Author Archives: dancustom

The Best Hardwood Floors For People With Dogs

If you want hardwood floors for your home but you have dogs, you need to consider a few things. Namely, the dog is likely to slip and slide around on your hardwood floor, especially if the floor is new. Also, the dog’s claws can scratch at the finish on the floor or even scratch at the wood. There are a few ways to avoid these problems. Many people will recommend a harder wood that will be more resistant to scratches. That’s a great idea but it will not account for the slipping and sliding of your dog on the slippery floor. If you want a floor that won’t show scratches and that your dog can walk on easily, you should consider a textured hardwood floor. Fortunately, textured hardwood is very on trend right now.

Textured Hardwood

Textured hardwood is, as the name implies, hardwood that has a surface texture other than polished smooth. There are several different types of textured hardwood floors but the two that are best for dog owners are open grain floors and wire brushed floors. An open grain floor is one that is sanded differently than a standard hardwood floor. A standard hardwood floor is sanded smooth as possible. An open grain hardwood floor is one that emphasizes the natural grain of the wood.

Open grain hardwood has pores and grains so large that they actually stand up on the surface of the wood and are easily visible. You can run your hand over the floor and feel the grain. While your dog’s claws might still scratch an open grain wood, the scratches will be much less prominent. The surface is already riddled with imperfections and texture; a few scratches won’t stand out. Your dog should also be able to get better traction on the wood as well.

Wire Brushed Wood

If you don’t want an open grain wood type, you can still get a textured floor. A wire-brushed floor is one that has been brushed with a wire-bristled brush. The metal bristles scrape at the wood to make subtle scratches all over the wood. The subtle scratches help to reduce the shimmer of the wood to make it more understated. They also better replicate the distressed look of aged wood that is very trendy right now. The hundreds of thousands of tiny scratches act as tiny treads that will give your dog some traction.

These two different types of textured hardwoods are very popular right now simply for aesthetic reasons. They also have utilitarian uses.

Can You Install Hardwood On Your Porch?

Hardwood is often thought of as purely a type of flooring for your living room or even your kitchen. It’s thought of as a luxurious type of flooring that is high maintenance but looks great. However, hardwood flooring used to be one of the only ways to install a floor on a home. That means it was used in practically every room of a house. Is that still the case?

Choosing the Right Hardwood

Every hardwood is different. Some of them are more appropriate than others for installation on a porch. When installing wood on a porch, the concerns are going to be sun, precipitation, and pests. Pests such as termites enjoy damp wood that has vulnerabilities such as cracks or splinters. Precipitation such as snow and rain will slowly penetrate into the pores of the wood to cause it to swell and crack. This can also lead to mold and mildew that will eat at your porch. Finally, the sun will dry out the wood, causing it to contract. The sun will also bleach the surface of the wood over time.

If you’re installing wood on the porch, you need to choose a wood that is not as susceptible to these things. Many types of hardwood have natural oils that make them less vulnerable to mold and mildew. Some are even resistant to pests. Ipe and teak are examples of wood that is great for use outdoors. They’re also woods that are often used when constructing classic boats. They were used to create boats because of the same properties that make them great for a porch.

Ask an Expert

Installing hardwood on your porch is not terribly common anymore but it’s not unheard of. When you’re looking at hardwood for your porch, you should talk with a flooring expert about what to expect. They’ll tell you how to avoid cupping, warping, and swelling. The changing temperatures will affect the wood but a good plan of action can mitigate the changes.

They’ll also be able to help you choose between prefinished hardwood and unfinished hardwood. Prefinished wood is often considered to have a stronger resistance to rot and damage. Furthermore, engineered hardwood is often thought to be more resistant to warping. These are all considerations that could affect the choice you make.

What Is Scratching Your Hardwood Floor?

Scratches in hardwood floors are very difficult to get out. If you haven’t figured out what is scratching them, you could find yourself spinning in circles. You sand and refinish a scratched section, only to find a new section is scratched up. You have to diagnose the source of the scratching before you can put an end to it. Here are some of the common culprits.

High Heel Shoes

If you have to wear them for work or if you are inviting guests over for a party, high heel shoes could be scratching your floor. That’s especially true if the heels are stilettos and if they’re damaged. High heels place a lot of pressure on your floor, but typically, not enough to dent or scratch the floor. That’s because the heels typically have a rubber cap over the point of contact. However, that rubber cap will wear down over time. So, if the heel has exposed the hard material underneath, it can easily scratch the floor.

High heels, especially damaged ones, can be very slippery on a hardwood floor as well. You’re probably better off just carrying them and putting them on in the car or leaving them by the door. Your floor and your ankles will thank you.

Pet Claws

Pet claws can be harder than most hardwoods. If they’re left untrimmed, they can scrape and gouge the hardwood flooring. In fact, untrimmed claws can scratch past the protective finish and scratch the wood. If you keep the nails trimmed, they’re less likely to scratch all the way down to the wood; however, they will still affect the hardwood. Your best options for pet claws are to keep them trimmed and to put down some runners for your pet. They’ll prefer the better traction of a rug anyway.

Chairs

If you have dinner chairs, they could be scratching your carpet. As someone slides them out and scoots up to the table, they could be leaving tiny scratches in the wood. Some chairs are made of woods that are harder than flooring wood. Others have nails or screws that could protrude from the wood. The best option is rubber caps that go over the chair legs. The rubber caps will keep the chair from scratching up your hardwood. It will also keep the chairs from sliding around.

These are common culprits but definitely not the only ones. Furniture, dirt, and household chemicals could be scratching your floor as well.

Never Do These Things to Your Hardwood Floor

When properly maintained, a hardwood floor is very resilient. The hardwoods used for the flooring are very hard, and the finishes protect them even further. However, some things acn still damage your wood flooring. Other things make it more susceptible to damage. For example, anything that degrades teh polyurethane or oil coating on the floor will increase the chances of damage to your floor.

Never Use an Abrasive Cleaner

Some cleaners that you can buy, especially ones designed for scrubbing the bathroom, tend to come with abrasive elements. The cleaner itself could be a powder, or it just might contain scrubbing elements. Either way, those elements are designed for materials harder than hardwood such as porcelain. If you use an abrasive cleaner on your floor, you could scratch the finish on the floor. In some cases, you could even scratch the hardwood itself.

Never Use Harsh Chemicals

Certain chemicals that you use on your hardwood floor could be too harsh for the coating on your floor. Most floors are coated in either polyurethane or oil. The polyurethane or oil serves to protect the wood itself. If you use a harsh chemical that eats away at the oil or polyurethane, it could expose the wood tod amage. Furthermore, you should void even mild chemicals that will interact negatively with your floor.

For example, dish soap is designed to cut through oil. If you have an oiled floor, dish soap will remove the protective layer even though it’s a relatively mild chemical.

Never Pour Chemicals Directly on the Floor

When you’re cleaning your hardwood floor, it can be tempting to just pour the cleaning chemicals on the floor and then spread them around with a mop or brush. However, that could create problems similar to pouring water directly on the floor. If the chemical seeps between the planks of wood, it can cause moisture to be trapped in the flooring. That can lead to mold, mildew, and warping. Instead, apply the chemical to your cleaning apparatus, and then spread it around.

Never Use Scratching Brushes

Some brushes designed for cleaning dishes or the bathroom could actually be too harsh for your wooden floor. A wire brush, for example, can be used to clean porcelain but it will scratch hardwood. A good layer of polyurethane or oil should protect the hardwood floor. If you need to scrub it to get it clean, you need to make sure you clean more often and/or reapply your finish.

Selecting Flooring for New Construction

Choosing the different finishes for your new construction project is an exciting process. There are a lot of choices for flooring and each with its own benefits and limitations. Starting from scratch with a new construction flooring project can be overwhelming especially when you look at all the different flooring types on the market. When you are starting to select flooring you will want to think about the furnishings and feel of your home to ensure the flooring will fit your style.

Stone flooring is a popular flooring type and can be a great option for some homeowners. Stone flooring can be sandstone, marble, limestone or other flooring types. Stone flooring is easy to maintain, helps keep allergies at bay, and can last for years to come. Stone just needs to be swept and occasionally mopped.

Hardwood is another popular flooring type and comes in a lot of different varieties. There is solid hardwood as well as engineered hardwood. These are both classic options that are warm and inviting while still being durable. Hardwood really adds a level of luxury to any more. Hardwood comes in a variety of plank sizes and lengths to change the character of the space. Hardwood is susceptible to damage and dropping heavy items, sliding furniture and some everyday usage can lead to dents and scratching.

Laminate is another flooring choice that is wallet friendly and can look like wood, stone or brick flooring. There are a lot of different styles, colors and patterns available and laminate is good for resisting dents, scratches and staining. Laminate can warm and discolor if liquid is spilt on them.

Tile is another great flooring choice and works best in specific rooms of your home like the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. There are tons of colors, sizes, styles and faux finishes available within the tile flooring family. You can even choose tile flooring that looks like wood or stone. Tile is a great option because it is easy to clean, durable and versatile.

Carpet is also a great choice depending on the room you are putting flooring in and what style you are wanting. Good quality carpet can last for a long time and is warm and inviting. Carpet can work well in hallways, in bedrooms and bonus rooms. Carpet does require some upkeep to keep it clean and length its life.

The flooring you choose for your home will vary based on what your needs are. Homes with small children may want more durable flooring and carpet in the family room for playing while a family with pets pay want all hard flooring to eliminate allergens. Your contractor and designer can help you with style and design choices for flooring but the type of flooring is really an individual choice.

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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.