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Categories Hardwood

Wainscoting Is Trending For Homes With Hardwood Floors

In the language of interior design, wainscoting is the wood paneling that runs along the lower half of a room’s wall. In reality, wainscoting can be made from just about any material and doesn’t have to cover half of the wall. Oftentimes, wainscoting will be made from some kind of laminate or vinyl that is designed to look like wood. It’s also often painted an opaque color. Even if you find wainscoting made of natural wood, it’s very commonly painted white or tan. The paint is often thick enough to hide most of the grain. However, a trend has emerged recently that looks very promising. Homeowners with hardwood floors are actually choosing to use the same hardwood flooring planks for their wainscoting.

 

Hardwood Wainscoting

 Whether you’re buying hardwood floor for your house for the first time or you already have hardwood flooring, you can still make wainscoting from flooring planks. There are a few different ways to go about this. You can choose the same hardwood flooring planks for your walls as you have for your floor. That will allow you to create a seamless image from your floor to your walls. It creates almost the illusion that your floor extends for much longer than it actually does. Many people looking to create the illusion of more space choose this option.

If you don’t want to use the same hardwood or can’t find the same hardwood, you can use a different hardwood for the wainscoting. Choosing planks of the same width as your flooring will still help create a very unified look. If you choose a different hardwood or a different stain for the wainscoting, you have to decide if you want them to look similar or drastically different.

 

Similar or Different?

 There are two competing philosophies about matching your hardwood wainscoting to your hardwood floor. Somee choose similar hardwood flooring planks for the wall, so that they can approximate a seamless look. Others choose something drastically different as a complement. If you choose a stain or a hardwood similar to your flooring hardwood, it needs to be distinct enough that it doesn’t look like an accident that they’re different. However, it shouldn’t be so distinct that they no longer match.

For example, if you have a honey colored white oak floor, you probably shouldn’t choose a similar stain on white oak for the wainscoting. That might look like you just have two woods that don’t match. Alternately, you could choose an espresso stain for a white oak. That could be a very dramatic and dynamic difference. It could also be too drastic. Work with a good contractor and tack up sample wainscoting before making a decision.

Categories Hardwood

Homeowners Are Installing Hardwood Floor on Curved Stairs

If you have curved stairs in your home, you know how great they can look. They can provide movement and unique design opportunities for a home. However, if you have hardwood floor or want hardwood floor, you’ve probably been told that they can’t be done on hardwood flooring. You might have been told that it can be done but it will be very expensive. Either way, those are ideas from the past. Curved hardwood stair treads are very popular right now. As with every design trend, the demand has inspired many contractors to innovate new ways to meet the need.

 

Parallel Planks

 In the parlance of contractors, stairs are divided into treads and risers. Treads are the horizontal landings where you actually place your foot. Risers are the vertical sections that separate each tread. If you want your curved stairs to be hardwood, you need to decide if you want to do the treads, the risers, or both. Many people choose a neutral color for the risers and then a vibrant hardwood for the treads. That way, the tread color really pops. There are several ways to go about this. You should talk with a contractor about how you want it done. Each one is going to have a different process. However, there are many similarities.

Many of them will simply cut the hardwood flooring planks to fit the curve of the stairs. The planks can run parallel to the direction of the stairs. If they do, the installer will then cut the end of each plank so that they follow the natural curve of the stairs. That’s probably the easiest way to do it. It creates a dynamic look for your stairs. However, if you want to simulate movement and really emphasize the wave effect of your curved stairs, you can choose planks that run perpendicular to the stairs.

 

Perpendicular Planks

 If your planks run perpendicular to the stairs, they can be made to fit the curve by cutting. The installer can rip each plank lengthwise to match the curve. Alternately, the installer can map the curve of each stair and then build a jig. Each plank is then placed in a steam box and inundated with steam. The steam will make the planks more pliable. They’re then bent in the jig and allowed to dry. Once they’re dry, they’ll hold the shape of the jig. That will allow you to create a seamless flowing wood floor for your stairs.

Categories Hardwood

Choosing the Right Wood Species for your Home-

 

White oak

White oak is one of the top choices for hardwood flooring. White oak can be contemporary and beautiful or can be rustic and natural. White oak grades can include knots and checks or boards can be selected that eliminate these elements. White oak is a great choice for homes with pets and lots of foot traffic. It is a low maintenance flooring option and is beautiful and classic.

White oak can be live sawn or quarter sawn to change how the grain is exposed. These specialty cuts can really affect the way the grain is shown and change the look of the floor. White oak can be stained to change the color and look of the floor while making the floor warm and inviting.

Hickory

Hickory has a tight grain pattern with a lot of color variation. The beauty of the wood is shown through each board and is part of what makes hickory unique. Knots and checks can be present and add to the appeal of hickory. Hickory is a sturdy wood and can be ideal for homes with dogs.

Ash
Ask is another popular choice and has a lot of unique character. There are knots and checks as well as a pronounced grain pattern.

Maple

Maple has a minimal grain pattern and little color variation which gives it a great consistent look. Maple has a smooth sleek look which makes it ideal for a modern or contemporary floor. It is a beautiful neutral flooring choice and works well for people with small pets.

Walnut

Walnut is one of the most unique and identifiable flooring choices. Walnut has rich brown tones that add warmth to your flor. The character of the one of a kind grain is present in each board. Walnut is great for homes with moderate traffic and can withstand some general wear and tear. Walnut can add warmth and depth to your home and space.

Red Oak-

Red oak is another beautiful flooring species that has last for years to come. Red Oak has rich grain patterns with little color variation. It is great for high traffic spaces and has been in homes for centuries. Red oak is a great choice to be stained. Red oak is one of the most commonly used hardwood floorings from the past so it is commonly found hiding under carpets in older homes.

Categories Hardwood

Choosing Your Wood Species and Cut-

White Oak is one of the most popular hardwood flooring types. The open grain adds a lot of texture and depth to the flooring. Live Sawn white oak adds even more rustic charm to the floor featuring beautiful knots and checks.

This flooring species is great for high traffic spaces and for homes with animals. Overtime the wear and tear will add additional character to the floor. White oak is a great choice for homeowners looking for a low maintenance option.

Quarter Sawn white oak is another option within the white oak species. The quarter sawn cut gives a clean and consistent grain and offers mild color variation in the planks. The quarter sawn cut add visual interest to your flooring. Quarter Sawn flooring works well with a distressed styles and looks beautiful wire brushed.

Hickory-

Hickory is another great species of wood. Hickory boasts a tight rich grain with a visually pleasing grain pattern. The unique color variation of hickory is great for adding a natural beautiful look to your home. Hickory includes checks and knots and a fun rustic appeal to your flooring.

Ash-

Ash is another species of hardwood flooring that many people choose. Ash boasts a pronounced grain pattern adds rich color and character to the floor. Depending on the grade you select you may have knots or a cleaner grain pattern. Ash can be a good flooring choice in homes with pets and you may find that the grain pattern is great for hiding scratches and imperfections.

Maple-

Maple is a widely used flooring choice and yields a uniform look. Maple is smooth and has very little grain pattern. The boards do have some color variation and the occasional knot but overall are consistent and light in color. Maple is not one of the most resilient woods and is more easily dented or scratched than a hickory or oak. Maple is very modern with its clean lines and light color but cannot be stained so that is something to keep in mind.

Walnut-

Walnut is known for being a rich and warm wood with unique grain patterns and beautiful color variations. Walnut has lots of grain patterns and character in each and every board. There are grain variations, knots and checks as well as color variations.

Walnut is not ideal for high traffic areas or in homes with pets. The brown tone is unique to walnut but if you want the warm brown town with more scratch resistance you may want to have an oak or hickory stained.

Red Oak-

Red oak was one of the most common wood choice for a large period of time. Many older homes still have red oak under the carpet or linoleum. Red oak has mild color variations with a rich grain pattern. The grain pattern looks great on longboards where it can really be shown off.

Red Oak can be stained which can give it an updated look. Red oak is a timeless choice and refinishing existing red oak is a great option for staying with the traditional flooring but giving it a facelift.

Categories Hardwood

Wide Plank Flooring: How Wide is Too Wide?

 

Wide plank flooring is a big trend and has been in style for a few years. A blank is any board that is wider than 3″ while boards under 3″ are referred to as strip flooring. Wide plank flooring has many different appealing qualities. It is not as common which is one of the reasons people like it but there are times when it is not the right flooring for a specific space.

Wide plank flooring appears less busy because their reduction in seams. It also has the benefit of making a room feel larger because of the smoother lines. Wide plank flooring fits well in a contemporary space as well as a rustic space. There is more character in the boards because of the wider planks.

When it comes to wide plank natural wood there are some size limitations. Hickory is more likely to move than oak so it ideally is limited to 5″ plank at the very biggest. Wide plank boards shrink more so gaping can be a bigger concern.

The way the boards are cut is also important to consider. Rift and quarter sawn planks are more stable so they make better wide plank boards. The mill struggles to mill rift and quarter boards that are wider than 5″ and the acclimation process takes longer on these boards. There is a lot of waste associated with wide plank rift and quartered planks so the price reflects this.

Wide plank flooring generally is a natural grade but clear grades are available. The natural grade flooring has knots and character in the boards that show the natural elements of the wood.

If you are looking for an option to cut the costs of your wide plank flooring you may want to consider a varied width floor. Combining a variety of widths adds a lot of style to the floor but saves you from buying all expensive wide plank flooring.

Wide plank floors are beautiful but like any floor covering there are limitations. Talk with your local hardwood professionals to truly understand the options for your specific climate and home.

Categories Hardwood

Newer Offices Are Moving Towards Hardwood Floors

Many people who work in offices or who design offices think that the floor is largely inconsequential. They are sorely mistaken. The floor of an office is as integral a part of the office as the desks or the walls. The floor helps to set the tone for the office and is literally the foundation for the design scheme. If you have plain vinyl or linoleum floors, they’re serviceable but they’re cold. They’ll signal no warmth to your employees. However, if you have great hardwood floors, it will feel more like home. The warmth of the floors has been shown to improve the job satisfaction of many employees.

Productivity

One of the most important things you need from your employees is productivity. Productivity is a measure of how much work they accomplish in a given amount of time. When employees are more productive, businesses are more productive and thus more profitable. So, how do you increase productivity? Well, research has found that employees who are happy with their workplace are more productive. They’re happier when they feel more appreciated and more welcome. If you install hardwood flooring, your employees will feel more comfortable. Hardwood is the preferred flooring of living rooms and other inviting spaces. Furthermore, they will know that you’re willing to go the extra mile for them.

So, installing hardwood floor in your office can improve your productivity, but what type of hardwood flooring?

Which Hardwood Flooring?

The first basic decision will be whether you want engineered hardwood or solid hardwood. Engineered hardwood is made from a layer of medium density fibreboard, high density fibreboard, or plywood. The top layer is a thin veneer of your preferred hardwood. Engineered hardwood is a good choice, especially for offices, because it has less upkeep than some other kinds of hardwood. Heat and humidity can cause solid planks to warp somewhat; engineered hardwood doesn’t warp as easily as solid hardwood.

Also, engineered hardwood is open prefinished; that means it is sealed at the factory with a combination of aluminum oxide and urethane. The finish is incredibly hard and lasts for decades. That means that moving chairs on the floor, spilling coffee, and generally going about your workday will not damage the floor.

If you choose a solid hardwood floor, you can still get it prefinished. You can also choose different types of finish that would be better for an office. Ask a professional in flooring and in office design.

Categories Hardwood

Sourcing Your Floor From Sinker Logs

There are several different ways to find sustainable lumber for your hardwood floor. Sinker logs are a great source of sustainable hardwoods that don’t harm the environment. They also have a patina that is incredibly rich and interesting. It is nearly impossible to replicate with any kind of manufacturing and staining.

What Are Sinker Logs?

For hundreds of years, one of the most efficient ways to transfer lumber has been to ship it on a river. Water’s buoyancy helps to move the lumber with minimal effort. However, that has also meant that mistakes can happen. Wood sometimes falls off the ship. For most of US history, it has not been profitable for companies to pull the fallen logs out of the water. So, they just left them at the bottom of rivers. Cool water also turns out to be an incredible preserver of wood. Water moves in and out of the different pores of the water, depositing different minerals as it passes. Oxygen and gas are removed from the wood and replaced with minerals. That results in incredible patina throughout the wood.

Modern companies pull these sinker logs out of the water and mill them for many uses. You can use them for hardwood flooring as well.

The Benefits

Sinker log flooring has many benefits. For one, it looks great. If you want a unique floor that no one else has, sinker logs are a great option. Also, the logs are part of a movement towards sustainable lumber. No trees have to be cut down for the wood to be used.

The main drawback of sinker logs is the price. Depending on its source, the company that pulls it from the river sometimes has to pay a fee for removing the resource. On top of that, removing the wood from the river is very difficult for the people who do the work. They have to then mill the wood into planks to expose the grain and the deep patina. That means a log’s worth of milled hardwood can cost over $10,000. That might be beyond many people’s budgets. However, if it’s in your budget, it could be a great choice.

If you can’t afford an entire floor’s worth of sinker wood or if you simply can’t find that amount of wood, you could choose smaller amounts. For example, some people like to use a strip of sinker wood from their front door to the foyer as an entrance for their homes.

Categories Hardwood

How to Fix a Squeaky Hardwood Floor

All types of flooring can start to squeak over time, but a traditional hardwood floor is the most common culprit. Typically, it occurs after some of the moisture has evaporated from the wood planks. That leads to the wood planks rubbing against each other or the wood rubbing against the screws. Squeaky wood can drive you crazy if you don’t take care of it. Here’s what to do.

Temporary Fixes

Wood squeaks because it is moving around and rubbing against another plank or against the screws. To quiet the squeaks temporarily, you need to either make them stop moving or make the movement more fluid. You must first locate the board that is squeaking. You can oftentimes quiet down the squeaking with a quick burst or spray lubricant. An all-purpose spray oil will likely quiet down the squeaking. However, it will only quiet it down for a few hours or day. Also, it will make the plank move more easily. So the squeaking might come back even louder. If the wood planks have shrunk enough that you can actually see them moving, you can likely wedge a shim between the planks to stop them from moving. Shims are often found in the woodworking section of the hardware store. They’re thin strips of wood used in carpentry. Thesen are temporary fixes. If you need something more permanent, you need to go back to the hardware store.

Permanent Fixes

There are several products that can be used to stop a wood floor from squeaking. If the problem is with the subfloor, you’ll likely need to repair it from below. That’s also the easiest way to make a completely indiscreet fix. A hold-down bracket is drilled into the subfloor. The bracket is then attached to a support joist. That will hold down the subfloor to stop it from moving. If you want to fix it from above, you will basically do the same thing. You’ll drill a tiny pilot hole into your wood floor. Then, you’ll use a specially designed screw to bolt the wood to the subfloor and hold it down. Some products require that you locate a joist and drill the plank into the joist.

Typically, a squeak is not a sign that something else is seriously wrong. However, a squeak can show where the floor is not completely flush with the subfloor. That can be a point of vulnerability for moisture to get under your floorboards.

Categories Hardwood

How to Fix a Squeaky Hardwood Floor

All types of flooring can start to squeak over time, but a traditional hardwood floor is the most common culprit. Typically, it occurs after some of the moisture has evaporated from the wood planks. That leads to the wood planks rubbing against each other or the wood rubbing against the screws. Squeaky wood can drive you crazy if you don’t take care of it. Here’s what to do.

Temporary Fixes

Wood squeaks because it is moving around and rubbing against another plank or against the screws. To quiet the squeaks temporarily, you need to either make them stop moving or make the movement more fluid. You must first locate the board that is squeaking. You can oftentimes quiet down the squeaking with a quick burst or spray lubricant. An all-purpose spray oil will likely quiet down the squeaking. However, it will only quiet it down for a few hours or day. Also, it will make the plank move more easily. So the squeaking might come back even louder. If the wood planks have shrunk enough that you can actually see them moving, you can likely wedge a shim between the planks to stop them from moving. Shims are often found in the woodworking section of the hardware store. They’re thin strips of wood used in carpentry. Thesen are temporary fixes. If you need something more permanent, you need to go back to the hardware store.

Permanent Fixes

There are several products that can be used to stop a wood floor from squeaking. If the problem is with the subfloor, you’ll likely need to repair it from below. That’s also the easiest way to make a completely indiscreet fix. A hold-down bracket is drilled into the subfloor. The bracket is then attached to a support joist. That will hold down the subfloor to stop it from moving. If you want to fix it from above, you will basically do the same thing. You’ll drill a tiny pilot hole into your wood floor. Then, you’ll use a specially designed screw to bolt the wood to the subfloor and hold it down. Some products require that you locate a joist and drill the plank into the joist.

Typically, a squeak is not a sign that something else is seriously wrong. However, a squeak can show where the floor is not completely flush with the subfloor. That can be a point of vulnerability for moisture to get under your floorboards.

Categories Hardwood

What Makes a Hardwood Floor Look Antique?

If you’re looking to remodel your existing hardwood floor of buy a new one that looks antique, there are some things you should be aware of. When you walk into a colonial or antebellum home, the floor will have a certain look that can sometimes be difficult to identify. What makes the floor look the way it does and how can you replicate the look?

Plank Width

The first thing you should consider is the width of the planks that you are choosing. Modern hardwood floors are made of planks that are typically between three and six inches wide. That’s the modern look. However, the classic look is much wider planks. If you’re looking to recreate a classic floor, you should choose wide hardwood flooring planks. Wide planks are typically about twelve inches wide. They can cup or warp when the humidity changes. Many older floors avoided this because they were top nailed.

Top Nailing

In the modern era, hardwood floors are nailed inside of the groove or the tongue of each plank. The nail is driven in at a forty-five degree angle into the subfloor. Colonial and antebellum floors were top nailed, through; that means they just had nails going through the top of the wood. You can typically identify these by rounded brass or iron nail heads sticking out of the wood. To replicate an antique look, you can legitimately top nail the wood. You could also replicate the look with nails that serve no actual function other than aesthetics.

Hand Scraping

Sandpaper was not invented until the 1930s. Before sandpaper, there were many different ways to smooth the surface of wood. One way to do that was with a draw knife. You could scrape the wood smooth. This left very thin impressions all over the wood. They’re almost imperceptible until the light hits them. A hand scraped floor is a subtle way to make a floor look antique.

Varied Width

In addition to wide planks, you could also choose varied width planks. A varied width floor is made of planks of many different widths. The varied widths are antique because quality wood used to be more difficult to come by. That meant crafters would use as much of the tree as possible. That would result in planks of many different widths. The difference doesn’t even have to be very stark to create the antique look of colonial and antebellum floors.

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