Hardwood flooring is any flooring product made of real wood sawn from timber and manufactured for use as a floor. Hardwood is available in a wide variety of different tree species and can be manufactured as solid hardwood (the planks consist of one solid piece of wood sawn from a single timber) or as engineered hardwood (a planks are made from multiple layers of wood adhered together). Hardwood flooring can come in planks, strips, parquet patterns and other shapes. Generally hardwood products come prefinished from the factory with stain and a wear layer to protect it, but in some cases the wood is installed without a factory finish and the finish is applied onsite. Some hardwood floors can be sanded or screened and refinished overtime to return a more pristine look and feel, however this process can be expensive, time consuming and messing. As a result the practice of sanding/screening and refinishing is becoming less common as consumers more often opt to replace older and worn out hardwood floors with entirely new ones.
Hardwood floors typically feature a tongue and groove construction so that the planks lock together. Hardwood floors are often nailed or stapled into the subfloor for installation. In some cases engineered wood may be glued to the subfloor. Before installing any hardwood floor a moisture test must be done to ensure the moisture rising from the subfloor does not warp or damage the floor after installation.
Most manufacturers recommend that any hardwood product be acclimated in the space that it will be installed for no less than 72 hours. It is also important to arrange the hardwood boxes for acclimation in a way that would give equal airflow to all of the boxes, ensuring each box of wood gets the same level of acclimation. Generally stacking the boxes no more than 4 high and with at least 6” of space around all sides will suffice.
No, you should not steam clean hardwood floors. Cleaning your hardwood floors with a steam cleaner or with excess moisture will damage your floors and cause them to warp. In many cases using a steam cleaner on your floors will void their warranty. Always consult the warranty guide for your floor before using any cleaning products. Some steam cleaner manufacturers may boast that their products are safe to use on hardwood floors (with the disclaimer that the floors must be properly sealed) but both the Wood Floor Covering Association and the National Wood Floor Covering Association do not recommend using steam cleaning products on hardwood. There are also no major hardwood floor manufacturers that recommend using steam cleaners on hardwood floors. Refer to the manufacturer of your floor or to your local Flooring America/Flooring Canada for other cleaning options that would be appropriate for your floor.
Hardwood floors are naturally resistant to damage and scratches from furniture, which is one of the factors that has contributed to their enduring popularity. Nonetheless, there are steps you can (and should) take to help prevent furniture scratches. For example, you can purchase small felt pads, which are placed on the ends of chair and table legs, to help furniture glide more easily over your floors. You might also consider using an area rug, which offers cushioning and protection while still leaving most of your gorgeous hardwood flooring exposed.
Hardwood floors are easy to clean, but there are still some basic rules you should follow to keep them looking their best. Based on many years of experience in the flooring industry, we generally recommend that you do a quick daily sweep with a soft bristle broom. This will remove any fine particles of dirt or grit that could otherwise wear down your flooring over time. For spills, we recommend using a soft cloth to wipe the soiled area. Together with the cloth, we recommend using a cleaning product designed for use on hardwood floors, such as our recommended floor care product, Resista Hardwood Floor Cleaner, to avoid further discoloration or damage. As an extra protective measure, you might wish to consider using humidifiers, which help to prevent warping and shrinkage.
If you’ve ever looked up hardwood flooring online, you probably bumped into three terms: “painting,” “staining,” and “refinishing.” “Painting” is straightforward; but what about the other two? “Staining” is the process of changing the wood to a darker color, usually by hand-applying a liquid wood stain product. “Finishing” is the process of applying a varnish, which, along with a coating of sealant, helps to protect the wood while giving it a glossier look. “Refinishing” involves redoing the current finish on your flooring, which revitalizes and restores its appearance. These procedures can be messy and difficult (especially if you’ve never done them before), which makes it a good idea to let the professionals handle the job.
Hardwood flooring comes in many different varieties, offering a huge range of colors and grain patterns to choose from. Some examples of popular hardwood flooring species include walnut, cherry, red oak, white oak, maple, hickory, ash, birch, beech, teak, and bamboo. Some of these species are native to the U.S., while others must be imported from abroad, potentially impacting the cost. They also vary in hardness, which is ranked using a scale called the “Janka Hardness Rating.” For example, walnut has a Janka Hardness Rating of 1010, making it slightly softer than birch, which has a Janka Hardness Rating of 1260.
Today’s hardwood floors are available in more varieties than ever before. Modern hardwood flooring is available in a wide assortment of colors, grain patterns, finishes, and styles, ranging from pale and glossy to dark and weathered. These variations depend partially on whether the floor is hand-scraped, wire-brushed, or smooth. The opposite of smooth floors, hand-scraped floors deliberately feature markings that show off craftsmanship, creating a more artisanal and old-fashioned look. Wire-brushed flooring is somewhere in the middle, striking a balance between chic polished floors and rustic distressed floors.
When you’re choosing hardwood flooring for your home, you have quite a few decisions to make. Engineered, or solid hardwood? Hand-scraped, smooth, or wire-brushed? Stained or unstained? Prominent grain pattern, or one that’s barely noticeable? Creamy yellow, deep mahogany, or somewhere in between? We’ll help you select the right products for any room in your home, breaking down key factors like your budget, your timeline, your design preferences, your lifestyle, and the amount of flooring you need installed.
Just like people, hardwood floors need time to “acclimate” to new environments. Acclimation, which is a critical stage of the floor installation process, is defined by the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) as “the process of adjusting (conditioning) the moisture content of wood flooring to the environment in which it is expected to perform.” This process generally requires at least 72 hours. It also takes additional time to complete the physical installation process, depending on factors like the size of the room and the condition of the existing floor. Due to the complexity of the process, it’s strongly recommended that you let an experienced professional handle the work, like the experts at Flooring America.
Each installation varies depending on whether your new hardwood is prefinished or unfinished. If the new material is unfinished, you will need to wait 24 hours after installation. This will ensure that the final coat of varnish has adequate time to dry and set. If the new hardwood is pre-finished, you can walk on the floor after installation is complete.
Some flooring projects are more complex than others, but all should be handled by qualified professionals. Even a tiny mistake could radically change the finished look of your floors (or the associated price tags), leaving you with a nasty surprise after all your hours of work and planning. When you let a team of experts handle the job for you, you can expect work that’s done right the first time, without any stress or mess. If you need help installing hardwood floors, contact us online, or simply walk into any one of our conveniently located retail stores.
The cost to install hardwood flooring is different for every homeowner, depending on factors like the type of wood you choose, the size of the area you are covering, and how much maintenance you need to perform over time. But, thanks to innovations like engineered hardwood, beautiful wood flooring is more affordable than you think — even in large spaces! To compare prices and browse great deals, visit one of our conveniently located retail stores, or take a tour of our virtual showroom. No matter your budget, we can help you find hardwood floors (or stunning lookalikes) that work for your wallet.