Hardwood floors are magnificent, and if you’ve just had yours installed you’re probably concerned about protection. How do you keep them looking good? Cleaning is one of the best forms of protection, but there are other things to worry about too. Here are some tips:
- Sweep or vacuum (with a soft bristle vacuum head) regularly to keep sand, dirt, and grime from accumulating (this can scratch the finish).
- Use doormats outside every exterior door, and use rugs in high traffic areas of the house.
- If you wear high-heel shoes, keep them in good condition. Worn or damaged heels can expose a metal tip that can scratch or dent your floors. (It is not recommended to wear heels on hardwood flooring.)
- Keep the relative humidity in your home between %40-%50 year around (wood reacts to changes in humidity, and can shrink and warp). You can maintain your humidity at a fixed level by using a humidifier.
- If possible, use rugs in front of windows where direct sunlight comes in. Prolonged exposure to intense light discolors wood (this is completely natural). It is most noticeable with light colored woods.
- Use wood floor protector pads under furniture, especially chair and table legs, so they won’t scratch the floor when they’re moved.
- If your floors have a urethane or polyurethane finish, use the manufacturer’s recommended no-wax cleaner.
Unlike floor coverings made of synthetic materials, wood is a renewable resource and 100% recyclable. While wood flooring can last 100 years or more, most other floor coverings need to be replaced every 5-15 years, creating considerable waste ending up in landfill sites.
When most people think of the lumber industry they think of beautiful forests that have been left devastated, through clear-cutting, by companies that irresponsibly demolish forests for money. In fact, the North American hardwood industry never clear-cuts and, as members of the Canadian Lumberman’s Association, we are committed to purchasing lumber only from managed forests.
Medical professionals are united in their findings that hardwood floors are helping asthmatics and respiratory sensitive individuals live healthier lives.
In fact, it’s suggested that just about everyone derives some form of health benefit from living in a hardwood environment. Hardwood floors trap far less pollen, mites and mold. They don’t harbor animal dander and dust and clean up quicker and more effectively than carpeting.
The hard surface of wood floors also helps avoid artificial substances, such as pesticides, that can accumulate on some floor coverings.
Another concern for the home environment is the off-gassing of toxins that results from some synthetic materials. Any of these chemicals can make people in the home chronically ill.
LONGEVITY: Solid wood floors can last for a hundred years or more. Over the centuries, it has shown itself to be a durable floor choice.
EASY MAINTENANCE: Just wipe with a damp mop or sweep and clean with appropriate cleaning products as needed.
GOOD INVESTMENT: Wood floors add value to your home. Ask any real estate agent or interior decorator.
WARMTH: Not only is hardwood more pleasant to walk on than laminate or tile, but it is naturally warm. Wood is an excellent insulator, thanks to thousands of tiny air chambers per inch, which hold in heat.
VERSATILITY: Hardwood floors offer maximum choice in appearance. There are near endless grades, stains, species and finishes available. No matter how often you change your décor, the timeless beauty of your hardwood floor will compliment any design style.
You’d have a hard time finding a homeowner who doesn’t want hardwood floors. Everybody’s talking about its resurgence as the floor of choice (well, everybody in the housing business). Wall-to-wall carpeting is out, and hardwood floors are in. But are they worth the price? Or should you save money and go with laminate or carpeting?
Wood flooring is more expensive than carpeting or the increasingly common laminates that look similar to wood. If you’re on the line and can’t decide whether to install new hardwood floors (or maybe tear up your old carpeting to refinish the wood underneath), the following list might help. We’re going to take a look at some of the benefits of hardwoods (AKA why they’re still the most popular choice):
Thanks to today’s durable finishes that are easy to maintain, solid-wood floors can last for a hundred years or more. There are very few residential flooring materials that have been around this long. Over the centuries, wood has shown itself to be a lovely and durable floor choice. Other newer materials have yet to prove themselves.
Coziness and Warmth
Not only are hardwood floors more pleasant to walk on than laminate (which always feel cold and a little “fake” underfoot), but it is naturally warm. Wood acts as an excellent insulator, thanks to its thousands of tiny air chambers per cubic inch, which work to naturally hold in heat.
Hardwood is Hypoallergenic
Got allergies? Unlike carpets (AKA breeding grounds for mold, mildew, and dust mites), wood floors don’t give pollen, animal dander, mold, etc. any place to hide and thrive. Even when you professionally clean carpets, it’s impossible to get them entirely clean. In fact, getting them wet just makes things worse. Hardwood flooring is an excellent choice for anyone with any kind of environmental allergy. (And it makes good sense for everyone else too–who wants to lie down on a floor that’s hiding mold?)
Easy to Clean
With the occasional sweep and mop, your hardwood floors will look nice for a long time to come. Even families with dogs and kids are realizing that it’s easier to mop a hardwood floor than try to spray/scrub/wash grape Kool-Aid out of a stained carpet. Another benefit is that a scratch here or a gouge there just adds character to wood floors (but, hey, you can always have them refinished if you prefer perfection).
Hardwood Floors Increase Home Value
Unless you’re going to live in the same house for the rest of your life, you should think about how the flooring choices you make today will affect the price you can get for your home tomorrow. Carpet will look worn and used in just a few years, whereas wood floors last a long time and add value to a home. Even laminate flooring, which looks like wood flooring, is a distant second choice for homebuyers. It just doesn’t have the same warmth and feel of real wood.
These are just a few of the benefits of hardwood floors. We didn’t even mention the aesthetic value: at the end of the day, wood just looks better than the alternatives.
If you can afford to pay an extra couple dollars per square foot, go with hardwood.
If you settle for laminate or just replacing the carpeting, you may regret it down the road.
Shopping for hardwood flooring? There’s a lot to know….Here is a list of five tips to help educate you on hardwoods. This way, you’ll have a good idea what you want before you even step into the showroom.
1. Know the two kinds of genuine hardwood flooring — Hardwood floorboards come as either solid or engineered wood. Which you choose will affect how much you pay.
2. Laminates are not the same as hardwood flooring Laminates can look like hardwood, but they are not made from wood–at all. They are generally less desirable to potential homebuyers, but they are more affordable.
3. Hardwood flooring isn’t for every room in the house. Since wood is susceptible to water damage (it can rot, warp, etc.), it’s usually not recommended for bathrooms. Engineered boards can be installed on any floor, but solid wood boards (because they’re more susceptible to shrinking and expanding from moisture/temperature changes) aren’t usually used below ground level, such as in basements.
4. Species makes a big difference. Depending on what tree is used, hardwood floors can vary a lot in color, grain patterns, and texture. Look at a lot of different species of wood when you’re shopping around. If possible, see the wood installed (or at least photographs of it in a room), rather than just looking at sample boards.
5. Save time with pre-finished hardwoods you can either buy pre-finished hardwoods or you can buy them unfinished, meaning they will be stained on site. The latter requires a lot more maintenance and frequent re-staining. Pre-finished boards are much less hassle in the long run.
* Also make sure to ask about board lengths, pre-finishing process and where the lumber came from. If a company is selling flooring at a price that seems too good to be true there is most certainly a defect or problem with the product. Be aware and educate yourself a little before spending your hard earned cash on something that will disappoint you.