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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.

Categories Hardwood

Should You Consider Acacia Flooring?

Acacia is an entire family of trees and shrubs that are native to Australia, Africa, and Hawaii. The wood has been introduced to many different areas and is routinely grown on commercial farms as well. You can find domestic acacia as well as imported acacia for your hardwood floor. Often, it is overlooked because many people assume that the wood is expensive. However, it is as unique and beautiful as many exotic hardwoods while still being moderately priced.

 

The Coloring

 Acacia is unique for many reasons; one of the most prominent reasons is the coloring. Acacia has a very prominent grain that can range from red to honey to dark brown to bronze. These colors can even occur within the same plank of wood, giving the wood a varied appearance. That can sometimes make it difficult to match acacia to your decor. If you have other woods in your home, such as chairs and tables, it can be easier to match acacia since the acacia will incorporate colors of many different woods.

 

Durability

 Acacia rates higher than oak, hickory, and maple on the janka hardness scale. That means that it’s less likely to get scratched up by moving furniture, high heels, and pet claws. One of the most common ways to scratch wood is actually dirt and pebbles that are stuck to your shoes. When you walk around with your shoes on, the dirt and pebbles scratch the hardwood. A harder wood is less likely to get scratched.

A harder wood is also more durable once it is installed. Acacia also tends to be denser than some other domestics. That makes it more resistant to mold and moisture damage. Insects have a harder time boring into the wood as well.

Since it is dense and does not scratch easily, maintenance is simpler. You just need to sweep your hardwood floor occasionally. You need to wet mop it every few weeks. Just be sure that you don’t use too much water when you mop and that you dry up any big spills. Acacia is resistant to moisture, but no wood survives well against standing water.

 

Cost

 Acacia looks like many exotic hardwoods that are much more expensive. Acacia might cost you more money than something more common such as red oak, but it’s still fairly moderately priced. When you consider the expense over time, the added durability of acacia makes it even more affordable for a homeowner.

Categories Hardwood

American Hardwood Is Having a Renaissance

There are two kinds of hardwood in the United States; there is domestic and imported. Domestic hardwood is hardwood sourced from within the United States. For several years, imported hardwood was the most popular and most desirable hardwood for flooring. Those exotic woods are often very attractive. They have unique colors and exciting grain patterns that are sometimes difficult to find in domestic hardwoods. However, the past decade has shown a resurgence in American hardwood. There are several good reasons for this.

 

Sustainability

 Sustainability is one of the main reasons American hardwood is surging in popularity. Many people have become more aware than ever of the impact they have on the world around them. When you buy hardwood for your floor, that wood comes from trees that have been felled. Hardwood, especially some slow-growing varieties, can take decades to grow to its full potential. So, when a company cuts down a tree, they create a debt that could take decades to repay. These concerns have led American companies to begin sustainable foresting.

Sustainable foresting can mean several different things. For one, it means that companies are not indiscriminately clear-cutting forests. They might leave newer trees in the ground so that they can continue to grow. It can also mean planting trees to replace those that have been logged or paying for others to plant trees. When companies do that, they offset the logging they have done.

Finally, sustainability can mean sourcing as much as possible from trees that don’t contribute to the health of a forest. For example, a tree that is diseased might be a danger to other trees if that disease spreads. However, it could still make a great hardwood floor.

 

Affordability

 The other reason American hardwoods are trending is affordability. So much of what is produced in the United States is more expensive than foreign counterparts. That’s not necessarily true for heavy items such as logs. Transporting felled trees is very expensive. Reducing the distance will reduce the cost.

 

Ethics

 Lastly, American hardwood is better regulated than hardwoods from some other countries. In countries with less regulation, the wood might be attained in a way that’s not ethical. For example, clear-cutting an endangered species’ natural habitat is generally considered unethical. American hardwood is regulated to avoid that. Workers are paid wages that are regulated by state and federal regulations as well.

 

All of these factors combine to explain the renewed prominence of domestic hardwood flooring.

Categories Hardwood

Prefinished vs Site Finished Hardwoods: What’s the Difference?

Wood in its natural state is porous; that makes it vulnerable to mold, mildew, rot, and pests. Also, many woods are softer than pet claws, high heels, or sliding furniture. So they can easily be scratched or dented. To avoid that fate, wood needs to be sealed; this is also called finishing. A finish makes the wood virtually waterproof and protects from many kinds of superficial damage. For solid plank hardwood floors, there are two basic kinds of finishing. There is prefinished and site finished. You might also hear “factory finished,” but that’s the same as prefinished. So, what do they mean?

 

What Do They Mean?

 Prefinished or factory finished hardwoods are those that are stained and sealed in a factory before they’re ever shipped to a distributor or to the customer. Site finished hardwoods are installed when they’re bare. They’re then stained and sealed by your contractor. That’s pretty much all it means. So, is there a big difference?

The factory finished or prefinished hardwoods are sealed with a sealant that is a combination of urethane and aluminum oxide; it’s then UV cured, which means it is inundated with UV light to harden it. A site finished hardwood is typically sealed with a  liquid polyurethane that dries into a hard shell.

 

Installation

 When it comes to installation, prefinished hardwoods are going to be a much quicker installation. Once they’re laid and nailed to the subfloor, the installation is done. With a site finished floor, it will need to be stained. The stain will need several hours to dry. It might even have to dry overnight. Then, the floor will need to be sealed. Oftentimes,  polyurethane will need about three days before you can walk on it and as much as a week before you can go back to your day to day life.

 

Maintenance

 Prefinished hardwoods cannot be repaired as easily as site finished wood. You would probably be better off just replacing the damaged planks. Since they’re stained by a factory, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a perfectly matching plank. You just buy the same one you already had.

You can repair site finished planks without pulling them up. Depending on what’s wrong with them, you might need to sand them down to the wood and restain them. You’ll then need to reapply the polyurethane as well. However, the repairs will likely be less expensive and less time-consuming than repairing a prefinished floor.

Categories Hardwood

What’s the Difference Between Engineered Hardwood and Factory Finished Hardwood?

When you decide to get a hardwood floor for your home or office, you’ll be faced with more choices than you might have thought. Many people think that you just decide on what type of wood you want or what color and then you’re ready to install. Inf act, there are dozens of different choices. One of the most fundamental is whether you want engineered hardwood or solid hardwood. You’ll see solid hardwood called several different things too.

 

Solid Hardwood

 Solid hardwood might be called prefinished hardwood, factory finished hardwood, unfinished hardwood, or site finished hardwood. These might sound similar to engineered hardwood, but they’re all names for solid planks. Prefinished and factory finished hardwoods mean the same thing. They’re hardwood planks that have been stained and sealed at a factory by the manufacturer. When they’re shipped to your house, they’re ready to be installed.

Unfinished and site finished hardwoods are the same thing as well. They’re hardwoods that do not have stain or seal on them. They’ll need to be stained and sealed at your house. All of these are planks of solid hardwood. So, what is engineered hardwood?

 

Engineered Hardwood

 Engineered hardwood is a very popular option that has been growing in popularity for homeowners for years. It is a great compromise between the beauty of solid plank hardwood and the durability of some synthetic options. Engineered hardwood is made from at least two layers, but oftentimes, it is made of three layers.

The bottom layer is the backing layer. It’s a stiff wood or synthetic. Some engineered hardwood has a waterproof layer as the backing layer to keep moisture from coming through the subfloor. The next layer is actually multiple layers of thin plywood. This provides weight, height, and flexibility to the plank. The top layer, often called the wear layer, is a thin sheet of hardwood. This is the layer that is visible. Finally, it is stained and sealed. You’ll only see the layer of hardwood once the floor is installed.

Typically, engineered hardwood floor is indistinguishable from solid plank hardwood, but it consists of much less actual hardwood. That means it is usually more affordable. Also, the layers of plywood, the glue holding it together, and the backing layer serve to make the engineered planks more resistant to absorbing moisture. That means they’re less likely to warp in humid or overly dry environments. An engineered floor is a great balance between beauty and durability.

Categories Hardwood

Can I Use Hardwood Flooring In My Condo?

If you live in a condo you may be wondering if hardwood flooring is a good choice for your space. The first thing you will need to consider is the CC & Rs of your condo. Every HOA has its own rules regarding what you can do in your condo. Some have specific rules regarding flooring because some flooring types will create more noise for downstairs neighbors.

Access to the condo is another thing you will need to consider. If your condo has elevator only access you may find it harder to get the supplies into your home. It is not impossible but more challenging. You will want to talk with your contractor about delivery, access and material lengths. They will have ideas on how to make the process as seamless as possible including delivery and installation.

The installation process will also need to be discusses. Depending on the type of material you are using and the subfloor there may be a few different ways the flooring can be installed. The options generally are full glue down, double glue down or floating. These all have unique benefits and drawbacks. The CC&Rs may come into play again when you are choosing an installation method. Some condos require a sound barrier or dampener between you and your downstairs neighbor when hard flooring is being used. Moisture barriers may also be necessary when using wood on top of concrete.

Because of the nature of a condo you may have less control over the temperature and humidity of your individual unit than a house would. This can affect your flooring because wood shrinks and grows. Engineered wood is less susceptible to changes in humidity but does still move some with the changes in weather.

A contractor is your best resource for finding out the specifics about your condo flooring and what will work well in your space. Hardwood flooring is a beautiful addition to your space and something you with enjoy for years to come.

Categories Hardwood

Is white oak hardwood flooring pet friendly?

White oak is a beautiful floor and it’s no shock that it has become such a popular flooring type. If you have any experience with wood flooring you may know that some flooring types work better in different environments and under different conditions. Shiny floors have slowly been phased out because people have realized they are hard to maintain, the same goes for dark floors in households with white dogs. If you have pets you may wonder if white oak is a good option for you and your animals.

White oak is actually one of the recommended wood species for homes with pets. It is a resilient wood that can withstand some of the abuse your animals may inflict on your floors. The open grain in the wood can help hide some of the potential scratches and dents. The grain isn’t just good for masking scratches its beautiful and one of the main features of white oak. White oak also boosts longboard lengths which are beautiful and make the room feel more seamless.

White oak can be distressed with methods like wirebrushing. A wire brushed finish is a great option in homes with pets. If you have dogs you will love how the textured look helps mask fur and minor surface scratching. The texture look and feel adds to the longevity of the finish coat and can be the ideal choice for allowing animals and wood flooring to exist together.

White oak offers a lot of character which is one of the reasons it is so loved. Depending on the grade it may have checks, nots and variable tones and colors. The floor can look rustic or very polished depending on the grade. The character within each board is great for camouflaging scratches and parks from pets.

White oak is beautiful naturally but can also be stained to further enhance its beauty. Some of the darker stains may not be ideal for pets because it can make the fur stand out more. Some of the other stain colors can be a great way to fit the white oak to the colors of your home. Many hardwood professionals have stain samples for you and can do tests on your floor to help you choose the perfect color for you home.

White oak isnt just beautiful its pet friendly. We know pets are like family to so many people and choosing a floor based on how it will work with your four legged family members is important.

Categories Hardwood

Flooring Choice for your Budget-

If you are on a tight flooring budget it can be hards to find options within your budget. We are outlining some great options within different prices per square foot. All of these prices are subject to change because of changes in mill costs, finishing costs and other factors but they are a great place to start so you will have a good idea the general costs of some basic flooring types.

The range in flooring costs is huge ranging from just a few dollars per square foot to over $25 per square foot. Hardwood flooring and other hard flooring types are generally written in square feet while carpet is commonly priced in square yards.

Price Range $4.99-8.99

This is a general price range for prefinished hardwood flooring. While some of the fancier products and lines are outside of this range many fall into their price point. When looking in this price range make sure you do your do diligence. If american or canadian made products are important to you you will want to find out where the wood is milled and manufactured not just trust the brand name or the “packaged in” stamp on the box. Ask the salesperson if the wood is prefinished, if its solid plank or a veneer and about additional materials need for installation like underlayments.

Also ask about the quality and board lengths. When you are in this range the flooring should come in longer boards but some manufactures have smaller pieces than expected. The length of the box is an indicator of the longest board. There are generally varied lengths in the box and a 6 foot longest plank is ok but not great, longer boards are visually more appealing.

Price Range $10 and up-

Real hardwood solid plank flooring is generally $10-25 per square foot depending on the specifics of the wood. There are so many factors to choose from when selecting hardwood flooring like the finish, plank width and length and how the flooring is finished.

Plank width is very limited under the $10 price point. The cost to produce wider boards is higher so if you are looking for a wide plank floor you will need to up your price range. The higher price points should also have longer length boards. Some manufactures mill boards that are up to 10 feet.

Speciality Cuts of Flooring

These fall into a more “custom” price range and need a current estimate to give an accurate price. Live sawn and quarter sawn are both popular speciality cuts of flooring. Livesdawn is when the log is cut directly through the middle. It gives you a combination of quarter sawn and plain sawn boards. This also gives you a very stable plank which is ideal for wider plank flooring. Quarter sawn is when the log is cut into quarters and then sawn into planks. Tis is the most stable cut of wood and have a beautiful unique grain pattern.

In the end the price you spend on flooring will depend on your budget and desired look. Hardwood does have a big upfront cost but pays off over the decades you can use the same floor.

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.

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