Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Before You Install Hardwood Floors...

When installing solid hardwood floors you should be careful to avoid installing them directly onto concrete slabs or below ground level because of moisture problems that may result. The problem with moisture is that it leaves unsightly gaps in the hardwood once it dries, typically during the winter months when heating tends to draw the moisture out of homes. During summer months when humidity and moisture are high you should notice that the wood once again expands, sometimes so much so that the wood planks may buckle or cup. Because of these issues you should also take great care to leave plenty of room for seasonal expansion.

For these types of floors, nail down installations tend to work best and regular care, maintenance, and refinishing can prolong the life of your floors. Typical hardwood floor material includes: ash, maple, red oak, and white oak.

Hardwood floors are usually divided into one of three categories being plank flooring, strip flooring and parquet flooring. Parquet style hardwood floors are also known as parquetry, and this is when the smaller pieces of timber are arranged in a geometrical fashion. The timber used can be all the same or different to create a more colorful effect. Hardwood floors that are laid in the strip flooring style are between 5/16 and ¾ of an inch thick and 1 ½ to 2 ¼ inches wide. Strip flooring is common in the bamboo hardwood floors that are popular today. The third style of flooring is the plank, and each board is anywhere from three to eight inches in width. This is a more traditional, heritage style flooring, but is also still a popular choice today.

If you would like a truly unique floor, consider hand-scraped hardwood floors. The crafting of these floors is considered by practitioners to be an art form. These floors work fabulously whether you are going for an ultra modern look or a rustic look so they should work in almost any d├ęcor. One word of caution, if you wish you to have hand-scraped hardwood floors in your home you should be prepared to pay a pretty penny for them. There are however machine made floors that have the look of hand scraping. These floors offer the look of hand-scraped floors at a more budget friendly price. Either way you will have a very nice floor in your home.

Each brand of hardwood flooring should come with its own care and washing suggestions. It is important to follow these for your specific hardwood flooring, regardless of what other people do. It is a great idea to vacuum the floor regularly to prevent a buildup of grime in the spaces between the boards, and try to use mats and rugs wherever possible.

Buying specially designed skid protectors for your furniture is also important, and if you do have a spill, it is best to wipe it up straight away so you don't damage the finish on the hardwood floors.