Wood-Flooring Problems and Their Solutions
I’m impressed by a surface that receives such a tremendous amount of abuse yet—when installed properly—lasts as long as a house. Installing a wood floor requires a substantial investment in materials and labor. When problems arise or when a floor fails, it can be costly. Every year, an estimated $1 billion worth of hardwood-floor damage occurs across the country
I’ve made it my business to understand what causes all that damage. The good news is that if you take your time, use the appropriate tools and techniques, and understand wood acclimation, you can create a floor that lasts a lifetime
Wood floors are prone to movement. Installed correctly, floorboards hold tight to one another during humid times of the year and might reveal gaps during drier times. Abnormal gaps are generally the result of flooring that’s too wet when it is installed (sidebar p. 80), but they also can be the consequence of installing flooring in areas of excessive dryness. I’ve worked on floors that had abnormal gaps because floorboards were installed directly over heating ducts, in areas that received a lot of sunlight, and in homes heated with woodstoves, which creates a dry interior environment.
Most often, cupping happens when flooring is installed over a wet basement or crawlspace. A vapor retarder installed between the subfloor and the floorboards can help the condition by slowing moisture migration, but it shouldn’t be relied on as a permanent solution to moisture problems.
Moisture resistant, not moisture-proof. Aquabar “B,” which is composed of two layers of kraft paper laminated with asphalt, slows the movement of moisture through a subfloor, but it doesn’t stop it. An elastomeric membrane has similar characteristics, but is best used in glue-down flooring applications
Things to Know Before Refinishing Hardwood Floors
Consider these tips before hiring a contractor to refinish wood flooring
During rainy periods and if the humidity is high, consider rescheduling the job. Wood is a porous material, and when the old finish is stripped away, the floor will absorb moisture. If that happens or if it is just very humid, the new finish will take significantly longer to dry.
Since all the furniture will be removed, the room is rendered unusable for several days. Even then, extra care is needed to avoid scratching the floors. Plan on buying rugs (not the kind with rubberized bottoms) for all entries into the room, and keep your pet’s nails trimmed.
Controlling dust is an important task. No matter what the contractor does to prevent it from spilling into adjacent rooms, he or she won’t be able to control it entirely. Protect furniture and other items that you don’t want ending up covered with a film of dust. Also, keep in mind that the odor of polyurethane will linger for a few days. It can be remedied somewhat by leaving windows open and ventilating the room, but not if rain is expected.
Research flooring contractors
You don’t have to become an expert on hardwood flooring. But it’s wise to learn enough that you can properly evaluate your contractor before, during and after the job. Developing an eye for well-installed and properly maintained floors makes it easier to spot those that are not. Visit various showrooms.
Hire the right hardwood floor refinisher
Plan to interview at least three contractors, and remember that cost is not the sole or best measure of a good contractor. Ask for and take the time to contact references. Examine a portfolio of each contractor’s work. Make sure that anyone you hire is properly insured and licensed, and that every important detail is written into the contract. Good planning and communication will make the job go more smoothly and help you avoid any bad surprises. Make sure you are given a quote instead of an estimate, and be sure to ask about what kinds of unexpected costs can crop up.
Things You May Be Doing That Can Ruin Your Hardwood Floors!
Hardwood floors can last 100 years or more with proper care and maintenance but not everyone knows all the rules. These floors are more resilient than carpet flooring, tile and and linoleum floors. You benefit aesthetically and avoid the common issues that come along with Carpet Flooring Even so, owners can make simple mistakes that can cause damage needing professional repair. There are differences in Unfinished and Prefinished flooring care and not all cleaning products are made the same. Before you make a simple mistake check out this list of Hardwood Floor No-No’s!
Don’t pour cleaning product directly on floor
It may be tempting to create a puddle of cleaner to spread spread over your floor but this can cause the same effect of water damage Cleaning products that are liquid can be absorbed into wood, cause swelling and an uneven look over time.
Don’t Neglect your Sweeping Chores
Remember to sweep regularly, as built-up sand and dirt can act like sandpaper, scraping the gleam off of your floor. Pre-Finished floors are notorious for seams.
Don’t Style and Profile in High Heels across your Hard Woods
A hard, pointed heel is perfectly suited to ruining the finish. Remember, there is no such thing as a scratch-proof finish. It is wise to leave high heels at the door and make sure that they are always in good shape. Damaged high heels can quickly become a chisel on your wood floor. A 125-pound woman walking in high heels has an impact of 2,000 pounds per square inch. An exposed heel nail can exert up to 8,000 pounds per square inch. This kind of impact can dent any floor surface.
Hardwood Floors have a Water Phobia
Do not wet-mop a wood floor. Standing water can dull the finish, damage the wood and leave a discoloring residue. Wipe up spills immediately with a slightly dampened towel.
How to Clean Engineered Hardwood Floors (and Some Mistakes to Avoid)
Hardwood flooring often becomes the pride and joy of homeowners who are lucky to have them in their homes! They create a feeling of warm hominess that can’t be replicated with many other types of flooring.
If you want to make sure that your engineered hardwood floors stay looking and feeling like they did when you first moved in or when they were first installed, keep reading. We’re going to let you know how to clean engineered hardwood floors… along with a few common mistakes you should avoid.
Simple Steps for How to Clean Engineered Hardwood Floors
Learning the basics of maintaining and caring for your hardwood floors doesn’t need to be super complex! You might see articles out there advocating for almost constant cleaning, expensive specialty products, and almost unattainable perfection with your floors
Clean Dirt and Debris Regularly
One of the main things to note with maintaining and cleaning engineered hardwood floors is that consistency is key. Now, don’t worry, this doesn’t mean scrubbing on your hands and knees every day!
Running a damp mop over your engineered hardwood floors will pick up any set in dirt or debris that your vacuum, broom, or cloth couldn’t get. However, be careful with this step. When we say “damp” we don’t mean sopping wet.
What Are the Benefits of Hardwood Floors?
Easy to keep clean
Hardwood floors are incredibly easy to keep clean. You can sweep, steam-clean, and vacuum the floors to keep them looking and feeling good. And unlike carpet, wood floors don’t hold on to dust mites or pet dander
Because of the ease of cleaning and the ability to deep clean, hardwood floors are great for people that have allergy issues
Strong & Durable
Why do many homeowners choose wood flooring? Because it’s durable. Wood floors can handle the wear and tear of daily living. Wood floors can get scratched or dented, but if taken care of properly, can last many years.
Adds Value to Your Home
Wood floors can add value to your home. Buyers are often willing to pay more for a home that has wood flooring than any other type of flooring. Other floorings just don’t have the luxurious feel of hardwoods. Because it’s a feature sought out, wood flooring may even help sell your house faster.
Can Be Refinished
As we mentioned before, wood flooring is easy to keep clean and is durable. Wood flooring also gives you the ability to make your old flooring new again. Do you have some dents and scratches? You can refinish the floors. Want a different look or a different color? Refinish the floors. The cost to refinish is significantly lower than buying and installing new flooring. You can make a fairly drastic change in your home without spending a lot of money.