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.