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Categories Hardwood

Why Does a Wood Floor Cup and What Can You Do About It?

Cupping is the bane of many wood floors and something that wood floor owners dread. Cupping occurs because hardwood is a natural material that responds to heat and moisture. Porous woods absorb water over time, which causes them to expand. Heat can also cause them to expand. That’s why particularly humid environments are especially dangerous for a wood floor.

What Causes It?

Cupping is caused when wood planks expand due to heat and/or moisture. That causes the planks to push up against each other. Much like the formation of mountains and valleys, the two pieces pushing against each other causes the edges to rise upward and the middle of each plank to sink. That is cupping.

The first and most effective method for dealing with it is to prevent it in the first place. To prevent cupping from ever occurring, you need to talk with a professional who installs your flooring. A waterproof subfloor is absolutely essential. If you’re on the first floor or if the climate is particularly humid, that might not be possible. In that case, a dehumidifier can help you prevent cupping. However, if that didn’t happen and you have cupping, you need to take a few steps.

What Can You Do?

A caveat must come first; you should not sand a cupped floor smooth until you are sure that it is dry. The hardwood floor and the subfloor must both be dry. If you sand a cupped floor before it is dry, it can dry and then crown. A crowned floor is one in which the middle of the planks begins to rise. Once a floor has been sanded and then crowns, it might be beyond repair. So, make sure it is dry first. The best way to dry it is by calling a professional. The professional will be able to measure the moisture level and recommend the best solutions. If that’s not possible, you should invest in a dehumidifier. That could take weeks or months to get completely dry. So, you’ll have to be patient.

Once you’re confident that it’s dry, you can rent a sander from a hardware store. You’ll need to sand the wood flat again. It will take off the finish as well; so, you need to be prepared to refinish the hardwood floor. If it’s only a few planks, you can do this in a weekend project. If it’s the entire floor or most of the floor, you might need to call a professional and just plan to be out of the house for a few days.

Categories Hardwood

5 Steps to Cleaning Your Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are beautiful and easy to clean; however, they can be damaged during the cleaning process. Typically, this damage occurs from using too much water. Therefore, if you follow a few simple steps, you should be able to keep your floor clean and in good condition.

1 – Sweep or Vacuum

The first step in the process to clean your floor is to sweep or vacuum the floor. You’ll want to clear away as much loose dust and dirt as you can. If you decide to vacuum, you need to make sure that your vacuum has a setting for bare floors. Typically, this will be a low setting in which the bristles can actually touch the floor. Clean up everything that you can reach with the vacuum or with the broom. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready for step two.

2 – Mop Your Floor

For this step, you need to use a hardwood floor cleaner. These are specially formulated to clean dirt, grease, and oil without doing damage to your floor’s finish. Many people will recommend a mixture of vinegar and water to clean the floor. While this does work, it doesn’t work as well as a true cleaner. That’s because vinegar as acidic, and dirt is often acidic. They will not react in a way to get them clean.

Mix the cleaning solution with warm water according to the directions on the cleaner. Wet the mop and then ring it out until it’s only damp. Mop the floor in a systematic approach to ensure that you get all of it. However, make sure that you never get the floor overly wet.

As you mop, make sure that you clean the mop as it gets dirty. Even small amounts of dirt can scratch the floor as you mop around. Finally, if your floor is very dirty, you might need to change the mop water before the process is complete.

3 – Rinse the Floor

After you’ve mopped the entire area, you want to make sure you use clear warm water to go over the floor one last time. As with the previous mopping, make sure to ring out the mop so it’s only damp.

4 – Dry the Floor

After all of this, you need to dry the hardwood floor in some manner. If you made sure to only use a damp mop, you can likely just allow it to air dry. You can speed up the drying by drying it with a towel or by turning on fans.

Categories Hardwood

Dark Hardwood Flooring Options

Dark hardwod floors are a popular design choice for a lot of homes for a new hardwood installation or hardwood refinish. The dark flooring is beautiful when done properly and can really complete a room. Color can really set the mood for a room and dark wood flooring can be cozy and calming. Dark flooring is not without its drawbacks but many people feel that the color is worth it.

Staining natural wood dark can mean many different things. Some homeowners may choose a deep brown color while others may go for a black or dark gray. The range of colors and the species stained make for endless possible combinations. Dark flooring may mean a medium brown to one customer while another may mean ebony. The color a customer chooses will likely be dependent on their design tastes and samples. Providing species specific examples can help a customer make an informed decision for their flooring.

Dark hardwood flooring has been in style for a while and it appears these darker hues aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Dark flooring melds nicely into almost any home style. The addition of gray flooring into the market has made for even more options for homeowners looking for a warm and inviting but dark floor.

Dark hardwood flooring works well in kitchens with a range of cabinetry colors but especially white or light wood cabinets. The big drawback in kitchens is that crumbs will stand out more on a dark floor. Fabric couches and lighter materials also look great with dark flooring. Dark leather couches and rich toned wood furniture can blend in too much with the floor and create a darker, colder look. The dark furniture on dark flooring can clash as well.

Darker flooring can be more challenging to keep clean. Fur, lint, crumbs and other debris will show up more prominently on a dark wood floor. Be prepared to swiffer your floor frequently. This is not an issue that may stop you from choosing a darker floor but something to be aware of in case you are looking for a lower maintenance option.

Dark flooring is a beautiful way to transform your floor. Dark wood can make for a rich warm space and many homeowners are thrilled with the way their dark wood flooring looks. It is important to note that once you stain your floor a darker tone it will be very challenging to ever change it back.

 

Categories Hardwood

Hardwood Flooring Vent Choices

We all notice the vents in our floor but have you ever thought about why they are there? Heat rises so having the vents in the floor of the home helps to warm the air effectively during cold days. The traditional metal drop in vents don’t add much to your decor but there are better options. Flush mount vents make a much better visual impact and surface mount vents can add fun design elements to your home.

Flush Mount Vents-

When installing new flooring you may want to consider flush mount vents (buy flush mount vents here). These vents create a seamless transition and allow the vent to be set info the floor and forgotten about. The vents come in different patterns if you want something more unique and come in a variety of sizes. Your estimator or contractor will measure all your registers and get the right size vents for your home.

Surface mount vents-

Surface mount vents are a good option if you are refinishing your floor or just want to update the look of already installed vents. There is no cutting involved and the new vents are just dropped into place. When choosing drop in vents you will need to measure properly, match the wood type and any stain colors and then add them to your home.

 

While wood vents are a beautiful choice and can add a seamless look to your home metal vents are gaining popularity. These beautiful designed metal vents go beyond the traditional vent and add a touch of style to your home.

 

Categories Hardwood

Hardwood Acclimation for Installation

Acclimation of your hardwood flooring to your home is the first step of installation and a important step. Hardwood flooring is a big investment and acclimation protects your hardwood and investment. If you do not allow your wood to acclimate properly can cause installation issues down the road. Some of the issues that can happen when you do not acclimate wood include buckling and gapping which will not be under the manufacturers’ warranty.

The manufacture will give a guideline for acclimating solid or engineered wood flooring. Proper acclimation is more than just letting flooring site at the job site. The conditions to consider when acclimating wood include the wood floor moisture content or MC and the relative humidity or RH. These two conditions are what should be tested and looked after to ensure the wood has acclimated properly.

The ranges for the moisture content or relative humidity are different based on the specific climate and have a big range based on the environment. The mill can only dry the wood so much and the best of the drying has to be done on site to match the unique environment. Wood floors out of the mill are typically between 6%-9%. This range is designed to work well in both drier and more humid environments.

“Wood flooring is a hygroscopic material subject to dimensional change as a result of variations in moisture, temperature and humidity within the surrounding environment. Wood flooring simply needs to reach moisture content level in equilibrium with the surrounding environment (EMC) in which it will be installed. Warranty coverage generally requires that jobsite conditions be maintained between 30% to 50% relative humidity and that those conditions must be maintained before, during and after installation for the life of the floor.”

-National Wood Flooring Association

The NWFA is a great resource for understanding acclimation and can help alongside the manufacture to give acclimation requirements and help with proper moisture content and relative humidity ranges for specific circumstances.

Categories Hardwood

Winter Hardwood Floor Care

With winter fast approaching you may wonder how to best protect your floors from the change in weather. Hardwood floors and water are not a match made in heaven but there are simple ways to keep your floors from becoming damaged by the snow, ice or wet footwear.

First, add entryway mats to all the entrances to your home. Top quality mats with a solid non-slip backing are ideal. Choose one with absorbent fibers to capture as much moisture as possible. You will want to clean the mats regularly. Shake the mat out and then rinse and wash it. Allow it dry properly before you bring it back into your home to keep it from staining or warping the wood.

Next, clean up water quickly. When spills or puddles happen you will want to clean them up as quickly as possible. Keep a mop or cloth close to the doorways of your home so you can quickly clean up any messes. Also, preventing these puddles or spills may mean asking your family and guests to remove shoes or boots before entering your home.

Third, keep salt off the porch. Salt can attack and damage your flooring. Ice is a problem but you may cause more harm than good with salt on the porch of your home. Shoes can capture the salt and track it inside. Salt can break down the finish on your flooring. If you are looking for an option that will create traction without damaging your floor you may want to consider sand. Sand can damage hardwood by grinding away the finish but doesn’t erode naturally like salt. A heated exterior mat would be a great way to keep ice away and not harm hardwood.

Fourth, protect the floor with furniture pads. These pads prevent scratches, gouges and other marks. You can find options that are able to be cut and customized to your furniture. Change the pads regularly for optimal protection.

Finally, invest in good cleaning equipment and products. Cleaning is a vital step to keeping your floor beautiful in all season but especially winter. You will be sweeping, wiping and mopping more often in the winter. The high traffic areas and doorways may need to be cleaned daily. A high quality mop like a microfiber mop is a great option. Soft bristle vacuums or a dry mop are great for removing debris from your floor.

These simple steps can help keep your floor safe in the harsh winter months and beautiful all year.

Categories Hardwood

Seven Ways Your Hardwood Can Be Damaged and How to Protect It

Solid hardwood flooring can provide you years of value if properly cared for. The lifespan of your flooring can be cut short if the right precautions are not taken to protect it.

Maintenance-

Place mats and rugs should be added to each entryway to collect dirt, grit and other grim from outside. The dirt and grim can act as a sandpaper on your floor and dull the finish. When the finish wears totally thru it will no longer serve as a protective coating from moisture.

Use a high quality vacuum that is safe for wood floors or a broom to keep the floors clear of dirt, dust and particles.

Buy proper cleaning and maintenance supplies to be used on your hardwood. The wrong cleaning supplies can make the floor hazy, yellow and reduce the amount of time between refinishes.

Wet mopping or using excessive water to clean your floor can have adverse effects. Excessive water can cause cupping, cracking or splintering. Wringing out your mop out properly before using it on your floors.

Maintain a relative humidity in your home is also important. Humidity in your home should be between 35% and 55% to help prevent gapping or warping. Some seasonal gapping is normal but excessive gapping can cause permanent gaps if caused by extreme dryness.

Covering furniture feet and legs helps to prevent scratching and denting. Chair legs are moved back and forth frequently and should have felt pads on the base.

Make sure the installation crew gives you manufacture recommendations for care. Different products can have different recommendations for when you should put furniture back on the floor, rugs, and what products to use for cleaning and other care.

Solid hardwood flooring is a great flooring type that has lasted the test of time. It can last for decades to come if cared for properly and is a true lifetime investment.

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