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Categories Hardwood

How to Care for Hardwood Flooring

The care and maintenance of your hardwood flooring can affect the lifespan of your floors greatly. Hardwood flooring may be something you consider fragile but it is shockingly resilient.

Proper maintenance can help your floor to look beautiful for years between refinishes. There are a few methods of prevention you can use to keep your floor looking good without much effort. Hardwood flooring is a great flooring type because of its ability to be refinished and brought back to life. Refinishing can take care of common wear and tear but if done too frequently can cut the lifespan of your floor.

Humidity is a big factor to consider when maintaining your floor. Hardwood is a natural substance and the humidity in your home affects the wood a great deal. Drastic changes in the humidity in your home can cause adverse side effects like buckling or cupping. The changes of the seasons can really stress your floor. A whole house humidifier set to keep the relative humidity of your home consistent throughout the seasons can keep gaping and cupping to a minimum and is a great way to care for your floor. Wood that is extremely dry can splinter and split as well.

Keeping the floor free of debris is another good way to protect your floor. Taking shoes off in the house, putting mats at doorways and high traffic spots and sweeping regularly are all ways to keep the floor clear of debris.

Clean the floor with the right materials. Avoid harsh chemicals that can wear through your floor finish faster than normal. Use only non abrasive cleaning pads to protect the finish coat. A dry swiffer is a great floor tool for between cleanings. Never use a mop and bucket on hardwood flooring.

Install hardwood flooring in rooms of the house that are a good fit. The laundry room, bathrooms and basement are all examples of places that may not be suitable for hardwood. Hardwood can work in these spaces but the right precautions and techniques should be used.

Keeping your hardwood flooring beautiful requires some daily steps, preventive measures and routine maintenance.

Categories Hardwood

Why Are Distressed Hardwood Floors So Popular?

There are some predictable elements to interior design and fashion trends. One of those predictable turns is that things that were old will become popular again. Also, the characteristics borne of necessity become fashionable in time. For example, the stress that damages hardwood flooring over time has become popular for interior design elements. When the floor is damaged, it is often called distressed. There are three ways to get a distressed hardwood floor. You can buy old hardwood that has become distressed by time, you can distress your own existing hardwood floor, or you can buy new hardwood floors designed to look distressed.

Reclaimed Wood

When wood has been used for a purpose before and then recycled, it is known as reclaimed. That could mean you are repurposing old wood such as the sides of barns to be your hardwood floor, or it can mean that you are simply installing an old hardwood floor as new. There are advantages to each approach. If you want to install your flooring as quickly and easily as possible, then reclaiming an existing hardwood floor is ideal.

If you want to save money on a custom floor, repurposing existing wood is the ideal option. Since wooden siding or other types of wood are often less processed than hardwood flooring planks, they don’t cost as much to buy. The caveat, of course, is that you must have them processed into flooring planks.

New Floors

The elements that distress wood are known. Moisture causes wood to swell and shrink. Certain tannins and other chemicals can peel paint and stain the wood. The list of distressing factors goes on. That means that they can be replicated by a company who wants to sell hardwood planks. These planks will oftentimes cost less than authentic reclaimed wood. In fact, many of them cost the exact same as a plank that has not been distressed. You can often save money this way. Furthermore, you’ll have a much wider variety of options.

For example, if you are looking for reclaimed wood from old cabins, you’ll be limited by what was installed in cabins near you decades ago. That could mean that the wood or style you’re looking for simply isn’t available. If you buy them new from a hardwood company, though, you’ll have all of the options that a company can offer. Many of them will even distress hardwoods for you at your request.

Categories Hardwood

Painted Hardwood Floors are Still Controversial

Of all the ways you can change the color of your hardwood floors, painting them is the most immediate and drastic. It’s also the most controversial, for those reasons. Many people worry that it is too difficult to reverse or that it hides the natural grains of the wood. The truth, however, is that painting your floor has been controversial largely because the color is so bold. When you choose a painted floor, the colors are not subtle and muted, even if you choose white or gray. They’re going to make your floor stand out. In the past, that was not something that designers emphasized. Now, the flooring world’s trending towards bold bright colors and statement floors.

Unnatural Colors

Unnatural flooring colors are some of the most popular painting options. Unnatural colors such as blue, purple, and green are popular because they draw attention to the floor. They’re overstated and bold, which makes it a little more difficult to decorate. You have to think of the flooring more as part of a theme. For example, a blue floor with red oak furniture would probably look cartoonish. However, you could pair it with other shades of blue or with white walls and furniture. If the floor is painted an unnatural color, you can pair the floor with white or gray furniture. The floor will stand out, and you don’t need to try to bring too much attention to any other part of your interior design.

Light Colors

Many people choose to paint their floors a light, neutral color. Those are perhaps even more popular and trendy than unnatural colors. Gray, beige, and a combination called greige are the most popular neutrals at the moment. When you paint your floor one of these colors, they will be very bold and eye-catching but still somewhat understated. That means that they’ll almost work like a canvas on which you can design the rest of your house. A bold neutral paint gives you the opportunity to bring in colorful furniture. You could also pair it with colorful walls.

Exterior Hardwood

Finally, paint is the most popular choice for exterior hardwood. Exterior hardwood itself is experiencing a surge in popularity after many people moved away from it. Paint is popular for exterior hardwood because it provides a protective coating over the wood that is easier to repair than stain.

Many people are choosing to defy conventional wisdom and paint their hardwood floors. They’re loving the results.

Categories Hardwood

What to Do With Your Excess Hardwood Floor Planks

Depending on how you bought your hardwood flooring, you might have excess floor planks. You can have extra planks because you ordered extra in case something went wrong in the installation. Some people decide at the last minute not to install it in the bathroom or some other room. Others buy their hardwood from a supplier that only offers certain bulk shipments. Whatever the case may be, here’s what you can do with your excess hardwood planks.

Test Strips

Hardwood flooring is very durable and very resilient. It will stand up to most kinds of damage for decades. However, if you don’t want to damage or discolor it, you need to be careful about what chemicals you use on your floor. Certain cleaners can strip off the finish and stain the wood. If you want to know for a fact that whatever you’re applying to your floor is safe, you can use a few of the excess planks as test strips.

Match the Furniture

Hardwood flooring planks are perfect for use as cladding for countertops, shelves, cabinets, and much more. They’re designed to be the exact same thickness, width, and length. They’re completely flat as well. That means you can easily use them to line the sides of a bookshelf to turn a cheap bookshelf into a piece of hardwood furniture. You can use them to match your countertops to your flooring.

Coasters

A simple DIY trick is to turn your excess hardwood planks into coasters. All you need do is cut them into squares with a saw of some sort. If you want a rustic look, you can even score the planks with a knife or a saw and then just break them. That’ll create uneven, rustic edges. Sand them down so that they’re smooth and you’ve got great coasters. One plank of hardwood should make at least a few coasters.

Sell the Excess

Depending on how many extra planks you have, you can always sell them. You should keep a few for yourself in case you need to repair your floor at some point in the future. People with hardwood floors are always looking for a few planks to help them plug some gaps or repair some damaged lanks. They might be in the market for three or four from you. With the recent advent of variation hardwood flooring and rustic looks, they’re not even necessarily looking for the exact same species or color as the flooring they have. It opens up a broader market.

Categories Hardwood

Why Are Oak Floors Trending?

Hardwood floors fell out of favor in the past for several reasons. In the 1990s, they began to surge in prominence again. Now, hardwood floors are considered the height of style and luxury in a home. As hardwood came back into fashion, many of the most popular hardwood floors were made from imported woods. These imported woods are called exotic, and woods from the United States are called domestic. Some exotic woods such as mahogany and ebony are household names. So, why is oak one of the hottest hardwoods for flooring?

The Return of Domestics

White oak and red oak are two of the most common hardwoods in the United States. They can be found in forests all over the country. There are over two hundred species of each kind of tree. Red oak is slightly harder than white oak and slightly less porous, but they’re largely similar in their applications. They’re easy to work with, easy to stain, easy to sand, and easy to install. Furthermore, oak is popular because it is affordable.

When an exotic wood is purchased, it has to go through a serious process before it gets to your house. The wood is harvested by a company, shipped across several borders that might have tariffs, processed, and then shipped again. Any time a product crosses a border with a tariff or with a border adjustment tax, that is more expense added to the final cost of the hardwood. If it comes from Europe, it will have a value-added tax (VAT) applied. All of that accounts for higher prices.

Domestic woods, on the other hand, do not have nearly as many expenses. They do not have to be shipped across international borders; in many cases, they can be harvested from a forest that’s not very far from your home.

Versatility

Some exotic woods are very popular because of factors such as hardness, grain patterns, and unique colors. However, those qualities are not completely absent from domestic hardwoods, including oak. The United States is an incredibly large country with almost every type of biome. That means almost every type of hardwood will grow somewhere in the United States. Furthermore, the United States has several different types of oak beyond just white oak and red oak. Those less common types of oak often have qualities that are desired in exotic woods.

Between red oak, white oak, and less common oak species, oak is one of the most exciting woods for the future.

Categories Hardwood

The Wide Plank Flooring Trend Explained

Traditionally, hardwood flooring planks are about six inches wide. However, there is a trend towards wide hardwood planks emerging. Wide planks are typically between six inches and twelve inches. Wide hardwood planks are popular because the floor has fewer lines, producing a cleaner look. Also, it is the style that was more popular in past centuries, which makes the floor look rustic and antique. There are some concerns, though.

Cupping

Hardwood floors tend to absorb moisture from the air as well as from the subfloor. If moisture is absorbed by the wooden planks, the planks can cup. Cupping is when the edges of the wood planks lift up to create a bowl shape. The wider the plank is, the more likely it is to cup because there’s more surface area. You can reduce the likelihood of cupping through several different methods. You can install a waterproof subfloor that blocks water vapor from passing through to the wooden planks.

Also, you can choose to top nail the planks to prevent cupping.

Top Nailing

Top nailing is a process of nailing the planks to the subfloor through the top of the plank instead of through the side. Most floors are blind nailed now, which is nailing through the side of the plank at a 45 degree angle. Top nailing is the process that was used predominantly before the 20th century. The look of rows of nails holding down your floor will make the floor look very antique. It’s a perfect pairing for a wide plank floor if you want the floor to look antique.

Long Planks

In addition to planks being wider, wide planks are often longer as well. The longer planks take a little more work to install but they create a more seamless look. There are fewer vertical and horizontal lines throughout the floor. Fewer perpendicular lines means fewer breaks in the floor’s surface.

Rustic Stains

Wide plank floors are often stained in a way that looks rustic or antique. The stains used are often tinged with gray or green. A stain with gray and/or green hues reflects the changes that wood undergoes as it ages. These stains are often named after driftwood or swamps because they are designed to make wood look as if it has aged for decades. They pair very well with wide planks.

Wide plank floors will likely grow more popular in the future. Getting on the trend now will give you the widest range of options.

Categories Hardwood

How to Achieve Gray Hardwood Flooring

Gray comes in dozens of shades, it is classic, and it is very versatile. That’s why gray has been trending as a preferred color for hardwood floors. Gray is popular for many different type of hardwood floors from kitchens to foyers to living rooms. Gray, and greige, are both commonly listed among the most popular flooring colors. You can achieve a gray hardwood floor in a number of ways. It can be painted, stained, or naturally gray.

Painted or Washed

If you want to achieve a gray hardwood floor, it can be painted or lime washed. Lime washing, or white washing, is a process of applying a lime solution to the floor. It is made of a lime substance mixed with water. The lime protects the floor against mold, mildew, and pests. Also, it changes the color of the wood to a washed-out grayish white. It’s a color that was very common on the northeastern coast of the United States during the colonial period. For many interior designers, lime washing is probably most popular from Tom Sawyer stories. It was popular in the 1800s and is growing more popular again.

You can also paint the floor gray. That will offer you many more options than white washing. There are dozens of different shades of gray paint that you can choose from. You also need to decide how much coverage you would like. A thick latex paint will cover the grain as well as the original color of the wood. You can also cut the paint with paint thinner to allow the grain and the original color o the wood to shine through.

Stained

Staining the wood is another great option. Stain is designed to penetrate the top layer of the wood. It will color the wood gray while allowing the grain and the color of the wood to shine through. It’s the best way to create a greige color. A thin gray stain that allows some of the natural tan of the wood to shine through will create an authentic greige.

Naturally Gray

Some woods, such as blue mahoe and gray maple, are naturally gray. They’re not as gray as wood that has been stained gray but they look more authentic. You can also stain or finish a naturally gray wood in a way that will enhance the natural gray of the wood. For example, a clear coat can make the natural color of the wood shine through.

Categories Hardwood

How to Age Hardwood Flooring Planks

Hardwood flooring has been prominent for hundreds of years. That means that many hardwood floors have survived decades or even hundreds of years. Many of them have aged over time; they were often finished to prevent the aging but nothing can stop that from happening permanently. However, the signs of aging have grown more popular over the years. Now, distressed floors are some of the most popular new floors. Many people choose to buy aged floors from barns, antique homes, and other such places. Some people buy new floors that have been distressed by the manufacturer. Some choose to distress the floors themselves. If you want to distress the floor yourself, you can do several things to make it look authentic.

Wire Brushing

One of the best ways to age a floor is very simple. You can use a stiff-bristled wire brush on the surface of the wood. Brush the floor in the direction of the grain. The brush will remove the top layer of wood from the flooring to make the grain stand out. It also leaves minute scratches throughout the wood. The scratches will dull the wood somewhat, making it look subtle and aged. Make sure to brush with the grain so that the scratches don’t look haphazard and distracting.

Tannins

You can also age the floor by staining it with natural tannins. The process is fairly simple. Soak iron in vinegar for a few days. You can use iron nails, steel wool, or basically anything with iron. The longer you allow the metal to sit in the vinegar, the stronger the color will get. Once it’s a desired color, you can apply it to the floor to stain the floor that darker color.

Black tea is another way to stain a floor a darker color.

Paint Thinner

If the floor is painted or stained in some manner, you can apply paint thinner haphazardly to the wood. Applying it randomly will cause the stain or paint to thin in unpredictable ways. Since wood ages unpredictably, it will better mimic the aging process.

If you don’t want to use actual paint thinner, you can use a wire brush or a paint scraper to scrape off a lot of the paint or stain that is already on the wood. Removing that will leave behind distressed looking wood.

Once you’ve achieved the look you want from your flooring, you should apply a layer of polyurethane to protect the desired look.

Categories Hardwood

Leather and Hardwood Floors Are Catching On

There are several different types of natural materials that are used for flooring. Hardwood is one of the most common. However, there are also options for materials, especially recycled materials, that are growing more popular. The popularity is fueled by trends that lead many people to creating new and innovative interior design ideas, especially on social media. Furthermore, these recycled materials are growing in popularity because many are trying to reduce their environmental footprint. One of the most common new materials is recycled leather.

Recycled Leather

Leather and hardwood have been paired together for centuries; however, leather is not as commonly used for flooring. It’s growing in popularity, though. The trend typically involves using recycled leather for tiles between hardwood planks. For example, a floor might be made predominantly of hardwood, but there might be a strip of tiles running from the front door to the kitchen. Alternately, you might have leather tiles in front of a fireplace or anywhere you need to create a visual change.

Recycled leather comes from two different sources; there is post-consumer leather and post-producer leather. Post-consumer leather is leather that is recycled by someone who bought it at a store; that would be the consumer. For example, you might recycle a leather coat you no longer need or some leather boots you don’t wear anymore. The flooring company would then process the leather into usable sheets and produce flooring tiles from it. The other option is post-producer leather.

Post-producer leather is leather that comes from manufacturers of leather products. The leather has to be cut, tanned, and processed, which often results in scraps of leather. Those scraps can then be turned into flooring tiles.

Matching With Hardwood

Leather is often matched with hardwood because they come in many of the same shades and patterns. Leather has grain patterns, much like hardwood has grains. Also, it comes in shades ranging from light blonde to a dark ebony. Those colors pair very well with hardwoods of similar shades.

There are two basic ways to match leather tiles with hardwood planks. You can choose a lightly-colored white oak to go with a lightly-colored leather. Alternately, you can choose dark leather to contrast with a light stain. That’s the route most people choose. The contrast looks great and really makes the hardwood stand out.

Leather might seem like an odd choice for flooring, but when you pair with hardwood, it can look great.

Categories Hardwood

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Prefinished Hardwood Flooring

There are several different types of hardwood floors and processes for manufacturing them. When you have the floor installed and then finished with a varnish or polyurethane coating, that’s considered a site finished floor. It’s a very common way for floors to be finished; however, it might not be the most reliable. If you want a floor that is incredibly resilient, with a long warranty, and with guaranteed quality, you should consider prefinished floors.

Prefinished Floors

Prefinished hardwood floors are those that are coated with the stain and finish before they ever leave the factory. Typically, they’re coated with a factory-grade chemical mixture of urethane and aluminum oxide. The aluminum oxide crystals embedded in the urethane and the high temperature baking process makes the finish on a prefinished floor incredibly hard. A site finished floor is typically warrantied for three to five years. A prefinished floor can be warrantied for as much as twenty-five years.

Advantages

The advantages of a prefinished floor are pretty straightforward. The finish is harder and lasts much longer than a simple polyurethane applied after installation. That means you won’t have to worry about having it refinished for over a decade. Also, prefinished floors are easier to install. Once you lay them down and affix them to the floor, they’re installed. You don’t have to worry about staining or finishing them, nor do you need to worry about waiting for the finish to dry. As soon as they’re installed, you can move your furniture back into the room.

Finally, the upkeep of a prefinished hardwood floor is simpler. Since the finish is harder and more resistant to stains or damage, it’s easier to keep clean.

Disadvantages

The main disadvantage to a prefinished floor is that you can’t control the finish on the floor. When you seal a floor on site, the sealant will also seal up the space between planks. With prefinished flooring, each individual plank is separate. Therefore, there won’t be any seal between planks. Also, it is very difficult to repair or refinish a prefinished floor.

The factory-installed sealant is very hard and very durable. If you want to repair it or refinish the floor, you will have to do some pretty intense sanding to get through the hard finish.

In summary, a prefinished floor is easy to install and lasts a very long time. If you want a hardwood floor that requires minimal upkeep, it’s a great option. If you want a floor that you can customize, it might not be your best option.

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