Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Easy Repair Tips for Hardwood Flooring Marks

Hardwood flooring is recognized for its beauty, lasting durability and natural appeal. While hardwood floors are easy to maintain, they're still porous and vulnerable to stains. Unavoidably, spills will happen and leave marks on the floor, which may cause it to look dirty and stained. Luckily, marks can be eliminated from hardwood floors by using simple cleaning solutions. Stains ought to be removed as quickly as possible, however. The longer these marks remain on hardwood flooring, the harder they are to get rid of.

Step 1
Sweep the hardwood flooring with a household broom to remove any dust, dirt, grit or sand. Go over it with a dust mop to remove lingering debris. It's essential to get rid of surface debris from the floor before starting to remove marks and stains.

Step 2
In a bucket, pour one cup of commercial wood floor cleaner and one gallon of lukewarm water, making a diluted cleaning solution. Wet a microfiber or sponge mop in the solution. Mop the spotted areas of the hardwood flooring with the cleaning solution. Examine the full length of the floor for any remaining stains.

Step 3
In a bowl, mix together one cup of distilled white vinegar and one cup of cold water. Moisten a clean dry cloth in the vinegar solution. Wipe the cloth over any residual marks or stains. Moisten another clean cloth with plain water. Buff any spots that you treated with the vinegar solution.

Step 4
For dark marks and stains caused by standing water, you'll need to remove some of the finish and reapply it. Rub the spots with steel wool, in the direction of the wood grain. If this doesn't work, sand the areas lightly with fine-grit sandpaper. Clean the spots and surrounding areas using mineral spirits or a commercial wood floor cleaner. Let the floor dry.

Step 5
Apply a matching finish to the flooring, feathering it out into the surrounding area. Put on a coat of floor wax after the finish dries thoroughly. If you prefer just a surface finish, use a cleaner recommended for wooden flooring (such as oil soap) and buff vigorously with a clean towel.

Tip to Remove Wax Build-Up
Hardwood flooring that has not been properly cared for may acquire some wax build-up. To remove it, strip away all the old wax with mineral spirits or a commercial wood floor cleaner. Use soft cloths and fine steel wool pads to clean and eliminate all the residue before you apply new wax.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How to Stop Hardwood Floors From Splitting

The last thing you want to happen as a homeowner is to have your hardwood flooring split. Not only is it quite bothersome and hard to fix, it can also be quite expensive! Over time hardwood flooring can break down if not tended to, or if there is water issues. However, important and simple steps and tips can be taken to prevent this from happening.

Hardwood floor care is so important for successful home ownership. Flooring is the most fundamental aspect of a home. It is what covers the foundation and what everything else is built upon. It needs extra care and attention to be kept in the best shape. The first step in this maintenance is keeping the floors clean and free of any debris. Every room in my home has hardwood flooring with an exception of the kitchen and bathroom. One thing I find to be very helpful in keeping the floors clean and dust free is my trusty Swiffer Sweeper Vacuum and Mop. These help me keep the floors sparkling and new looking even though they are almost a hundred years old! Swiffer also makes a wonderful line of hardwood floor care items that are perfect for treating and maintaining the precious wood.

Another important aspect to keeping floors looking nice, is to keep them free of any water damage. Spills that are left unattended can be very harsh to flooring and lead to splitting of the boards. When my husband and I were looking to buy our first home we looked at several homes with bad hardwood flooring that had not been cared for. Many of the homes had stains from where pet messes were not cleaned up. Not only were they stained they also had splitting and creaky boards. Even something as simple as laying a wet towel on the floor can be damaging if left for too long.

Another important tip is to keep all crawl spaces clean of debris and leaves. Leave build up can lead to damage to hardwood flooring as it traps moisture. Many crawl spaces are damp in general due to the dark, moist soil, therefore extra attention is needed for homes with crawl spaces.

A last tip is to keep floors shiny and new with oil treatments and polishing. If wood becomes too dry and lackluster it can split and crack. One floors split it can be quite expensive and time-consuming trying to fix them or replace the flooring.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hardwood Flooring Combines Style And Durability

When it comes to home decor, it is important that you take into account style and durability. Hardwood flooring is a good option for you as far as factors like maintenance and durability are concerned.

Styles, finishes and species of hardwood flooring

When opting for hardwood flooring, you have to select the one that is suitable for your place. Each of these varieties has their specialties and they lend a different look, mood and feel to your home. Some of the popular styles of hardwood are plank hardwood, parquet hardwood and strip hardwood. Finishes in hardwood are equally important since they protect the hardwood from wear and tear. Different types of hardwood finishes include penetrating finishes, surface finishes and pre-finished hardwood flooring.

Hhardwood is not obtained from a single species. Hardwood trees are broad leafed and fruit bearing trees, which are usually barren during the winter season. Some of the popular species of hardwood trees used for the purpose of flooring include American Beech, Brazilian Walnut, Jatoba, Hickory and Natural Bamboo.

Benefits of using hardwood floorings

There are several benefits of using hardwood flooring for your home. Some of the benefits are listed below:

1.Durability: Due to its natural composition, hardwood flooring is robust. Hence, it is very much durable compared to other floorings.

2.Elegant and attractive: hardwood flooring provides a classic look to your home. It enhances the elegance and beauty of your.

3.Hypoallergenic: hardwood floorings are a good choice for healthy living. If you are prone to allergies, then hardwood flooring is the best option available to you, as it does not allow animal dander, pollen and mold to thrive. You can have eco-friendly hardwood flooring available in the market, made without toxins, finishes and chemicals. These are excellent for home decor.

Get hardwood flooring installed. You will never regret your choice.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Brazilian Solid Cherry Hardwood Flooring: Charming Their Way Into Your Homes

It’s highly common for homes to make use of hardwood floors, such as the Brazilian solid cherry hardwood flooring. First of all, it fits perfectly to any type of home, may it be contemporary, Victorian, or country. Moreover, it’s also known to be highly affordable compared to other flooring material, such as ceramic. Most of all, a Brazilian solid cherry hardwood flooring is environment friendly. The materials used are renewable. A purchase of this type of hardwood is your small contribution to Mother Earth.

Special Characteristics of Brazilian Solid Cherry Hardwood Flooring

All hardwoods are known for their durability. If they are just properly taken care of, they can last for many years, even for as long as 100. However, of all solid hardwoods, the most durable is the Brazilian solid cherry hardwood flooring. So strong are they that their use is not only constricted inside homes, but also in bridges, docks, and ports. The secret to their ultimate strength would be the stability of their vertical and horizontal structure. There are no portions that appear to be highly vulnerable to breakage. What’s more, they produce their own natural oil, which allows them to maintain their shine, luster, and perfect condition all throughout the years. The Brazilian solid cherry hardwood flooring is also highly resistant to stain, a no. 1 enemy of floors since it can damage their finish and may invite moisture.

The Brazilian solid cherry hardwood flooring can also stand the pressure of extremely high foot traffic. That’s why this type of hardwood is also utilized in shopping centers, where there are hundreds of people who can step on the planks every day. You also don’t need to use a carpet or a rug when you’re installing it inside your home. The Brazilian solid cherry hardwood flooring is very much invincible against dents and scratches caused by moving your furniture and fixture all across the floor. This is because the Brazilian solid cherry hardwood flooring is very hard, even harder than oak and maple, which are considered to be two of the best hardwood floors ever used.

The Brazilian solid cherry hardwood flooring doesn’t come easy and often, though. This is because the country from where it came from is implementing strict rules and laws with regards to logging. A lumber company cannot, for any reason, remove all cherry trees in Brazil. Moreover, they must obtain permit first for every tree they want to cut from Ibama, Brazil’s agency for environmental protection. Nevertheless, you are assured that your Brazilian solid cherry hardwood flooring is only made from the oldest trees, those that have seen better days.

How to Use Brazilian Solid Cherry Hardwood Flooring to Your Advantage

Though the Brazilian solid cherry hardwood flooring can definitely go with any home, it would still be wise if you can take a look at the shades, shapes, and grain tones before you buy. Perhaps you can find one that is the most appealing among all of them—the one that is totally perfect to be used at your own home.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Get A Hardwood Flooring Portland

Hardwood flooring portland is famed for the class and durability that it lends to homes it is installed in. Indeed, hard wood flooring are not just only pleasing to the eyes, it also lasts for a lifetime. It is calls for minimal maintenance so you don’t have worry if you seldom wax it.

Simply dusting and sweeping done everyday is enough already. Hardwood floors portland looks more fabulous in the passing of time and it exudes warmth and comfort on your home.

The best thing about hardwood is that it matches well with any types and styles of your home, be is set in modern or period design. Their variety also comes in a variety of woods, patterns, stains, and finishes. hardwood flooring are also hypo-allergenic, thus, they can suit even to those with sensitive skins. Other than this, natural hardwood flooring is also eco-friendly!

But other than the aesthetic value, hardwood flooring also increases your home’s value. Home with hardwood flooring are noticeably more valuable compared to other homes without hardwood flooring installation.

Hardwood flooring offers comfort that perhaps no other flooring can offer. What’s even better is that hardwood flooring offers you the best value for your money. Though you might find it quite expensive compared to a carpet or vinyl, hardwood flooring on the other hand, won’t require any replacement and can be actually resold!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Steps For Hardwood Floor Refinishing

Hardwood floor is subjected to impacts, reactions from edibles, moistures on daily basis. So hardwood floors needs refinishing with certain intervals. Refinishing make you go to the days of the first home entry. It returns the memories. It refinishes the floor with previous shine. It maintains your floor for long durability to the woods. An unfinished floor hampers your prestige in society. Refinishing is required with certain interval to have a change in the home d├ęcor. It avoids the boredom after seeing same floor again & again.

Hardwood floor refinishing is a tedious task. It is time consuming. It is costly affair. You need to vacate the room you choose for refinishing. All the furniture need to be removed from its place to the nearby room & to outside incase all the room are refinished at a time.

Before hardwood floor refinishing you need to take certain decisions.

1. Do you have Time for it?
2. Do you have space to relocate the furniture?
3. Do you have money to spend?
4. Do you have manpower to supervise?
5. Is your family prepared for this?
6. Last but not the least is you really going for it?
Whether you say no or yes keep in mind that today or tomorrow you have to take the decision.

Hardwood floor refinishing involves few steps, they are as follows.

Sanding the floor
• Remove all furniture from the room to a side by room.
• Check the floor carefully for any nails. If present then hammer it below the level.
Run sander rented or purchased from market with rough sand paper fixed on it. Lower the machine if the machine is in running state. Run the sander only in push or pull mode along the grain orientation.
• Vacuuming the surface is done using machine.
• Again run sander rented or purchased from market with medium sand paper fixed on it.
• Re vacuuming the surface is done using machine.
• Again run sander rented or purchased from market with smooth sand paper fixed on it.
• Re vacuuming the surface is done using machine. Clean the surface properly.
• Edging machine shall be used for edges of floor.
Staining the floor
• Decide if you want to stain the floor for different from its natural or if you would prefer to leave the floor natural in tone.
• Clean the floor using one broom stick.
• You can also use vacuum cleaner for better result.
• Open the windows to ventilate the area.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sealing Hardwood Flooring- Do's And Don'ts For New Floors

After you’ve installed your new hardwood floor, you’ll no doubt be wondering how to protect it and keep it new looking. Should you apply a sealant? Should you wax it, leave it alone or what? Here are some tips on what to do.

Did you have pre-finished flooring installed? This type of hardwood flooring typically uses a process called acrylic impregnation. Prefinished flooring companies recommend that no additional finish be applied. Compatibility and durability of the finish can be a problem. Waxes and oils should be avoided- they may contaminate the wood and cause problems with adhesiveness when refinishing.

If you absolutely must coat the prefinished wood make certain to prepare it well, with either sanding or a deglosser. The finish will not stick otherwise. Additionally, when you refinish prefinished flooring, you can throw any finish warranty provided by the manufacturer out the window, since you just voided it.

For laminate floors, there is also no need to put any sealant on. Actually, do not put anything on top. It's perfect as is. That's the great thing about laminate flooring; it is already protected from scuffs and spills. Read the warranty and installation guide, and maintain them according to the manufacturers instructions.

Unfinished hardwood flooring is a whole different story. Preparation of the floor prior to finishing is critical here. The wood is sanded first, to smooth the surface and to open the wood pores up for better absorption of the finish. If at all possible, it is recommended you have a trained and experienced professional do the sanding; hardwood floors are easily ruined beyond repair by gouges and warpage due to uneven sanding. Thorough vacuuming follows sanding and sweeping to rid the floor of wood chips, saw dust and debris. Finer dust and oily residues are then removed with cloth soaked in special spirit-based cleaners.

Two types of sealers are available: water-based and solvent-based.

Water Based Wood flooring Sealants- becoming more widely used because of the interest in healthier and more environmentally friendly construction. Some of the solvents used in the polyurethane and epoxy finishes face disposal issues, as well as health concerns over exposure to volatile organic compounds. Another benefit to the water based sealants is they are less flammable and some are even completely non-flammable. The downside is their greater cost, as they are not as widely available yet as the solvent-based types.

Solvent Based Wood flooring Sealants- include polyurethane, moisture-curing urethane, and solvent-based epoxy finishes. The moisture-curing urethane type finishes are currently no as widely used, due to their high flammability and strong odor, which necessitates the use of respiration equipment during application. In their favour, these flooring sealants are very durable and tough, although on the other hand, this makes removing them for refinishing difficult. The solvent-based epoxies have much the same properties, although they do have a more preferable appearance to some.

The polyurethane finishes are probably the most commonly used hardwood flooring sealant. The balance between durability, cost and appearance finds a sweet spot here. Relative to other finishes, they are simple to apply and dry within 6 hours. However, they do have a moderately “solventy” smell and must be disposed of according to environmental protection laws in a safe manner.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Nuances of Using Hardwood for Flooring

Hardwood are one of the most preferred flooring options for home owners today. Given the various options available in wooden flooring these days you can now easily use wooden flooring across all places in the house. However, as a home owner you should be aware of certain facts if you are considering hardwood flooring for your house.

If you are implementing a hard wood floor do not forget to use a sub floor. A sub floor is of great importance as it has multiple purposes. A sub floor helps to secure the wooden floor over preexisting floor or concrete. It also works as insulation against moisture which is often very important depending on the climate in your area.

You need to be particularly careful about using wooden flooring for areas that have a lot of moisture. In such areas do not use solid hardwood floor and rather go for engineered flooring. Excessive moisture tends to damage solid hardwood floors and it is better not to use them on areas that would have a lot of moisture.

The other concern with wooden flooring is when it comes to kitchen or bathroom, places that are prone to a lot of spills. Even engineered floors might not be able to stand such spills for a long term. In such case the best option would be to use laminated wood flooring. While some might not consider this as a hardwood floor in the strict sense of the word you will still be getting the same look and feel of your hardwood floor and also have durability against all the spills.

It is important to use an experienced technician for installing as it might not be very easy for you and me to do the whole thing. Also there are certain technical nuances that are known only be the men of the trade. However, if you still want to give it a go by yourself there are few specific points that you need to be absolutely careful about.

Installing a doesn't finish with just laying down the floor. There is a lot of detailed work involved and one of the most crucial one is to sand down the floor to lose the rough spots and smoothen the floor. A lot of nails are used in the floor and these are then covered with wooden fillers. These fillers tend to leave some rough spots too and those need extra attention during the sanding process. Also staining and finishing the floor is another critical aspect of a wooden floor installation. While this is not that difficult you need to ensure that children and pets are not around during this time - the floor is typically unusable during this period and having children and pets over can often lead to messing up the work.

If you are working with technician for installing the hardwood floor make sure that you see various samples before choosing the right one for yourself. Make sure to have detailed information on hardwood floor installation experience of your contractor. This is a specialist job and if you want to get a good work done make sure you chose the right contractor.

Friday, July 29, 2011

How to Paint a Hardwood Floor

As elegant and attractive as bare hardwood flooring may be, it isn't right for everyone. If you've been thinking about painting a hardwood floor in your house, you're not alone; many people opt to do so and end up with amazing results. To achieve great results yourself, though, you need to take your time and learn a few basic tips and tricks. If you launch into the process too quickly, you could end up with a nightmare on your hands. When done correctly, painting a hardwood floor will result in a stunning finished product that will make you extremely happy. Do you know how to paint a hardwood floor the right way? You can learn a few of the best tips for doing so below.

Prep the floor

You should never just slap paint onto hardwood flooring. The floor has to be prepped properly so that the paint comes through clearly and attractively. In most cases, you will need to do some light sanding. Once that step is through, you should patch the floor with hardwood filler. This will keep things smooth and even. Nothing looks worse than painting over a bumpy, uneven floor, so make sure to take your time during this step. Once the filler had been applied, sand the floor again. You should also note the paint manufacturer's instructions for preparing the floor and take them into account. Finally, you should vacuum and wipe down the floor to ensure that no dust or other debris is present.

Finding the Right Paint

H ardwood floor painting isn't the most common thing in the world, so what to use isn't very obvious. Some folks use deck paint or porch paint. For best results, you should stick with polyurethane enamel. Read the can carefully before making your purchase. You could also consult with the professionals at the store to get their take on things. You need something that can withstand foot traffic, of course; if you buy the wrong thing, it will be damaged and smudged in no time.

Painting the floor

Now comes the fun part: painting the floor. The actual process of painting hardwood flooring isn't much different than painting a wall or a ceiling. The first thing that you need to do is to cut in around the edges. Otherwise, you could end up with smudges and marks on the trim or the walls. Similarly, you should use masking tape or painter's tape to keep paint from ending up where it doesn't belong. Once you've cut in, use a small roller to apply a very thin coat of paint to the floor. Resist the temptation to lay it on thick - you will be applying several other coats.

Additional Tips

Make sure that you keep the room temperature above 70 or so when painting hardwood flooring. If you don't, the paint will take longer to dry and may not dry as evenly. You should plan on staying elsewhere while you're doing this project because the fumes will be quite strong. It will take several days to complete, so this isn't something that should be done on the fly. Allow each coat to dry for at least 24 hours before applying the next one. Apply at least two coats of paint; you will probably end up needing three or four.

Painted hardwood floors aren't right for everyone Carpet One hardwood flooring. Peruse photos online to see if you like the look. Snap a photo of the room in question and use software to color in the floors in different shades. Keep in mind that you can always jazz up painted hardwood floors with attractive area rugs and throw rugs too. Also remember that undoing the process will be extremely difficult. You have to be absolutely sure that you want to do this before giving it a shot. Assuming that you are and that you take your time, you're sure to end up with a dramatic new look for your home.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Reasons Why Hardwood Floors Get So Dirty

People that have hardwood floors in their homes know that they can get really dirty from time to time. The challenge is identifying why and how these floors get so dirty so that you can clean them up effectively. For most people, cleaning the hardwood floors is something that they only have time to do every so often. That said, if you know the main reasons why the floors get so dirty you will be able to prevent them from getting dirty. In the event that these floors need a good cleaning there are also some things that you can do in order to ensure that they are getting as clean as possible.

The biggest reason why hardwood floors get dirty is a pretty simple one. In short, human foot traffic causes the floors to get mucked up with dirt and grime. If you stop to think about it there are probably quite a few people that walk on your floors in the course of a day. That said, these people are usually walking in from outside, up from the basement or from another room in the house. In addition, many times people that walk on hardwood floors even have their shoes on. These factors all contribute to how dirty the floors get as the dirt is simply tracked in. In order to eliminate hardwood floors from getting dirty due to foot traffic you can mandate that people must wipe their feet before entering the house as well as have to take their shoes off.

Another reason why hardwood floors get so dirty is because of pets. If you have a dog or a cat then there is a good chance that your floors are going to be a bit dirty. Think about it this way. After your dog comes in from outside they are probably going to run all around your house. Any dirt they had on their paws will break loose and wind up on your floors. The same can be said about a dog or cat that is shedding. The pet hair winds up right on the floor.

The final reason why these floors get so dirty is because they have not been properly cleaned in the first place. By thoroughly cleaning the floors you will not have to worry about them getting dirty again for quite some time. If you only clean them a little bit then they will be very dirty again in no time at all.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Exotic Hardwoods: Beauty That Lasts a Lifetime

The term exotic sets imaginations in motion with vivid pictures of far-away tropical islands, clear blue oceans and miles of pristine white sandy beaches. Where these images of imagination are not far from reality, exotic tropical islands are the home of some of the most specialized trees in the world of which exotic hardwood flooring material is produced. With full maturity of these ancient trees reaching extreme heights, exotic hardwoods are also found in fallen trees that have sunken to the bottom of rivers, often producing some of the most exclusive hardwoods in existence today. With preservation of all natural habitats of great concern, exotic hardwoods are harvested by governing authorities to maintain present ecology of the country of origin.

Exotic hardwoods offer many striking appearances that are visibly distinctive from hardwood flooring materials not found in North America. exotic woods evoke an all natural and unique design rich with deep textures that are breath-taking and inspiring. Where exotic hardwoods are not for everyone, those home and business owners that are more conscious about the appearance of their home or place of business often install exotic woods, setting their home or business apart from all others.

According to the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) residential real estate agents agree that homes and businesses with exotic wood flooring installed are easier to sell while increasing the overall value of the property, with higher listing and closing figures. exotic hardwoods installed correctly never have to be replaced and retain the highest quality and durability of all available hardwood flooring material.

Other than wall colors, floor finishes often set the tone of the room which is immediately noticed by all who enter. Floors lacking character with poor color selection; detract from other features of the room with appearances of a smaller room compared to actual square footage. When selling a home or place of business, the condition and appearance of present floors is often a determining factor in a successful or rejected sale. Floors are more than walking surfaces designed for comfort or convenience; floors represent pride in ownership and individual characteristics.

Exotic hardwoods are naturally more expensive than traditional North American hardwoods due to the complexity of the hardwood material and limited availability of certain species. On a national average, exotic woods often cost as much as two times more per square foot than conventionally installed North American hardwood flooring materials. However, exotic woods are more than exquisite flooring with deep rich tones and unusual colors, exotic woods are an investment in a home or place of business providing comfort, increased strength with superior durability.

Installation of exotic hardwoods should be professionally installed due to the complexity of the wood and initial cost per square foot. The additional cost per square foot of $3-$4 depending on selected species and location, charged by professional, experienced installers, is well worth the time and additional investment. Installed in either a glued-nailed or floating floor fashion, professional installers will recommend the correct method of installation that will provide many years of care-free use.

Exotic hardwoods are more than a means of covering existing subfloors, exotic hardwoods are floors with exquisite beauty that last a lifetime

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hard-Scraped Hardwood Flooring: Restoration of History

Throughout History hardwood flooring has undergone dramatic changes from the meticulous hard-scraped hardwood polished floors of majestic plantations of the Deep South, to modern day technology providing maintenance free wood flooring designed for comfort and appearance. The hand-scraped hardwood floors of the South, depicted charm with old rustic nature and character that was often associated with this time era. To date, hand-scraped hardwood flooring is being revitalized and used in up-scale homes and places of businesses to restore the old country charm that once faded into oblivion.

As the name implies, hand-scraped flooring involves the retexturing the top layer of flooring material by various methods in an attempts to mimic the rustic appearance of flooring in yesteryears. Depending on the degree of texture required, hand scraping hardwood material is often accomplished by highly skilled craftsmen with specialized tools and years of experience perfecting this procedure. When properly done, hand-scraped hardwood floors add texture, richness and uniqueness not offered in any similar hardwood flooring product.

Rooted with history, these types of floors are available in finished or unfinished surfaces. The majority of the individuals selecting hand-scraped hardwood flooring elect a prefinished floor to reduce costs per square foot in installation and finishing labor charges, allowing for budget guidelines to bend, not break. As expected, hand-scraped flooring is expensive and depending on the grade and finish selected, can range from $15-40$ per square foot and beyond for material only. Preparation of the material is labor intensive adding to the overall cost per square foot dramatically. Recommended professional installation can and often does increase the cost per square foot as well, placing this method of hardwood flooring well out of reach of the average hardwood floor purchaser.

With numerous selections of hard-scraped finishes available, each finish is designed to bring out a different appearance making it a one-of-a-kind work of art. These numerous finish selections include:

Time worn aged, dark coloring stain application bringing out grain characteristics
Wire brushed, providing a highlighted "grainy" effect with obvious rough texture
Hand sculpted, smoother distressed uniform appearance
French Bleed, staining of edges and side joints with a much darker stain to give a bleeding effect to the wood
Hand Hewn or Rough Sawn, with visible and noticeable saw marks

Regardless of the selection made, scraped flooring cannot be compared to any other available flooring material based on durability, strength and visual appearance. Limited by only the imagination and creativity, several wood species can be used to create unusual floor patterns, highlighting main focal points of personal libraries and art collections.

The precise process utilized in the creation of scraped floors projects a custom look with deep color and subtle warm highlights. With radiant natural light reflecting off this type of floor, the effect of beauty and depth is radiated in a fashion that fills the room with solitude and serenity encompassing all that enter. hand-scraped hardwood floors speak of the past, a time of decent, a time or war and ambiguity towards other races and the blood- shed so that all men could be treated as equals. More than exquisite flooring, hand-scraped hardwood flooring is the restoration of History.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

7 Things That Hardwood Flooring Installers Should Do To Guarantee A Proper Installation

When you are considering points for hiring your next hardwood flooring contractor, you will have a lot of questions on your mind, particularly since flooring installation is such an investment. Your floors are one of the most important areas of your home. You need to make sure that the floor is secure, and that it looks pleasing to the eye. Here are some of the points to consider when you are working with a home flooring contractor.

First, how much time will the flooring installation project take to complete? You need to make sure that your installer can get the job done, and quickly as well. Since there is no way that you can avoid walking on the floor, this is one household project that can't be put off. This is both for the attractiveness of the home, and also for the safety of the home inhabitants.

Your flooring contractor should be able to take accurate flooring installation measurements of the floor. This should seem obvious, but some installers that might want to cut corners might be tempted to "eyeball it". They might try to convince you that they can get the right measurements, just by taking at look at your floor, because they've been at it for so long. Don't fall for this.

A true professional will take measurements, each and every time. They should be double checking the measurements even during the job, to make sure there are no changes in the sub flooring, or in the baseboards. All of this prevents against buckling and warping in the floor.

Next, a great flooring installation professional should be able to give you the best prices for the job, because they have established relationships with dealers that offer them the most cost efficient materials for the money. An experienced installer knows where to get the best quality products for the best price. They should be able to pass on these deals to their customers as well.

Your professional floor installation contractor should be able to identify loose spots in the subflooring. They will also take the time to address this issue. Someone who provides sub-par work will simply slap planks of wood over loose subflooring, and hope that you never know the difference.

It should go without saying, but you shouldn't cut corners when it comes to the person that you hire for your flooring installation. To this end, make sure that your floor installer has all of their proper licensing. This isn't a job for your buddy down the street, or for your dear second cousin, twice removed. If you don't use a professionally licensed installer, then you will have no recourse in court, if anything goes wrong. You could also invalidate any standing warranties on the home.

Your floor installation professional should not only know how to install hardwood flooring, but they should also know how to install laminate floors as well. Finally, your floor installer should always be able to offer you the best materials, at the best prices, so that you will be able to give them repeat business.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tips How to Buy Low-Priced Hardwood Floors

If you're looking for low-priced hardwood floors, you'll find it. You just have to know the right stores to shop. wood flooring isn't all super high-priced. Plus cheap wood flooring doesn't have to signify poor quality. You will get some really great offers on hardwood.

Begin with a flooring place in your space. Often, a nearby floor coverings organization gives you a greater deal on hard wood in order to create a base of local repeat buyers. If you discover what you're in search of, great. Otherwise, proceed to the world wide web.

Research online for "inexpensive hardwood flooring" may return numerous sites. But what do you search for in a company online? How can you tell one from another?

As with every brick and mortar shop, you want to look for a corporation you can trust. Go and visit what they're offering. Then find their warranty. Is there a good guarantee in place if something fails? Is there a return policy? How about defects you might find after deliver? You will need the answers to all these concerns prior to deciding to give out your credit card number.

Next, check out the stock they provide. You're going to buy hardwood flooring by the sq footage. So search for the least expensive price tag by square foot. In case one is $1.29 a square foot, it's a great price savings over one which is $5.00 a sq. ft.. The numbers could seem minor, nevertheless the difference shall be immense once you begin calculating all the sq footage you will need.

Watch out for excellent deals that look too good to be real. Oftentimes in the details in it you'll notice that it's a must to buy the entire lot of a certain hardwood or there is no price break. Should you end up with twice the quantity you require for the job, you have not saved anything at all.

Be mindful of that computer screens may differ a lot within their capability to show the actual colour of a product. It may seem you are getting a light tan however it may turn into either brighter or darker than you expect. If you can, ask to see a sample. Have them mail you one to help you to visualize it in the house. Last but not least, look at the quality of the wood. If it's not rated for use at home, then pass on it. You need only first quality products of the best caliber otherwise you'll want to look elsewhere.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Things to Consider on Hardwood Floor Wax

If you're lucky enough to own a hardwood floor, you probably want to do everything possible to help it stay beautiful. Using hardwood floor wax is a common way to do this. However, there are a few simple rules to follow and some instances where wax is a bad idea. In this article we'll look at those rules, as well as run though some waxing basics.

Is Wax Right for Your Floor?

Your floor's original finish, and the condition of that finish, determines whether or not waxing is right for you. Your floor was either finished with a coating, which sits atop the wood and acts as a barrier for dirt, or with a sealant, which penetrates and makes the wood itself more resistant to dirt. If your floor is very shiny (or used to be) then chances are a coating was used. If it appears more matte, it's likely to have been finished using a sealant.

Floors with shiny coatings are generally not suitable for hardwood floor wax. Instead, you should thoroughly clean and then buff the floor to renew the shine. If your floor is so old or damaged that clean and buffing don't work, then hardwood floor wax can provide a temporary renewal of the floor's shine and luster. Just keep in mind that eventually, you'll need to invest in a good refinishing.

Waxing Basics

Vacuum your floor thoroughly, sweep and mop before beginning to apply hardwood floor wax. After all, you're trying to improve the look of the floor, not make it worse by sealing in dirt and grime! Ensure that the floor has dried completely before moving on.

It's important to follow the direction on the wax precisely. If you're unsure about something, look it up on the internet or ask somebody at a home improvement store. These are general guidelines for hardwood floor wax, but each brand is different, and the manufacturer's directions will alert you to any special steps their particular brand requires.

You'll begin with a very thin coating of wax. If you can see thick gobs or streaks, you've applied too much. Let this first layer sink in, which can take from half an hour to an hour. You'll repeat this step until the floor can't absorb any more wax. Hardwood floor wax is designed to sink in and penetrate the wood, and so you're only done when the last layer won't sink in. When that happens, simply wipe it off, and leave the floor alone for at least a few hours (overnight is best) to dry completely.

Buffing comes next. A heavy-duty rented buffer is best for this, because the weight of the machine will actually make the job easier, no matter how bulky and cumbersome it might look. Buffing is going to bring out the shine. Follow the directions very carefully, since you're dealing with a large machine. When you're done, your floor should have a brilliant shine.

If the shine dulls over time, don't re-apply...simply buff the floor again. Hardwood floor wax can easily and economically extend the beauty of your floor for years to come, if applied and maintained properly.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Get the Look of Hardwood Flooring for Less With Laminate Flooring

If you're looking to update the appearance of your home, you may be thinking about giving its flooring a face-lift. Replacing worn-out carpeting with sleek, stylish hardwood flooring can make a dramatic difference in the appearance of just about any room in the home. However, hardwood floors have many drawbacks; one of the biggest ones involves price. Don't worry, though - you can enjoy the style and elegance of hardwood flooring for a lot less by opting for laminate flooring. Laminate styles have come a really long way. Today, they are barely discernible from honest-to-goodness wood. Learn more about the top perks of laminate below.

It Looks Like the Real Thing

Laminate flooring has made a lot of progress over the last ten to fifteen years. These days, it is available in many great wood styles that look a lot like the real thing. Whether you're interested in the stately style of oak or the country charm of pine, you can get those looks - and more - without any of the drawbacks. For example, many species of wood are too soft to be practical for everyday use; laminate floors replicate the look of many species of wood while providing unbeatable strength and durability. There's no reason to cross any particular type of wood off of your list, when you can always opt for laminate.

Unbeatable Wear Resistance and Durability

While some worn-down wood floors have a bit of rustic charm, it often doesn't turn out that way. Scuff marks, scrapes and other signs of wear and tear can seriously detract from the style of a wood floor. While laminate floors aren't impervious to such issues, they can be less likely to incur damage. As a result, you can invest in laminate and rest assured that if it is properly maintained it will look as great in five to ten years as it does on the day when it is installed.

Use it in Virtually Any Room in the House

As you probably already know, wood is not an ideal option for moisture-prone areas of the home. Therefore, you can't really have wood flooring installed in the bathroom or kitchen - at least, not without doing a lot of finishing. Even then, warping and other issues may arise. Laminate flooring minimizes those concerns. While it looks almost exactly like the real thing, it isn't as prone to water damage. You can enhance the look of your bathroom, kitchen or basement with the appearance of wood floors - just choose laminate.

Enjoy Today's Hottest Design Trends

These days, many people pay big bucks to invest in wood floor that is strategically distressed or scraped. The rustic and shabby-chic look of these floors can really bolster a home's appearance. You don't have to miss out on such hot trends when you opt for laminate floors. It is perfectly possible to buy laminate floors that are scraped, distressed or otherwise enhanced. Best of all, these features are added to the laminate before the wood detailing; the end result, therefore, is virtually identical to what you would get when splurging on real wood.

Buy Planks of Various Lengths and Widths

Laminate flooring is anything but cookie-cutter or dull. If you think that a laminate floor is going to look utilitarian or like it was put together in a factory, think again. Today's wood-style laminate floors can be laid down in planks that mirror the widths and lengths of today's best wood floors. Whether you are looking for wide planks or thin ones, you can get the look that you need with laminate. Similarly, it's possible to buy laminate wood planks in exceptionally long lengths that mesh well with today's hottest contemporary design trends.

Skip the Wood and Save a Bundle

At the end of the day, laminate flooring is closely mirrors that of real wood, but it eliminates many of the issues of real wood. When you opt for laminate, you don't restrict yourself in terms of the rooms in which you can use it. More importantly, you are a lot less likely to exceed your budget. Today's laminate floors are durable, stylish, affordable and versatile. Unless you are absolutely determined to have real wood in your home, there's no good reason not to use laminate.

Tag : hardwood,hardwood flooring,laminate flooring,flooring

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Things to Do When Your Hardwood Floors Get Damaged

Though hardwood floors are generally tough they are not invincible and if not taken of care properly or if abused too much they will bear damage like any other tough and durable material. The most common damage that you may encounter is scratches and dents brought by dragging your furniture and dropping heavy objects causing the dent.

There is no need to panic if you see these kinds of damages in your precious wood flooring; they are not called the most durable for no reason. The solution to the problem depends on the depth of the damage.

If the damages are just superficial, meaning to say they did not penetrate the inner layer of the wood then the solution is just sanding it down. Hardwood floors can be sanded down several of times to even out the exposing side of the wood and to expose a newer and a fresher layer of the material and you can just refinish it again with the coat same that of the original. Just be sure that you don't sand it too much or the difference in the thickness of the plank will be felt by your foot. If it really requires you to sand it down really hard it would we great to do this to adjacent planks as well just to even out the spacing and the thickness within that section.

If your problem is dents then you might want to consider steam iron if it is not too deep, steam iron is a technique wherein you purposely let the wood swell by the steam applied causing the dent to even out with the rest of the planks. If the dent is too deep, steam won do the job for you, if you apply to much steam thinking that will eventually out well it won't and you just might end up with more problems. The best thing to is to patch the dent with commercially available products that is the same color that of your wood planks and won't be noticeable unless you go down onto your knees to inspect.

For cracks and gaps you can also apply the same type of commercial patches to eat out the spaces between the planks. Ultimately what you want to do is prevent these damages from occurring to save you from all the stress that you may encounter. Make sure you follow the guidelines and the maintenance of the manufacturer and available resources in the web to maintain the glory of your planks and enjoy its benefits for many years to come.

Tag : hardwood,hardwood floor,floor,demage

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hardwood Flooring Is Just One Of The Flooring Options Available to You

Some people may not realize that when carpets are properly cleaned and maintained they can improve the air quality in your home. You can prevent particles and allergens from re-entering the air by trapping them in your carpet. Look for high quality when shopping for rugs and carpets. If the carpet has been approved and tested by carpet and rug institutes (CRI) then it is probably of good quality. You can tell that a rug or carpet has been tested and approved by the CRI if it has a label. Your carpet or rug will meet strict indoor air quality measures if it carries a CRI or CRI Plus label.

A number of decorating designs and options can be used with ceramic tiles, which is a great benefit to this type of flooring. Ceramic tiles can add a natural beauty and unique look to any room in your home. Your decorating plans will easily accommodate ceramic tiles. Styles, shapes, textures and colours are endless when it comes to ceramic tiles. Ceramic tiles allow for creative decorating options like a kitchen back splash..

Laminate flooring is made of four layers. The wear layer, or the first layer of laminate flooring protects the floor using aluminum oxide. The second layer of laminate flooring is also called the design layer. The purpose of the design layer is to make the laminate floor look and feel like hardwood. The core layer is designed to protect your laminate flooring against indentations as well as to resist moisture. The last layer, or back layer, of the laminate floor is a stable layer designed to protect the plank and balance the floor.

Engineered hardwood is composed of a variety of layers of wood or different grades of the same type of wood. It is the layers and grades that are stacked together and then glued to make engineered hardwood. Engineered hardwood produces more structurally sound planks, which is its main advantage. Engineered hardwood is very durable and is not likely to gap, buckle, twist or cup. Engineered hardwood flooring isn't affected as easily by temperature and humidity as solid hardwood is. With solid hardwood flooring you have to be careful about where you install it but with engineered hardwood flooring it can be installed above, below or on ground level.

Tag : hardwood,hardwood flooring,flooring


Thursday, March 3, 2011

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.

Tag : hardwood,taking care,hardwood flooring,hardwood cabinet


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Distinct Features of Softwood From Hardwood Flooring

Wood flooring and its service in living spaces

Flooring is also called single element change in home which will face-lift space and make it more glorified. All flooring adds lot of warmth and boosts value to space as you need some place to fall into and relax. Wood due to various mechanical properties too can be used in furniture, tools, building structures and decorative elements.

Aspects of softwood flooring

In earlier sections we saw primarily hardwood flooring and its uses. Wood flooring will transform your home into entity as eternal gets converted to natural earthy elements. As per saying today we will discuss softwood flooring and its features. Wood obtained from leaves shed by trees like pine, fir, spruces, cedars, hemlock, larch, Douglas-fir etc. and redwood is called as softwood.

Properties of softwood:

1) Softwood flooring is popular and reasonable as they are evergreen and has faster growth rate.
2) Wood for softwood flooring is obtained from coniferous forests. Such flooring will be less dense with calorific value and durability.
3) Softwoods trees are found in northern hemisphere.
4) As these trees don't shed leaves they are immensely used in wood works for making home and offices cabins and various in furniture.
5) They are less expensive to hardwood because of lower density which makes them softer than hardwood.

All softwood is organic or botanical species of trees from which wood is harvested with leaves shaped in needle form or scale like. Softwoods are very durable as they are timeless and fibers of softwood are longer than hardwood. Well do you know that many softwoods are strong than hardwood like yew, it is rare and is native to U.K.

Pine: Pine is softwood with closed, even and uniform grain texture. It comes in light color like pale and yellow hue with very few markings, none of which is strong. Though pine is light but is very strong. It is very durable wood which hold its place exceptionally well resulting in negligible or no warping, swelling or shrinking. Pine wood has very smooth surface with not even single grain raised. Flooring of pine softwood can be considered because it stays well where it is and prevents warping and swelling of wooden joints in cabinetry or internal fixtures in wooden carpets. Yellowish stain on this wood can be obtained by washing it with ammonia before having antique and timeless appearance for flooring.

It's very important to have in depth knowledge of material used for home decor, so in next section we will also discuss all above mentioned softwoods for discount flooring.

Today numerous colors available in laminate wood flooring which have made them prime product of home decor.

Tag : hardwood,hardwood flooring,softwood,cheap hardwood flooring,bruce hardwood

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

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Installing a Hardwood Floor in Your Room

There is no doubt that installing a hardwood floor in your room brings such allure to the room. As hard wood flooring brings high- level of attractiveness anywhere it is installed and due to its durability this flooring material has become very popular.

Installation of hard flooring is very difficult this makes is it requires the services of a professional flooring contractor. Not to be forgotten that the flooring itself is very expensive. Hence if another type of flooring would give the same elegance and durability as that of the hard wood but which would be easier to install would be a welcome option. Hence the refinished wood flooring is that option.

As compared to laminate flooring which uses a large amount of synthetic material the refinished flooring has real wood which is an advantage.

Wonder how this can be done? A strip of hardwood is fixed to thicker strip of synthetic material which gives a genuine hardwood appearance and using the hardwood on the surface but which is easy to install at less price.

In addition this flooring type can be of benefit since the actual surface of the floor is real hardwood which can be refinished just like the traditional wooden floor. The appearance of the wood can be changed by covering it with different vanishes giving a different appearance.

Advantage of refinished flooring over laminate flooring is that while laminate become scratched and needs to be changed the refinished can be sand down and re-varnished to give it a brand new appearance.

This floor can be used within a few hours of it installation which also takes less time.this is because unlike laminate flooring it fit together without requiring glue making it extremely easy to install.

You need to have a genuine hardwood look but the price is too high? Refinished floor is the right answer for a luxurious lifestyle.

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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hardwood and Laminate Flooring Buying Secrets Revealed

Did you ever say to yourself when you're about to make a large purchase: "Wow...I only wish I had knowledge of what I am buying like these people who are trying to sell me this stuff." After reading this report, you will have that knowledge when it comes to hardwood or laminate flooring. I am going to explain to you how to correctly purchase hardwood and/or laminate flooring. I have been in different businesses for over 30 years, and I have been in the flooring business for over 15 years. I find many people approach their flooring purchases incorrectly, therefore costing them lots of money; and at times, customers will buy inferior products from inferior merchants. This report will list 10 Topics that you need to read and understand. After doing so, you will be prepared to make that perfect hard surface flooring purchase and have the peace of mind that you approached your purchase just like an expert.

1. Use the internet for research. Whether hardwood or laminate flooring, I like to browse the internet for styles that appeal to me. I also use the gardenweb.com flooring forum or other forums to ask others what products they seem to be having success or difficulties with. You can also go to my3cents.com to see if there are many major complaints with the products you are considering. Check out the reviews of the box stores on my3cents.com while you're at it. I do not recommend purchasing flooring products via the internet. One reason for this is that many of the manufacturers will not warrant products from internet purchases. Also, should you have a problem with your floor, it will be difficult to get any type of representation to solve your issue. Another major issue is damage caused from third-party shippers. There's nothing worse than making a purchase, only to find damage and have to remedy it through the internet store. Finally, it normally does not save you money to purchase through the internet. When you factor shipping into the cost, many times a better buy can be made from a local independent retailer that has great buying power. I will explain later in the report the right things to mention when buying at a local retail store to bring your cost down.

2. Take samples home. I strongly recommend visiting a good local retail store to ask their opinions on products. Those that are of interest to you and seem to be in your budget need to be signed out and taken home to be viewed in both natural and artificial light and in the surroundings where the product will be installed. Independent stores will show the products under the actual true manufacturer label making it much easier to comparison shop. Buying groups such as Carpet One, Flooring America, Abbey, Floors to Go, and the big box stores have most of their products privately labeled, making it nearly impossible to comparison shop. This is done for obvious reasons.

3. Ask for a bottom line price. The best thing you can do is mention that you will not be making a decision that day and that you are checking prices. Mention that you are not the type of person to bounce back and forth and that you would like their bottom line price right from the start. The worst thing that you can do as a consumer is state that you will only buy from that store. That will cost you money as it assures the store you are not shopping, and flooring is a competitive business.

4. Cash and carry vs. installed purchase. This is always a tough one because a flooring product is only as good as the installation. I have seen a lot of wanna-be independent installers out there that can ruin a laminate or hardwood job. Most carpet installers are not carpenters, but many do pretend to be. It is rare to find an installer that can do it all. As a matter of fact, I have yet to find one. Many are top notch at some types of flooring, but not others. So when you hire a friend of a friend, or someone working under their own shingle, are you guaranteed the type of installation you expect? Also, when using a moonlighting installer, you should be paying no more than 50-60% of the prevailing rate of the independent retailer installation rate. I have seen moonlighting installers charge half again as much for an installation than the customer could have gotten from a flooring store. When you have the flooring store install the product, there will be no finger-pointing should there ever be an issue. There are so many different complications that can happen after an installation, and if you are dealing with a rock solid independent retail store, you have protection. In my opinion, there needs to be significant savings for you when you cash and carry a product. If you have the ability to install on your own, then there is normally a substantial savings realized and I say go for it. If not, let the experts do it.

5. How to determine if the store knows its stuff. Just how do you know if a store knows what it's doing? There are a few things that you need to look for. First of all, if you are looking for the independent retailer to install the product for you, they must come to the job site and measure for you. Diagrams just don't cut it and a good store knows that a 3-D viewing of the job is the only way to finalize a price. Notice how much attention the store pays to transitions between rooms in your home. Are they going to undercut door casings? It is a must. Are they going to pull baseboards or use rounds? Baseboard pulling makes the floor look like the house was built on top of the floor and that is what you want. Depending on the type of baseboard you have, rounds are sometimes necessary, but it should always be discussed. Notice the amount of perimeter detail the measuring technician is noting. If it is just a diagram drawn with no discussion, that's not good enough. Look for another store. You'll immediately notice the difference between stores just by watching the approach taken by the measurer. An expert will be in total control and will ask you all the right questions and discuss the project with you. Is the store going to document who is doing what and who isn't? There will also be certain job preparation issues that will need to be discussed, such as moving appliances, toilets, furnishings, tearing out of existing flooring, etc. These items need to be decided and should be listed and signed by both parties so that there is no confusion. Moonlight installers tend to put all the little detailed preparation directly on the consumer or they charge you extra for it. Alternately, many times the prep will be included in the retailer installation package.

6. What to look for in a laminate floor. I believe this can be answered pretty simply. Make sure the product has the styling that you like and falls in your budget. All laminates today perform extremely well regardless of price. Retail stores do carry many laminate products and I believe each one will perform as well as any. High- or low-priced, they will perform about the same. The technology today is superior to the laminates of even 5 years ago. Most of the old chip board core laminates from 10 years ago or longer look like the day they were installed. Gone are the old glue-together products, and now with the drop and lock technologies, joint separation is pretty much nonexistent. The biggest difference I see in pricing of products is that manufacturers extend the warranties and make more realistic looks in the higher-priced products. Performance will be very similar between all the products. The number one enemy of a laminate floor is water. If the laminate is going to get wet, pick another floor. I also get concerned with some of these high shine laminate floors. My company has seen some issues in that they will (not surprisingly) show abrasions to the finish much quicker than a lower luster finish. If it were my home, I would only use a high shine product in an area that gets minimal wear. I have seen some pretty flimsy laminates at big box stores and buying clubs. These laminates are not really any less expensive and are really flimsy when holding them. I believe they are products made especially for these stores, and really are no less costly. One trick of these stores is to put a low amount of square footage in each box, which makes the cost appear less. Always do your math and compare apples to apples.

7. What to look for in hardwood flooring. The popular product today is hardwood flooring. It is making a gigantic comeback and everyone wants to jump on the hardwood band wagon. In our region, it seems everyone wants solid hardwood flooring. Let's talk about solid wood. Solid wood is great as long as you have a fairly constant humidity level in your home and the wood is going to be installed above grade. If your home has large fluctuations in humidity levels, then you may want to consider an engineered hardwood floor. An engineered hardwood is a hardwood floor that has plies or turned layers of material in-between a top and bottom layer of the species that you are selecting. This gives the product more stability to changing climate conditions. This type of floor is normally required for on or below grade applications. Engineered flooring is generally a little more price-friendly as the tree specie requirement is less to make the product. A concern with an engineered floor is what the inner core plies are made of. Be sure to ask and make sure a hardwood or hard material is used to create the inner ply as a soft material can make the top layer easier to dent. Solid floor hardness can be determined by researching or asking the Janka rating. Janka ratings are a scale used to determine the hardness by comparison of wood species. I believe that all finishes of hardwood today are good as long as it is a quality brand of flooring that can be found at your independent retailer such as Echo Flooring Gallery. There are some new products on the market today that give 50-year finish warranties for what it is worth. I have always had concerns with lifetime warranties or other huge warranties, although I suppose it is something you can hang your hat on should there ever be a problem. Pre-finished vs. unfinished hardwood is always a debate and you will get differing opinions. Personally, I prefer pre-finished. You get more layers of finish and furniture-like quality without the mess. No sanding, better warranties, and a quicker finished product just make up my mind. Yet, we have top-quality intelligent builders who prefer unfinished. So who am I to argue? This product simply has two schools of thought.

8. Laminate vs. Hardwood. Tough decision, but it's ultimately up to you. First, let me say that I always tell potential buyers that it doesn't matter what your neighbor thinks or what your bridge partner thinks -- it is what you want. Do not let anyone influence your decision based on their likes or dislikes. There are 100 different flavors of ice cream for a reason. I am shocked by how many people actually fall in love with a color or style. Then they say, "Let me keep it a couple of extra days so I can show my kids." They then return the sample and either buy nothing or completely change the product from the one they initially chose. It is you who will be looking at the product every day and it should be you who makes the ultimate choice of what you want to see. Now we move to the discussion of laminate vs. hardwood flooring. I always say to people that hardwood will actually increase the value of your home. Laminate flooring normally does not. With that said, let's discuss what makes sense. If I install hardwood and laminate into an average active American household with 3 children, there's a fair chance that in 5 years my hardwood may look worn, but the laminate should basically still look good. Now which home really held its value? Yet, I can refinish the hardwood and immediately replace the value. But remember, that refinish will cost money. So we are kind of going around in circles. Laminate flooring is much more difficult to scratch, will not fade from sunlight, and is more water resistant than hardwood. Water is not a friend to laminate flooring by any means, but water can ruin hardwood flooring also. Laminate flooring is a snap to repair; and when you repair the board, you will never know it was repaired as it does not change appearance over time. Hardwood is more of a tedious repair and you may notice the repair was made until it blends in with wear. Pet urine can hurt both products. Your pet's claws will be much more disturbing to the hardwood finish. It takes a lot to scratch laminate flooring, but it can be scratched and it is not bulletproof. No matter what the finish on a hardwood floor has, abrasions will be noticed. The scratches normally do not get to the wood, but will disturb the finish coat layer. I have hardwood flooring and my big boxer dog does occasionally put a mark into the wear finish. Another option of hardwood is a distressed or rustic look. Hand scraped or rustic products will not show these abrasions and actually add to the character. If you have a major scratch in the finish, you simply rub some Old English into the scratch and it will basically vanish. The results will not be the same with a smooth or more formal finish. Laminate flooring will take a lot of abuse, but it is an image of a hardwood and tries its best to imitate a hardwood or tile floor. It will not sound, look, or smell like a real hardwood. Hardwood is genuine and can be harvested from different parts of the world. Exotic woods are now controlled by what is called the Lacey Act. Manufacturers today must comply with the act assuring that hardwood foresting is done with a prioritized concern for the environment. This has eliminated illegal foresting in other parts of the world which has translated into higher exotic wood prices. Hardwoods come from real trees giving the product unmatched beauty and elegance. Laminate flooring on average is less expensive than hardwood flooring. A good solid local retail flooring store should be able to show you the differences between laminate and hardwood flooring which should allow a much better decision on what is best for you and your family. But remember, it is ultimately up to you.

9. Understanding the manufacturer warranties. Many people wonder what the manufacturers' warranties really mean. From someone who is in the flooring business and takes this topic very seriously, my answer is pretty simple: "Not Much". After the first 3 months, I would say the warranty becomes about as good as what your independent retail store will do for you. Normally, if there is a malfunction with a product, it will happen in the first 30 days. Many times, when there is a problem, it is due to installation. This is why it's important, in my opinion, to have the independent retailer arrange for the installation and have that store on the hook. There are occasional issues of manufacturing after the first 30 days, but it is rare. I can count on about one finger how many manufacturer claims we have had after 30 days on laminate and hardwood, and we operate 4 flooring stores. So all of these 30-, 50-, even 25-year finish or wear-through warranties just don't mean a lot in my mind. These manufacturers know that the finish may wear through, but it will be abuse that causes it. Does this mean that I do not ask what the warranty is? No, I still would want a product with a minimum 15-year warranty. Fifteen years would be my dividing line. There are some hardwoods with real low purchase prices that only carry a 1- or 5-year finish warranty. I would run from those, but at the 15-year or greater warranty mark, I would not think twice. One other point is that buying groups and box stores increase the warranties on their own. What I mean by this is that they contract the manufacturer to raise the warranty for them. I do not like the fact that a product with a normal 5-year warranty gets increased to 25 years simply because a box store is selling it. This does not make the product better and is no extra protection for you. Remember what I said about abuse. A true 15-year warranty will take a lot more abuse than a 30-year inflated box store warranty. This is why I would prefer to purchase through a strong independent retail store. Your independent retail store can give you good opinions on what is a good product and what is not. The warranty displayed is what the manufacturer truly specified for the product.

10.Costs and buying methods of these products. Flooring is one of the largest purchases a family makes, second only to their automobiles. With this said, it can be very affordable. Just like anything else, there are great valued products. These do not have to be entry level products. They can be excellent products with excellent warranties. A strong independent retail flooring store can give you great advice on these types of products. If you walk in to an independent retail store and ask for a great value product in either a laminate or hardwood, the experienced salesperson will be able to show you many. Remember that a strong local independent retailer does not normally sell toilets, rose bushes, or light bulbs -- just flooring. I think that's important. You may need to explain to the salesperson that by "value", you don't necessarily mean the cheapest, but you mean a good product that really does demonstrate value. Most independent retailers know which of their products has an unusually high value for the cost. One thing to remember is that the installation, the underlayment for your laminate or hardwood, the floor prep and anything else that needs done will be a constant. You may want to ask for the price that will be a constant for your purchase. At that point you will know that any additional dollar that you spend will go directly into the flooring product you choose. In other words on a 500 sq ft purchase, an extra 30 cents a square foot may give you the four sided bevel that you are looking for. So for an extra $150, you will have the beveled product in your living room, dining room, and hallway. If a job of $4600 is a little more than you hoped, but you are going to purchase it anyway, don't you think for the increase to $4750, which can get you exactly what you want, is a smart extra $150? Your constant cost will not change, so the little extra money you're spending will give you the look you'll enjoy for the rest of your life. There are many ways to pay for your flooring: cash, check, credit card, in-house financing plans, or companion financing plans. Most stores, offer 12 months same as cash for their customers and do not factor any of the cost of offering that particular program into the cost of the product. What I mean by that is when you see 36 months interest-free or even up to 5 years interest-free financing, it may be interest-free, but it isn't free at all. The retailer pays a percentage to the finance factoring company for that length of free interest for their customer. These fees are expensive and that cost is factored into the product that you are purchasing. Twelve months interest-free is an affordable fee normally for the retailer and it will not usually affect the price of the product. Credit cards and interest-free financing do cost the retailer money. A buyer that plans on writing a check should tell the retailer this when asking for the best deal. When management of a store knows this, they understand they will experience no fees with this payment style and that should translate into a little better deal for you. Cash vs. check should have no bearing on your price. In the economic climate of today, flooring is actually less expensive than 4 or 5 years ago. This is a fact, even though there have been many flooring price increases from the manufacturer. In order to stay extremely competitive, the smart independent retail flooring centers have curbed and cut costs so that they can actually offer flooring to the consumer for a lower price than in years past. It could be a smart time right now to make that purchase.

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