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March 2007
February 2007
January 2006
December 2005
July 2005
June 2005
 

 March 2007 Tip of the Month:

You may protect your hardwood floor by taking the following precautions:

  • To help eliminate fine particles of dirt/grit that act like sandpaper and will scratch any floor, vacuum or sweep as needed.
  • Spills should be wiped up immediately.
  • Use walk-off mats at entrance doors and in front of kitchen sink. Avoid rubber backed or other non-ventilated mats or rugs.
  • In the kitchen, use a rug in front of the working areas, such as the stove and sink, to prevent local premature wear
  • Install proper protectors under "feet" of furniture. Furniture will require different types of protectors in order to achieve maximum weight distribution. Resilient pads such as those made of felt, flexible rubber, and saucer-shaped plastic glides will work for most furniture.
  • Caster wheeled chairs should have wide casters. A protective mat should be used under office chairs.
  • Use a humidifier to minimize excessive contraction of the floor.
  • Periodically check floor for signs of wear.
  • Never use tape or other adhesive products on any finished surface.

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 February 2007 Tip of the Month:

Do you have cracks in your floor?

Q.  I have a new house. We have 2 1/4" strip hardwood floors throughout, and this winter, we had numerous cracks. Some of them are so large, you can stand a quarter up in them. What do I do with my unsightly floors? I know some cracks may form in the winter, but these seem excessive. What is the standard to determine if the crack is too wide?  

A.  First, there is no standard for determining if a crack of a particular size is not acceptable or excessive. Cracks are considered “normal cracks” if they close during the humid season of the year. If the cracks close, the natural wood product is simply absorbing the environmental moisture available, expanding, and filling the gap.

To prevent unsightly normal cracks, the environment must be modified to minimize the difference between the “Humid” and “Dry” seasons. De-humidification above and below the flooring in the summer may be necessary; conversely, humidification during winter heating may also be required.

Permanent cracks may be filled with appropriate filler and/or by recoating the flooring. This should generally be done during the spring or fall when conditions are not extreme and more average. For much of the USA, October and April are the preferred months for remedial action.

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 January 2006 Tip of the Month:

What is a "Screen and Coat"?

The screen and coat procedure of hardwood floors does not involve complete refinishing. This procedure refreshes the final appearance. Frequent applications can eliminate the need for a complete refinishing at a later date. Screening (buffing with a mildly abrasive pad) prepares already finished floors to accept another coat of finish. Without the screening process, any new finishes are very likely to peel off. For those with minor, worn or dull looking floors this procedure may be best suited. Minor surface scratches can be removed but not ones that are deeper into the finish or the material itself. Ordinarily one coat is applied.

When planning a screen and coat, it is very important to know what kind of cleaners have been used on the existing floor over the years, as they might affect adhesion of new top coat. For those with newer floors, it's a good idea to remember your cleaning maintenance for future reference.

Waxed type hardwood floors cannot be screened and coated. The wax must be completely removed. For this floor finish type, a new application of wax and buffing will revitalize the appearance and hide minor scratches. Always use the manufacturers recommended cleaners or refer to Bonakemi, the leader in hardwood floor care products.

What type of finish do I have?

Over the last ten years you'll find many hardwood floors are urethane finished, specifically the prefinished ones. To check, locate an area not visible and do some testing. Closets work best for this. Apply a few drops of water on top of the finish, allow it to sit for 15 minutes and check. If white spots appear, you have a waxed finish.

Much older floors that have been covered with carpeting are likely to have a shellac or varnish finish. This is common with hardwood floors dating before the mid sixties. These finishes must be completely removed if you desire any new urethane finishes.

Many newer prefinished hardwood floors have variations of aluminum oxide in their finishes. Some are on the last few layers of finish that have been applied at the factory. Other manufacturers apply the aluminum oxide between the first few coats and the final ones. These types of finishes didn't become predominant until the mid to late late nineties. To determine how the aluminum oxide finishes were applied, we suggest contacting the original flooring manufacturer, but they can be recoated.

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 December 2005 Tip of the Month:

Prefinished vs.
Unfinished Wood Flooring

Deciding between pre-finished or unfinished wood flooring can be difficult for any homeowner. Pre-finished flooring has a durable finish that can't be achieved on floors finished on the job site. Pre-finished floors mean less mess during installation, too. Unfinished wood flooring has its advantages, also. It is available in more widths and wood species than pre-finished and can be matched to existing wood floors.

To help you decide on pre-finished or unfinished wood flooring, consider these questions:

  • Is this floor going to be installed in new construction, or as an upgrade? If it is in your existing home, pre-finished flooring might be easier.
     
  • Are you trying to match to an existing floor or trim? If so, unfinished wood will be easier to stain to match.
     
  • Do you have children or pets that you don't want to expose to the fumes and mess during finishing at your home?
     
  • Are you installing wood flooring in one room, or throughout your home? If it is throughout your home, consider having the floors finished on site, to provide a uniform color and finish.
     
  • What is your budget? Pre-finished flooring typically costs less. The finish is applied at the factory, thereby reducing labor costs.
     
  • Are you looking for a specific plank width or an unusual wood species for your flooring? You will have the most choices with unfinished wood.
     
  • Are you installing this floor on a floor below the ground level of your house? If so, you may have to choose engineered wood or laminate flooring. Many solid woods are not suitable for basement floors.
     
  • Does the room have high humidity? If so, consider engineered pre-finished flooring. It resists buckling and warping and is suitable for changes in climate.
     
  • Does your home have historical significance or are you trying to maintain the architectural integrity of your home? Unfinished flooring would be most appropriate in this case.

All the best,
The Hardwood Company

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 July 2005 Question of the Month:

Dear Hardwood Company,

I have two questions.

 
We are considering either red or white oak flooring from your company.  I have heard from at least one source that oak floors will yellow after a period of time.  We are almost certain that we will not finish without applying a light color stain.  Would either the white or red tend to yellow with the light stain?
 
My second question is concerning random widths.  I have not seen any flooring with random widths and am wondering how the coloring would look since there are different grain looks, colors etc.  In your opinion do the random widths when stained and finished, offer a more, or less, formal look?  
 
FYI we will be installing approximately 1800 sf of hardwoods in our entry, dinning, living, great and kitchen area.  The great room and kitchen are essentially one room but flow to the formal dining and living room with a stair case.  Our concern is whether the constant width or random width would provide a look that would meet out expectations for a more formal look in the living and dinning areas while hoping for maybe something a little less formal in the kitchen and great room.  I realize this is asking for an opinion, sight unseen, but would appreciate your thoughts concerning what might be best choice considering these criteria. 
 
Thanks for your time and response.    
 
Regards,
 
Bruce  Lowe
Huntersville, NC

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Dear Bruce,

Very reasonable questions.  First of all, the wood itself does not amber or yellow; that is a property of the oil base polyurethane commonly used. This condition can be avoided by using acrylic base finishes. Some woods do slightly darken over a period of time with direct exposure to sunlight, the oak species to a much lesser degree than many others.
 

Random width flooring does offer a less formal look.  Many older homes have random width floors because they used "mill run" flooring produced by sawmills who milled trees to obtain the best yield (hence random widths).

Some modern-day home builders will use different patterns  (random and non random) in the same house to achieve different looks.  As long as the same species are used, it works fine.

If you and your wife would care to look at a home with random width flooring, we would be happy to arrange it.  We are currently doing an installation off Brawley school road using a 3-4-5 pattern in a hickory wood.  There are also some homes with random oak in the Charlotte area that are sanded and finished.  If you are interested, we would be glad to try and arrange a viewing with one of the home owners.

Feel free to call 828-312-4938 for further assistance.

All the best,
The Hardwood Company

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 June 2005 - Question of the Month:

My husband and kids suffer from severe allergies.  I am willing to do almost anything to alleviate some of their pain and suffering.

I have heard that indoor carpets trap a lot of allergens and can be a constant source of irritation for many people. 

Would you recommend ripping out my carpets and installing hard wood floors?  Would this, could this help my loved ones be more comfortable in their own home? 

Thank you in advance,
Betsy in Blowing Rock
 



Dear Betsy,

GREAT QUESTION!  This is the height of allergy season and there are a lot of people sneezing and wheezing as we speak.

Although I hate to be dramatic and tell you "Yes, you need to rip out all your carpet!", it is a proven fact that the flooring in your home represents one of the largest surface areas for dust and other nasty allergens to collect.

One of the HUGE advantages of wood floors is that they do not have any fibers, grout lines or other areas where dust and allergens can accumulate. Sweeping and regular vacuuming your hardwood floors will help to virtually eliminate these problems, leaving your home less prone to allergy-causing agents that can remain stuck down deep in carpets, despite repeated cleaning efforts.

So, the bottom line is, yes...you may want to rip those carpets out.  Wood is Good!

All the best,
The Hardwood Company

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 The Hardwood Company
Main Office: 550 North Main Street
PO Box 126, Granite Falls, NC  28630
Phone: 800-771-5006  Fax: 828-396-8182
Copyright 2003-04.  All Rights Reserved.