Hardwood Informaiton

Maintaining Your Hardwood Flooring
- Practical Tips

Although harwood floor finish is resistant to wear, it is not indestructible. By following these easy steps as regular preventive maintenance, you'll be able to enjoy the beauty of your floor for many years to come.

· Sweep or vacuum regularly to remove any abrasives that may scratch the finish.

· Quickly wipe spills from floor to protect the wood from water damage.

· Place mats outside and inside entrances to prevent sand and abrasives from accumulating on your floor. Avoid mats with rubber or other dense backings that prevent airflow and trap abrasives and moisture.

· Place mats by the sink, dishwasher, and workstations to protect your floor.

· Apply felt pads under furniture legs.

· Keep your pets' claws well trimmed to avoid scratches to your floor. Scratches are less visible on low-gloss finished floors.

· Cover or replace any hard, narrow plastic casters with wide rubber or soft polyurethane casters.

· Protect your floor before moving furniture.

· Be careful with pointed objects like spike-heeled and sports shoes, especially if they are worn or damaged. Besides water, and sand, spike-heeled shoes are your floor's worst enemy.

· Referring to the moisture content chart , you should control the indoor relative humidity and temperature in the recommended range.

· Although some ultraviolet protection coating slows and prevents most of the yellowing in certain natural wood species, it's still best to protect your floor from the sun's rays and intense artificial lighting, which can affect the color of your wood. The yellowing phenomenon is perfectly natural and more apparent in lighter colored woods.

· Occasionally move carpets and furniture and reduce harsh lighting to minimize discoloration. Note: Changes in wood color are not due to yellowing of the finish, but rather to natural changes in the wood.

Things to Avoid arrow

· Do not raise or lower the temperature of your radiant floor heating system by more than 2.8 °C (5 °F) per day when turning the system on or off.

· Never pour cleaner or any other liquid directly onto your floor.
Do not use a wet mop that may leave excess water.

· Some manufacturers recommend cleaning floors with a mop rinsed in warm water and vinegar. This is acceptable if the mop is fully wrung out and nearly dry before using.

· Never use wax, oil-based detergents, or other household cleaning agents on your floor, since they may dull or damage the finish and leave a greasy film that makes floors slippery, maintenance more difficult, and refinishing impossible without deep sanding and complete revarnishing.

If you are buying some hardwood floor, it should be an important decision and significant investment. In order to choose the type of flooring that’s right for you, it’s good to know your needs and preferences in terms of:

  • Types
  • Species
  • Grades
  • Colors
  • Gloss
  • Hardness
  • Stability
  • Moisture
solid hardwood· Unfinished Solid Hardwood

solid woodUnfinished solid hardwood is sold in the form of nonvarnished rough strips. These low-cost strips have to be nailed to a wood subfloor.

This flooring is generally easy to install, but finishing the surface is more complicated and has to be done on site. You have to pay for finishing on top of the cost of the wood. For quality results, you should hire a highly skilled professional to sand and stain the floor, then to apply three or four coats of polyurethane. This technique is not as common as before due to the inconveniency in finishing the floorings after installation.  Therefore contractors nowadays are harder to find for this matter.

solid hardwood· Prefinished Solid Hardwood

solid woodPrefinished solid hardwood is sold as ready-to-install wood strips that are already sanded, stained, and finished with multiple coats of polyurethane with an aluminum oxide protective finish.

The finish is factory-applied in an ideal, controlled environment. A full array of wood species are available in a range of grades, colors, sizes, and shines to blend with any decor. Prefinished solid hardwood is quick and easy to install, and the residents don’t have to leave home during installation.

engineered hardwood· Prefinished Engineered Hardwood

engineered woodA prefinished engineered hardwood flooring is sold as strips made up of a hardwood surface (the wear layer) glued on a plywood (or HDF) base. Developed for installation in areas with variable humidity levels, engineered flooring is more stable than solid wood. Usually, there are two main cutting methods for the hardwood portion of an engineered floor: dry sawn and rotary peeled.

dry sawn

Dry sawn: Hardwood precisely sawn in desired thickness of plank.

· Same look as solid hardwood flooring
· Variations and grain preserved
· Each board is unique
· No repetitive pattern
· Ultra-thick wear layer
· Can be sanded 3-5 times, as needed
rotary peel

Rotary peeled: Log is boiled and then peeled using a rotary cut (method used to make plywood)

· Repetitive patterns similar to plywood
· Ultra-thin wear layer
· Can be sanded maximum once
· Softened by soaking it in a solution

floating engineeredSome engineered hardwood strips can be glued directly onto concrete, an acoustic underlay, or even a subfloor with a floor heating system. This is the perfect floor covering single-family houses, townhouses, and some high-end condominiums as well as commercial areas.

Floating engineered hardwood is similar technology to glue-down engineered hardwood except that it is not fastened (glued) to the subfloor.

Each species of wood has its own grain, color, and veining. Your choice of species depends on your personal preferences and the effect you want to achieve.

wood species

The most popular species are oak and hard maple, followed by birch, ash, beech, cherry, and walnut. Exotic, deluxe woods are also available, such as Brazilian cherry, santos mahogany and sapele, which are very warm in color and extremely hard. For home use, the hardness factor is not a serious issue.

Grading is a means of rating strips according to variations in the wood’s natural color. For example, “select & better” grade woods are more uniform in color than “rustic” or “traditional” grade, which presents greater, more pronounced natural color variation.

select & better grade· Select & Better
The most uniform strips with only subtle natural variations in color.

exclusive grade· Exclusive
A mixed selection of strips composed of about 75% Select & Better grade and 25% Traditional grade.

traditional grade· Traditional/Country/Rustic
Strips with more distinct natural color variations and small, healthy knots for a more rustic appearance.

To understand the grading system, compare two samples of the same species with different grades. Also ask to compare a number of strips from the same box to check the grading and manufacturing. For some manufacturers, products graded in the third category are not guaranteed and may have knot holes or manufacturing and finishing defects.
A stained floor gives a unique feel to each room. But be sure to select stains that will match different decors, since your wood floor will outlast any trend in home fashion.

wood stains

With prefinished hardwood floors, you can choose to install different colored strips to frame a room or accent a particular feature of your decor in a contrasting color.
There are following main glosses on the market:

· High gloss: A very bright, smooth finish that tends to highlight scratches or marks of any kind and makes dirt and dust more visible. High gloss finish is a less popular choice than Semi-gloss/Matte finishes especially for high traffice areas.

· Semi-gloss: This medium-bright finish is the standard for prefinished hardwood floors.

· Matte: A matte finish gives wood an low-gloss oiled look with the same performance characteristics, but with the advantages, easy care, and durability of a polyurethane finish. It's a very practical choice for families with children, pets, or high traffic areas in their home, as the low gloss finish will hide many imperfections that can occur over time.
Relative Hardness
(Ranked by Janka Hardness Rating)

The Janka hardness test measures the force required to embed a .444-inch steel ball to half its diameter in wood.  It is one of the best measures of the ability of a wood species to withstand denting and wear.  It is also a good indicator of how hard or easy a species is to saw or nail.  (source: NWFA)
Relative Stability
(Ranked by dimensional change coefficient)

The number in the chart reflect the dimensional change coefficient for the various species, measured as tangential shrinkage or swelling within normal moisture content limits of 6 - 14 percent. Tangential change values will normally reflect changes in plain sawn wood. Quarter sawn wood will usually be more dimensionally stable than plain sawn.  The dimensional change coefficient can be used to calculate expected shrinkage or swelling. Simply multiply the change in moisture content by the change coefficient; then multiply be the width of the board.

Example: A 5-inches-wide Mesquite (change coefficient = 0.00129) board experiences a moisture content change from 6% to 9% - a change of 3% points.

Calculation: 3*0.00129=0.00387*5=0.019 inches.

However, in actual practice, change would be diminished in a complete floor, as the boards' proximity to each other tends to restrain movement.

* Although some tropical woods such as Brazilian cherry (Jatoba), merbau and wenge appear to have excellent moisture stability compared to domestic oak, actual installations of many of these woods have demonstrated significant movement in use. (source: NWFA)
Moisture Contents vs Temperature/Humidity

Wood flooring will perform best when the interior environment is controlled to stay within a relative humidity range 30% to 50% and a temperature range 15.6C (60F) - 26.7C (80F). The chart below indicates the moisture content wood will likely have at any given combination of temperature and humidity.

Note that equilibrium moisture contents in the recommended temperature/humidity range (green-shaped area) coincide with the 6% to 9% range within which most hardwood flooring is manufactured. Although some movement can be expected even between 6% and 9%, wood can expand and shrink dramatically outside that range. (source: NWFA)

moisture contents

Wood is a natural material that reacts to variations in relative humidity, expanding and contracting as it absorbs and releases moisture. When humidity is high, wood absorbs moisture and expands. That's why to recommend controlling humidity carefully with good ventilation, a dehumidifier, and your heating system. When the air is dry, wood releases its humidity and contracts. We recommend using a humidifier to minimize contraction of your wood flooring strips.

Please keep relative humidity in your home at about 45% (between 30% and 50%) and indoor temperature at about 20C/70F (between 16C/60F and 27C/80F) for your health, your floor, and your wood furnishings.Please keep relative humidity in your home at about 45% (between 30% and 50%) and indoor temperature at about 20C/70F (between 16C/60F and 27C/80F) for your health, your floor, and your wood furnishings.