Author Archives: dancustom

Hardwood Flooring Takes a Turn for the Exotic

The most common hardwood used for flooring in the United States is oak. Oak generally comes in two different varieties: red oak and white oak. Red oak generally ranks about 1260 on the janka hardness scale. White oak is a little bit harder at 1360. Both of them are great choices for hardwood floors because they are readily available, hard, and very attractive. They provide floors with a great grain; they’re easy to clean and easy to maintain. However, oak floors are not necessarily the most trendy floors. They’re something of a base type of hardwood flooring. If you want something a little more exotic or unique, you’re in luck. Exotic woods are very popular now.

Brazilian Woods

Some of the hardest and most popular exotic woods are Brazilian woods such as Brazilian teak and Brazilian walnut. Brazilian walnut is, in fact, one of the hardest woods readily available for flooring. It is more expensive than other types woods because it is more rare and harder to mill. However, it is such a unique wood with such a unique grain pattern that it will always stand out. Also, a wood that is that hard will resist scratching very well.

African Ebony

Ebony wood is known for its dark color that ranges from a very deep brown to almost a jet black. However, that’s only the heartwood. The sapwood is pinkish that trends towards a darker red. If you have a floor that is made of ebony sapwood, it will be a deep red color that will deepen over time. If you have an ebony heartwood floor, it will range from dark brown to completely black.

Ebony wood is also a very hard wood, which means that it will last a long time. If you want a dark wood without having to stain it, you should consider ebony. If it’s a naturally dark wood without a stain, that means you’ll be able to sand away scratches or damaged portions without affecting the color.

Australian Red Mahogany

Another wood that is popular is Australian red mahogany. This wood, as the name suggests, is reddish in color. The heartwood is a rich, dark red in color. The sapwood is a creamier, lighter complexion. The wood is very hard but it has an open, coarse grain. That means that it will take stains better than many woods of similar hardness.

These are three exotic woods that have been trending in popularity. The popularity of rare woods generally depends on their appearance and their hardness. All three of these woods are beautiful and very hard.

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Can You Install Hardwood in the Kitchen?

Hardwood flooring suppliers and installers are often asked what alternative to hardwood can be used for the kitchen. There are a lot of conflicting ideas about whether hardwood can be installed in the kitchen at all. Well, it can be but you need to be aware of the concerns. Many people believe hardwood flooring cannot be installed in the kitchen because hardwood flooring is susceptible to heat and moisture. The kitchen, obviously, is very vulnerable to spills and drastic changes in temperature. That means that you’ll need to be able to account for that.

Engineered Hardwood or Solid?

Since heat and moisture vary so considerably in the kitchen, you need to be concerned about cupping. Cupping occurs when heat and moisture cause the edges of the wooden planks to curl upward. To avoid this, you could choose engineered hardwood. Engineered hardwood is made from a thin veneer of hardwood with plywood or pressboard underneath. The layers of softer wood and the glue itself help to prevent moisture from getting into the layers of the wood. That means that it will be less likely to cup.

Prefinished Hardwood

You should also consider the finish on your wood. The finish will protect the wood from moisture and heat. One solid option is prefinished hardwood. Prefinished hardwood is treated at a factory with urethane that is embedded with aluminum oxide crystals. This finish is harder and more durable than anything that could possibly be applied on site. You will not be able to change the stain or the seal on your floor, but it will last as much as five times longer than polyurethane.

Invest in Fans

The biggest danger your floor will be in is from moisture. To combat that danger, you need to be able to dry your kitchen as quickly as possible. The best ways to do that are with dehumidifiers and with fans. If you can blow a fan across the surface of the floor or dehumidify the kitchen, you will reduce the likelihood that the floor will be damaged by moisture. A local dehumidifier tends to work very well if you don’t want to dehumidify your entire house with an HVAC system.

Wooden floors in the kitchen require a little more work than some synthetic materials, but they are definitely worth the extra effort. You should seriously consider these durable and attractive floors. They’ll last for a very long time and look great the entire time.

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How to Choose the Right Hardwood Floor Luster

Whether you’re buying prefinished planks or finishing new hardwood planks yourself, you need to choose how they’re going to be finished. There are several different levels of luster that you can choose from. In layman’s terms, that is a determination of how shiny your floor will be. There are advantages and disadvantages to every kind of luster level. Some are easier to keep looking nice and others are more difficult, for example. Here is a quick rundown of the pros and cons.

High Luster

Anything with a high luster will look very sleek and very modern. It’s a very contemporary style that wasn’t even possible in floors in decades past. The floor will look very formal as well. If you want your house to look picturesque and ornate, then a high luster floor will help you do that. It will look more like the receiving rooms and foyers of nice hotels. Those are the pros.

The cons are the upkeep. You will need to clean your high luster floors regularly because a high luster will show every scuff and scratch. That’s because high luster means that it reflects more light. Therefore, the scratch will look more dynamic and deeper. Furthermore, dust and dirt will be more noticeable because they will not reflect light.

Low Luster

A low luster hardwood floor is going to be much easier to keep clean. The floor will not reflect a lot of light; therefore, scratches will not show up readily, nor will dust. However, it will also be slightly more difficult to keep the floor looking clean. That’s because many people associate a shine with cleanliness. If the floor isn’t shiny, it might not look clean to some people. If you try to shine a low luster floor, you’ll likely just wear down the finish faster.

Middle Ground

The compromise between high luster and low luster could be a semi-gloss or a satin. Satin and semi-gloss are fairly moderate positions you could choose from. Typically, semi-gloss is near the middle but slightly on the side of gloss. Satin is in the middle but slightly on the side of matte. Either one of those will help you balance the benefits of high luster with the benefits of low luster. They’ll look fairly clean and modern while still hiding some dust and scratches. Furthermore, they’ll be easy to clean and make look clean.

Try out several different lusters on small areas before deciding on one.

What Can You Expect From Your Hardwood Floors Polyurethane?

Most modern hardwood floors, with the exception of a few, are finished with a layer of polyurethane. Polyurethane is a polymer that is suspended in a solvent. It is applied to the floor, and the solvent evaporates, leaving behind only the polymer. Essentially, it is a can of liquid plastic that is applied over your flooring. There are two basic kinds of polyurethane, oil-based and water-based. Each one is going to act differently immediately and over time. Here’s what will happen.

Immediate Effects

When you apply polyurethane to your stained floor, it will have a few immediate effects. Water-based polyurethane goes on fairly clear. It is also low odor. You’ll need to wait several hours before you can touch the polyurethane and even longer before you can walk on it. However, the most common visual effect is a deepening of the colors and the grain on the wood. If you choose a glossy polyurethane, it will shimmer and almost look wet. A matte water-based polyurethane is basically invisible once it’s dry.

An oil-based polyurethane is a little more dramatic. Most oil-based polyurethanes have a very slight amber hue. When you apply the polyurethane, you’ll notice that the floor becomes slightly tinted amber. That’s a very good way to deepen and enrich the colors of the floor.

Long-Term Effects

There are long-term effects to the polyurethane choices as well. Water-based polyurethane typically doesn’t last quite as long as oil-based polyurethane before it needs to be repaired. However, it maintains the same quality throughout the time that it is applied as long as you don’t let it get so scratched up that it becomes cloudy.

Oil-based polyurethane, on the other hand, will start to turn a deeper shade of amber. This yellowing is desirable for some people. It creates warmer colors on your floor and makes it seem a little more rustic. Others don’t like the yellowing.

There are also concerns about volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are chemicals that can vaporize at room temperature. The off-gassing can result in pollution or even health effects. Most polyurethanes are designed to have minimal VOCs. Oil-based polyurethanes sometimes have more VOCs than water-based, though. Over time, that could be a factor.

These are a few things to consider and to expect when applying polyurethane to your floor. You’ll need to reapply it every few years. Most flooring experts will say that a polyurethane coat lasts about 15 years.

Can Hardwood Flooring Be Green?

Hardwood flooring has gotten a reputation for not being very environmentally friendly. The main complaint is that hardwood flooring is made by chopping down trees, which contributes to further deforestation. That further deforestation threatens wetlands, natural habitats, and carbon sequestration. However, there are ways that you can still have a hardwood floor installation with a very minimal carbon footprint.

1 – Sustainable Hardwood

You’ll likely hear about sustainable hardwood, but what does that mean? It can mean many things. Typically, it means that the hardwood is cut from an area that can quickly replace the lost tree. For example, some hardwoods grow much faster than others. If a forest is quickly growing large trees, then cutting down trees for hardwood flooring will have a minimal impact.

Also, there are offsets. This could mean that the lumber company that cuts down a tree replaces that tree with a sapling. Some of them even plant two trees for each one they cut down.

2 – Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed hardwood floors are floors that are made from hardwood that has already been in use. The roof supports for an old barn, for example, can be milled into hardwood flooring planks. Also, an old hardwood floor can be sanded and refinished to be used as your hardwood floor. When properly maintained, wood will last for decades in great shape. That means that you can get a brand new floor without a single tree being chopped down.

3 – Stains and Finishes

One of the main concerns about hardwood flooring is actually the stain and the paint that is used. Oftentimes, they will employ volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can harm the environment. Fortunately, there are companies that sell low- or no-VOC products that will do the job just as well. Oftentimes, these products are water-based instead of oil-based and contain fewer harmful chemicals.

4 – Salvaged Wood Flooring

Salvaged wood flooring might sound like reclaimed wood, but it is actually different. In some situations, a tree might need to be salvaged. If a tree is diseased, dead, or endangering the surrounding area, it might be chopped down. In other cases, some trees are cut down to allow other trees to grow unimpeded. When those trees are used for their wood, it is often called salvaged wood. Since they were going to be cut down anyway, it carries a much smaller ecological impact.

These four options can make your hardwood flooring more sustainable and less harmful to the environment.

What Exactly Are Reclaimed Hardwood Floors?

If you’ve been in the market for hardwood flooring, you’ve likely seen options for “reclaimed” hardwood flooring. It has become trendy for many different people. Those who have ecological concerns like reclaimed wood because no new trees have to be chopped down to create it. Stylistically, it provides a classic, antique feel even to new constructions. However, you might be wondering what exactly it is.

Reclaimed Hardwood Is Old Wood Repurposed

In its simplest sense, reclaimed hardwood is old wood that has been moved from its original use. That could mean that you simply take old hardwood flooring from one building and install it in a different building. This is the simplest and fastest type of reclaimed hardwood flooring. Very little crafting needs to be done beyond what would normally be done to install a new floor. However, there are also some more exotic hardwood flooring options as well.

In the past, many old growth trees were felled for lumber. Now, that lumber would be very expensive and reserved for high-end applications. Before industries had a good grasp on how much they were deforesting, old growth wood could be used for barn doors, ceiling joists, and other basic uses. That means that the frame of an old house or an old barn might be made of 100-year old teak. That would make an absolutely gorgeous hardwood floor. So, the manufacturers will buy that wood and treat it like new lumber. They’ll mill it into hardwood flooring and sell it as reclaimed wood.

Why Is It Desirable?

Different people have different reasons for preferring reclaimed hardwood. From a green point of view, the wood is desirable because it repurposes existing. No new trees have to be felled. That helps to fight deforestation around the world. From a design point of view, reclaimed wood is great because it looks incredible. Many hardwoods have oils that tend to darken the wood over time. When combined with weathering and handling, they develop a patina that looks antique and attractive. It’s the kind of visual appeal that you cannot replicate even with modern technology; only time can create the look of antique teak wood, for example.

Where Do You Find It?

There are two basic ways to find reclaimed hardwood. You can buy from a manufacturer who has bought it already, or you can source it yourself. If you know of local construction happening, the construction companies will sometimes discard the old wood for anyone who wants it. That wood could be great hardwood that you have turned into flooring.