Facts and Questions About Your Hardwood Floors

What’s the difference between prefinished and unfinished flooring?
Prefinished: Advantages are faster and easier installation, minimal disruption to your home, fast cleanup time and usually less expensive labor costs because sanding, staining and coating are performed in the factory. Also, you usually get an extended warranty with prefinished flooring, and finish that is very scratch resistant.
Unfinished: Advantages are availability of more wood species, widths and cuts that can be matched to existing wood floors. Also, unfinished flooring allows for custom onsite sanding, staining and coating with a protective sealant after installation to achieve a beautiful unique floor.
What is meant by “below grade,” “on grade,” or “above grade”?

Grading refers to where the soil, or ground, meets your house. Basements, even walkout basements, are always considered below grade since at least one wall is below ground level. Your home’s first floor sits at ground level (except for a walk-out basement) and is considered “on grade.” Any floors above ground level are “above grade.” It is very important you know the grade level of the floor(s) you want to install. Engineered flooring is designed to work at any grade level, and traditional ¾” solid flooring is only for “on grade” or “above grade.”

Where can I install hardwood flooring?
Engineered wood flooring is the best choice when installing below grade (in a basement) or over a concrete slab. However, traditional ¾” thick solid wood floor works great above grade, and in some cases may be used on concrete slabs (not in a basement) when glued down and used with appropriate moisture barriers. (To be sure you can glue your floor to concrete, verify with the flooring manufacturer and glue manufacturer.) Solid wood flooring should not be installed over radiant heat systems, but many engineered floors are compatible with radiant heat.


Which installation method should I choose?

There are three main ways to install wood flooring: glue down, nail down and floating. The method you choose should depend on where the floor is being installed, and over what type of subfloor. Traditional ¾” thick solid wood floors can be nailed or glued down over plywood, or glued down over concrete (not in a basement). Engineered wood floors can usually be nailed, glued, or floated over plywood or concrete, above or below grade.

What is a floating floor and does it move?
A pre finished floating floor isn’t directly attached to the subfloor. It has a foam underlayment on top of the subfloor to absorb sound and protect against moisture; the hardwood strips or planks are then laid on top. The flooring is glued or locked together with tongue and groove joints and the entire floor “floats” above the subfloor. It’s easy to install on nearly any surface. The “cushy” feeling you may sometimes feel with floating floors can be reduced or eliminated by ensuring your subfloor is as flat as possible—using floor leveling products—and a quality underlayment.
Since wood flooring expands and contracts seasonally, be sure to always leave an expansion gap around the perimeter of the floor—following the manufacturers installation instructions. (This gap is hidden by baseboard and base shoe and allows the floor to move without creating high spots or buckling).
What is “underlayment”?

Underlayment refers to the material placed between the subfloor and new floor. It serves many purposes depending on the quality of the material. The primary purpose is to provide a moisture barrier. Some underlayments can also provide an acoustical barrier to make the new floor quieter when walked on—especially in multi-level homes. Underlayment should be used with every floor, and always according to the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

Is hardwood flooring suitable for a kitchen, bathroom or workspace?

Yes. Wood flooring can handle heavy traffic and the occasional spill while retaining its luster and beauty. Our finishes are designed to more than hold their own against heavy residential and commercial foot traffic. We do suggest using mats in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room, and walk-off mats at all home entrances to protect against spills and tracking in dirt or other objects that could scratch the floor. If spills do occur, do not let them remain on your floor—just wipe up with a clean cloth or dry mop.

What is the most durable hardwood floor type available?

All hardwood floor materials that we use for flooring are very dependable and resilient. The different types of wood have different hardnesses. The harder the wood, the more resistant it is to scratches and damage. Some of the most popular types of wood that are used for flooring are Hard Maple, Red Oak, Cherry, Ash, and Birch. Of these types, they do have different scales of hardness but you will not see a great difference under normal wear and tear. Under more extreme traffic and conditions you probably will. This is something that we will consult with you on and find the best choice between cost and your needs.

What is meant by “acclimate” a hardwood floor?

This refers to allowing your new solid wood flooring to adjust to your home’s average temperature and humidity levels in the room where it will be installed. Acclimation is a critical step in the installation process, and if skipped, can result in damage to flooring after it has been installed—damage that would not be covered under warranty. If, for example, you live in an area with high temperature and humidity swings, you probably would need to install humidity controls to help maintain a consistent environment for your wood flooring. There is no set time period for solid flooring to acclimate to your home. It is important for the installer to have a good quality wood moisture meter to be able to measure the moisture in the wood and know when it has reached equilibrium with the home.

Why doesn't my floor look the same as the sample in the showroom?

Although it should look similar, each hardwood tree differs from others and even wood from the same tree can show variance. Wood is a 100% organic material shaped by nature. No trees or boards are alike, and variation should be expected and appreciated as nature’s unique signature.

Why are there gaps between the boards on my floor?

Seasonal expansion and contraction of flooring boards is considered normal. There is more humidity during the summer months and your floor soaks it up causing it to expand. Winter months are usually less humid and the floor dries out resulting in gaps between boards. While considered normal, you can minimize expansion and contraction by keeping the humidity in your home between 35 and 55% by using an air conditioner, humidifier or dehumidifier.

Why is the floor beneath my area rugs and furniture lighter than the rest of the floor?

All wood flooring is more or less photosensitive, and some species are very sensitive to ultra-violet light. It’s important to prevent the sun’s rays from discoloring your floor by shielding it against direct sunlight. However, it’s normal for hardwood floors exposed to even indirect sunlight to darken or lighten after a while, so for consistency, rotate rugs and furniture to equal out the amount of sunlight exposure and variances will eventually fade away.

Will my new floor have color variations?

Yes. Lower flooring grades will have a larger number of character markings and color variations, but you can expect some color variation in all grades. Keep in mind that certain light stain colors can emphasize color variation, while darker stains can help to reduce the appearance of color variation.

What is the best finish? Oil or water based?
There are advantages to both. The best type of finish depends on your personal preferences, but we can help you decide when we go on site and consult with you. There are actually three types of finish: oil base, water base, and acid cured finish. They all have advantages and disadvantages. Oil base dries very slowly, which makes it easy to work with and easier to do a great job. Because of its slow drying, it can also prolong the job. Oil base also yellows more than the other two.
Acid cured finish yellows less then oil base, dries very quickly, and is super strong. This makes it harder to work with, though it is done faster.
Water base also dries very quickly but has no smell like the acid cured finish. It is strong, but some people think it has a plastic look and does not hold up as well against water as the other two.
How do I restore my prefinished floor to look new again?

We offer products and techniques that will bring your floor back to its original appearance; just follow the directions on the product label and your floor’s beauty will reappear. We restore and refinish hardwood floors. We are experts in refinishing floors and will help you achieve the desired results without having to spend additional money on new flooring.

How many times can a floor be sanded down and refinished?

A solid ¾ inch plank used in a tongue and grooved hardwood floor should be able to be sanded professionally 5 to 6 times. This assumes that the sub-floor was somewhat level to begin with. A top-railed strip should be able to be professionally sanded 3-4 times.

Why choose a dustless process and equipment?
  • minimal cleanup is necessary
  • no lingering irritants – especially for those with allergies
  • minimal prep time for site protection
  • better finish on your floors
  • the entire process can be done more efficiently time wise
How do I clean my floor?
Surface-sealed floors: 
Most new wood floors, including our prefinished engineered brands, are factory sealed with urethane, polyurethane or polyacrylic. These are stain and water-damage resistant and easiest to care for and clean.
Cleaning: Simply sweep, vacuum or drymop daily and sometimes weekly in high-traffic areas, and monthly or seasonally in low traffic areas, and you’re done.
Mopping: You may use a slightly damp mop—never a soaking wet one—and mop in the direction of the wood grain.
  • Use our professional cleaning products to remove occasional scuffs, heel marks, stains and spills without dulling the finish of your floor.
  • It is important to use cleaners specifically designed for wood floors only—cleaners designed for other surfaces, or with harsh chemicals or wax, will dull the finish, damage the finish or make it slippery.
  • Frequently sweep and/or dry-dust your floor with a microfiber dusting pad; electrostatic action attracts dirt and other debris which are the main cause of scratches.
  • Vacuum with a floor-brush attachment in between boards and other hard to reach areas.
  • Place attractive floor mats or rugs in areas for water splashes such as kitchen, bath and laundry room.
Note, rubber-backed or non-ventilated floor mats or rugs can damage your floor; use only those made for hardwood floors and shake them out regularly. Use walk-off mats at entrances to the home to limit dirt and other debris being tracked inside.
  • Use a soft, dry towel to wipe up messes and spills immediately to avoid permanent stains.
  • Prevent scrapes and scratches by using floor protectors under furniture, and rugs in play areas to ensure children’s toys don’t scratch the floor.
  • Clean sticky spots with a slightly damp towel and wipe up any moisture left on your floor.
Do not:
Use oils, waxes or furniture soaps or sprays.
Use straight ammonia, alkaline products or abrasive cleaners.
Use water alone or vinegar and water to clean hardwood floors.
Penetrating-seal-treated and hard wax oil-treated floors: 
These floors are finished with a penetrating seal or oil finish to soak into the wood grain and harden—such as our Vintage Loft collection. This floor type usually requires a specific cleaner for hardwax oil finish, and can also be spot repaired with additional hard-wax oil that is easily applied. Follow the maintenance guide for these floors.
Cleaning: Just vacuum and/or sweep at least weekly. If a high-traffic area dulls between treatments, you can apply more hard-wax oil to the affected areas. Also consider applying a new coat to the entire floor annually.
Waxing: Remove dust, dirt and old wax buildup with the recommended cleaning product; wipe with a soft cloth to dry the floor; apply a thin coat of appropriate hard-wax oil and let it dry; then, buff with a cloth or machine in the direction of the wood grain. Always follow the recommendations in the flooring maintenance guide.
Same tips as for surface-sealed floors with the following differences:
Be aware dry heat during winter months can cause wood floors to shrink and crack. Consider using a central or room humidifier to keep the relative humidity in your home between 35 and 55%.
Do not:
Damp-mop waxed floors.
Use acrylic or water-based waxes or furniture cleaners.
Use oil soaps; the build-up will dull the floor’s surface and make refinishing difficult.
Of course we have everything you need to clean and maintain your hardwood floors.