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General Facts about Hardwood Flooring

When shopping for Wood Floors, remember this is a life long product of natural beauty and durability. Other positive aspect of wood flooring: its affordability, easy to maintain, environmental soundness, and they are healthy for you, not to mention the wide variety and selection. From Its sustainable source to its healthy qualities indoors, wood flooring makes a smart choice for the world's environment and the environment in your own home.

Wood Floors are:

Affordable: Wood floors add value to your residence at resale time, not to mention it is a lifetime product. They increase in value as your home does. Hardwood floor products are one of the most sought after hard surface flooring in remolding and new home construction.

Easy to Maintain: Routine maintenance is a little more than simple sweeping and vacuuming, always making sure your hardwood floors are protected from moisture and heavy wear which creates scratches. Preventive maintenance like area rugs, floor protectors (on ALL furniture on your hardwood floors), and routine maintenance with proper hardwood floor cleaner should always be exercised (improper products can contribute to additional wear, may VOID your warranty, and cause failure when recoating. Always read the manufacturers care instructions and maintenance instructions. Most companies post this information on their website. You can also see this information on our Installing Hardwood Flooring page.

Healthy: Hardwood Flooring is a much healthier alternative than other flooring. Because they can be cleaned easier and do not collect dust and allergins. Installed in the home or elsewhere, wood floors help contribute to a healthy living environment. That creates better air quality for all inhabitants, but especially for the estimated 35 million Americans who suffer from allergies. The hard surface of wood floors also helps avoid artificial substances such as pesticides that can accumulate on some floor coverings. Many other floorings lock in damaging substances. Another concern for the home environment is the off-gassing of toxins that results from some synthetic materials. Any of these chemicals can make people in the home chronically ill.

Are wood floors expensive?

Hardwood floors are very competitively price and represent an excellent value when compared to other flooring options. Hardwood floors never have to be replaced and will enhance or even increase the value of your home should you decide to sell. When compared to other flooring products, hardwood floors provide long-lasting value, as Real Wood Floors are "Beauty that last a lifetime".

Is it cost-effective to select wood flooring over less costly materials?

According to the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) & Residential real estate agents, say homes with wood floors hold their value better, sell faster, and fetch higher prices, according to a recent nationwide survey commissioned by the trade organization.

What species and color should I choose?

There are several species, colors and grain variations to consider. Other than the walls, the floor represents the largest expanse of color or pattern in a room. Your floor should complement the fabrics, furnishings and accessories already present in the space, as well as enhancing the unique personality of the room as a whole. The most popular color : red oak natural, maple natural running second, but with today's eclectic decoration styles, anything goes. Darker colors - Formal or traditional interiors,
Lighter colors - country, casual and contemporary settings. There are many choices when selecting the right floor for the rooms in your home. There are several many species, colors and grain variations to consider. See Wood Floor Species, Grades & Cuts

Which rooms can I install a wood floor in my home?

Any room except a full bath. With the variety of products available and a choice of installation options, hardwood flooring can now be installed in any room of the home. The only consideration is whether the floor will be installed on-, above- or below-grade. For example, because of potential moisture problems, solid hardwood is not recommended for installations below grade, such as in a basement. Engineered products, which are inherently dimensionally stable, are better choices for this type of area. All types of wood can be installed on- or above-grade.

Does wood flooring go well with most design styles?

Yes. In a recent survey commissioned by the NWFA, more than three-quarters of interior designers find that wood flooring works well with many decorating styles. "It's the most versatile floor covering there is," says one designer. "Wood goes with contemporary and traditional and everything in between." Designers rated natural materials as superior to man-made materials in beauty, prestige, style, maintenance, and durability. A variety of woods and finishes are available to complement the decor and style of any room. Oak and maple are the most popular woods, but some homeowners are investing in exotics such as Brazilian cherry and Purple heart.

Engineered floor versus a solid wood product?

Engineered products, available in Planks, Strips are manufactured of hardwood using a cross-directional laminated construction (3 to 5 layers), with a top layer of premium hardwood. This construction counteracts the natural tendency of wood to expand and contract with seasonal changes in temperature and humidity, making engineered products inherently dimensionally stable. Solid products, available in Planks, Strips or Parquet, are manufactured from a solid piece of wood.

What Is there an advantage engineered products over solid products?

Yes. In general, engineered products can be installed in any room in the home, whether on-grade, below-grade or above-grade. Engineered products can be nailed down, glued-down or stapled down, depending upon the situation. Engineered products, can be glued down, stapled down or some can be “floated” over most subfloors without the use of nails or adhesives, making it ideal for remodeling. Solid products are not recommended for below grade installations and must be nailed down or glued down.( See installation procedures )

Should I use a prefinished versus unfinished?

More nad more of hardwood flooring sold today is prefinished. Factory finished with many coats of UV-cured polyurethane or aluminum oxide are applied. These factory finishes are tough and durable. Installing a prefinished floor eliminates the time, the dust and the odors associated with the on-site sanding and finishing of an unfinished product. A prefinished floor can be installed in a day. An unfinished flooring installation may require twice as much time for the same area.

What about installing wood in high traffic areas like kitchens?

The urethane finishes on most new wood floors stand up to water and traffic, bringing wood flooring into bathrooms, kitchens, and other higher-stress areas. These finishes resist wear and stains better than other finishes and require no stripping, no buffing and no waxing. High traffic areas include exterior doorways, hallways, mud rooms, and the areas in front of the sink, stove and refrigerator. To protect the floor just inside exterior doorways, use walk-off mats or small rugs to catch tracked-in dirt and grime. Place small rugs or mats at other high traffic locations. Watch for grit or pebbles that might be brought in on waffle soles of athletic shoes and collect these with a hand-held cordless vac. This should be done a regular basis.

Is there a difference between square-edge and eased-edge designs?

Yes. With a square edge, the sides of each plank or strip are square. An eased edge, more commonly known as a beveled or micro-beveled edge, features a slight angle on the top edge of the plank or strip. An eased edge can help mask slight subfloor imperfections, and can be felt if walking on the floor in bare feet.

Which installation method is best?

The method used for your hardwood installation will depend upon the type of product you have chosen, where the flooring will be installed and the type of subfloor. Nail down, glue down & floating are the three type of installation. For instance, if you are remodeling your kitchen, some products can be “floated” over most subfloors, including vinyl or ceramic tile, eliminating the mess and cost of tearing up the existing floor and installing a subfloor. Engineered products, which are dimensionally stable, are ideal for basements and can be nailed, glued or stapled down. Engineered products are also good in climates that have a lot of moisture. They are mold stable in these situtions. Either read the specific manufactures instructions, or contact a certified flooring installer to find which product is best for your home and climate conditions.

Which types of wood floors are best for in-floor radiant heating systems and are some wood species better for radiant systems than other?

Engineered hardwood floors--in planks, strips are the best floors to use with radiant heating systems. These floors are manufactured of hardwood using a three-ply or five-ply laminated construction, making them inherently dimensionally stable. This means they are less susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity. Of the engineered flooring options, with a floating installation as the best choice, because it can be "floated" over the subfloor, without the use of nails or adhesives for a permanent installation.

It is important to note that when installing any hardwood floor over a radiant heating system, the maximum temperature of the subfloor should never exceed 80º (F). For the correct water temperature inside the heating pipes, refer to your manufacturer's guidelines.

Oak is an ideal species for in-floor radiant systems. We also recommend ash and merbau. We do not recommend that you use maple or pecan for an in-floor radiant heat system. If you have a question about your species choice see Radiant Heat & Wood Floors.

Are wood floors hard to maintain? Can I damp-mop my floor?

No. A hardwood floor usually has a polyurethane finish. This finish gives the floor a tough, durable and smooth no-wax surface that is both luxurious and easy-care. See Maintenance and Do's & Don'ts for your wood floor. DO NOT damp mop - Water and wood do not mix. Maintenance kits can be purchased from your retailer or contractor. Most Importantly - also read the specific manufacturers' maintenance instructions. You need to do this in order for the manufacturer to honor their warranty.

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