities in the flooring, sometimes through no fault of your own.

One of the most common issues people with hardwood floors are faced with is buckling.

If you notice a portion of your hardwood floor is slightly raised, this is a sign of buckling and generally occurs due to increased exposure to moisture, which the wooden plank pulls away from the sub-floor, causing the raised appearance.

Image of Hardwood Floors Buckling - Hardwood Floor Buckling Blog

Buckling is often accompanied by cupping or crowning; when either the edges of the plank begin to rise and resemble a cup or the middle section begins to swell.

If you’re wondering why this annoying phenomenon can occur, here are the five most common causes behind this issue:

Leaks & Floods

If there is one enemy hardwood floors have, it has got to be moisture, and buckling is what you get when hardwood floors have been exposed to moisture for an extended period of time. This often arises after flooding, subfloor moisture buildup, drainage problems, or leaking pipes.

In spite of being processed into a flooring material, wood is living and is hygroscopic in nature, which means it reacts to the changes in the moisture content in the environment. Wood expands when it comes in contact with moisture and when the moisture is unable to spread
laterally, it leads to floor buckling.

So, the first step is to identify the source of moisture and tackle it before you repair the buckled floor. If it is a case of minor buckling, the affected portions can be dried and fixed. In extreme cases, you will need to get a professional to replace the damaged wooden planks.

Humidity

However, while water is a main cause of buckling, if you search and find no obvious water issue there are a few other culprits.

Another common reason for buckling is humidity. Yes, changing humidity levels can also impact your hardwood floors. While humidity levels are very low during winter, they rise in the summer months. Similar changes in the humidity levels are seen throughout the day which impacts hardwood floors.

High humidity levels are characterized by excess moisture content which causes the hardwood floor to swell, creating pressure between the planks. Prolonged periods of high humidity result in buckling.

It is this reason that the National Wood Floor Association (NWFA) recommends maintaining humidity levels between 30% and 50% to ensure proper maintenance of hardwood floors. How do you achieve that? Use humidifiers and air conditioners in your home to keep the levels in check.

Not Acclimated

As per NWFA, acclimation is referred to as “the process of adjusting (conditioning) the moisture content of wood flooring to the environment in which it is expected to perform”.

Most manufacturers recommend acclimating the wood to the new environment because wood is generally sourced from different regions and after being shipped and stored in various locations, it is best to give it some time to adjust to the new space.

However, when you fail to follow this process, the hardwood floor starts showing signs of distortion which can be hugely disappointing. Due to the difference in moisture content, it ends up swelling on absorbing moisture, leading to buckling.

So, don’t rush to install hardwood floors without acclimating. It is better to spend time going through this critical step rather than dealing with the consequences later.

Poor Installation

Imagine having to ask, “why is my hardwood floor buckling?” after spending all that time and money on getting hardwood floors installed. Infuriating, isn’t it?

Improper installation is another reason why your floor can show signs of buckling. There are many kinds of improper floor installation such as not preparing the surface well prior to installation, not attaching the floor properly to the subfloor, uneven underlying surface, inadequate or insufficient nailing, using poor quality products for installation, among others.

If the wood is not given adequate space to expand, it will lift up from the subfloor and appear buckled due to moisture retention. Hence, it is very important to outsource the installation to hardwood floor experts who use the right technique and equipment to get the installation done correctly.

Improper Care

Hardwood floors are not typically high on maintenance, but you must follow proper care instructions in order to ensure longevity.

For instance, you cannot be using soap and water to mop hardwood floors because they will cause buckling due to the absorption of moisture. Instead, shift to friendlier alternatives like a microfiber mop or cloth. Microfibers trap the dirt and dust particles, unlike brooms.

In case of spills, clean them up immediately to avoid further damage. It is also a good idea to use floor coverings meant for wood floors such as mats and rugs to minimize damage.

Repairing buckled hardwood floors depends on the extent of the damage. Quick fixes are not effective and you will need to get the entire buckled portion replaced or repaired. In many cases, buckled floors aren’t repairable and usually end with floor replacement anyway. What you can do is ensure you are cleaning the floors on a regular basis and proactively tackle repairs before they affect your beautiful hardwood floors.

The next time you wonder, “why is my hardwood floor buckling?”, contact us right away. At Wall 2 Wall Hardwood Floors, we are flooring experts offering unparalleled craftsmanship at incredible prices. Whatever your concern, from installation to refinishing, repair and replacement, we will gladly cater to all your flooring needs.

What To Do When You Notice Your Hardwood Floor is Warping

You’re settling in for a nice evening in with that new bingeable TV show that your coworkers keep talking about. The snacks are laid out, the couch cushions have been arranged perfectly, and you’ve told your friends not to bother you for the next eight or so hours.

What To Do When You Notice Your Hardwood Floor is Warping

You walk to the kitchen to get a drink, but as you stand in front of the fridge you notice something’s not quite right. Looking down, you see that your once elegant oak flooring has become warped and discolored. Tonight was supposed to be a relaxing evening; the last thing you want to think about is replacing hardwood floors.

Water can cause serious damage to wood without anyone catching it. When you do see it, you’ve got to act fast. Here are some tips on what to do if you notice your hardwood floor warping.

Find the Source

Before you even attempt to replace your hardwood floors, figure out exactly where the water is coming from. Repairing the damage is ultimately useless if you don’t take care of the root of the problem.

Hardwood floors don’t start warping because of a few spills here and there; you’re looking for a constant source of moisture creeping into the wood over a long period of time. Depending on where the damage is located, you should be able to pinpoint likely suspects.

If the damage is near a window or a door, you may be looking at a case of poor installation. The average homeowner might not even notice until the wetter part of the year, when heavy rainfall or snow leads to moisture seeping in through cracks in the seal. Older homes are particularly susceptible to outside water leakage, faulty installation or not.

Warping near a radiator or refrigerator can indicate an internal source of water. Depending on the appliance you’re looking at, it might be easy to tell. Radiators and water heaters have most of their piping exposed, making it a snap to look over the connections and see if anything is amiss. You’re in for more of a chore if you’re looking at a fridge or dishwasher, as most of those water sources are tucked away or hidden behind the appliance itself.

Many modern refrigerators have a convenient water dispensers built right into the door, allowing you to fill your glass with cool, filtered water. Should any of the piping in the dispenser or filter break or clog, you might be looking at a serious leak right in your own home.

Dishwashers can be an even bigger problem as drainage tubes can develop cracks after only a few years of use. If the tube is cheaply made, or if it’s not supported properly, you could be looking at a prolonged series of drips seeping into your floors.

Once you’ve found and repaired the source of the water, you can tackle the floors themselves.

Assess the Damage, then Determine What Needs to be Done

Depending on when you caught the damage, you might not have to just to completely replacing your hardwood floors. If you notice the warping early enough, or if it hasn’t progressed too far, you may have other options. Before you get in touch with your local hardwood specialists, get the lay of the land and figure out what you need to do.

Cupping and crowning are a common symptom of water damage. Moisture makes the wood expand, causing it to either rise up along the edge or the center of the boards. Sometimes all you need to do in order to restore the floor is to remove the source of water and let the floors dry out. If the warping is minor, the floor should shrink back down to it’s intended size and lie flat.

In other cases, it might be necessary to sand down the uneven edges and refinish the floor. While the process isn’t as extreme as ripping out the entire floor and replacing it, it is still pretty involved. Sanding, staining, and sealing all take time, and getting the floor back to how it used to look can be harder than you think.

The stain of your floor changes over time due to sun exposure, making matching the color tricky. Even if you get the stain to match, the edges between the old and new finish will still stand out. Sometimes the only way to get a cohesive floor is to sand and refinish the entire floor.

For serious damage, your only option is putting in new boards with the help of a professional with experience replacing hardwood floors. This person will be tasked with finding wood to best match the same kind and grain of wood, then make adjustments to match the hue and stain of the rest of the floor.

Matching the grain and hue of the floor, then seamlessly weaving it in to replace the damage planks requires skill and expertise. Homeowners within the greater Portland, Oregon area can rely on Wall2Wall Hardwoods for the help they need assessing and repairing the warping.

Be Prepared & Preventative What You Can

Replacing hardwood floors is enough to make you never want do it again. So, after your hardwood is back to its beautiful self, make sure to prevent water damage from happening again.

Keep an eye on potential sources for leaks. Be sure that any cracks in your doors or windows are tightly sealed before wet seasons, and be aware of any unintentional moisture being brought into the house by people.

Don’t let wet rain jackets drip on the floor all autumn long and use a shower mat to keep the bathroom floor from accumulating moisture. Check your appliances regularly for any cracks or leaks, and also proactively repairing any damage to pipes or tubing. All it takes is one steady drip over time to ruin your beautiful hardwood floors, so it’s up to you to be vigilant and nip the disaster in the bud.

But don’t worry. With some maintenance and a little foresight, your flooring will stay gorgeous for years to come!