Category Archives: Learning

Water damage on hardwood floor.

Prevent Water Damage to Your Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are a thing of beauty. They add a refined, rustic charm to your modern home, instantly adding warmth and charm. When well maintained, hardwood floors are an excellent investment, as they increase your property’s value. Typically, these floors are highly durable and can withstand minor damages caused by temperature changes, pets, tools, and toddlers. However, take extra care to avoid water damage. As tough as hardwood floors can be, water makes a formidable enemy.

The best way to keep your hardwood flooring shiny and beautiful and reduce the cost of maintenance is to protect it from water damage. To help, we’ve compiled a list of tips for preventing water damage to hardwood floors.

How to Protect Your Hardwood Floors From Water Damage

Check Your Plumbing

Check your plumbing before installing hardwood floors and keep an eye on it after installation. This is because water pipe leaks and flooding are some of the primary causes of water damage to hardwood floors.

Call professional plumbers to inspect your plumbing system once in a while, and make necessary repairs as soon as you notice a problem. Also, check appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines for cracks and pipe damage. The quicker you address these issues, the longer your hardwood floor will last and the lower the maintenance cost.

Keep Wet Things Off the Floor

An important step in preventing water damage to hardwood floors is keeping an eye out for wet items on the floor and removing them immediately. Muddy shoes, wet umbrellas, damp towels, and drenched furniture should not be allowed near or on your hardwood floors. These wet items transfer moisture to your hardwood floor. If it keeps happening, the moisture content will increase until it causes severe water damage. Soaked objects also promote mold and mildew growth on the surface and in the seams of your hardwood floors.

Clean Spills Quickly

If possible, always keep a dry towel nearby so you can quickly clean spills on your hardwood floors. This is perhaps the simplest way to protect your floor from water damage. Don’t let puddles of water or any other liquid, no matter how small, sit on your hardwood floor for a long time. The liquid can quickly seep into the wood and weaken it from the inside. Instead of a wet mop, which can further wear down the wood, use a dry or slightly damp cloth to clean up the mess.

Use Quality Cleaning Products

Using the right cleaning products for your hardwood floor can improve durability and keep it safe from water damage. Only use products specifically made for hardwood floors, and always read the instructions before use. Steer clear of products that promise to make your hardwood floor shine because they usually contain waxes that can actually destroy the finish on your floor and allow water to penetrate more easily.

Use Mats and Rugs

A great way to prevent water damage to hardwood floors is to cover them with mats and rugs. By placing a mat in front of your door, you can ensure that you and your guests don’t bring wet feet into the house.
Lay rugs strategically inside your home. For instance, if you have a pet, place a mat with a waterproof back under its water bowl to absorb spilled water. Rugs or mats in high-traffic areas, such as the living or dining rooms, will add a layer of protection to your hardwood floors.

Control Indoor Humidity Levels

If you don’t have a humidifier in your home, get one as soon as possible. Because of the nature of hardwood floors, changes in weather and humidity can affect the wood and cause water damage. According to the National Wood Flooring Association, humidity levels should fall between 35 and 55 percent to maintain the quality of your hardwood flooring. Humidity levels above 55 percent can trigger cupping or buckling, causing your hardwood floor planks to expand and pull up because of excess moisture. Humidity levels lower than 35 percent can cause the wood to dry out and contract.

You need to find the proper balance of humidity and maintain it. Some HVAC units have built-in humidifiers. If yours doesn’t, you can also purchase a stand-alone humidifier in the size you need. An inexpensive indoor humidity monitor can help you determine if your space needs more or less humidity to keep your hardwood floors at their best.

Apply a Sealant

Applying a sealant is a great way to toughen and maintain your hardwood floors. Sealants such as polyurethane can make your hardwood floors more resistant to water. This means it takes longer for water to seep into the wood and cause damage.

Because polyurethane spreads thinly, apply at least three coats to ensure it prevents water absorption. For the best protection against water damage, reapply the sealant every three to four years. If you’d rather use a wax sealant to protect your floor, you may need to reapply once a year.

Use a Natural Oil Finish

You can use natural oils in place of wax or polyurethane to prevent water damage to hardwood floors. Since oil and water don’t mix, the oil finish will serve as a good layer of protection. Unlike most sealants, natural oils don’t just sit on the surface of your hardwood floors. Instead, they penetrate deep into them and harden the wood to improve its durability.

If you’ve noticed any sign of water damage or require preventative refinishing services, count on Wall 2 Wall Hardwoods to protect and restore your beautiful hardwood floors. Don’t hesitate—contact us now for more information.

Worker laying pipes for hydronic heat under floor.

Does Hydronic Heating Work With Timber Floors?

These days, alternative heating methods are all the rage as homeowners seek to get in front of rising energy costs and develop a “greener” home. New technologies have been developed that can heat your home to a comfortable temperature without utilizing as much energy. People who install these advanced methods of heating in their homes can often save thousands of dollars on their heating costs over the years. One such method is hydronic heating, which radiates heat energy through the floors.

Of course, advanced technology is only part of the puzzle when it comes to designing a comfortable, healthy, and energy-efficient home. Tried-and-true features that have been used for many years, such as timber floors, are also gaining in popularity again as homeowners seek to maximize the potential of their living spaces. But is hydronic heating with timber floors actually a good idea? Read on and we’ll explain how these two popular features of many modern homes are compatible with one another.

What Is Hydronic Heating?

Most homes are heated with forced air, where a fuel source of some kind generates heat, which is then used to warm up air to the desired temperature. This heated air is then circulated throughout a system of ducts by way of a large fan.

Hydronic heating operates based upon a completely different mechanism, although the methods of generating the heat in the first place can be largely the same. Once the fuel source has been used to create heat, it then heats up water instead of air. A pump then circulates the water throughout a series of flexible tubing underneath the home’s floors. Gradually, the heat will radiate upward into the room, eventually bringing the whole house to the desired temperature.

What Are the Benefits?

There are plenty of benefits of hydronic heating, not the least of which is the fact that the heat can be circulated entirely without the use of a fan. Ductwork tends to accumulate a lot of dirt, dust, and allergens. These allergens are then recirculated throughout the home by the fans, leading to all sorts of respiratory problems, such as asthma, allergies, and more. A hydronic heating system means no ducts, no fans, and no allergens.

Energy efficiency is another key benefit of this advanced method of home heating. Water tends to lose heat energy more slowly than air does, meaning that it requires less power overall to achieve the same temperature. Chances are, you’ll save a decent amount of money on your energy bill if you make use of hydronic heating in your home.

The other benefit to consider is that of comfort: no one enjoys stepping into a bathroom, for example, only to discover that the floor is ice cold. Hydronic heating avoids this problem entirely, as the heat is radiated directly through the floor. This means the floor itself—and often the surrounding furniture—is kept at a comfortable temperature, rendering your home that much more pleasant during cold nights.

What About the Benefits of Timber Floors?

Timber floors have their own set of benefits that homeowners enjoy taking advantage of. They’re also great for allergy sufferers, as they don’t tend to trap dust and dirt in the same way that carpets do. This also makes them significantly easier to clean than other types of floors. In most cases, simply wiping them down is all you need to do.

Timber floors also enhance the value of a home due to their aesthetic appeal. They are much more attractive to most buyers than other floor types. They can last for many years due to their impressive durability, requiring very little maintenance over time. When they do require repairs or other basic maintenance, it’s often fairly simple to perform. Basic refinishing will do the job without too much cost.

Timber floors are also extremely versatile. Unlike carpeting, which severely limits the decor options in your home, timber floors can be decorated in essentially any way. If you prefer a modern vibe, you can easily achieve that with a hardwood floor. It’s just as easy to opt for something more retro.

Can They Work Together?

Generally, hydronic heating is done through ceramics or another medium that holds heat fairly well. In the past, hydronic heating with timber floors just wasn’t possible, due to the limits of technology. However, technological advances have allowed this method of heating to be installed underneath the wooden floors in your home. When it’s used, the timber flooring is placed directly over some other medium, such as a thin concrete slab, to allow the heat to radiate without damaging the wood.

Note that the thicker the wood, the more difficult it will be for heat to get through. This will directly translate to increased energy costs, which is why it’s a good idea to opt for thinner strips of wood over your heating element. This may mean that your floor needs a little more maintenance than an ordinary hardwood floor.

So How Can I Get Hydronic Heating With Timber Floors?

It’s highly recommended that you find a reputable dealer of hardwood floors, such as Wall 2 Wall. When you work with Wall 2 Wall, you can discuss your preferences with us regarding both heating and flooring. Ask us to inspect your home and offer you a quote. We’ll be able to perform the installation to your exact specifications. If you have a preference when it comes to heating methods and types of hardwood, discuss it with the contractors at Wall 2 Wall.

You can also use Wall 2 Wall for maintenance when your floor requires it. We can also assist with refurbishing and refinishing should the need arise. With years of experience in the business, we’ll work to make you happy with your new floor.

New construction of room showing studs and subfloor.

What Is a Subfloor?

When it’s time to have a new floor installed in your home, it’s easy to get caught up in the portions that you’ll be seeing. The appearance of a new floor is often the most exciting aspect of having it installed, but there is more to getting a new floor than just what’s on the surface. As you begin this process, you’ll quickly learn that there are often a few crucial layers underneath your new floor top, and one of those layers is a subfloor.

Continue reading
Laminate flooring color tiles laying on 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?

Continue reading
Male contractor performing hardwood floor installation over glue.

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.

Continue reading
Deep arc-shaped scratches in hardwood floor.

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.

Continue reading
Woman wearing slippers dry mopping hardwood flooring 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.

Continue reading
Worker installing piping for heated floors.

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.