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Before you purchase hardwood, know this.
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Nothing motivates people to learn about something than when they have to invest a sizeable sum to purchase it.
Buying hardwood flooring is no exception.
It pays, today and tomorrow, to know not only the basics but some of the specifics.
In the journey to finding the right flooring for your home, understanding things like hardwood characteristics, traits and quirks can be invaluable.
That’s why we offer you this section.
It’s a summary of many of the things you should know about hardwood before you open your checkbook or get out the charge card.
Know this about Finish in Place hardwood. Nature’s rich beauty is abundant when displayed through the character of a Finish in Place hardwood floor.
In addition to various wood species and finishes, these hardwood planks are also available in different widths – an elegant addition to any home.
Finish in Place, or unfinished hardwood, is installed in the home and then sanded. The stain and 2-3 coats of urethane finish are then applied. The urethane finish, brushed or mopped on, is known as a “floor finish” not a “furniture finish”.
Dust is a fact of life and finishing. Since your floor is being finished in your home, please be aware that your floor will not be “dust free” as it is impossible to create a “dustless” environment.
Some dust will fall onto the freshly applied topcoat of urethane finish.
You may also see sanding marks, small bubbles and brush marks.
However, take heart, Finish in Place floors may be screened and recoated to rejuvenate the finish and revitalize the floor’s natural beauty.
The different hallmarks of hardwoods.
Each species of wood has its own unique characteristics. Color is determined by what part of the tree the wood originally comes from.
The grain pattern is determined by the species and how the wood is cut.
Natural variations in the color and grain are normal and to be expected. Similar to natural stone, these variations create the beautiful and unique look of a wood floor. They make your floor close to one of a kind.
Understand that wood moves, naturally.
Wood floors will expand and contract due to moisture and temperature changes, causing hairline cracks, slight height variations or both.
Hardwood does not expand or contract equally in all directions. This is not considered a defect but a natural result of nature.
So, in dry climates, you may want to consider the use of a whole house humidifier to help minimize shrinkage and hairline cracking.
Here are the facts about subfloors.
No subfloors are perfectly level. You may also hear hollow sounds where your subfloor’s surface dips and ridges.
This does not affect the integrity or installation of the hardwood. Hollow sounds are normal and are not considered a product or installation defect.
All hardwood floors will fade, darken or change shades over time. Exposure to sunlight will greatly increase this process.
Window treatments are recommended as well as rotating area rugs and furniture regularly to allow floors to age evenly from UV exposure.
Pre-finished hardwood pre-buying notes.
A work of natural art, the elegance of a pre-finished hardwood floor adds beauty and value to any home, easy care and durability to any lifestyle.
Each species of wood has its own unique characteristics and the conditions of nature that the wood matured in make each floor exceptional and individual.
Pre-finished hardwood floors are sanded, screened and stained in highly efficient manufacturing plants.
Several coats of urethane are sprayed on the boards and then they are UV dried for a very durable finish.
Pre-finished floors may be screened and recoated to rejuvenate the finish and revitalize the floor’s natural beauty.
Pre-finished hardwood information on color, grain pattern, expansion and contraction, subfloor leveling and floor protection is the same as the information under Finish in Place hardwood, above.
Get on top of the bottom line. Know the entire cost of ownership.
The “cost per square foot” of your hardwood floor is just one component of the entire project cost. To ensure there are no surprises, and the hardwood you select fits within your overall project budget, be sure to ask us to calculate the total cost of your floor covering project.
Here’s a list of potential additional expenses you may incur:
Demolition/disposal of old floor covering. Depending on the existing floor covering, this can be an expensive item; also, be sure to include the cost to dispose of the old floor covering.
Subfloor preparation. Depending on the condition of the subfloor, it may require additional work.
Hardwood installation. Determine the cost per square foot to install it.
Materials required to complete the installation. Your new hardwood floor may require additional materials to install it properly.
We can help you answer questions regarding the manufacturer’s warranty and care guide for directions on how frequently the floor should be cleaned and the cost to clean it.
There’s a lot to know and keep in mind before buying a hardwood floor, but it’s well worth the effort. If you’re a smart and knowledgeable shopper it will pay off in many ways, the best of which will be hardwood flooring you’re proud to come home to.
Hardwood – Before Installation
Know what to expect and do before installation day.
Be prepared. We want you to know what to do, and know what to expect, on that special day when the crew shows up to install your beautiful new hardwood floor.
Being prepared will make the entire process go faster, more efficiently and hopefully eliminate any surprises.
Knowing what to expect will also be a lot less stressful on you, your family and your home.
Our first advice is in the form of a question.
Installing this type of floor is hard, exacting and detailed.
Why would you have anyone but a seasoned, dedicated professional install it?
That way you can be assured of a beautiful, efficient and correct installation.
There are four methods of installing hardwood flooring.
1. Nail Down: 2” cleats do the job.
This method is typically used with the 3/4″ solid products, however there are adapters available for thinner flooring sizes as well.
2″ nailing cleats are used with a wood flooring nailer and mallet to attach the flooring to the subfloor. Please be aware that Solid Strip floors or Plank floors can only be installed on wooden subfloors on grade or above grade.
2. Staple Down: this method uses pneumatics.
With this method 1-1/2 to 2 inch staples are used versus nailing cleats to attach the wood flooring to the subfloor.
A pneumatic gun is used to drive the staple into the wood flooring and subfloor. Not all wood flooring manufacturers recommend the same staple gun so using professional installers will insure that the right staple gun and right size staples are utilized.
3. Glue Down: adhesives are the rule here.
The recommended mastic or adhesive is spread on with the proper sized trowel to adhere the wood flooring to the subfloor.
You should know that engineered wood floors and parquets can be glued down. Solid strip floors and plank floors can only be nailed or stapled.
There are many types of adhesives on the market. Your installers will use the manufacturers recommended adhesive when installing your flooring. Not using the manufacturers recommended adhesive and trowel size could void any warranties you may have.
4. Floating: flooring on a bed of padding.
With the floating installation method the floor is not mechanically fastened to any part of the subfloor.
A thin pad is placed between the wood flooring and the subfloor. Then a recommended wood glue is applied in the tongue and groove of each plank to hold the planks together.
The padding has its advantages: it protects against moisture, reduces noise transmission, is softer under foot, and provides for some additional “R” value.
Some engineered floors and all Longstrip floors can be floated. This is a very fast, easy and clean method of installing your floor.
Acclimation. Understand that it’s a must.
All hardwood products need to be acclimated to the new environment for at least four or five days prior to installation. The installers will open all the boxes to achieve this. Any loose product will be divided into smaller lots and stored in the designated room.
What to know and do before installation day
Work on your furniture first.
Remove all furniture and other objects and materials from the areas where the installation will take place. Some installers will move your furniture, but there may be an additional charge for doing so.
Before moving, you’ll also need to empty the contents of china cabinets, closets and the like.
Be aware that the area of installation must be climate controlled (heated or air conditioned). Indoor humidity should be maintained between 45-65%.
Now turn your attention to the old floor covering.
Please consider how your old floor covering will be taken up and disposed of. This can be a time consuming task. We recommend that you check with us about the cost and the method of disposal.
If you prefer to remove your present floor covering, do it at least one day prior to arrival of your hardwood product to allow for cleanup and floor preparation. If removing old carpet, please leave tack strips in place and pull the staples out of the floor from the original pad.
Have a plan in mind regarding your trim.
You should know that, in many cases, moldings and baseboards need to be removed for hardwood installation. Your installer may do this but at an additional charge and they will probably not be responsible for damage or breakage due to dry or brittle wood.
Painted baseboards, woodwork and paint may need retouching after the installation is complete. If necessary, this is your responsibility.
The next subject: subflooring.
Your existing subfloor may need to be prepared to receive the hardwood, or a new subfloor may be required. We suggest you discuss this with us and, if subfloor work is necessary, that it be done by qualified professionals. It is important that the subfloor be as clean and level as possible.
Doors require special consideration.
When hardwood is installed, there’s always the possibility that the doors, especially closet doors, basement and bedroom doors, may not clear the new hardwood and swing free.
Some installers will remove doors in order to install the hardwood and re-hang them if possible. They probably won’t shave or cut down doors to insure clearance. Please check with us regarding our policy. You may need to arrange for a qualified carpenter to provide this service after the installation of your new hardwood floor.
Be clear about the clean-up.
Installing new hardwood will produce waste.
Usually these materials are collected by your installer and left at your trash collection site. Check with us before the day of installation so you’re clear about the clean up, if there are added costs to do so, and ask about the plan for hardwood remnants.
What to know and do during installation day
You need to be home on installation day.
Be prepared to be at home the day of installation and be available in case the installation crew has questions. Your presence will insure that the correct hardwood is installed in the right areas. Because it is difficult to estimate the length and circumstances of each job, some installers may not be able to give you an exact time of arrival. We will keep you informed on the schedule.
Your safety is our concern.
Your installers will use a variety of tools and techniques that can make the work area hazardous. Please make sure that your children and pets are kept out of the work area on installation day.
The walk-thru is an important step.
We recommend that, prior to the completion of the installation, you walk thru the job with the chief installer. This will give you the opportunity to ask questions and be clear on any final details.
What to know and do after installation day
Give your lungs a break.
If you are sensitive to dust and odors, good ventilation should be established for 48 to 72 hours after installation.
Being prepared for installation day through careful planning and smart preparing will make your life and the installers a lot easier. It will also make your hardwood flooring experience beautiful and enjoyable right from day one.
Maintaining your hardwood floor requires know-how.
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Once installed your hardwood floor will look beautiful, but time and traffic, stains and spills, will take their toll.
So, you need a short course on taking care of your floor, and for that you’ve come to the right place.
We want you to know all about hardwood maintenance because the more you know the better able you’ll be to keep your floor looking new.
Wood is a natural, beautiful and timeless design element.
Consistent and correct maintenance will insure it remains that way.
Entrances are your first line of defense.
Place walk off mats or area rugs at each entryway to collect dirt and grit that might be tracked in.
These tiny particles act like sandpaper and will scratch your floor.
Be sure to avoid using rubber-backed or non-ventilated mats or rugs as they can damage your floor. Instead use mats or rugs made especially for hardwood floors and remember to shake them out regularly.
In addition to entryways, remember to place mats in any areas where water may be splashed, such as near a kitchen sink.
Invest in these tools.
Buy a good quality broom and sweep your new floor regularly to pick up grains of dirt, dust and other particles.
A vacuum cleaner, without a beater bar, can be helpful in between planks and other hard to reach areas. Once dirt and grease are gone, buffing can help restore the luster of your hardwood floor.
Keep in mind these cleaning tips.
Cleaning techniques vary depending on the installation and finish of your hardwood floor.
For “Finish in Place” hardwood floors, we recommend using an 8”x14” terrycloth mop with a rotating head that makes cleaning corners, under cabinets and along base boards an easy task.
Spray a professional wood floor cleaning product recommended by us to safely remove tough stains and spills without dulling the finish of your floor.
Manufacturers of “Pre-finished” hardwood floors recommend their own specific products designed for their floors routine maintenance.
Be sure to check with us as well about these cleaners.
All floors with a urethane finish should never be waxed and require cleaners that won’t leave a film or residue.
A hardwood floor cleaner is useful in removing occasional scuffs or heel marks. Merely spray some cleaner on a cloth and lightly rub the stained area. Sticky spots can be cleaned with a damp towel or sponge.
Do not use ammonia cleaners or oil soaps on a wood floor, as they will dull the finish and performance of your floor. These products will also affect the ability to recoat your floor later.
Since wood naturally expands when it is wet, never wet mop or use excessive water to clean your floor. Large amounts of water can cause the wood to swell and may cause your floor to crack or splinter.
Being a natural product, hardwood will expand and contract due to moisture level changes. Minimize water exposure to hardwood floors and clean up spills as soon as they happen.
Know this about deep cleaning.
If your floor is showing excessive wear beyond normal cleaning you may want to consider screening and recoating.
Screening is the process used to abrade the polyurethane finish that is currently on the floor. Then, fresh coats of urethane are applied. Screening and recoating will rejuvenate and prolong the life of your hardwood floor.
If the damage to the floor is severe and has gone through the stain of the boards down to the bare wood, you can sand and refinish.
This should only be done if a screening and recoating does not solve the problem. This is an extensive process where the floor is sanded down to the bare wood, restained and then refinished.
If the damage is only in a small area you may want to see if replacement boards are available to alleviate having to refinish an entire area.
Be sure to hire an experienced professional when having any work done on your hardwood floor.
Finally, protect against time, sun and traffic.
All hardwood floors will fade, darken or change shades over time. Exposure to sunlight will greatly increase this process.
Window treatments are recommended, as well as rotating area rugs and furniture regularly to allow floors to age evenly from UV exposure.
Cover furniture and table legs with protectors to guard your floor against damage. Take care when moving heavy objects across your floor to avoid scuffing.
Stiletto heels can cause dents and scratches that are not covered by your warranty. Love your pet but regularly trim their nails or claws to avoid scratches on the hardwood floor. The point here is to be cautious of sharp objects that may scratch or damage the floor.
A hardwood floor of beauty and pride can be yours today and tomorrow if you know how to care for it right from the start, clean it on a regular basis and schedule professional maintenance when that is called for.
Add a Fine Floorz finish to your home with the help Fine Floorz refinishing services, your source for custom hardwood flooring and refinishing services in the Bay Area. Our friendly flooring experts work closely with you to design a floor that’s right for you and your budget.
Our Fine Flooring Specialties Include:
Hardwood Floors & Flooring Services
Rejuvenate your home with fine hardwood flooring services by Fine Floorz. Whether installing a new floor or refinishing an existing one, our team of skilled project managers & craftsmen work closely with you to create hardwood floors that meet your needs and personal sense of style.
Not only are we committed to providing superior hardwood flooring and using premium products, we are committed to providing you with personalized service and affordable rates. This commitment has earned us Diamond Certified (add link) as well as many valuable customers and we hope to add you to that list.
Old hardwood flooring become FINE FLOORZ! We specialize in refinishing services; our craftsmen painstakingly sand down your old hardwood floors and refinish them with the color of your choice. You simply won’t believe how FINE your new refinished hardwood floor will look and feel in your home.
Contact us at (925) 938-2222 and speak to one of our hardwood flooring experts today!
Any floor that is above the level of the surrounding ground on which the structure is built.
Acrylic monomers are injected into the cell structure of the wood to give increased hardness and then finished with a wear layer over the wood.
A slightly different chemical make up than Polyurethane with the same benefits.
Added to the urethane finish for increased abrasion resistance of the wear layer, which is becoming extremely popular on the better grade wood floors.
A cement slab poured below the level of the surrounding terrain.
A quality of oak. Better Oak has some small knots and very little dark graining.
These products have a very distinctive groove in them. Beveled edge planks lend themselves to an informal and country decor. With the urethane finishes applied at the factory today, the beveled edges are sealed completely, making dirt and grit easy to be swept or vacuumed out of the grooves.
In the summer months, when the humidity is higher, wood will expand and gaps will disappear. If there is too much moisture it may cause the wood planks to cup, or buckle.
Advanced technology that allows the use of space-age ceramics to increase the abrasion resistance of the wear layer.
A quality of oak. Clear Oak has no visual blemishes or knots and is extremely expensive.
Engineered wood plies that are stacked on top of each other but in the opposite direction is called cross-ply construction. This creates a wood floor that is dimensionally stable and less affected by moisture than a 3/4” solid wood floor. Cross-ply construction allows the plies to counteract each other which will stop the plank from growing or shrinking with the changes in humidity. The other advantage for you is versatility. You can install these floors over concrete slabs in your basement as well as anywhere else in your home.
A type of warping with a concave condition; the sides are higher than the center.
Each board is just slightly beveled. Some manufacturers add an eased edge to both the length of the planks as well as the end joints. Eased edges are used to help hide minor irregularities, such as uneven plank heights. Eased edge is also called micro-beveled edge.
One of the three common types of wood floors. (Others are Solid and Longstrip Plank.) Engineered wood floors are generally manufactured with 2,3, or 5 thin sheets or plies of wood that are laminated together to form one plank. Most engineered floors can be nailed down, stapled down, glued down, or floated over a wide variety of subfloors, including some types of existing flooring.
Finish in Place
Finish in Place, or unfinished hardwood, is installed in the home and then sanded. The stain and 2-3 coats of urethane finish are then applied. The urethane finish, brushed or mopped on, is known as a “floor finish” not a “furniture finish”. Finish in Place floors may be screened and recoated to rejuvenate the finish and revitalize the floor’s natural beauty.
Floating Floor Installation
With the floating installation method the floor is not mechanically fastened to any part of the subfloor. A thin pad is placed between the wood flooring and the subfloor. Then a recommended wood glue is applied in the tongue and groove of each plank to hold the planks together. The padding has its advantages: it protects against moisture, reduces noise transmission, is softer under foot, and provides for some additional “R” value. Some engineered floors and all Longstrip floors can be floated.
The recommended mastic or adhesive is spread on with the proper sized trowel to adhere the wood flooring to the subfloor. You should know that engineered wood floors and parquets can be glued down. Solid strip floors and plank floors can only be nailed or stapled.
Each wood species has its own unique graining and texture. The graining on the boards is determined by the way it has been cut. Natural variations in the color and grain are normal and to be expected.
Janka Hardness Test
This wood hardness rating test measures the force needed to embed a .444 inch steel ball to half its diameter in a piece of wood. The higher the number the harder the wood. Although this is one of the best methods to measure the ability of wood species to withstand indentations, it should be used as a general guide when comparing various species of wood flooring.
On a piece of wood, the round, harder, usually darker in color, cross section of where the branch joined the trunk of the tree.
Laminate is a manufactured product that simulates the look of hardwood, ceramic tile, natural stone and many other types of flooring.
Long Strip Plank
One of the three common types of wood floors. (Others are Engineered and Solid.) Long Strip Plank floors are similar to Engineered floors and have several wood plies that are glued together. The center core is generally a softer wood material and is used to make the tongue and groove. A hardwood finish layer is glued on top of the core. The top layer can be almost any hardwood species and is made up of many smaller individual pieces that are laid in three rows. This gives the effect of installing a board that is 3 rows wide and several planks long. Long Strip floors come in a wide variety of domestic and exotic hardwood species and when damaged they are easy to replace.
Moisture Cured Urethane
A similar chemical make up as solvent-based urethanes, but this finish needs the humidity (moisture) in the air to cure.
Are used to cover expansion joints and to enhance the performance and appearance of the hardwood floor. In many cases, moldings and baseboards need to be removed for hardwood installation.
This method is typically used with the 3/4″ solid products, however there are adapters available for thinner flooring sizes as well. 2″ nailing cleats are used with a wood flooring nailer and mallet to attach the flooring to the subfloor.
Number 1 Common
A quality of oak. Number 1 Common Oak has more knots and more dark graining.
Number 2 Common
A quality of oak. Number 2 Common Oak has more knots and more dark graining.
A cement slab that exists on the same plane as the surrounding terrain.
When shopping for a hardwood floor you will see boards in various sizes. The narrower board widths are referred to as “strips” and the wider units as “planks.” When we think of solid wood floors we generally are talking about a 3/4″ thick plank that is 2 1/4″ wide. This is the classic strip wood floor, although it is possible to find a narrower width or a slightly thinner gage. The strips are generally in random lengths from 12″ – 84″.
A clear, tough and durable finish that is applied as a wear layer.
Pre-Finished Wood Floor
Pre-finished hardwood flooring comes ready for installation in your home. The hardwood boards have already been sanded, stained and finished at the manufacturing plant. In many cases this can provide a harder, better- protected surface. Several coats of urethane are sprayed on the boards and then they are UV dried for a very durable finish. Pre-finished floors offer a wider variety of wood species and save hours of labor and cleanup. They also may be screened and recoated to rejuvenate the finish and revitalize the floor’s natural beauty.
Each species has its own unique graining and texture. The graining on the boards is determined by the way it has been cut. Rotary Cut is a cutting process that displays a larger and bolder graining pattern.
A quality of oak. Select Oak has some small knots and very little dark graining.
Each species has its own unique graining and texture. The graining on the boards is determined by the way it has been cut. Sliced Cut is a cutting process that shows a more uniform pattern.
One of the three common types of wood floors. (Others are Engineered and Longstrip Plank.) Solid wood floors are one solid piece of wood that have tongue and groove sides. When we talk about solid wood floors, we tend to think of floors that are unfinished, but it’s important to know that there are also many pre-finished 3/4” solid wood floors. Solid wood floors are sensitive to moisture and because so they are used in nail down installations and are not recommended for installation below ground level, or directly over a concrete slab.
Oil is used as part of the chemical make up of the polyurethane finish.
The edges of all boards meet squarely creating a uniform, smooth surface that blends the floor together from board to board.
With this method 1-1/2 to 2 inch staples are used versus nailing cleats to attach the wood flooring to the subfloor. A pneumatic gun is used to drive the staple into the wood flooring and subfloor.
When shopping for a hardwood floor you will see boards in various sizes. The narrower board widths are referred to as “strips” and the wider units as “planks.” When we think of solid wood floors we generally are talking about a 3/4″ thick plank that is 2 1/4″ wide. This is the classic strip wood floor, although it is possible to find a narrower width or a slightly thinner gage. The strips are generally in random lengths from 12″ – 84″. The most common wood species used for solid strip floors are red oak, white oak, maple, cherry, white ash, hickory or pecan.
Tongue and Groove
The joining of two boards, one board having a tongue on its edge that fits into a groove in the edge of the other.
Un-Finished Wood Floor
An Un-Finished wood floor allows you to have a custom job – you choose the wood species and it’s sanded and the stain is applied on site. With Un-Finished you also have the chance to level the surface of the entire floor after it has been installed.
Factory wood finishes that are cured with Ultra Violet lights versus heat.
Water is used as part of the chemical make up of the polyurethane finish.
Fine Floorz Inc. provides hardwood flooring installation, tile flooring, and carpet installation for residential and commercial properties in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties.
Our flooring store in Walnut Creek services Pleasant Hill, Lafayette, Orinda, Danville, Alamo, Blackhawk, Clayton, Diablo, Moraga, San Ramon, Concord, Berkeley, Oakland, Albany, Martinez, Pleasanton, and Dublin California.
For more information check out our home flooring showroom in Walnut Creek, CA.
Contact Fine Floorz for your FREE in home or Business Assessment today!
The family here at Fine Floorz appreciates you considering us for your flooring needs. Rest assured that when you do business with us, you become family. We look forward to helping you create a solid and beautiful foundation for you to build all your future memories to come… THAT you can stand, sit, lay, play, live on.