Repair & Care
Remodeling and New Hardwood Floors
Considering a home remodel and thinking about new wood floors? With the recent real estate market market surge (as of this writing May 2013) new wood floors will help boost selling prices opposed to ones that still have carpeting. Today's trends show darker stained products selling quite well. Hand Scraped distressed and character grade sales remain strong in many areas of the nation, while natural colored wood flooring always seem to be popular.
Types Of Finishes
Strangely, more prefinished manufacturers are leaning to high gloss finishes. It may suit your needs if you're desiring that elegant formal look, but more sedate finishes that won't show every scratch is suggested. See our pages on high gloss, matte, and satin floor finishes.
On the higher end and those seeking environmentally friendly choices, natural oil finishes have been making significant inroads with some manufacturers in the likes of Kahrs, Goodwin Heart Pine, and DuChateau. Reasons are obvious as these finishes contain little if any VOC's and are much easier to repair. For unfinished flooring or those sanded on site some of the more established finishing products used by flooring contractors are Rubio Monocoat, Poloplaz, and Synteko.
Most Popular Types of Hardwood?
What hardwood species are people buying? Red oak flooring remains the most often purchased, while Maple, Hickory, and imported exotics are chasing from behind. Of all exotics, Brazilian Cherry tops the list of many homeowner choices due to the hardness of the specie itself, and uniqueness. Available supply with others has been troublesome. Additionally, bamboo flooring continues to sell, but at a slower pace compared to five and ten years ago.
Factory prefinished wood flooring remains the selection of choice over actual on site installation and finishing. Reasons include; faster completion schedules as the flooring is ready to be used immediately instead of waiting for finishes to cure. Additionally, prefinished warranties are very difficult to top traditional on site ones. The majority of manufacturers are now offering 25 and 50 year warranties. Looked at closely, they only cover the actual wear of the finish itself and have a lot of fine print that should be studied.
Wider plank flooring has seen a dramatic increase in use since the turn of the century. Some prefer their appearance as it can open up rooms that may otherwise feel or look smaller.
What Areas Of The Home Are Hardwoods Being Installed?
Of the many floors installed today, areas of use have expanded over the last ten to fifteen years. More common areas used for new floorin today include; foyers, great, and dining rooms, dens, libraries, home offices, and hallways leading to bedrooms. Kitchens and powder rooms fall right behind while bedrooms are often preferred for carpeting.
Kitchens? Yes. Maintained properly wood flooring in kitchens play a significant role. However, sheet vinyl, ceramic tile, or stone lead by a large margin as the floor covering of choice.
What Hardwood Floor Types Should We Choose?
Ah, we'll have to leave this one up to you. If you haven't noticed, there are a myriad of choices and options these days, but solid 3/4" products are still the leading choice if you have a wood subfloor. For those with concrete subfloors, engineered hardwoods should be considered in either a glue down application or floating installation. However, this does not rule out genuine wood flooring on concrete.
When Should They Be Installed?
Any hardwood flooring project should be scheduled very near the end of other work. The only other trades we would expect after the installation would be carpet installers, punch out trim, painting touch up guys, or wall paper hangers. It's highly suggested to cover all completed areas to protect against damage. For limited trade traffic, gray craft paper available at the big box stores can be used to cover. Tape? 3M quality the painter dudes use are safe on wood floors, but should not be left on for extended periods of time. Nor should they be exposed to direct sunlight. It's best not to tape to the floor but to the baseboards.
But! Our Remodeler/Builder Says It Has To Go Next Week
Haven't we heard that before? Builders are notorious for not understanding when floors should be installed. Some reasons for their hurriedness include having the painting and trim subcontractors finish everything at once instead of having to come back. There are other reasons we'll never figure out. If your new hardwood floor is installed with other major work not completed, make it clear to them you want the flooring protected.
Far too many times new floors get damaged so badly they need to be refinished before the remodeling work is completed. The best protection, besides having the work done at the proper time, is covering with 1/8" masonite board, while duct taping the seams or joints. Duct tape should not be affixed to the floor itself. These efforts will be meaningless if the masonite board and finished floor¹ itself is not squeaky clean.
It doesn't stop there. Depending on how much other work is needed to complete the remodel and the amount of debris created, it may be necessary to remove the masonite every so often making sure nothing has traveled underneath that will damage the finished floor. Common sense dictates the areas should be swept often and debris cleaned up at least once per day.
¹ Site finished floors need time to cure. Covering may not be an option. Consult a qualified professional with this one.
And That Crazy Decorator Says...
Decorators have some great ideas, but experimentation seems to be the norm. Recalling a spec house I worked on several years ago; five different types of hardwood floors were installed. And the painting choices were unbelievably strange. Nothing looked consistent. In one room a beautiful herringbone floor was chosen and another, a plain looking engineered floor. The engineered floor butted up next to another beautiful wide plank floor.
To make matters stranger, in one portion of the house the master bedroom had a gorgeous marble floor. Instead of flowing through the areas, engineered flooring was again chosen... for the closets! Upstairs was a circular mezzanine done in gorgeous solid 3/4" Santos Mahogany. It was basically painted black, with the grain barely noticeable on completion. In one bedroom that connected, another engineered floor was chosen with a completely different look! I suppose it looked okay if the door was closed.
Frankly, our opinion is consumers have a better grasp on color and design decisions than most decorators. However, time is often a constraint when it comes to ideas.
We're Near the Beach. Sand?
Living near the beach, or in the desert, sand will always affect the perfromance of any flooring. Attention to care and maintenance should be given top priority. Newer high tech finishes will help handle the everyday wear, but not the inevitable scratching.
Many Say Not To Use Wide Planks Near Water
Solid wide plank products will be more susceptible to adverse reactions relating to high moisture levels, but some types are less prone than others. Engineered hardwoods will offer a safer alternative if in doubt.