Even the best finished hardwood flooring starts to look worn out over time. When this happens, you have several options to get immaculate flooring again:
- Recoating (A fresh coat of finish with no sanding).
- Sanding and refinishing.
When you’re deciding between these choices, you should consider three fundamental issues.
By far, the most expensive option is replacing your finished wood flooring, while the least expensive is recoating. Your decision may be limited at the outset by what you can afford, but working with an expert hardwood flooring company, you might be surprised at how inexpensive new or re-sanded floors can be.
You can try to lower cost by doing the sanding, finishing, or installation yourself, but unless you really know what you’re doing, this can easily end up wasting money and time. Even if you get the project done, will it look as good as a professional job? Ask yourself if you can live with the results before deciding on DIY.
2. Age & Damage
Solid plank finished hardwood flooring can be sanded more often than engineered wood flooring, but even solid plank gets to the point where it doesn’t have enough thickness to be sanded anymore. If you can see the tongue and groove where the boards join, it’s time for replacement.
However, if you have enough wood for sanding, dustless sanding works great to remove signs of normal wear and tear before refinishing.
In fact, sanding might not even be necessary. If your floors aren’t scratched, stained, or dented, a simple recoating can restore their luster.
Sometimes a particular section may show extreme damage—such as warping due to water damage, pet stains, exposure to sun, or gouging—but the rest of the floor is relatively fine. In that case, you might be able to get by with replacing only that section. Talk to a finished hardwood flooring expert to find out what’s feasible.
When it’s time to refurbish or replace their hardwood flooring, it’s also an opportunity to change the look and feel of your floors.
Keep in mind that staining after sanding can dramatically alter appearance. Staining can produce countless hardwood colors to create the new mood you want.
But sometimes replacement is the only way to get the look you envision. For example, if you have oak flooring but you want an exotic wood floor, you’re obviously going to need an entirely new floor! Likewise, if you want to change the width or length of boards, or their direction, you’ll have to rip up the old floor and replace it.
For many people, however, this cost is well worth it—it buys them the finished wood flooring that will truly make them happy.
If you love the character and style of hardwood floors, why not have them in your kitchen?
In most homes, the kitchen is one of the busiest rooms, where people often gather. That’s why they’re a perfect place to show off gorgeous hardwood floors.
And because hardwood floors are durable and easy to maintain, they’re perfect for the heavy use most kitchens experience.
Why Hardwoods Look Great in Kitchens
A hardwood floor can make a kitchen feel more cozy, comfortable, and inviting. It brings warmth to the room.
Putting hardwood floors in the kitchen can also help pull together your interior design if you have hardwood floors in other parts of your home, creating a seamless appearance. Finished hardwood flooring can draw the kitchen into the “flow” of the rest of the home.
Because of the central role a kitchen has in most homes, hardwood floors can make it a showpiece room that gets plenty of “oohs and aahs.”
Hardwood floors are also easy to keep clean. Spills can easily be wiped up, and the floor is no problem to sweep.
In potentially high-moisture areas of the kitchen, such as around the sink and dishwasher, you might want to use rugs to protect the floor.
And because hardwood floors are so long-lasting, you won’t have to worry about replacing the floor any time soon due to the kitchen’s heavy use.
Once hardwood floors are installed in a kitchen, you’ve just got to enjoy them.
Whether you’re selecting flooring for a new home or planning a kitchen remodel, hardwood floors in a kitchen not only look gorgeous and classy, they perform wonderfully and are easy to care for. Come by our showroom or give us a call to discuss how you can make your kitchen look stunning with hardwood floors.
If you have new finished hardwood flooring in your home—congratulations! It’s impossible to beat the beauty and character of quality hardwood flooring.
Hardwood floors are easy! In fact, if you have hardwood floors, you have probably found them to be the easiest floors you have ever had to clean and maintain.
Here are six useful tips that we’ve picked up in our decades of installing and refurbishing hardwood floors.
1. Realize that rugs, mats, and furniture pads are your friends.
To collect dirt and grime, it’s a good idea to place rugs or mats by entryways—as long as the coverings aren’t backed by rubber or other material that will harm finished hardwood flooring.
Rugs or mats can also be placed where water is likely to be spilled, such as around sinks in kitchens or bathrooms. Throughout the home, rugs can be used to protect flooring in high-traffic areas. Rugs also work beautifully to integrate the hardwood flooring into your overall interior design.
Furniture that is moved on a regular basis should have felt glides on all legs to protect your hardwood floors. You won't have to worry about a fidgety guest scooting around your floor if all of your chairs are equiped with felt glides.
2. Consider leaving shoes at the door.
Shoes are one of the primary causes of wear and tear on finished hardwood flooring. Pebbles and grit can get lodged in the treads and can dent and scratch the floors. Spikey high heels can also dent almost any hardwood floor. Slippers and socks will be much more forgiving, but if you must wear shoes, make a habit of using a rough welcome mat or shoe brush/scraper outside the door before entering. Your hardwood floors are easy to live on, and with just a little precaution, you can have them looking great for years and years.
3. We love our pets, don't bannish them from your home.
It is no secret pet nails scratch or dent hardwood flooring. Dogs love to run and chase, it is all part of what makes us love them! Choosing the right floor is critical. A floor with a little grain or texture in the surface will be much easier to take care of if a dog is part of your family.
If your pet doesn't always make it outside to relieve himself, you may have problems with permanent damage. That being said, simply being mindful of their habits and watching out for accidents before they become a problem is the key. Hardwood floor finishes today are very tough and can hold up to the occasional accident as long as it is cleaned up quickly. When an accident is discovered, clean it up right away.
4. Follow instructions for using cleaning products.
Manufacturers of prefinished hardwood flooring will provide guidance about what cleaners work best with their finish. If your hardwood floors were sanded and finished on site, the provider of your floor can recommend the right cleaner for your new flooring.
5. Clean spills immediately.
Even with modern water-resistant finishes, spills left sitting on a hardwood floor can result in damage. Large spills can soak between planks, warping the wood. Remember to wipe up spills as soon as you find them. If you have a large spill, call your hardwood floor specialist. They can help guide you on how to deal with the spill and hopefully avoid a lot of unnecessary expense.
6. Routinely sweep or vacuum.
Even if you’re careful about what you track inside, finished hardwood flooring will inevitably collect some dirt and debris. Dusting, sweeping, or vacuuming regularly can help scratching and scuffing. If you choose to vacuum, remember to either use a non-rotating floor attachment or turn off the rotating beater bar on the unit.
The Personality of Hardwood Floors and Their Owners
Do you like to express your personality?
Most people do, especially when it comes to creative undertakings like planning their home and its interior design. That’s why one of the great appeals of custom hardwood floors is that there’s literally a world of options, so you can always find a look that fits in with your personal design and decorating preferences.
Actually, custom hardwood floors can do more than “fit in.” They can be the foundation of your home’s personality and uniqueness.
When choosing the species of the wood for your finished hardwood flooring, you can widely expand your range of choices by looking beyond domestic species to the rest of the world. Asian Walnut, Brazilian Cherry, Brazilian Walnut, Santos Mahogany, and Spotted Gum are among the many exotic species available through quality hardwood flooring companies.
Your custom hardwood floors will definitely stand out if you have exotic wood flooring installed. And because of the huge range of exotic species available—each with a different color and grain pattern—you can be sure to make them stand out in a way that reflects your style.
Taking the Extra Step
Another way to give your custom hardwood floors a distinct personality is by adding finishing touches such as hardwood borders or medallions.
Hardwood borders range from feature stripes in doorways or passageways to elaborate, elegant borders that frame entire rooms.
Hardwood medallions can really let you make a personal statement, serving as your “signature.” Working with a hardwood flooring company, you can find a wide selection of quality hardwood medallions in countless designs.
Another nice finishing touch is to have wood vents that match the flooring—or risers and treads on staircases that match the floors.
Color and personality seem to go together. A person’s favorite color often says a lot about them, and your choice of hardwood colors will say a lot about the “feel” you want your floors to have. With custom hardwood floors, you can get about any color you want, so you can choose specific colors that appeal to you and convey your distinct personality and style.
Some people like a natural look and prefer not to stain, and there are many wood species that have remarkably beautiful natural color. But if you have a certain color in mind that you can’t find naturally—or if you just like stain—then your color choices are virtually unlimited.
Don’t underestimate the opportunity you have to express your personality when making decisions about custom hardwood floors. You have so many options of species, color, and special touches that you can be as creative and unique as you want.
Maybe it's because of the emergence of do-it-yourself websites and countless DIY television shows, but more people than ever seem to be thinking about refinishing their hardwood flooring themselves.
But before you make the decision to try it yourself, consider these six reasons why it’s usually better for professionals to do the job.
1. You might be very skilled at home-improvement projects, but that doesn’t mean you’re as skilled at refinishing as someone who’s been doing that specific job for years.
Ask yourself, even if you get the job done, will it look as good as it could? Remember, you might save some money, but if you’re dissatisfied with the results, did you really spend your money wisely? It takes experience to get it just right.
2. You can damage the hardwood flooring.
If you don’t have experience with refinishing, there’s the real possibility that you’ll make mistakes while sanding, staining, or applying the finish—mistakes that harm the flooring and can’t be simply (or inexpensively) undone. Without experience with hardwood floor refinishing, this is easy to do, even if you’re good with DIY jobs.
3. The savings probably aren't as much as you think.
You may save a little in a upfront cost because you're not paying for labor, but when you compare the cost of a professional job to what you'll spend on equipment and materials to do it yourself—and then add in your valuable time—you may very well find that you're not really saving much, if anything at all.
4. You will probably take longer to do the job than a pro.
The length of the job will depend on whether sanding and staining are involved, as well as other factors, but however long it takes an experienced hardwood flooring company to do the job, it will certainly take you longer doing it on your own.
And if your time for the project is interrupted by your normal daily life (work, children, etc.) then you could easily find yourself with a drawn-out project, while the rooms being refinished are unusable and the furniture and other stuff you’ve moved out are taking up space in the rest of your home.
5. If you need to sand, you won’t have access to the same equipment as a hardwood flooring company does.
The sanders you can rent are smaller machines that operate on 110 electricity. The professional machines are heavier and operate on 220 electricity. The smaller, less-efficient rental sanders can get the job done however they are harder to use and and will take much longer to complete the project.
Traditional sanding produces a lot of dust. We are not aware of any rental machines that have satisfactory dust containment. So, if you plan on doing the floor sanding process on your own, you will need to plan a few extra days of cleaning. Professional companies that have dust containment trailers will control about 98% of the dust. A simple household dusting will be all that is needed after a professional sanding job.
Many people fall in love with dark hardwood colors. Rich, dark finished hardwood flooring can:
- Help create a classic, formal look.
- Make a room seem cozier.
- Be used to create a pleasing contrast with lighter colored furnishings, drapery, rugs, etc.
- Be paired with dark furnishings, drapery, rugs, etc. to unify a room.
If you’re considering dark finished hardwood flooring in your home, you can get it in three ways.
1. Natural color
Many woods are naturally dark, so you can simply select a dark-colored species, such as black walnut. A natural dark color is what many people are after when they install exotic wood floors, using woods such as Brazilian teak or Jarrah.
Stain allows you to choose from a wide variety of hardwood floors, and common hardwood choices such as oak flooring usually stains very easily.
There are some limitations based on the type of wood, but generally speaking you can stain floors as dark as you want, all the way up to practically black.
3. Stain accenting natural color
Working with a hardwood flooring specialists, you can enhance the color of natural woods with stain—not significantly altering the color, but adding warmth to its tone. Using stain to emphasize a natural color, many woods can be darkened in a way that brings out their natural beauty.
What About Dust, Dirt, and Scratches?
Dark hardwood flooring has a reputation for showing dust, dirt and scratches, and there’s truth in that perception. Compared to lighter colors, dark hardwood colors do contrast more with light-colored things that end up on the floor, making those things stand out, just as dirt is more obvious on a dark car than a light one.
With dust and dirt, there’s little that can be done other than to keep the floors swept or vacuumed regularly. You can minimize the look of scratching by choosing a grainier wood.
If you expect your floors to receive a lot of wear and tear—from children or pets, for example—you should be somewhat wary of dark hardwood colors.
Explore Your Options
If you think dark hardwood colors might be just the right fit for your taste and interior design goals, start investigating your choices by talking with a hardwood floor expert. You’ll learn what will work, how much it will cost, and what alternatives you have.
If you’re in the market for finished hardwood flooring, you have so many choices, it can be overwhelming. Solid planks or engineered wood flooring? Prefinished or sand on site? Domestic or exotic species?
It hasn’t always been this way. In fact, just a generation ago, solid plank flooring sanded and finished on site was essentially the only option for homeowners. Then in the 1990s, engineered and pre-finished alternatives entered the picture.
This variety makes it easier to find finished hardwood flooring that fits your taste, needs, and budget, but to navigate the multitude of options, you need to understand the fundamental differences between the choices. Here’s a brief primer.
Solid plank vs. Engineered
Despite the availability of alternatives, solid plank finished hardwood flooring is still the choice of many—and with good reason. It lasts longer than engineered hardwood because it can be re-sanded more times. It’s generally less expensive than good quality engineered wood flooring And with solid plank flooring, you know exactly what you’re getting, whereas with engineered wood flooring, you also have to consider the quality of the manufacturing process and the composite material that’s used below the top layer of genuine hardwood.
The quality of engineered flooring has come a long way, though. It’s not at all a matter of “solid plank is always better.” In fact, in many cases—such as in basements or high-moisture areas—engineered wood flooring is clearly the better choice because it is more stable. This stability also might appeal to you, even in areas where solid plank could just as easily be used.
You can find outstanding engineered wood floor products, particularly by consulting with a hardwood flooring company you trust, to help you evaluate the quality of the products you’re considering and recommend the best-performing engineered flooring.
Sand on Site vs. Prefinished
With both solid plank and engineered flooring, you can choose to have the flooring sanded on site, or you can buy flooring that’s been finished in the factory.
When done by an experienced, skilled hardwood floor installer, sanding on site—and then staining (if you want) and finishing—will provide a floor with more richness, depth, and character. And by sanding on site, you’re not limited to the finishes chosen by the manufacturer.
If you decide on prefinished hardwood flooring, it’s once again important to consult with a hardwood floor expert to find the best products on the market.
Domestic vs. Exotic
Today, there’s more availability of exotic wood flooring from other parts of the world than ever before, even as engineered hardwood. Exotic species provide a unique, luxurious look that appeals to many people. Some are also harder than any domestic species you’ll find. But the supply is still relatively limited compared to domestic hardwoods, and transportation also drives up the cost.
Point2Homes recently analyzed 300,000 real estate listings from 2012 to find out what words are most often used to describe homes for sale.
Not surprisingly, “beautiful” topped the list, but in the second spot was “hardwood floors.” That’s not surprising either—people love finished hardwood flooring, and it’s a great selling point. The fact that “hardwood floors” ranked second in Point2Homes’ list clearly shows that real estate agents have seen how much value home buyers place on hardwood flooring.
But hardwood floors’ contribution to a home’s value has many variables. Here are four to consider.
1. A lot of the value depends on where you live. For example, in areas where finished hardwood flooring is common, not having it could lower resale value. But in places where hardwood flooring isn’t expected, it might not add much value because home buyers looking in that area won’t (or can’t) pay extra for them.
2. A primary attraction of custom hardwood floors is that you can express your personality and taste. But if you chose an uncommon hardwood floor, you should realize that not all home buyers will share your taste, possibly increasing time on the market as you wait for just the right buyer to come along. On the other hand, a distinct floor can really pay off if you find a buyer who falls in love with that particular look and is willing to pay for it.
3. The value you get from your floors can’t always be quantified in the sales price. In many cases, finished hardwood flooring doesn’t make a home sell for more—but it does make it sell faster, which can have immense value.
4. Make sure you buy quality hardwood floors. Low-quality floors can go downhill to the point that the best option before a sale is complete replacement—and there goes your “investment.”
In some cases, the primary advantage of finished hardwood flooring in terms of home sales may be that you can sell your home faster, which is nothing to scoff at. But, although it’s not a given, you can most likely also offset some of the cost of hardwood floors when you sell your home.
Every hardwood floor creates a distinct feel. It might be cozy, casual, rustic, formal, elegant, dark, bright, or any number of other moods, but each floor has a character that sets the tone for a room.
Five elements will be crucial in determining the feel of your finished hardwood flooring.
Each species has a unique grain pattern. Some species have prominent patterns; others are more subtle. For a sleek, minimalist look, or for a formal room, less-prominent grain is often preferred, whereas bolder grain patterns create a more traditional, casual look.
You’ll also need to consider whether you can see pores within the grain (“open” grain) and how the boards are cut.
Each species also has a unique color. Light colors create a more open, breezy feel, while dark colors generally help “warm up” a room.
You also can decide to stain your hardwood floors to alter the natural color or accentuate it.
Hardwood floors can be wire-brushed, hand-scraped, or hand-distressed to add texture that helps create rustic, aged, and well-lived-in looks.
Hardwood is generally categorized as first, second, third, or rustic grade, but first grade isn’t necessarily the best—it just means it has the least color variation, knots, wormholes and other “defects.” Which grade is best depends on the look you’re after. If you want a natural look, irregularities in the wood are signs of character.
Finished hardwood flooring will reflect light, but how much (its “sheen”) depends on how it’s finished. There are various levels of sheen, ranging from high-gloss (very reflective) to low luster (the appearance of no finish at all). Typically, the more reflective a finish, the more formal floors appear.
Putting It All Together: Ralph’s Hardwood Floor Collections
We’ve been installing finished wood floors for almost half a century, giving us plenty of opportunity to learn firsthand which combinations of species, color, texture, grade, and sheen work best together to create certain moods.
Over the years, we’ve used this knowledge to develop a line of hardwood floor Collections. Each Collection consists of multiple hardwood floor choices, which we designed by matching each of the five elements above to achieve a specific look and mood.
If you’re after a particular feel, there’s a good chance we have a product in one of our Collections that was designed with that feel in mind.
Not sure of what you want? Looking over our Collections can help you see the possibilities.
When building a home with finished wood floors or installing them in an existing home, you have an abundance of choices. You can completely customized your hardwood flooring, by choosing the species, grade, width, color, texture, and sheen. A pre-finished floor may be exactly what you are looking for.
Custom Hardwood Flooring
This choice is for homeowners who want to specify every aspect of the flooring—species, grade, color, finish, and surface. This control may be necessary to get exactly the look you’re after.
This type of flooring is finished before it’s installed, but there is nonetheless a wide choice of species, color, width, grade, and finish (e.g., distressed, bevel, wire brush). There are also other pre-finished hardwood-like materials available, such as cork (made from the bark of the cork tree) and laminate. Pre-finished products don’t have to be the poorly made flooring you see in the big-box home-improvement stores; there are plenty of quality manufacturers to select from.
Have Fun and Get the Floor You Want
Whichever option you choose, the process of selecting the floor that best fits your home can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of building or renovating. Finished wood flooring can be used in so many creative and exciting ways to express your taste and help define your home’s “personality.” Visit our showroom and talk to the experts about how you can get the finished hardwood floors of your dreams.