Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hardwood Flooring: Perfect Combination of Appearance, Versatility, and Cost

Hardwood flooring has characteristics that make it a popular choice for both aesthetic and practical reasons.

From the aesthetic viewpoint, real wood flooring provides more choices when it comes to d├ęcor matching than any other type of material. The many available species of hardwood, combined with the ability to machine the wood into different configurations, plank or parquet for example, and to add to that various finish colors and different degrees of top finishes, provides practically infinite choices. Hardwood flooring can complement and enhance any decor or environment where it is used.

Hardwood flooring is practical, too. Carpet, with luck, might offer a life span of twenty years before it wears out, frays, or becomes so stained, discolored, or faded that it can no longer be tolerated. Concrete will outlast carpet, but requires extensive routine maintenance, and eventually costly complete replacement. Resilient and vinyl flooring, tile or sheet-style, do not even belong in this discussion. Even neglected or abused hardwood flooring could easily last a hundred years, and restoring a floor of this age is simply a matter of sanding and refinishing.

Realwood flooring is generally of two main types: Solid or Engineered. The difference between the two is that a solid wood is one species from the surface to the bottom, while an engineered hardwood flooring uses less expensive woods and wood by-products to form the substrate, or base layers, then finished with a layer (veneer) of the desired species on the top. Each has it strong points, and either will perform beautifully; the choice is mainly one of personal preferences, structural considerations, and economics.

There are about a dozen commonly used wood species that are abundantly available and are capable of being replenished through re-growth. Oak is by far the most popular choice. Its combination of durability, beauty, and adaptability to a wide range of applications account for this. Walnut, Ash, and Beech are also popular species. Next are species that while not necessarily rare, are slightly less versatile than the others. This would include Birch, Cherry, and Maple. Finally, there are exotic species such as Jarrah and Merbau that are somewhat costly due to a limited supply.

Both types, solid and engineered, and all species, can be obtained and used either unfinished, finished after installation, or can be purchased already finished. Stains can be used to achieve a desired color, and various top coats can be used depending on whether a shiny or matt-like final effect is desired.

Oil or water based lacquer and polyurethane are commonly used as top coats. These make routine maintenance a simple case of using a dust mop or vacuum to pick up loose debris, and an occasional damp mopping for spills, which is one of the primary reasons for real wood flooring's ongoing popularity.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Naresh_Shah

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hardwood Flooring - All the Information You Will Ever Need

Only in certain portions of their home do folks install hardwood flooring. One example is, my present-day home is installed using marble as well as hardwood, using marble in the living room and hardwood in the bedrooms. Even though this implies that you should avoid getting it moist (as this could bring in termites), it will make your floors sturdier. Additionally, it is also preferred mainly because it's much easier to clean with sweeping as well as mopping.

Hardwood flooring types

People usually classify hardwood into two different types, solid as well as engineered. Despite this, you can also get some providers which manufacture their own wood for precise needs. Below, I am going to simply be discussing the two common kinds.

Solid

Its natural faults result in solid flooring to become less popular compared with engineered flooring. Just like I stated earlier, you might need to take note of the actual moisture levels as well as temperature, but solid hardwood flooring possesses many flaws.

You will likely really need to manage the issue regarding plank sizing. Because of restricted plank width, gapping or cupping usually arises, situations in which the plank size leads to gaps left in between (planks are usually 5 inches wide, 0. 75 inches thick). Last but not least, under no circumstances install it above concrete and never mount it in the basements (because of moisture levels getting far too high).

Engineered

This sort of flooring is employed much more frequently by flooring providers. Its superior stability causes it to have a greater price, yet that is certainly about the only problem you may be getting. This is because of the triple layering of the wood, though just two of the three are the seriously essential ones. These include the lamella in addition to substrate, both becoming the plank's primary support.

Because of the wide range of measurements compared to solid hardwood flooring that is very restricted in this aspect, installation as well as repair is usually much easier and more cost-effective. However, the plank cost, would be more high priced. This sort of flooring can be very easily confused with laminate, vinyl as well as veneer flooring but they are all different types. For instance, laminate, is manufactured from other materials with just an impression of wood on it. When compared to engineered hardwood, vinyl as well as veneer possesses completely different compositions.

Hardwood Flooring Costs

Every sq ft. of hardwood flooring costs about US$3.99. Because of the great variety in installation techniques in addition to "optional add-ons", installing the hardwood could cost differently on a case by case basis. You will even be given distinct options and price options from the installation firm.

Things to take note prior to installation

1. Domestic pets and also young children need to be kept from the area to prevent troubling the installer.

2. Furniture removal may incur additional fees. Remove the furniture on your own if possible.

3. Take away breakable merchandise to avoid damage as a result of accidents.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=John_Rankins

Friday, December 10, 2010

Which Type of Hardwood Flooring Is Best For Your Home?

Hardwood flooring always improves the appearance of a room. Hardwood, however, comes in multiple types, some of which may be better for your home than others. While woods come in different species, as well as domestic and exotic varieties, the type of wood installed into your home or building can be solid, engineered, or laminate. Out of these three, two are made fully from natural wood, while laminate has the appearance of wood, although no natural components are used. Instead of settling for carpet, go with a hardwood floor to give your room a modern and sophisticated character.

Solid hardwood is considered the purest form of flooring available. Made fully from natural wood, solid hardwood flooring has no changes, with the exception of a finish for prefinished varieties. No matter if you opt for domestic hickory or an exotic species like Brazilian cherry, the full piece of wood comes directly from the tree.

Engineered hardwood flooring is descriptive of the process used for putting together a plank or strip. Although this type of flooring is made fully from hardwood, two different types of wood are used. On top is the natural hardwood, and below is birch; three to 16 is the ratio of natural hardwood to the birch. Although a hybrid type of hardwood, engineered is just as strong and sand-able as solid. Homes with a radiating heat source should go with engineered hardwood flooring, as the wood is less likely to warp over time than solid wood.

Although containing no natural wood, laminate is another option to get the look of hardwood flooring. A piece of laminate flooring is made from high-density fiberboard with a high-resolution photographic image of a hardwood species on top. Resin-coated cellulose or melamine is added on top of the image to give the laminate flooring a glossy appearance. Additionally, laminate flooring may also be manufactured to emulate the texture and sound of natural hardwood.

Tag :hardwood,hardwood flooring,cheap hardwood flooring

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Irene_Test


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Designing With Bamboo Hardwood Floors: Making Minimalist Work for You

Bamboo floors have a lightness airy-feel to them. The natural buff color radiates in a sun-lit room and can instantly create the illusion of space, even in a compact room. It also is the perfect compliment to the 'modern minimalist' home.

Modern design involves sleek furniture that doesn't take up a whole lot of space. Colors are typically cream, white, or beige, and a splash of color for pillows and typically one wall. Often times you'll see small glass coffee tables and bare windows without any curtains.

So how does bamboo flooring play in to the modern design scheme?

The key is light! The neutral, light-colored walls play off of the buff-colored of natural bamboo. The bare windows provide maximum sunlight, which creates space, space, and more space. Many designers are even matching the walls to the floor to further expand a room. Then the pillows, tile, or single splash of color on the walls become a focal point.

So what type colors go best with minimalist style?

For 2011, we're seeing chocolate brown, jet black or charcoal, coral, jade, and turquoise. Notice these colors all stem from an Asian influence, which makes bemboo flooring almost a crucial element in this type of design.

Other crucial elements for minimalist design include a rug to break up some of the openness (you don't want too much of a good thing). In a living room, a small white rug underneath a glass coffee table is perfect. For a bedroom, a large cream-colored rug underneath the bed will compliment a chocolate-colored bed-frame. Just be sure there is a clear separation between the color of the rug and the color of the floor. In this scenario, cream-colored rugs will look best over a bamboo slightly darker than the natural color.

Another key accent for minimalist style that goes well with bamboo flooring - a plant in the corner of the room with a light-colored or clear-colored vase. Brown or black could work here as well, depending on how much of those darker colors are already used. The plant is used to set boundaries for space so again, there's not too much openness. A bamboo plant works very well here. Or you could put a glass on the coffee table with lotus flowers.

Pick one or two more accent pieces for the room and you're done. Really! A sleek floor lamp next to the couch will do, and a portrait on the wall with a splash of color from your main color. If you're using coral or red, go for a piece that has a white background and vibrant red or coral Japanese orchids. No need for fancy framing here. The canvas itself works beautifully!

Actually there's really no need to go 'fancy' over anything here. The soft elements of the bamboo and the tiny splash of color all compliment one another, creating an array of harmony in your home.

Tag : hardwood,hardwood flooring,cheap hardwood flooring

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Laine_McKenna


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tips for Hardwood Floors for the Cold Weather

Winter is starting to show itself in some place. We want you to enjoy your hardwood floors in the summer, winter, spring, and fall. I asked our tech and install team at Lumber Liquidators to give us some tips to help you keep your floors looking their best, even when old man winter is at his worst.

* For areas of the country that get lots of snow especially, DO NOT track snow covered shoes or boots onto your hardwood floors. Use an outside mat and another inside mat to catch the moisture. Take your shoes off the door and move them to a place off of the hardwood flooring. In many places where there is a lot of snow, ice-melt (or snow salt) can get stuck in the bottom of shoes and boot and create grit and scratch the wood floors if you aren't careful. Homes that have a garage, it is best to enter through the garage and leave shoes and boots by the garage door before entering.

* Many people find it helpful to keep rags or mops near the entryway of their home, at the ready for when snow or water clean up is needed.

* Some heating systems can lower the humidity level in your home. Low humidity levels can cause the wood flooring to contract and create gaps between planks. Low humidity levels can also create cupping and checks in the wood. It is key to use a hygrometer to maintain the humidity to the recommended levels written by the floor manufacturers installation instructions. Hygrometers can be helpful and are inexpensive ($7-$30).

* Not only wood flooring, but fine furniture and plaster walls can suffer from very low indoor humidity. The goal is to maintain recommended/target humidity levels of 35-55%. Many HVAC units can be professionally retro fitted with APRIL AIR or similar equipment designed to add moisture back into dry homes.

* Wood burning stoves and fireplaces offer cozy but very dry heat. You can add needed moisture back into your home simply by putting a kettle full of water on the wood stove, thereby adding moisture back into the dry air.

* DON'T FORGET TO ACCLIMATE!!!! Many products are stored in warehouses where the temperatures are less than ideal. It is up to the customer/installer to correctly acclimate materials to in-home conditions before installation. The stores are there to store and inventory the materials safely.

* If you plan on installing in the winter, many of our adhesives are moisture cure urethanes which require some air humidity for them to cure. If the air is very dry due to your heating system, it will take longer for the adhesive to cure. Most adhesive manufacturers will have a Temperature/Humidity chart in their instructions that will tell you how long it will take the product to cure.

* Nail guns should be allowed to warm up and should be oiled before use. Using cold nailers can cause the nails to stick or get stuck and could cause internal damage.

* Adhesives should also be brought into the house before installation. Cold adhesives will not spread very well. Many adhesive companies require the adhesive to be store at temperatures between 50F and 100F.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Juli_A


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

20 Tips for Taking Care of Hardwood

Your business and residence contain a variety of wood surfaces that need care and cleaning to look their best. Here are 20 tips for taking care of your hardwood floors, furniture, and cabinets.

GENERAL UPKEEP
1. Know how hard your wood is and act accordingly.

Kiln-dried hickory and pecan are the hardest of the hardwood species. Next on the list is hard maple. Other hardwoods, in decreasing order of hardness, are white oak, beech, red oak, yellow birch, green ash, black walnut, soft maple, cherry, hackberry, gum, elm, sycamore, alder, yellow poplar, cottonwood, basswood, and aspen. Treat these latter hardwoods with extra care.

2. Clean regularly.
If allowed to accumulate, debris acts like sandpaper on hardwood.

3. Select the right product for the job at hand.
Removing a scratch? Use light sandpaper, a matching stain, and a protective coat of polyurethane. Restoring the finish? Choose a wax or oil recommended by the hardwood manufacturer and apply it exactly according to the instructions. Doing a light cleaning? Use non-alkaline dishwashing soap and a damp sponge to clean, making sure to dry the area immediately. Avoid the use of too much water, ammonia, and abrasive cleaners. Be aware that some products like linseed oil leave a residue, and other products may stain your clothing if you lean against the polished surface. Silicone sprays may also break down the wood.

4. Use the right tools.
Choose a vacuum without a beater bar and brushes. Select a broom with exploded ends. Use a microfiber dust mop. Dust and polish with soft, clean cloths.

5. Remember you are often cleaning the hardwood's finish rather than the hardwood itself.
Unless you are looking for a stain to match the color of a hardwood like cherry, products designed for a specific wood serve no purpose. Choose the product that is best for the wood's finish instead.

6. Protect your hardwood floors from scratches and wear and tear.
Use a welcome mat or two to catch dirt and debris at the door. Sweep up dirt weekly; daily is even better. Never drag furniture across your hardwood floor. Instead, place felt pads under the legs of furniture, especially pieces like dining room chairs that are moved frequently. Ask guests not to wear high heels, soccer cleats, skates, or muddy shoes past the front door. Keep wheeled toys outside.

AVOIDING MOISTURE, HARDWOOD'S NEMESIS
7. Maintain constant humidity.

Air condition in the summer and use a humidifier in the winter. This will minimize the expanding and contracting done by natural hardwoods.

8. Protect your hardwood from the elements.
Close windows before raindrops blow in and on the floor, cabinets, or furniture. If you are building a new home or remodeling, keep your hardwood from damaging exposure by having new building materials delivered to an enclosed space. Also, make sure all your doors and windows are properly installed and closed before work with hardwoods begins. Ideally, your contractor will store hardwood flooring or lumber in the room where it will be installed so the wood can adjust to the moisture content of that space.

9. Use a sealer.
Apply a sealer at hardwood cut marks to prevent moisture from seeping in at the exposed area. Also, apply a sealer to surfaces that will get heavy traffic or constant use because they will also need frequent damp-cloth cleanings.

10. Install a vapor barrier.
Never install hardwood over a damp subfloor or newly installed drywall. Dry out the area and install a vapor barrier first.

11. Use protective pads.
Encourage family and guests to place coasters under their drinks. Use pads on hardwood tabletops. Place warm objects on hot pads or trivets. Use felt or a tablecloth under sharp objects like cut glass bowls, picture frames, vases, and lamps.

12. Wipe up water spills immediately.
In the past, builders refrained from using hardwoods in moisture-prone settings like bathrooms, basements, and kitchens. Now, hardwoods can be coated with polyurethane and still retain their natural look. Simply wipe off cleaning products, liquid splashes, food and beverage spills, or pet accidents as soon as possible.

OTHER WAYS TO CARE FOR AND PROTECT YOUR HARDWOOD
13. Filter sunlight that shines on hardwood floors and furniture with drapes or blinds.

14. Move hardwood furniture away from heat sources like fireplaces.

15. Apply a protective sealant to hardwood floors and work surfaces.

16. Use a cutting board instead of chopping on your wood countertop.

17. Keep brass polish off your hardwood by removing it before polishing.

18. Clean the glass of a hardwood cabinet by spraying cleaner on a cloth first.

19. Remove plastic from hardwood surfaces to avoid sticking and discoloration.

20. Be wise. If a child shouldn't consume it or you can't pronounce it, it probably shouldn't be left on your hardwood.

Why do it yourself? Leave the care and cleaning of your hardwood floors, furniture, and cabinets to your professional cleaning team. They have the expertise, tools, and products that will make your hardwoods glow so you can enjoy them for a lifetime.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dark VS Light Hardwood Flooring: The Pros and Cons

Whenever someone relocates to a new home, there are a lot of various remodels they are looking to make; after all, the previous owner may not have shared the same aesthetic preferences. While there are some obvious choices like flower-print wallpaper and green colored walls, one of the first changes new homeowners make is the flooring. Whether you are replacing chipped tile or outdated carpet, you still have to make sure that you are choosing the appropriate replacement. Hardwood flooring is the typical choice for replacement, because of its many benefits, such as affordability and appearance. The problem then arises - dark or light colored? Here are a few basic pros and cons for both.

Like any winning design, you want to discover the balance in the various elements you are planning to utilize, especially color. That being said, if you do choose to implement dark hardwood flooring, note that it must be combined with light colored furniture, area rugs, slip covers, etc. Because dark hardwoods like mahogany and walnut normally establish a sleek and sophisticated feel, blending it with light colored furnishing will create a classy and chic design. Some of the benefits of using dark colored hardwoods are that the dark stain enhances the hardwood's grain, they absorb light and don't fade, and they conceal dirt well, especially if you select walnut. There are a few cons, which includes the fact that scratches become highly visible and not all hardwoods take dark stains.

Now we come to light hardwood flooring. Some of the big pluses you get when choosing this one instead, is that it will open up a room, giving you a much more spacious and modern appeal. Let's say you have a laid back personality and are looking to have your home become an extension of yourself, light hardwood flooring will be exactly what you are looking for. This type of hardwood flooring is also useful in rooms that don't get a lot of sunlight and certain hardwoods like maple, yellow birch, or white oak are great for high traffic areas, including kitchens, playrooms, etc. Remember, not all light hardwood flooring is good for high traffic areas; in fact, softer hardwoods, such as beech and white ash will damage quickly from all of the moving feet.

Remember, the type of hardwood flooring you opt for is entirely reliant on the design you are looking to achieve. If you want to establish a refined look, then choose dark hardwood flooring and accent it with light colored furnishings, like drapes, dining tables, and couches. If you prefer a laid-back appearance, choose light colored flooring, which will open up your room and create a much more comfortable feel. Whichever you choose, try to have it installed after the movers arrive. Moving companies are comprised of professionals, but to avoid any mishap, have the flooring installed once you have completely moved in.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Alejo_Tenutta

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why Exotic Hardwood Floors Are Better Than Your Average Wood Material

There are several exotic woods that can make the exotic hardwood floors for your home flooring, and many homeowners actually prefer these to other types due to the many benefits they offer. Some of these woods are teak, Australian Cypress and Brazilian cherry, just to name a few.

The reason why people like them so much is not only because they look really great in the rooms, but also they have a high quality that is unmatched so far. They are very durable, quite hard and quite alluring to homeowners. Because wood is wood, you'd think that it has all the same colors - brown. However you'll be surprised to learn that exotic hard wood flooring has some great colors that you can adorn your floors with. From the pale yellow to the dark brown, everything is possible. And since no planks are the same, you will have quite a unique flooring in your rooms, even if your neighbor has the exotic variety as well laid on the underfloor.

Teak is just one of these exotic flooring types. Depending on which you use, sapwood or heartwood, you will see quite a few colors starting from the light yellow to dark golden brown. This wood has the property of acquiring a darker color over time due to exposure to constant light. What is even better, teak is a notorious insect natural repellent, as it can easily withstand these termites from attacking it due to the oils that it emits that keeps insects away from it.

Brazilian cherry is another type of exotic hardwood flooring that is well loved by homeowners. The color goes towards a pretty dark red-brown that is quite appealing in living rooms. This color also changes over time due to exposure to sunlight so you will find your flooring changing to a darker shade of cherry color after a few years. The wood is quite heavy, strong and durable and it has that interlocking grain feature that people are attracted to. This wood type has the characteristic of giving your room a warm and cozy feel and appeal to it.

Australian Cypress is yet another variety that has the look of pine to it. However it is much harder than pine so it's quite a durable material to have as your preferred flooring. You can find many colors for this wood, ranging from cream to light brown, with various knots and strong lines that will lighten, but not too much with the passing of time. This darkening also occurs when it is exposed to direct light over the course of years.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Doug_M._Taylor

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Benefits of Oak Hardwood Flooring

There are plenty of wood species to choose from when deciding to install hardwood flooring in your house. You may contemplate over maple, pine or birch in your selection process and budget consideration. However, oak hardwood flooring is one of the finest choices that you can make on your hardwood-flooring project.

Oak is one of the durable species perfect for hardwood flooring. Oak can endure harsh weather changes and also very easy to clean materials. Besides, oak can effortlessly endure heavy pressure especially on a part of the house where there is heavy traffic of footfall. Whether you have chosen solid hardwood, engineered or quarter-sawn oak wood, you will never be disappointed on the quality that this type of wood gives.

Oak hardwood flooring is one way of adding glamour and style in your home. There are different kinds of oak wood that can be purchased in your favorite home improvement stores. No matter what kind of oak that you choose, it would surely bring comfort and style to your floor. Besides, oak wood is very affordable so, it will not make a dent in your wallet. The natural pattern of the oak wood will complement the design and style of every part of your house. The oak flooring is easy to maintain therefore you can use the same flooring for many years. All you have to do is to take care of it regularly.

Another wonderful benefit that you can get from oak hardwood is that you can save lot of money from repair of your floor. There are kinds of woods that is surely appealing to the eyes but not durable enough to withstand pressure. This leads to repairs and even replacement of the hardwood floor. Oak is a very reliable material that does not need much maintenance aside from cleaning. You can be relaxed and forget your flooring for the rest of your life if you have chosen to install oak flooring.

If you are quite unsure about the quality of the oak hardwood available at the home improvement stores near you, you can check the Internet for help. There are online hardwood stores that provide detailed information about the quality of the hardwood that they are selling. This way, you can be sure that the oak that you are going to use is a top grade material. Besides, you don't have to leave your house therefore giving you more time to carefully plan your flooring project.

These days, homeowners look for things that can make their home unique and comfortable. Uniqueness is a factor that remains to be one of the priorities when making or remodeling a home. When entering, the floor is the thing that you will see after the door. If you have chosen oak wood flooring to decorate your home, you can be sure that the quality it emanated would represent your home for a very long time.

Hardwood flooring has existed for centuries. Now, through technological innovations, people can choose varieties in oak hardwood flooring to give flexibility for choosy owners to decorate their home.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Justin_E_Simmers


Monday, June 7, 2010

Engineered Hardwood Flooring - How to Select It For Your Needs

Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Engineered hardwood flooring is a product made of a core of hardwood, plywood, or high density fiber and a top layer of hardwood veneer that is glued on the top surface of the core. It is available in almost any hardwood species. The product has the natural characteristics of the selected wood species as opposed to a photographic layer. The "engineered" product has been designed to provide greater stability, particularly where moisture or heat pose problems for hardwood floors.

Wood floors come in two basic types:

o Solid wood flooring
o Engineered wood flooring

Solid Wood Fl is fabricated from 3/4" thick solid wood and tongue and groove sides to join the boards. Some manufacturers make a thinner version that is 5/16" thick. The main advantage of solid wood flooring is its ability to be re-sanded and refinished over many years. It is not uncommon for solid wood floors to last 50 years or more. Solid wood floors come unfinished or prefinished in almost any wood species.

The main issue to consider with solid wood floors is its susceptibility to expansion and contraction due to humidity changes in the home. To accommodate for movement, these floors are typically installed with a 5/8" to 3/4" gap around the perimeter of the floor along the wall. This gap is covered by shoe molding and baseboards.

The 3/4" thick floors should not be installed in a below grade condition, such as a basement. However, the thinner 5/16" wood floors may be used in that application. When installing a solid wood floor over new or existing concrete, be sure the manufacturer's recommendations on limits of moisture in the concrete are followed.

Solid wood flooring is available in three main types:

o Strip flooring is denoted by the thickness and width of the wood planks. Strip flooring has a set width, but the thickness can vary. Strip flooring ranges in thickness from 5/16" to ¾" wide. It is available only in widths of 1 1/2", 2", and 2 1/4".

o Plank flooring comes in two thicknesses, but unlike strip flooring, the widths can vary. It is available only in thicknesses of 1/2" or 3/4" and a range of widths from 3" to 8".

o Parquet flooring has a very different look from typical hardwoods. They are made up of geometrical patterns composed of individual wood patterns composed of individual wood slats held in place by mechanical fastening or an adhesive.

Laminate flooring is not real wood, at least not in the way that hardwood and engineered wood are. It is comprised of a thin top layer of resin-infused paper, all on top of a wood chip composite. Technically, it is wood. It is an amazing simulation of wood. The resin layer is essentially a photograph of wood. Laminate flooring is an alternative to wood flooring. It is scratch resistant and it works well in topically moist environments like bathrooms and kitchens, unlike hardwood flooring. Additionally, laminate flooring is very easy to install.

Engineered wood flooring solves a lot of the problems hardwood and laminate flooring have:

o Solid Hardwood does not tolerate moisture well.
o Solid Hardwood can have uneven quality
o Laminate Flooring does not tolerate moisture well
o Laminate Flooring is fake wood and can not be sanded.

Basics of Engineered Wood Floors

Engineered hardwood floors are constructed similar to that of basic plywood with the top surface being actual hardwood. Products come in two to ten ply construction depending on the manufacturer. Many manufacturers have increased the surface (also known as veneer or wear layer) layer that will result in some engineered floors lasting as long as the traditional ¾" solid flooring. One of the most important factors contributing to the longevity of any hardwood floor is the amount of refinishable material.

Solid 3/4" hardwoods have approximately 1/4 of an inch above the tongue and groove construction. Once it is sanded to that level, nails or staples begin to appear and should be replaced. The better and thicker engineered hardwood floors have 1/8" to 3/16" above the tongue and groove. Since the veneer is real wood, it can be sanded up to two to three times.

Engineered floors are the ideal solution for hardwood flooring on concrete. The dimensional stability of the way they are constructed. Each ply layer is pressure glued and set in the opposite direction. Engineered hardwood floors expand and contract with high humidity, as opposed to hardwood flooring. The more plies the greater stability.

Installation of most engineered hardwood floors are done by the glue down or floating floor method. It is very important to note that not all engineered products have the same type of installation specifications. Some floors may be floating, glue direct, or staple only. Maunufacturers specifications should be followed explicitly. The majority of prefinished engineered hardwoods have limits on lengths at 42 to 48 inches, opposed to most solid hardwoods at 72 to 84 inches. Typically, lower end flooring will have shorter pieces. Typically, longer lengths are preferred as they offer a more appealing look on completion.

What is a floating floor? It is a method of installing a floor rather than a specific type of flooring material. In this method, the individual planks or boards attach to each other - either by means of gluing or snapping together, but do not attach to the sub floor on which it is being installed. This is in contrast to a solid wood floor which requires nailing down to the sub floor. A jigsaw puzzle is one great comparison. With a jigsaw puzzle, pieces connect to each other, but not to the table. A floating floor is like a jigsaw puzzle. An advantage of the floating floor method of installation is it allows for the floor to move and expand in response to changes in the room's humidity.

Wood Flooring Hardness Rating

The hardness of wood flooring is measured by something called the Janka Test. A.444 inch steel ball is driven into the wood to half the ball's diameter. The test measures the force needed to embed a steel ballot half of its diameter in the piece of wood being tested, with rating measured in pounds of force per square inch. So with this rating, the higher the number the harder the wood.

Wood hardness is important since one of the key considerations in selecting the species of wood floor, you should be aware how much resistance the wood has to scratches and indentations. For example, if you have a dog with long nails then scratching the floor is a consideration and you should select a species with a higher rating such as hickory, maple, oak, or ash.

While it may seem logical to pick the hardest wood, certain factors should be considered:

o Soft wood can be hardened to some degree by the application of polyurethane finishes

o Hard wood is nearly always much more expensive than the softer and medium grade woods.

o Hard wood is more difficult to saw, drill, and nail than other woods, requiring more time and labor, therefore more money.

Hardwood Floor Appearances Can Differ

Hardwood veneers have the same surface appearances as solid hardwood flooring because they are both natural hardwoods. Different appearances result from the different ways the hardwood is sawn. The different sawing methods are:

o Flat Sawn (also referred to as plain sawn) - can be flat grain, which has a cathedral or gothic effect or vertical grain which has a radial or edge grain effect.

o Rotary Cut - method of cutting wood in which the hardwood layer is peeled off the log using large wood lathes. This peeling method shows dramatic, wilder graining.

o Off-Set Rotary Cut - method of cutting wood which gives a sliced appearance and grain pattern with the added cross grain stability of sliced, without the sliced cost. Hardwoods are more dimensionally stable across the grain, and off-set rotary cutting takes advantage of this property. The yield is lower than a regular rotary cut creating a slight price increase vs. standard rotary.

o Sliced Cut - method of cutting wood in which the hardwood layer is sawn like regular lumber. This shows finer graining.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Alan_Trauger

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hardwood Flooring Maintenance Tips - Clean and Maintain Your Hardwood Floor the Proper Way

While there are many modern types of flooring nowadays, hardwood flooring is an old favorite of many. It has a natural look and feel to it that no other floor covering has. Also it is very easy to clean and maintain and it can be refinished many times, unlike engineered flooring or laminates.

To properly clean your hardwood flooring you need to pay attention to a couple of things, since it is very easy to scratch if you're not careful. Dirt, grime and grit are killers for this flooring type as they tend to mar it unless removed right away. Also if you live in a rather dusty area, it shows more on hardwood than on other materials. This is why one of the most important aspects of caring for your hardwood floor is regular sweeping and dusting. You should do it once a week or if you see dirt accumulated before the week is over, do a sweeping again.

When you're dusting and sweeping make sure to use only products that have been expressly approved by the manufacturer. If you simply use normal household cleaning products you might be in danger of damaging your floor instead of cleaning it. If you prefer vacuuming, you could easily do that instead of sweeping as it's also a faster way of removing dirt and grime from the surface.

Depending on your hardwood type, you might have a floor with a glossy finish or with a matte finish. If it's glossy, it means it has been treated with a water based urethane finish to give it that protective layer over the actual hardwood. The matte finish has been protected with a layer of wax or oil, or a mixture of the two. You should not use any regular detergent on any of the two types as it will easily destroy the protective layer over your hardwood.

If you use water for moping, use only a little, so the water doesn't penetrate the oil or wax layer. If your hardwood has the glossy finish, you can use some household hardwood cleaner as long as the finish doesn't contain oil or wax in it.

Avoid using ammonia on your flooring surface and avoid using wax if your have a glossy finish floor.

If you have any water marks on the surface, first you need to remove the glossy or wax protective layer and then use fine grade steel wool to rub the water marks. Then clean the surface and refinish the hardwood.

When moving furniture across the room, try to avoid dragging it and lift it instead. This will avoid leaving various scratches and marks on it. Also avoid walking over the floor with high heel shoes and make sure to trim the nails of your pets.

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