Category Archives: Hardwood Flooring

How Humidity Affects Hardwood Floors (And What You Can Do)

Hardwood flooring has a natural warmth and aura that is pretty much irreplaceable. 

Unfortunately, humidity can ruin it by causing cracking, cupping, crowning or buckling. 

When humidity is high, hardwood flooring will soak up that moisture, causing it to swell and distend; when low, the dry air draws moisture from your floor, causing it to shrink. While this expansion and contraction are normal, excessive change can cause long-term problems. The trick lies in maintaining the ideal humidity within your house, which usually ranges between 35% and 55%.

Effects of Humidity on Hardwood Flooring

Effects of Humidity on Hardwood Flooring

Humidity levels higher than 55% can cause the following problems

Cupping: When wooden planks swell from excess moisture and push against one another, their edges become higher than their centre. There are many reasons for cupping, most related to excess humidity. 

If cupping occurs, it’s important to identify the reason and fix it immediately, or you may have to replace the whole floor. In some cases, using fans and/or dehumidifiers can restore the planks’ shape and structure.

Buckling: This is the result of excessive moisture in your hardwood floors causing the planks to pull up from the subfloor and buckle. When the humidity level drops back to normal, the planks may shrink back, but chances are that you’ll notice spaces between the boards.

Crowning: This is the opposite of cupping, where the centre of the board is higher than its edges. This happens when hardwood floors are left wet for too long or are sanded soon after cupping. 

Cracking: When excess moisture or humidity causes wooden planks to expand drastically, the adjoining boards start pushing against each other. In some cases, this pressure can damage the boards’ structural integrity, resulting in cracks.

Humidity levels lower than 35% can cause the following problems

Gapping: In winter, when heaters are used and the air is dry, hardwood loses some of its moisture and shrinks. As the planks contract, the gaps between them increase and expose your floor to further dust, dirt and allergens. 

Splitting: As the wood dries out, it becomes brittle, resulting in cracks or breakages along its grain. This can cause splinters or fragments to stick out, posing a threat to users or family members. This damage is permanent because once the floor finish is damaged, the wood beneath is no longer protected. 

Tips to Protect Your Hardwood Floors Against Humidity

Here’s how you can protect your hardwood floors against drastic changes in humidity:

  1. Clean Carefully

Only use a certified hardwood flooring cleaner and avoid using water under any circumstances. 

Immediately clean spills with a dry, cotton cloth to avoid it seeping into the wood. Aside from cracking and cupping, spills can also cause mould and mildew.

  1. Install a Humidifier or Dehumidifier

Install a humidifier or dehumidifier, together with a humidistat or hygrometer. This will help you maintain optimal humidity and avoid hardwood damage. 

  1. Choose the Right Flooring Contractor

Make sure you choose a professional hardwood supplier and installer. If hardwood isn’t stored or installed under proper humid conditions, it will most likely cause flooring issues. Talk to your flooring contractor about acclimatization, which is the process by which your hardwood adjusts to your living space. 

You’ve spent thousands of dollars on your hardwood floors, so don’t ignore the factors that can damage them and affect their longevity. With a little care, consideration and prevention, you can enjoy beautiful flooring for years.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Staining Hardwood Floors

Few flooring materials look as warm, natural and inviting as hardwood. But while many people love wood floors for their innate beauty, they often ask themselves: “Should I stain my floor?”

Staining is an important decision for three main reasons. First, your choice of colour will have an impact on the overall aesthetics of your house.  Second, staining is permanent. Third, the process is time-consuming and expensive.

Fortunately, choosing the right stain colour isn’t difficult if we ask ourselves a few questions. The most important one: is hardwood floor staining the right option for me?

Hardwood Floor Staining

Pros and Cons of Hardwood Staining

Wood stain is a type of paint used to change the appearance of wood products, including flooring, furniture, mouldings and handrails.

Wood staining is the process by which stain is applied over a wooden surface.

Once you know the pros and cons of this process, you’ll be in a better position to decide if it’s a good idea for your floors.

But before we proceed with the pros and cons of hardwood flooring, it’s important to know what staining exactly means.

How Hardwood Staining Is Different from Finishing

A lot of people confuse staining with finishing, although they’re completely different procedures.

Finishing is the addition of a clear protective topcoat to prevent scratches, dents and other types of damage; staining changes the wood colour. The latter process is similar to painting a wall, with one main difference – if you choose the wrong paint colour, it can be redone and fixed. Choosing the wrong stain means having to sand the entire surface and doing it over; this is an expensive, time-consuming and frustrating experience.

Other factors play important roles in deciding how your room will look when you stain your hardwood floors. These include the species of wood, your furnishings, the lighting and the colour of your walls.

The Pros of Hardwood Staining

  • It Prevents Rot

Hardwood is prone to rotting, especially when it’s not sealed properly.

While there are many factors that can cause rotting, the most common are mould, fungi and termites. Decay fungi, for example, breaks down the cellular structure of wood, causing significant loss of strength, cracks and even breakage. It does this by secreting enzymes that penetrate the wood and dissolve some of the constituents of its cell walls. Fortunately, sealing your hardwood flooring with stain preserves its beauty and structural integrity for a long time.

Unlike paints, stain soaks into wood and bonds with it, preventing other materials from soaking in. This gives your hardwood floor some resistance to moisture and other environmental agents, such as insects and bacteria.

  • It Protects It from Sunlight

Constant exposure to sunlight and excessive heat can damage hardwood. This includes unsightly discolouration, cracks and separation between boards. Some wood species are more photosensitive than others, meaning your floors may lighten or change colour over time. Using a high-quality stain and applying coats regularly is crucial to protecting your floor against harmful UV rays.

  • It Preserves Natural Beauty

The beauty of wood lies in its natural grains and patterns. Staining comes in a variety of tints and colours, but you can also choose a clear or colourless stain to preserve and enhance the innate elegance of hardwood flooring. Since stain doesn’t peel or flake like acrylic paint, it’s easy to maintain and lasts a long time.

  • It Replicates the Look of Certain Wood Species

If you want to change the look of your hardwood floor but can’t afford to replace it, staining is an excellent option. For example, staining a light-coloured wood like beech, elm or pine with a rich cherry stain gives it a rich, warm effect, similar to cherry wood or mahogany. If you have a dark-coloured wood and want to minimize its red or orange tint, use a cooler, darker stain to hide the warm hues.

The Cons of Hardwood Staining

  • It Highlights Sanding Marks

Sanding is an important step in preparing your hardwood floor to accept stain. When done the wrong way, it can leave unsightly scratches and gouges. As stain is applied, it can seep into those fine scrapes, making flaws look darker and more prominent than the rest of the surface. The result is a smeared, messy-looking floor.

  • Not All Woods Are Suitable for Staining

Some wood species like birch, pine and maple aren’t suitable for staining because their grains are too tight, meaning there are few openings to absorb the stain.

There’s a Chance of Bleed Back

Unlike acrylic paints, you can’t correct or darken a particular stain by applying additional coatings. No matter the wood species you choose, it can only absorb a certain amount of stain. Applying too much can cause it to rise back to the surface, leading to what’s known as ‘bleed back’.

This can also happen if you apply stain on a layer of finish that’s incompatible. As a result, you’ll be left with a messy-looking floor, full of unsightly spots and blemishes.

Just like other flooring treatments, staining has its benefits and drawbacks. When done well, it can enhance the beauty of hardwood floors and pull together the overall design of a room. But even the slightest mistake, like improper sanding or choosing the wrong stain colour, can cost you time, money and effort. By making the right choices, though, you can enjoy the many benefits of having a stained hardwood floor.

5 Fun Indoor Activities Safe for Hardwood Flooring

Whether it’s raining, snowing or you simply don’t have the time (or energy) to step outside, there are plenty of fun activities to enjoy indoors. If you’re looking for ways to keep yourself (and your family) entertained without damaging your hardwood floors, this post is for you.

Fun Activities That Are Hardwood Floor-Safe

It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or you’re simply reluctant to go out, there are times when you must stay inside. If you have kids at home, you may worry about how their added chaos will affect your floors.

Below, we list a few fun indoor games that are also safe for your hardwood flooring.

  1. Jigsaw Puzzles

Suitable for both kids and adults, jigsaw puzzles are a fun and exciting way to think strategically while learning reasoning and logic. Since jigsaw puzzles are mostly made of cardboard, they’re gentle on your floor.

If you want something more creative and interesting, draw a picture of your choice and paste it on cardboard. Now cut the picture along its outline and divide it into small pieces. You can encourage children to draw pictures from their imagination or use pictures from adult colouring books to make the game a little more challenging.

Jigsaw Puzzles on Hardwood Flooring

  1. Musical Cushions

Musical chairs is a game of elimination that only requires music, players and chairs (one less than the total number of players). The participants march to music around a set of chairs and rush to sit when the music stops. The one left without a seat is eliminated. A chair is removed, the music continues and the cycle repeats until there’s only one player – left – who is the winner.

While this is a fun game that involves all the players, it also causes chairs to slide all over the floor. Replacing chairs with cushions or pillows can save your hardwood floors from scratches, dents and other types of damage.

A variation of this game is to set the pillows in a pile in the middle of the floor and let the players rush for them as the music stops. Follow the same game rules as musical chair.

Musical Cushions on Hardwood Flooring

  1. Balloon Ping-Pong

This is a fun and creative indoor game, using some regular household items. All you need are some paper plates, long sticks to work as a grip, and inflated balloons (whatever size you prefer).

Attach the sticks to the paper plates using staples or heavy-duty tape. String up a divider or net, divide players into two teams and see how many times each team can pass the balloons over the net without touching the ground. While wooden spatulas could work well for this indoor tennis game, DIY paper spatulas are a great way to encourage team engagement, especially among kids. The team that passes the maximum number of balloons over the net in the least amount of time is the winner.

  1. Touch-and-Feel Boxes

Place small but interesting items into different containers and have your children take turns touching and guessing what’s inside. While any container will serve the purpose, shoe boxes are easily available and can be cut using scissors. Moreover, you can involve the kids in the box decoration, hence motivating their creativity and imagination. Encourage questions and provide clues when needed.

Focussed as it is on the sense of touch, this indoor game is great at improving your child’s sensory skills. It also trains their mind to associate sensory impressions with some known aspect of the physical stimulus, hence improving their cognition.

  1. Biggest Bubble

Bubble blowing is a typical outdoor fun activity, but this version can be played indoors around a table.

Get a plate and straw for every player and place a dime-sized drop of liquid dish soap on the plate. Pour a few drops of water onto the liquid until lather forms. Each player puts their straw into the lather and moves it straight up and down to get the foam over the end of the straw. A bubble will start to form as a player slowly blows into the straw. The one who can make the biggest bubble and hold it for the longest time is the winner.

Although this game is played around a table, it’s a good idea to clean the adjacent floor afterwards to avoid any slip-and-fall accidents.

It’s raining, it’s snowing, and the kids say it’s boring! A rainy or otherwise bad weather day is a good excuse to stay inside, but it’s also an opportunity to spend some quality time with your family, especially children. Now you know how to keep everyone entertained without affecting your hardwood floors.

Common Cleaning Blunders That Could Damage Your Hardwood Floors

Your floor is one of the most important yet overlooked elements of your home. Whether modern, rustic or contemporary, it adds warmth, beauty and functionality to any space. While there’s a world of flooring options available, nothing beats the charm and resilience of wooden floors. Since hardwood is quite an investment, it’s normal to want it to look like new for years to come. Proper cleaning and maintenance will greatly extend the longevity of your hardwood floors and avoid future replacement costs. Although hardwood is easy to maintain, people often ruin it by cleaning it incorrectly. Here’s a quick guide to what not to do in order to preserve them.

Are You Making These Common Hardwood Floor Cleaning Mistakes?

Do you think hardwood is delicate and needs special care? This is partly true, but just avoid these common cleaning mistakes to keep it shining like new.

Using the Wrong Vacuum Attachment

Vacuuming is effective in removing dust and dirt off your floor as it can clean cracks or gaps. However, not all suction tools and attachments are suited to hardwood floors. Using the wrong vacuum head can leave scratches and create cracks for dirt and dust to accumulate within, making it harder to clean. Avoid using any attachment with a rotating brush or a beater bar with hard bristles, as these are too harsh for wood and can cause irreversible damage. Instead, opt for an attachment with soft bristles or a felt component that’s gentle on wood. You could use a vacuum cleaner with a small canister, since they’re relatively light and less likely to cause scratches and dents.

Using Harsh Cleaning Solutions

Whether you’re looking to deodorize or remove stains, choosing the right cleaning product is important. Over-the-counter floor cleaners often contain harsh chemicals that can wear away the topcoat, leaving it dull and lifeless. Instead, pour a few drops of dishwashing liquid into a bowl of warm water and use the mixture to wipe the floor. Also, blot stains immediately after they happen to avoid permanent discolouration. Even if you’re using a wood cleaning solution to remove stubborn stains, grease or grime, always dilute it with water first. Remember not to apply a cleaner directly to the surface.

Frequent Mopping

Water is the biggest damaging factor for any type of wood. Moisture easily gets trapped in the fibers, causing the planks to cup, warp, swell and separate. Frequent mopping can cause water to seep between the boards, resulting in damage over time. While occasional mopping helps get rid of stains and dirt, overdoing it can do more harm than good. Use a damp (not wet) mop or cloth to clean and dry the surface immediately with a towel. This will stop water from getting into cracks, avoiding the risk of mould and mildew under the floorboards.

Using Ammonia or Vinegar

Vinegar is a natural cleaning solution used in many households. It’s inexpensive, readily available and effective against mould. While vinegar is a preferred (and milder) alternative to detergents for cleaning fabrics, it’s not a good choice for hardwood as its acidic nature will eat away the finish. As ammonia will also make your floor look dull, avoid using it directly or as a cleaning ingredient.

Using Steam Cleaners

The excessive heat and moisture from steam cleaners can ruin not only the topcoat but also the wood beneath. Since the damage is gradual, you’ll need a total floor replacement by the time you realize your mistake.

Not Cleaning Your Vacuum Cleaner

If you use your vacuum cleaner often, chances are that it’s accumulated a lot of dirt. Dirty filters can clog the vacuum and prevent proper suction. That’s why it’s important to clean your vacuum canisters frequently.

Using Oil-Based Cleaners

Many cleaning products claim to be safe for hardwood floors but not all are. Cleaners containing oil, wax or polishes can create a topcoat on your floors and turn them into a black spot over time.

Hardwood floors are durable and attractive, yet vulnerable in many ways. From dust, dirt and termites to excessive heat and moisture, many factors can affect their looks and performance. Now that you know what to avoid when cleaning your hardwood floors, the job should be easier. If you have more questions, get in touch with the experts at Amazon Hardwood.

Oil-Based vs Water-Based Finishes – Comparisons and Common Misconceptions

Your hardwood flooring project is slowly coming to a close, but have you decided on the finish yet? In order to achieve and preserve a rich, warm look, it’s important to apply a layer of polyurethane finish. Although its basic purpose is to protect your floors, not all its varieties are created equal. Basically, there are two types of polyurethane finishes, water and oil-based – both with their unique characteristics. In fact, there are major differences you should consider before choosing the right one.

How Do Oil-Based Finishes Differ from Water-Based Ones?

Here’s an overview of two of the most common types of hardwood polyurethane finishes, as well as their benefits and drawbacks. We will also cover some of the most common myths surrounding the two.

Drying Times

Are you in a hurry to move into your new home? Do you want your flooring to be done fast? Then a water-based polyurethane finish is the right choice. No matter which you choose, you will need to apply several coats to achieve the right amount of sheen and protection. Since water-based finishes have a thinner texture than oil-based ones, they dry much quicker and you can apply multiple coats in a single day. Moreover, you can start using the floor within six hours of the final coat being applied.

On the other hand, oil-based finishes have a thicker texture that generally takes each coat at least 12 hours to dry and has a wait time of 24 hours before you can use them. This means that the floor will be unavailable for several days.

 

Common Myth: Hardwood polyurethane finishes with a longer drying time provide better, stronger protection than ones that dry quickly.

Reality: Water-based finishes may dry quickly but they’re just as effective at preventing dents and scratches as an oil-based finish with a thicker texture and longer drying time.

Odour

Both oil and water-based polyurethane finishes have somewhat pungent odours, but water-based finishes are not so bad. The reason is that oil-based polyurethane has a higher volatile organic compounds (VOC) content than water-based polyurethane. In fact, most water-based finishes with low VOC content have very little odour, making them a safer option. Considering the strong smell and possible health effects of oil-based finishes (with higher VOC levels), it’s highly recommended that you (along with your pets) vacate the house during the floor finishing process. With water-based stains, it’s perfectly okay to remain in your house and carry on with your daily chores.

Note: The main concern here is not the odour but the harmful chemicals emitted that can cause several health issues. So, if you’re concerned about your health and surroundings, water-based finishes are definitely a better option.

 

Common Myth: Lower VOC content in water-based finishes makes them the obvious eco-friendly finishing option.

Reality: While fewer VOCs in water-based finishes is certainly commendable, they aren’t necessarily the best choice for the environment. This is because they have a shorter lifespan than oil-based finishes and require frequent reapplications. Depending on the kind of damage done to your floors and the number of refinishings required, you can negate any benefit from the lower VOC content.

Hardness

Since a finish protects the wood underneath, its thickness is an important factor. The thickness or hardness of the protective layer depends on the number of coats applied. Since water-based finishes have a thin texture, several coats may be required to attain the desired level of hardness. This will, however, depend on the space being refinished and the expected traffic volume. Frequently-used rooms like bedrooms or living rooms need a thick floor finish for extra protection against dents, scratches and other types of damage.

 

Common Myth: Oil-based finishes with a thicker texture provide better protection than thinner, water-based finishes.

Reality: Since the thickness of oil-based finishes helps prevent scratches and dents, it’s a go-to option for high traffic areas. However, they’re softer than the water-based variety, which means they are susceptible to denting. So, a water-based finish that’s more durable may actually be a better choice for high-traffic areas.

Look

When choosing a hardwood floor finish, it’s important to consider the final look. Different finishes have different staining effects, and you may end up with a look you didn’t initially want.

Oil-based polyurethane finishes impart a yellowish, honey colour to hardwood over time, whereas water-based finishes are clear and don’t change the original flooring colour. For those who like the natural beauty of hardwood, water-based polyurethane is an excellent option.

 

Common Myth: Oil-based finishes have a similar, rich effect on all types of hardwood flooring.

Reality: While the warm, amber effect of oil-based finishes suits some types of hardwood floors, it doesn’t necessarily look good on all of them. For example, light-coloured woods like maple, ash, pine and fir look better with a water-based finish that won’t turn yellow or alter their natural colour. Oil-based finishes are a great fit for dark-coloured woods like oak or larch as they create a rich, warm look.

While nothing can make your floors last forever, choosing a quality finish can protect them from damage and extend their life. Both oil-based and water-based polyurethane finishes have their benefits and drawbacks, so being familiar with them will help you make an informed choice. Now that you know their key features and differences, you can decide what’s right for you.

Interesting Facts About Hardwood Flooring You Probably Didn’t Know

As one of the best and most widely-used flooring materials, hardwood offers a range of benefits to homeowners. From making your home more attractive to providing better air quality and enhanced durability, there are several reasons why investing in hardwood floors is a smart decision. If you’ve been debating about whether to install wooden floors in your home, here are some lesser-known facts about hardwood flooring that you might find interesting.

Lesser-Known Facts About Hardwood Flooring

Deciding on your flooring type becomes easier when you know what you are choosing. Below, we have put together some interesting facts about why wooden floors make a better choice than other flooring options.

Wood Needs to Be Acclimated Before Installation

Hardwood floors are easy to care for and last for ages, provided they are properly acclimated before installation. Without acclimation, it may soon show signs of cupping and distortion as the planks swell or shrink, depending on environmental conditions. In this seasoning process, hardwood planks are left to adjust to the moisture and temperature conditions of the room. This must be done for at least three days (72 hours) before they are installed. After acclimation, the wood becomes easier to install and won’t cause problems in the future.

While most wood manufacturers recommend a minimum acclimation period of three days, the actual duration depends upon several factors – the type of wood, its dimensions, initial moisture content and method of finishing. However, it’s important to know that not all hardwood varieties need acclimation. For example, engineered and solid factory finished wood often don’t require seasoning, so long as the environment is within an average humidity and temperature level. For details, contact our hardwood flooring experts.

No Two Wooden Planks Look Alike

A real hardwood floor is entirely unique. Just as fingerprints and retinas are unique to each person, no two hardwood floors are exactly the same. This is because wood is extracted from trees and no two trees are identical. Hardwood logs differ based on colour, mass, grain patterns and other factors. Since real wood is characterized by texture variations of the wood grain, you won’t find two real wooden planks that look alike.

Improves Air Quality

While most people are aware of hardwood’s aesthetic value, do you know about its health benefits? Wooden floors can significantly improve your indoor air quality and make your home a healthier place to live in. Allergens are everywhere, and while it’s impossible to control outdoor pollution, there are several natural ways to purify your indoor air.  Unlike carpets, hardwood doesn’t have fibers that trap pollen, dust mites, animal dander and other allergy-causing substances. Therefore, you can switch to hardwood to avoid allergic reactions caused by the said substances.

Moreover, since wood is derived from trees that inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen, they continue storing carbon during their entire service life. Being a carbon neutral product, it improves indoor air quality.

You Can Experiment with Different Colours

Compared to other flooring options, hardwood can be resurfaced according to your preferences and changing trends. Resurfacing is a cosmetic sanding procedure that is specific to hardwood floors and gives it a new colour and texture. The process will also do away with any dents, cracks or other cosmetic issues. It’s a convenient option for homeowners bored of a particular colour who want to try something different.

Hardwood Varies in Hardness

It may sound paradoxical, but different hardwoods have different levels of ‘hardness’, which refers to their ability to withstand dents and scratches. Some of the hardest available hardwoods are Brazilian cherry, Brazilian Koa, cumaru, mesquite and mahogany, followed by white ash, red oak, and cherry. This is actually a huge benefit because you can choose your hardwood depending on your needs. For example, if you have toddlers who cause scratches with toys, it’s best to opt for the hardest wood flooring. It’s easy to maintain and can be refinished to get rid of minor scrapes.

Improves Acoustic Sound Quality

Wooden flooring significantly changes the acoustics in a room. Wood, being a hard material, reflects sound, whereas carpet absorbs it.  Since music sounds better in a room with hardwood flooring, it’s perfect for those who love listening to softer music like acoustic guitar or piano.

Hardwood floors add value, grace and durability to your home. From their rich colour to classic sheen, they have the power to transform it into a heavenly abode. And now that you know some of the most interesting facts about hardwood flooring, it’s time to invest in it and explore its myriad benefits.

Simple Soundproofing Tips for Hardwood Floors

Hardwood is an elegant, versatile and upscale flooring option that never goes out of style. But despite their many benefits, wooden floors can be noisy.

Unwanted noise from echoes, high-pitched laughter, clicking heels and falling objects can trigger the body to release stress hormones like cortisol, which can make you angry, irritated and frustrated. Over time, stress and frustration increase blood pressure and even affect your gastrointestinal activity. These annoying noises are sound waves that bounce around a room with timber flooring; hardwood resounds with certain frequencies and acts as a speaker. Fortunately, with proper soundproofing techniques, you can interrupt the sound waves and reduce their impact.

How to Minimize Noise in a Room with Hardwood Floors

As they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Building a soundproof room is much easier and more inexpensive than trying to fix the issue after the hardwood floor has been installed. However, this doesn’t mean that the problem can’t be solved, although the approach will have to be different. Here are a few soundproofing tricks – both pre- and post-hardwood flooring installation – to lessen the noise and improve the acoustics of your room.

Pre-Installation Sound Reduction Tips

Acoustic Underlay

An underlay is the most popular and effective way to dampen noise related to wooden floors. Although originally designed for laminate floors, acoustic underlays also work well with solid hardwood and engineered hardwood flooring. Underlayment, installed between subfloors and flooring, acts as a buffer to minimize noise transfer. It also reduces the sound echo in a room and acts as a moisture (mould and mildew) barrier.

There’s a wide range of acoustic floor underlays available, so making the right choice can be tricky. In general, a thick and heavy underlayment provides a cushioning effect underfoot and reduces more annoying noise than a thin underlay.

Acoustic Underlay for Hardwood Flooring

Floating Hardwood Floors

Unlike typical floors that are nailed into the subfloor, floating floors are installed using special adhesives. Since there’s no use of nails in the floor joist, it eliminates the noise caused by squeaky floorboards and prevents sound from travelling between rooms. There are many ways to install a floating floor, the most popular being to use a vibration-absorbing material sandwiched between pieces of flooring.

Joist Tape

If creaking hardwood floors are creating a nuisance, a simple joist tape can fix the issue and prevent noise from spreading through the house. While joist tapes can be used in an existing room, it’s best to use them before the flooring is installed, or else you will need to remove a section of the floor.

Soundproofing Mats

Lightweight, effective and affordable, soundproofing mats are an excellent way to reduce unwanted noise in your home. During hardwood flooring installation, these mats can be used between the frame and subfloor, between multiple subfloor layers or directly below the top flooring material to reduce noise transfer. They can be used in multiple layers, alone or along with other soundproofing materials for stronger insulation. If you already have hardwood flooring, install at least one sheet between the area rugs and wooden floor. Soundproofing mats can also be used in wall and ceiling construction to improve the sound barrier.

Post-Installation Sound Reduction Tips

Wall and Window Furnishings

Fabric wall hangings, quilts and woven floor rugs are great at reducing some of the sounds resulting from hardwood floors. You can also use fabric-covered wall panels over your existing walls to absorb a lot of irritating noise bouncing around the room. Thick fabrics like velvet, tapestry and suede are better at absorbing noise than lightweight materials like linen, cotton or lace. If you have thin window draperies, consider adding a thick fabric liner to increase sound insulation.

Furniture

Use chairs, sofas, ottomans and headboards covered in thick fabrics like velvet and corduroy to reduce noise. Add cozy pillows, back cushions and thick bedcovers and tablecloths to dampen the noise created by hardwood flooring.

Additional Tips

Consider wearing soft-soled slippers or socks to reduce the noise of shoes when walking on hardwood floors. If you have pets, clip their nails to eliminate the constant clicking against the wood. You can also install fabric-covered false beams over a vaulted ceiling to curtail noise; made with fabric-covered fiberglass, these faux beams have high sound absorption properties.

Few people want to live in a noisy environment. Unfortunately, many homeowners put up with this nuisance simply because they’re not aware of the solutions. Whether you’re having a hard time dealing with the noise created by wooden floors or planning a new hardwood flooring installation, consider these soundproofing tips before it’s too late.

How to Protect Hardwood Flooring from Damage

To keep your hardwood flooring in top condition, you need to take proper care of it. Otherwise, it will gradually fade and wear out. When your hardwood flooring endures, it adds beauty and value to your home. Do you want to know how to protect hardwood flooring from damages? This blog discusses the most effective tips and tricks.

7 Tips to Keep Your Hardwood Flooring Looking Great for Years

  1. Clean Your Floor Carefully

Cleaning your hardwood flooring requires the right techniques. To remove heavy grime, dry cleaning methods are appropriate. To get the desired results, use cloth or paper towels and a hardwood flooring-specific attachment to vacuum your floor daily. Choose only a hardwood flooring vacuum attachment, as it is gentle on wooden floorboards.

Roll up rugs and other coverings and shake them off outside. Then pick a soft-bristled broom to sweep the most highly trafficked areas of your home. Once you are done sweeping, remove light dust particles using an electrostatic pop. Never use harsh cleaning products or agents as their repeated use strips away the top floor coating and makes it dull. So, pick the right cleaning product to maintain its shine.

  1. Reduce Daily Wear and Tear

Minimize damage to your hardwood flooring by using breathable area rugs. Do not use underlays or mats made of vinyl, synthetic rubber or latex as these cause discolouring. Choose a pure rubber, real felt or natural rubber mat, plus felt backings to provide support to your hardwood flooring.

Avoid dragging heavy items as that might cause scratches on the flooring surface. Use gentle floor protectors under chairs and sofas. When it comes to pets, trim their claws often and try to minimize their contact with hardwood flooring to prevent scratches. Keep rugs in areas where they usually lie down.

  1. Fix Scratches and Dents

Repairing damages such as scratches and dents on hardwood flooring is easy. High-quality grit sandpaper with a little hand-sanding fixes scratches on protective coatings. After that, apply a thin layer of polyurethane sealer with a soft cloth. If the scratches are deep, they affect both the top of the wood and the coating. To repair them, use a rotary floor sander and then apply a clear coat. For localized scratches, use an electric hand sander. Once you are done with that, apply polyurethane sealer with a supple cloth.

Do not sand out dents and gouges as this can lead to dips in the floor. Instead, fill them in with a matching colour wax filler. Rub off extra wax using a soft cloth. For better results, fill dents and gouges with wood putty matched to your floor colour. Once the putty is dried, sand it down until it reaches the floor’s surface. Do not sand off coating from edge areas. Clean with a cloth.

  1. Rearrange Furniture Frequently

Sun fades hardwood flooring, but you are not going to block sunlight entirely from your home. Instead, shift furniture often so your hardwood floor fades evenly. If you only move it ever few years, you will see a clear outline of the piece you moved.

Besides rearranging furniture, keep window shades down when possible to reduce UV exposure to the hardwood floor. Install awnings on your windows if you get a lot of natural light.

  1. Adjust Humidity to Protect Floor from Moisture

Low humidity extracts moisture from hardwood flooring, leading to contraction and the creation of gaps between boards. Maintain a humidity of 35 to 55% in your home throughout the year. A hygrometer measures the humidity in your home, or check it using your thermostat. So, adjust the humidity in your home to retain moisture in hardwood flooring. It is advisable to never install hardwood flooring in moisture-heavy areas such as bathrooms, laundry rooms and basements.

You can install solid hardwood in the kitchen but use a tender natural rubber mat to protect flooring from water seeping from the refrigerator, dishwasher overflow and extra sink water. It also attracts moisture and dirt and keeps the surrounding area clean. When water forms below open windows, mop it up as soon as you notice. Do the same if you see spilled water elsewhere. Wipe clean the floor surface immediately using a fresh towel to prevent water seeping in between floorboards. Put mats at entryways to soak up water.

  1. Use Your Heating and Cooling System

High humidity causes hardwood to expand and contract. During the summer, cupping of wood boards is commonly seen because of high humidity. (Cupping occurs when wood fibres absorb water vapour present in the air.) As wood boards expand, they cannot go anywhere. Because of this, you might notice that their edges are higher than the middle. Make the most of heating and cooling systems to protect your hardwood flooring from excess humidity. Air conditioning not only maintains a cool temperature but also reduces humidity.

  1. Refinish Flooring Often

The life of hardwood flooring depends a lot on its top coat. Never keep any wood floor uncoated longer than a couple of months. Coatings come in thick, site applied sealers and prefinished floors coating. In the busiest areas of your home, coatings wear down quickly. Refinish hardwood floor in your living room, kitchen and entries close to hallways, the tops of stairs, and interior doors frequently.

You can refinish both prefinished and site-finished flooring as required. (The latter refers to unfinished flooring which gets stained on site.) When you use a rotary sander to refinish 1engineered wood, the flooring can endure sanding twice or thrice.

Hardwood flooring is a valuable addition to any home. To keep it in good shape, you need to protect it from the most common types of damage. Follow the above-mentioned tips to clean, protect and repair your hardwood flooring. A well-maintained floor retains its beauty and stays perfect longer.

What Is the Most Effective Way to Refinish Hardwood Floors?

A newly finished floor instantly freshens up your home’s interiors. But getting your worn hardwood back to its original condition can get messy. When it comes to sanding and refinishing, there are many options, including sanding and refinishing, dustless sanding and sandless refinishing. However, customers get confused by all these terms.

In our previous blogs, we explained floor screening and the benefits of sanding. But how effective is each process in replenishing hardwood flooring? Keep reading to find out.

Full Sand Refinishing for Hardwood Flooring

How Effective Is Full Sand Refinishing, Dustless Sanding and Sandless Refinishing?

The truth is flooring companies use these flashy terms to attract and confuse customers about their services. As a result, people often mix them up. Here we will try to explain these three terms in the simplest way possible.

1. Full Sanding and Refinishing

This is the standard method of refinishing hardwood floors. Sanding and refinishing go hand in hand, as your floors needs to be sanded each time you get them refinished. Full sanding requires successive grit sequences. The process begins with abrasive grit and then finer grits (up to three times) are applied. The primary grit takes off the previous finish, the second one smooths the surface, and the third gives it a finishing touch. Keeping this sequence in mind is essential, as the wrong order will not produce the same smooth transition. We do not want to leave any grit line behind now, do we? After a successful transition to finer grits, your floor ends up looking even and you get the raw look of hardwood back.

Afterwards, you can either go for a natural colour with no stains or choose stain colours. In stain colours there is a broad spectrum available, from light to dark, red and brown.

From there, two to three layers of polyurethane are applied. After the first two coats, we need to do a full floor screening to smooth the surface and scuff up the top layer. This ensures that the polyurethane sticks to the floor.

Fun Fact:

Unless your floor is in a bad way, you do not need to fully sand and refinish it. Unfortunately, by the time most customers call, a full sanding is necessary.

A major drawback of sanding is that it requires us to sand down through the finish to the core of the wood itself. Because of this, as much as 1/16” of the wood may be removed. If this process is repeated, the top layer of the flooring becomes too thin to sand any further. This is why award-winning designer and TV personality Jennifer Adams advises against it:

“Fortunately for many in your situation, there are other options other than a full refinish or replacement. Doing nothing but cleaning is certainly one way. Being OK with some patina will make your floors more livable, especially if you have kiddos and pets. Rustic looks are popular, but it all depends on what you like. It is your house.”

2. Dustless Sanding and Refinishing

The main issue you face with full sanding is that it leaves the floor messy, with a lot of dust left behind. Dustless sanding is similar to traditional refinishing but is more efficient in restoring old, stained or damaged hardwood.

With traditional sanding methods, the dust left behind creates a lot of mess long after the project has been completed. To counter this, the “dustless” method was invented.

In this process, a special machine sands your floors. It has a vacuum suction tube on one end and is connected to a dust containment system. The dust is sucked in by negative pressure to make sure little of it is left behind. This technique is great for those with dust allergies or asthma.

Pro-Tip

Do not be misled by the term “dustless” or “dust free.” No flooring process is 100% dustless.

3. Sandless Refinishing

Sandless refinishing is an entirely different process that involves lightly scoffing the floor. This is done by etching the surface with a chemical and then applying clear finishing coats. There is no need for major sanding with this method. In a way, it is similar to the final step of the conventional sanding and refinishing method.

Instead of sanding, a technician uses a machine with abrasive pads and a liquid solution that removes any traces of dust or debris from the floor. As the hardwood is scuffed gently, the liquid keeps etching away the residue. Simultaneously, very little dust is produced since there is no sanding involved. Furthermore, whatever dust accumulates gets absorbed in the solution.

With this process, nothing ends up on your furniture or in the air. Once the project is complete, your floor is washed and the technician details the floor. This involves applying a protective sealer to enhance your hardwood’s strength and shine.

Effectiveness of Sandless Refinishing

When it is simply about removing old floor wax, polish and paint splatters, sandless refinishing can be very effective. However, it cannot remove dents or scratches or fix your sun-faded floor. It is also not a very effective method against oxidation or most pet stains. So why consider it?

Sandless refinishing will not remove your floor’s polyurethane finish. This makes it effective for a floor that is relatively new but starting to show signs of wear and tear. Applying this method on a regular basis can prolong the life of your floor without requiring any major sanding. In this way, you can delay complete refinishing for at least half a decade. People with dust allergies, of course, want to put off sanding as long as possible.

How do you decide which method is best for you? If your hardwood floor is in good condition and only requires a quick touch-up, sandless refinishing is the way to go. However, to fully restore your damaged hardwood floor to its previous glory or to change the colour of your stain, you require a full traditional or dust free sanding and refinishing.

 

 

The Ultimate Guide to Lumber Cuts for Hardwood Flooring

When it comes to hardwood flooring, solid wood takes up centre stage. Every decision you make, from the type to the cut of the wood, determines the beauty and strength of the end product. Depending on its origin, structure, density and appearance, wood can be of two types: hard and soft. Both have unique uses and prices. You may want to reference the Janka Hardness Scale to choose a suitable type for wood flooring. However, knowing how it is cut is just important as it impacts the characteristics of the wood.

Different Ways to Turn Logs into Lumber

Lumber comes from sawing logs in different ways. Here is an important fact: whether you need it for flooring or furniture, lumber needs to first be prepared in a certain way.

1.      Live Sawing

This is the easiest and quickest way to saw logs. Live sawing, also called slab sawing or through-and-through sawing, is a new trend in woodcutting that mixes rift, quarter and plain sawing. In this method, the open face of the straight log is cut through to its centre into 4/4 boards. It is then turned 180° and the sawing process is continued through and through.

The log is turned only once, unless the log is crooked or is a sweeping log. In that case, it needs to be turned twice.

Live sawn lumber is mostly wide, heavy and of a low grade. Another disadvantage of this type of log is that excess warping can take place during drying. That is why live sawing is only recommended to produce lower-quality logs.

2.      Cant Sawing

In this method, the top of the log is cut across and then flipped 180° to saw across its opposite face. It is then rotated 90° to saw the third side and then another 180° for cutting across the last side. In this way the log is cut into a square-shaped centrepiece, called a “cant”. This “cant” is then either sent for further processing or sold as is as a large timber.

This is the most common type of sawing method and produces medium to low-quality logs.

3.      Plain Sawing

This method produces great quality lumber. Plain sawing is similar to cant sawing and begins on the outer sides of the log. The log is rotated onto boards until a square centre or a four-sided cant is created. In this method, the cant is further rotated and sawn to produce the most amount of lumber. Rough edges are then sawed off.

4.      Grade Sawing

This method sees the log sawn and turned to a new face up to five times. Grade sawing is one of the best methods for creating medium to high-quality logs.

5.      Quarter Sawing

The natural grain patterns and knots in hardwood make it highly valuable. For this, quarter sawing is a useful method.

Different Types of Wood Lumber Cuts for Hardwood Flooring

Solid wood floors are made from planks derived from a single piece of wood. These planks are either pre-finished or site-finished, but the manufacturing of the flooring begins with the tree itself. Depending on the various uses, the trees are cut into logs. We have already discussed the various cutting or sawing methods that affect the stability and price of your boards.

Here are a few lumber types, differentiated by their different cuts, that you will come across when choosing wood for your hardwood floor.

1.      Plain Sawn Lumber

As mentioned earlier, plain sawing produces great quality boards. For this reason, plain sawn timber is perhaps the most common. In fact, most homes built during the early and mid-1900s have 2” to 3” plainsawn red oak hardwood flooring.

The main feature of this type of board is that the end grain’s annual growth rings are angled between 0° and 35°. This type of wood can be cut and dried quickly.

2.      Quarter Sawn Lumber

To make quarter sawn boards, logs are first cut into quarters. In this type of board, the annual growth rings remain angled at 90° to the surface. White oak, with its vibrant ray flecks and tight wavy grain pattern, is a perfect choice to produce quarter sawn lumber. The elegance of this type of wood board adds a cool quotient to your home interiors. The fleck or spot in its grain is caused by medullary rays found in the cellular structure of certain wood species. These rays appear to be radial, while perpendicular to the growth rings. When sawn across, these lines appear to radiate from the centre. Since these rays are prominent in white oak, this type of wood makes for a beautiful floor.

3.      Rift Sawn Lumber

In this type of cut, the annual growth rings are angled at 45° and have a linear grain pattern. Rift sawn boards are created when the log is quartered and then cut from the centre face. Boards from the outside edges have 45° annual growth rings due to the smaller sections of the quartered piece of wood. This is also why manufacturing wide plank rifts is not easy.

Different Properties Due to Different Cuts

Why mention the annual growth ring angle for each cut? This is because the angle of the growth ring has a direct impact on the appearance of the floor and influences its dimensions.

Simply put, wood shrinks or swells based on how much moisture is absorbs or releases, owing to changing weather conditions. The annual growth rings determine the direction of the movement. For example, plain sawn boards tend to expand and contract in proportion to board width. The wider the plank, the more movement can take place.

For rift sawn and quarter sawn (R&Q) boards, however, this movement happens according to thickness. R&Q flooring tends to be more stable than other types and can be installed over radiant heat.

Once you understand the differences between these types of sawn lumber, you will get a better idea how they need to be installed. Remember, every hardwood flooring board has a story, from the time the tree was growing to the time the logs were cut in the mill. The most interesting thing is that you will never find two boards that are the same. Therefore, the look and feel you get from your hardwood floor is unique and desirable.

 

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