Hardwood floors add a timeless beauty and warmth to your home. They say this is my home, not just another house. They are a reflection of who you are and your personal style. They are welcoming and inviting and can complement any décor. Hardwood flooring will not only add value to your home but may last as long as your home itself.
The finishes on hardwood flooring have improved dramatically. No longer do you need to wax them periodically. Typically, today’s hardwood floors offer numerous coats of durable urethane sealers that not only are hard, but are scratch and scuff resistant.
There are now many different species of wood to choose from. Not just North American woods, but exotics from all over the world. This variety and the variety of colors allow you to create a look that is uniquely yours and at a price you can afford.
Durable, timeless, warm, low maintenance and an endless choice of styles and colors make hardwood floors a great choice for your home.
Hardwood floors are extremely durable and will last a lifetime with you choose the right product for your lifestyle. Your flooring expert will guide you to the right choice if you share information about what room you are planning to install the floor in, do you have kids or pets, etc.
Pre-finished, or manufacturer-finished, hardwood floors typically offer 6-10 layers of UV cured layers of polyurethane which is very hard and tough. Many factories are now adding Aluminum Oxide to the urethane for additional protection against abrasion and wear. There are several other technologies available that offer added protection against wear and abrasion. Again, ask your flooring expert to explain the difference. Site-finished hardwoods are also extremely durable, although not as much as those finished at the factory.
Finally, the hardness of the wood you choose will also affect its performance. A softer wood like pine is more likely to dent than a hard wood like oak.
To sum it up, hardwood floors are one of the most durable, long lasting products you can put in you home if properly maintained.
There are two types of construction in hardwood flooring, solid and engineered.
Solid hardwood is 100% solid wood, it can be nailed or stapled to a wooden sub floor above grade. It is not recommended for installation on concrete because it is susceptible to expansion in high moisture areas and will shrink in high temps and high heat applications.
Engineered hardwood is also 100% wood that is manufactured from 3, 5 or 7 thin sheets of plies of wood that are stacked on top of each other in opposite directions then glued with high pressure. This process is called Cross-Ply construction that, when finished, makes the product dimensionally-stable. The advantage of cross-ply construction is it will not grow in high moisture conditions or shrink in low humidity or high heat conditions. You can install on or above grade on wood and on concrete sub floors.
Edge detail is the way the sides and ends of the planks are cut. They can include beveled, square, eased and micro bevel. The different edge details will have a dramatic effect on the look of your new floor. For example if you want the look of a furniture finish, the square edge would give you that look. If you are looking for a more casual effect, a beveled edge would be a good choice.
Hardness is also a factor when determining which species of wood to select for your new floor. With the many different species available today, each has its own rating, which will determine how well the floor will react to wear. The method used here is the Janka Hardness test.
Picking the right species for your new floor is very important for how the floor is going to wear in different traffic conditions.
THE TRUTH ABOUT EXPANSION & CONTRACTION
Hardwood flooring is a natural product and will expand and contract with variations in temperature and humidity/moisture levels. Moisture absorption causes wood to expand and moisture loss causes wood to shrink. However, engineered hardwood floors are far more dimensionally stable than solid hardwood floors and generally will perform better in our climate than solid wood.
During the winter months, two things happen; as the temperature drops, the humidity drops, and when temperatures drop homeowner’s turn on their heating systems and keep doors and windows closed. This heat dries out the home and that, combined with the already low humidity levels, pulls moisture from the wood; causing the wood to shrink and “cracks” to appear between boards. Good humidity control can minimize these changes. The relative humidity conditions should be between 35% and 65% and temperature between 60 and 80 degrees F. Colorado, and especially the mountains, is a low humidity environment, with an average humidity below 35%. Engineered hardwood if bought locally will only need to be acclimatized on site for two to three days prior to installation.
Wood tends to shrink in the winter months however it is recommended that you do not fill your wood during the winter months because as temperatures and humidity changes occur in the summer, cracking should remedy itself. In the summer months expansion occurs and wood floors return to their original state before the winter season. When the wood expands in the summer, the wood will either force out the excess fill or boards will warp. Wood must go somewhere as it expands.
It is important to remember that shrinkage is not a flaw in the wood or an installation problem. The material is just reacting, naturally, to changes in moisture level.
SHOULD I HAVE HARDWOOD IF I HAVE DOGS?
Steamboat Springs is a dog friendly place we all love our pets, in fact everyone at Carpets Plus has a dog and we all have wooden floors! Most of you will know my dog Emmy as she is often at Carpets Plus, she is really quite docile in her old age but she hasn’t always been that way. She now has a young boyfriend Odie who visits her almost every day, and sometimes Odie’s baby brother Asher gets to come and visit. Needless to say our wood floors have seen many muddy paws, wild play and dropped toys!
When Martin and I selected our wood floors we wanted something that would look beautiful yet suit our lifestyle and fairly easy maintenance. The number one thing for me was color I wanted a mid-range color that went with my alder cabinets and not too light to show all the muddy paw prints and not too dark to show all the dog hair. (Emmy sheds for 11 months of the year) I also wanted a slightly more rustic look in keeping with the lodge feeling.
I chose Maple in color Aspen, it is a hand scraped wood that comes in various widths and has 8 factory coats of finish also the denser the wood the less likely it is to absorb Water.
I have hardwood on all the main level which includes a living room, dining room kitchen, and powder room. There are some extra care things that I do but they are not difficult. I have mats at the entry to the deck and Emmy has her water bowl in the main entryway that is travertine. She is a very clean eater but a very sloppy drinker so I didn’t want the water splashes to harm the wood. Yes during mud season we do get a few paw prints, but they are fairly minimum as Emmy (and her boyfriends) tend to dry off their paws a little after walking across the deck and the mat by the door.
I either sweep with a soft brush, or use a Swiffer vac. On dirty spots I use a cleaner that is designed especially for my wood floor that is available at Carpets Plus. Occasionally I clean the whole floor with the wood cleaner to keep the floors looking like new.
There are obviously many other technical considerations when choosing wood, so just stop by Carpets Plus and we will be happy to simplify your choices and help you find a beautiful wood floor that suits your needs.
Maintaining your hardwood floors is now easier than ever. Remember dirt, grit, dust particles, and water are enemies of hardwood floors. Just follow these basic guidelines:
- Never wax your floors. Wax will dull the finish.
- Sweep regularly with a broom or vacuum with a vacuum that does not have a beater bar or brush. Dirt and grit can cause scratches to the finish.
- Door mats provide a first line of defense and prevent dirt and grit from being tracked onto your floors.
- Excessive water causes wood to expand and swell and eventually crack. It could also possibly break the glue seal with the sub floor. Wipe up spills quickly. Do not mop with excessive amounts of water.
- Only use manufacturer recommended cleaners to clean your floors. Typical household cleaners will dull the finish and reduce the performance of your floors.
- Add leg protectors to all furniture.