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How Engineered Hardwood Flooring Is Engineered

There are two basic kinds of hardwood flooring, engineered and solid. Solid hardwood flooring is just solid planks of wood. Engineered hardwood, however, is made from multiple layers of wood that are pressed together. Engineered hardwood has some advantages over solid hardwood. They stem from the way it is manufactured. Here is how engineered hardwood is engineered.

Layers

Engineered hardwood is typically made from three to twelve different layers of wood. The middle layers are typically made of a cheap hardwood or a soft plywood. These inner core layers are basically filler layers that add thickness to the planks without adding much weight or expense. They also have the tongue and groove system cut along the edges of the boards. The top layer of the wood is usually the thickest individual layer; this is the hardwood layer that has the actual hardwood that you want to buy. The veneer layer is visible on top of the wood.

The very bottom layer is often a vapor layer. The vapor layer is waterproof or absorbent, depending on the type of engineered plank. The layer will prevent moisture from seeping into the wood.

All of these layers are typically cross-layered, which means that they are laid in such a way that the grains are perpendicular to one another. That creates a stronger plank. The layers are glued together and then pressed in a machine.

Finally, the wood is stained and sealed at the factory. Typically, engineered hardwood is prefinished; that means that the company that produces it uses a UV-cured finish that is baked onto the wood.

Advantages

Engineered hardwood flooring has three distinct advantages. For one, it is very quick to install. You do not need to stain or finish engineered hardwood. It’s already stained and finished; you just need to lay it. Secondly, engineered hardwood is resistant to warping. It does not absorb moisture as easily as solid hardwood. That means that it will resist cupping even in humid environments. Finally, engineered hardwood doesn’t need a subfloor. It can be installed as a floating floor. Each individual plank connects to the ones around it but they’re not nailed down Engineered hardwood is available in just about every type of hardwood. You can often find hard-to-find hardwoods as engineered planks since much less of the wood is required. Only the veneer layer will be in the rare hardwood.  All of these factors make engineered hardwood a solid choice.

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How to Determine What Species of Wood Floor You Have

If you’ve just bought a new home or you’re simply curious, it can be difficult to figure out what kind of wood floor you have. There are dozens of different species of hardwood used for flooring, and many of them look similar. To find the type you have, you are going to need to some investigating. It’s advisable to start with the least-invasive process and move towards more invasive methods.

Start With an Internet Search

You should start with an internet search of the most common types of hardwood flooring. In the United States, they are going to be domestic woods such as hickory, oak, walnut, and maple. If you know when the flooring was installed, that could help you as well. Hardwood flooring goes through trends. So, there’s a good chance the floor in your home is one of the popular choices from the year it was installed.

Pull up high-resolution photos of the different types of wood and lay them on your floor. Compare the grain and focus less on the color. Focusing on the color could be misleading because many hardwood floors are stained. A white oak can easily be stained to look like cherry. The grain will be distinctive, though.

Ask For Advice

There are many experts who can identify a hardwood floor simply by looking at it. You should take high-resolution photos of your floor. Be sure to get a good representation of the color and the grain. Post those on some hardwood flooring forums or post them on social media and tag hardwood flooring experts. Many of them will be happy to identify it for you.

Don’t Forget Hardness

Hardness is a good way of ruling out different types of wood. For example, if you can dent it with your thumbnail, then you can rule out any hardwood; that’s a softwood. If your dog or cat scratches the floor with its claws, that will rule out any hardwood softer than oak.

Sand the Wood

If you absolutely have to, you can also sand the wood to get down to the bare wood. Some types of wood have similar grains, and you’ll need to see the color to know which wood they are. The color can only be determined by sanding past the finish and removing the top layer of stain. That will expose the raw wood and give you an idea of what you’re looking at.

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Are Prefinished Hardwood Floors The Same as Engineered?

When you are looking for hardwood floors, you’ll encounter several different phrases over and over. Sometimes, the manufacturers and retailers don’t properly explain the differences between the kinds of hardwood. Prefinished hardwood flooring, engineered hardwood flooring, and site-finished hardwood flooring are all different options.

What Is the Difference?

Prefinished hardwood flooring is flooring that is finished at the factory or by the retailer. When wood is milled and processed, it is considered unfinished. Wood can then be stained in order to deepen the color of the wood and the contrast of the grain. Alternately, wood can be stained to change its color. For example, a white oak can be stained to look reddish, like a cherry wood. Wood can also be stained to change its color in more drastic ways. A wood can be stained bright blue, true black, or any host of colors.

The wood is then finished with a sealant. Polyurethane is the most common sealant. It’s a liquid plastic that forms a protective shell over the wood. It protects the wood from moisture and scratches. Site-finished hardwood flooring has the stain and the finish applied after the wood has been installed in your home. Prefinished hardwood is stained and finished by the manufacturer. That’s the basic difference between prefinished and site-finished hardwood. Site-finished can also be called unfinished hardwood.

What About Engineered Hardwood?

Engineered hardwood refers to the process of actually creating the hardwood planks from different plies of wood; it doesn’t refer to the finish of the wood. Engineered hardwood can be prefinished or site-finished. However, most engineered hardwood is prefinished.

Is Prefinished Better?

Prefinished hardwood is not necessarily better or worse than site-finished hardwood. Prefinished hardwood is preferred by some people because it is much easier to install. With site-finished hardwood, you have to install it and then stain it. You must then wait for the stain to dry. After that, you’ll need to apply multiple layers of polyurethane. That could take several days to apply and several more days to fully set. Prefinished hardwood is ready to walk on as soon as you install it. Also, the finish on prefinished hardwood tends to be harder than site-finished polyurethane. The factory finish is a mixture of polyurethane and aluminum oxide that has been cured by UV light. It’s harder and more durable than polyurethane. That means it will likely last longer, but you will have a much harder time sanding and refinishing the wood.

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How Engineered Hardwood Flooring Is Engineered

There are two basic kinds of hardwood flooring, engineered and solid. Solid hardwood flooring is just solid planks of wood. Engineered hardwood, however, is made from multiple layers of wood that are pressed together. Engineered hardwood has some advantages over solid hardwood. They stem from the way it is manufactured. Here is how engineered hardwood is engineered.

Layers

Engineered hardwood is typically made from three to twelve different layers of wood. The middle layers are typically made of a cheap hardwood or a soft plywood. These inner core layers are basically filler layers that add thickness to the planks without adding much weight or expense. They also have the tongue and groove system cut along the edges of the boards. The top layer of the wood is usually the thickest individual layer; this is the hardwood layer that has the actual hardwood that you want to buy. The veneer layer is visible on top of the wood.

The very bottom layer is often a vapor layer. The vapor layer is waterproof or absorbent, depending on the type of engineered plank. The layer will prevent moisture from seeping into the wood.

All of these layers are typically cross-layered, which means that they are laid in such a way that the grains are perpendicular to one another. That creates a stronger plank. The layers are glued together and then pressed in a machine.

Finally, the wood is stained and sealed at the factory. Typically, engineered hardwood is prefinished; that means that the company that produces it uses a UV-cured finish that is baked onto the wood.

Advantages

Engineered hardwood flooring has three distinct advantages. For one, it is very quick to install. You do not need to stain or finish engineered hardwood. It’s already stained and finished; you just need to lay it. Secondly, engineered hardwood is resistant to warping. It does not absorb moisture as easily as solid hardwood. That means that it will resist cupping even in humid environments. Finally, engineered hardwood doesn’t need a subfloor. It can be installed as a floating floor. Each individual plank connects to the ones around it but they’re not nailed down Engineered hardwood is available in just about every type of hardwood. You can often find hard-to-find hardwoods as engineered planks since much less of the wood is required. Only the veneer layer will be in the rare hardwood.  All of these factors make engineered hardwood a solid choice.

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Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) in Commercial Spaces

Commercial flooring takes a beating…at least the business owners hope they do. That means lots and lots of foot traffic moving through their storefronts, showrooms and office spaces daily. If you consider the old saying, “you only get one chance to make a first impression”, it’s imperative that your floors always look great.

There are many choices available when it comes to selecting a commercial floor covering. Regardless of your choice, the new floor must be attractive, durable and affordable. Luxury Vinyl Tile, or LVT, is becoming more popular with commercial applications for exactly these three reasons.

LVT is Attractive

LVT can be made to look like ceramic, stone or even wood floors, depending on what you’re looking for. The product looks incredibly natural featuring surface textures that even feel like the natural surface you might expect on the original product material. LVT provides a “warmth” previously unseen in commercial spaces.

Luxury Vinyl Tile is Durable

Using luxury vinyl products cuts down on your maintenance costs. These floors don’t scratch or experience water damage like real wood, while still giving the perception of authenticity associated with hardwood. It’s not uncommon to see vinyl floors now in major shopping centers, hospitals and office buildings.

And Don’t Forget About Affordable!

Nothing will ever look and feel like real hardwood. However, when considering the use in a commercial space, spending 2 to 3 times more for hardwood versus LVT is hard to ignore. The savings you realize by using a vinyl product can go toward other aspects of your business, or you can take that much needed vacation! Regardless how you use the savings, it’s undeniable that LVT is a far more cost-effective way to cover a large area of flooring.

Interested in LVT installation in Roswell or Alpharetta? Contact Ridgeline Floors today and we’ll provide you a free consultation and answer any questions you may have.

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Is Luxury Vinyl a Good Option for My Home?

Short answer…YES! Luxury vinyl products have changed over the years and are now suitable for just about any application. The products have become so durable that they can handle heavy traffic areas and water prone areas without a problem in most cases. Here are a few of the many advantages to using luxury vinyl in your home.

Luxury Vinyl is Low Maintenance

There’s never a need to refinish luxury vinyl flooring! Simply keep it clean and it performs well in nearly any situation. Real hardwood floors need regular maintenance to look their best. While hardwood will last decades, or even hundreds of years, it doesn’t come without a cost. Luxury vinyl may not have quite the lifespan, but you also won’t have the same maintenance concerns.

It’s Highly Versatile

Other popular flooring materials like hardwood, carpet and tile have their limitations. Tile can be cold and unwelcoming. Carpet wears easily and can be hard to keep clean. Wood floors can sometimes perform poorly when placed in areas of high humidity and extreme temperature changes. Luxury vinyl can be used in any environment to create a custom look while providing a durable surface for years to come.

Budget Friendly

While traditional hardwood floors look great and perform well in most scenarios, the cost can be somewhat prohibitive, especially if you have a very large space to cover. Luxury vinyl can be found in any number of styles, patterns, colors, etc., and will cost a fraction to purchase and install.

The bottom line is this…you have many options for flooring, luxury vinyl is one that fits just about any need and looks great while not breaking the bank!

Interested in luxury vinyl flooring in Roswell or Alpharetta? Contact Ridgeline Floors today and we’ll provide you a free in-home consultation and answer any questions you may have.

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New Floors Are Being Inspired by Old Wine Cellars

It’s no secret that rustic hardwood flooring is trending all over the world. Rustic looks are trending in more than just flooring as well. Homeowners are looking for different sources of inspiration for their floors. Wine cellars are providing the sort of inspiration that many homeowners are looking for. More specifically, old European cellar floors are the inspiration.

Old European Cellars

Wine and fruit cellars have been in use for hundreds of years; they predate refrigerators and other ways of preserving food. To preserve food and wine, Europeans would dig their cellars into the ground. The ground would act as the insulation to keep things cool. They had dirt floors though. As the homeowners expanded the cellars and made them more permanent, they would often lay down wooden floors. Businesses that received lots of wine and fruit would also make permanent cellars.

Instead of buying hardwood for use as the flooring, the dirt floor would be covered with the wood from the wine and fruit crates. The wine and fruit crates would be disassembled and then laid as wooden flooring. The wood was often unfinished. Also, it was stamped with shipping information and company information. Oftentimes, this information was burned into the wood.

So, the result was a rough sawn wooden floor with burned-in stamps. The look is very distinct, and many find it very attractive. Those cellars were also popular in New England and other colder parts of the United States. The look is still fairly distinctly European.

Recreating the Look

There are a couple of ways to recreate the look of the old European cellars. The most authentic method is to find wine and fruit crates. Fruit and wine are still shipped in wooden crates in many instances; thus, you can often find them secondhand. However, some of the newer crates are softwood. You definitely want hardwood to create the best possible floor.

If you want to make the process easier and more straightforward, you can buy hardwood designed to create the cellar look. The companies supply hardwood planks that are finished and stained to look rustic. They’re also burned with shipping information to fully recreate the look. These floors look great in kitchens and in homes with rustic decor. Also, many bars are utilizing the look to mimic European pubs of the era before refrigeration. Whether you choose authentic crate wood or a recreation, you will have a unique and interesting hardwood floor.

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Prefinished Wood Floors Are Outselling Site-Finished

Wood is a porous material that absorbs heat, moisture, and dirt. Therefore, it has to be sealed against all of that; this process is called finishing. There are several different finishes that can be applied to a hardwood floor. Varnish and polyurethane sit on top of the wood to seal it against any damage. Oil penetrates the pores and protects the wood from moisture that way. There are many options for what finish to use but only two options for when to finish a hardwood floor; the floor can be prefinished or site-finished.

Prefinished or Site-Finished

Site-finished hardwood floors are the traditional method and still remain very popular, but prefinished floors are trending right now. Why is that?

Prefinished floors are those that are finished by the manufacturer. They are finished with a blend of chemicals that is unique to each manufacturer but is generally some combination of polyurethane and aluminum oxide. It’s treated with a UV-curing process that bakes the finish. A site-finished hardwood floor is finished once the wood has been laid. It can be a varnish, oil, polyurethane, or some other finish.

Why Prefinished?

Prefinished floors are trending for a few reasons. For short-term interests, they’re much quicker to install. A prefinished floor is also already stained. It arrives at your house ready to be installed; you just need to let it sit and acclimate to your home’s humidity for five to ten days. Once you’ve done that, you can lay the floor and be walking on it the same day. A site-finished floor will need hours for the stain to dry, and then possibly days for the polyurethane to fully cure.

Prefinished floors are also trending because many homeowners are thinking long-term. They might want to sell their house in the future, or they might just not want to have to sand and refinish their floors. A site-finished floor typically has a warranty for three to five years. A prefinished floor can have a warranty anywhere from five to 25 years.

How Long Will It Trend?

Prefinished hardwood does not seem like it will stop trending. That’s because prefinished hardwood floors can be in basically any style and kind of wood. Different trends ebb and flow, but the trend towards prefinished hardwood floor is just a trend towards being practical. That will never go out of style. Your hardwood floor will last for decades if you care for it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Questions about either of these flooring types? Need hardwood flooring installed in Roswell or Alpharetta? Call Ridgeline Floors today to schedule an in-home consultation!

Categories Hardwood

UV Curing Hardwood Is The Future of Floor Finishing

It’s no secret that the finishes on prefinished hardwood floors tend to be harder and more resilient than the finishes on site-finished hardwood. Site-finished floors are generally finished with polyurethane, wax, or oil. They’re then allowed to air dry. You’ll need to reapply that finish occasionally depending on the type of finish and the amount of wear on it. Prefinished floors are finished in a factory and then cured with heat. They’re much more resilient and last longer. There is now a middle ground for those who need to install or repair their floors quickly while also getting a finish that is very long-lasting. That middle ground is UV curing.

What Is UV Curing?

A UV cured floor is one that is finished with a proprietary sealant. At the moment, most companies have their own UV curing machines and their own finishes. The finishes are typically water-based. The UV machine uses heat and UV light to evaporate the water and cure the sealant. The cured sealant is generally regarded as more chemically and physically resistant than typical site finishes. It will last longer than polyurethane or oil. Also it will resist scratching more. Finally, UV cured finishes are said to resist chemicals such as vinegar, citric acid, and common household cleaners. If you have a polyurethane finish, there are a series of chemicals you should not use on it if you want the finish to last as long as possible. You’ll have more versatility with a UV finish.

What Are the Downsides?

The biggest downsides to UV finishes are the expense and the limited options. Polyurethane, finishing oil, or wax are available at basically every flooring store, flooring supplier, or hardware store. You can find dozens of different brands, colors, and styles. With the newer UV technology, only certain companies even offer it. If they do, they offer a limited range of their proprietary options. So you’ll be limited to choosing from what that company has available.

Because there is less competition and the process is more involved, it will also likely cost you more money. Since the floors are more resistant to damage, they might end up saving you money in the long run. However, in the interim, you will have to spend more money upfront.

If you need to have your floor finished and useable again in a couple of hours, UV curing could be the option. It’s great for places like hospitals or businesses that have a short turnaround time from closing to opening.

Categories Hardwood

Is Your Hardwood Floor Steamed?

It is not advisable to use a steam cleaner on your hardwood floor without consulting with a professional. That’s not what it means when a hardwood is steamed, though. Steaming hardwood means that the wood has been treated with hot steam after it is cut but before it is installed. This is typically done to change the color of the wood. To understand how it works, you must first understand the two types of wood.

 

Heartwood and Sapwood

 When a tree first forms, the cells of the wood are almost white in color, and they transmit liquids rapidly through the tree. This wood is called sapwood. As the sapwood moves more and more liquid, it will eventually begin to pick up minerals. The minerals will stain the sapwood a darker color and prevent it from moving liquids as readily. As a result, more sapwood grows in rings. So, the darker heartwood at the center is generally considered more attractive than the sapwood. However, sapwood is far more abundant than heartwood. That’s where steaming comes into the picture.

Sapwood develops into heartwood because it moves liquid through its cells and picks up materials. To expedite that process, manufacturers will steam the wood. The heat and pressure of the steaming forces moisture through the cells of the wood. That makes the sapwood look more like the heartwood. It also sometimes results in heartwood begins slightly darker and richer in color than when it started.

 

Processes

 Most companies that steam their hardwood are very secretive about the exact process they use. However, most of them are fairly similar. They use hot steam to enhance the deepness and richness of color throughout the wood.

After the wood is steamed, it will then be dried either by a kiln or by air-drying. Some companies mix both of them. The wood should be as dry as any other type of lumber by the time it is processed. It should also be a deeper color. You will know if wood has been truly steamed when the sapwood is almost the same color as the heartwood, and the heartwood is a uniform color.

 

Steamed Floors

 Steamed hardwood floors are oftentimes popular for people who want to have the look of an older floor without the higher price of some more rare woods. Before mass deforestation, many hardwood floors contained much more heartwood. To recreate that look, you could choose steamed hardwood.

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