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.
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With our experience—and a state-of-the-art dust containment system—we are able to minimize the disturbance for homeowners when we refinish or install hardwood floors in an existing home. But even with the great care we take, there’s no getting around the fact that installation or refinishing can disrupt the normal routine of people living there.
So why be home at all?
Wouldn’t it be better to pack an overnight bag and kick back worry-free in a hotel while the work is done? Put up the “do not disturb” sign if you want. Sleep in. Lounge in the spa. Leisurely take in the local sites. Get away from the everyday. Then return home to be greeted by your reinvigorated home!
Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?
Relax While the Work Is Done
Well, that’s what we’re offering at Ralph’s Hardwoods. For eligible hardwood floor refinishings or installations in existing homes, we’ll treat you to a two-night stay at the Appleton Comfort Suites or the Green Bay Comfort Suites.
To be eligible, the project must be a minimum of $2,500.00. It must be scheduled for completion before Feb. 28, 2013, but that gives you plenty of time to get scheduled and enjoy your free stay. (The stay also must be before that date.) All you have to do is fill out this form and we’ll email you a redemption certificate that you can present to your Ralph’s salesperson. We’ll then mail you a gift certificate good at either Comfort Suites location mentioned above.
The Best Part of the Deal Will Be Waiting for You at Home
In the grand scheme of things, a stay in a hotel shouldn’t have any impact on your decision to refinish or install hardwood floors. The decision to invest in hardwood floors should be driven by an appreciation of how much long-term value and beauty hardwood flooring can add to your home.
We have a long history of superior customer service, and a soothing hotel stay while work is being done is simply our way of showing how much we value our customers. We hope you’ll contact us to discuss your hardwood flooring options, so you can experience for yourself the quality or our products, the skill of our work, and our dedication to customer satisfaction.
The hotel stay is the icing on the cake!
Remember how great your finished wood floors looked when they were new? Take a good look at them now. Do they still look as beautiful? Or have they become dull and scratched?
You may not have even noticed this wear and tear because it happened gradually and you see the floors every day. But people who visit your home will notice. It’s the same phenomenon that occurs when you haven't seen a niece or nephew for some time—people who see them every day may only be vaguely aware of how much they have changed, but to someone who hasn’t seen them in a while, the change is dramatic.
And worn-looking hardwood flooring isn’t just an aesthetic problem—it’s a sign that the finish is wearing off. If the finish gets too thin, water can turn the floor grey, and the wood is highly susceptible to other damage.
So what can you do to restore your finished hardwood flooring to its previous splendor and provide the necessary protection for the wood? Will hardwood floor sanding be necessary?
When Refinishing Is the Answer
There are cases when a worn floor will need to be re-sanded, or even replaced if there’s not a thick enough layer of wood to allow for sanding. But often you can restore the beauty and protection to your floors by simply recoating them, which is of course the less-expensive option.
If you think you can get by with recoating, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the floor have deep scratches, gouges, or areas of water damage in it? If so, hardwood floor sanding is called for. Recoating can’t fix or hide those problems.
- Have you cleaned your floor properly? Finished hardwood flooring should be cleaned with an approved cleaning product specifically designed for finished hardwood floors. If you’ve used oil soaps or furniture polish on your floor, the new finish can wrinkle or separate, so re-coating will not work and re-sanding is necessary.
- Do you want to change the color of your finished hardwood floors? To change the color of the stain, you’ll have to re-sand. That said, you can affect the appearance by recoating only. The finish determines the sheen—gloss, semi-gloss, satin, or matte— and tints in the finish can modify the color.
Of course, there are other considerations in deciding how to reinvigorate your finished hardwood floors. We’ll be glad to schedule an inspection to discuss your situation and determine whether recoating without sanding will do the trick.
Intuitively, it would seem that a 25-year-warranty for prefinished wood flooring means that the manufacturer is VERY confident in the durability of its finish.
But a closer look reveals that what appears to be a manufacturer's trust in its product and a guarantee of your purchase for the warranty period is often heavily weighted in the favor of the manufacturer.
Pay Attention to the Details
There are plenty of quality prefinished hardwood flooring manufacturers, and prefinished wood floors are an excellent choice for many homeowners, so we certainly would not discourage the purchase of them.
But before placing value on a lengthy warranty, carefully read it. You’ll often discover they fall short on coverage, but a wise consumer won't be fooled.
The Finer Details
Most warranties include a “wear through” provision that guarantees the finish won’t wear off more than a certain percentage of the floor. But that percentage is often as much as 10 percent of total square footage—and that’s a lot of messed-up floor to live with until the problem gets so bad that the warranty kicks in!
And finish “wearing through” is not the same as finish becoming dull. Loss of sheen is almost never covered, but what are you going to do? Live with dull floors?
You will want the floors refinished, but this will have to be paid for by you—not the manufacturer. And once the floors are refinished, the warranty is void.
Exclusions Limit Value
Situations that will void a typical prefinished flooring warranty are normal wear and tear your average family will inflict on a floor:
- Improper maintenance-Your teenage daughter cleaned with an unapproved cleaner.
- Improper installation-Installing your own floors or hiring an inexperienced installer can be a costly mistake.
- Fading caused by sunlight-Any hardwood floor will change color in sunlight, this is nearly unavoidable.
- Damage caused by pets-Pet nails will cause surface scratches in the finish and heavier pets can actually dent some hardwood floors.
- Damage caused by rough use-Tonka trucks, dropping soup cans, did we mention pets?
You Might Move
The average length of homeownership is roughly seven years. A warranty is only valuable to you as long as you own the home. Most warranties are not transferrable to new owners, therefore, the warranty adds no value to your home in the long run.
Don’t be misled by long warranties—A company's reputation will say far more about the quality of their floors than an overinflated warranty ever will.
New or refinished hardwood floors aren't difficult to care for. However, they can be damaged with improper cleaning techniques.
Child’s toys, pet nails, furniture legs, dirt brought in on shoes, high heels—these and many other things can scratch and dent floors. The finish on high traffic areas can wear relatively quickly and area rugs can prolong the life of finish. Excessive exposure to sunlight can cause finished wood floors to fade.
And all too often, well-meaning homeowners—in an attempt to maintain the beauty and sheen of their finished wood floors—do far more harm than good.
An Ounce of Prevention
Checking children's toys for sharp edges is a great way to protect your child and your floors. Keeping pet nails trimmed and ground smooth is the key to living with pets on a hardwood floor. Applying high quality felt floor protectors to the bottom of furniture legs helps reduce wear around tables and other areas where furniture slides on the floor. Strategic placement of area rugs in high traffic areas will help prolong finish life, and areas exposed to extreme sunlight should have rugs moved frequently to reduce uneven fading.
The Proper Way to Maintain Finished Wood Floors
To keep potentially damaging dirt and grit off you hardwood floors, you can sweep, dry mop (with a soft microfiber mop) or vacuum. Soft-bristled brushes are fine on vacuums as long as they aren’t rotating brushes meant for use on carpet.
For cleaning up spilled food and drinks, you can use paper towel or a soft cloth, being careful that it is only damp and not saturated with water. Or better yet, you can use a mop specially designed for use on hardwood floors, such as those manufactured by Glitsa. Whichever safe method you use, be sure to clean all spills immediately.
To keep your wood floors clean, use a product such as Glitsa Clean, which is designed for use on hardwood floors and won't cause damage. Never use waxes or oil-based cleaners, which can damage your floors to the point that they need resanding. And wait two to three weeks after a floor has been finished to use any cleaning products at all.
Follow Directions and Clean Often
The important thing to remember is that the wrong cleaning products and methods can ruin a floor’s finish. Know what type of finish you have and follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions, as well as the instructions for any products you use.
Dry mop, sweep, or vacuum to keep grit off the floor.
Wipe up spills as quickly as possible.
When necessary, use Glitsa Clean to keep your floors clean and beautiful.
...this will prolong the time before a new finish will need to be applied.
Treatments for maintaining your wood hardwood floors vary in cost, time, and effort, but one of the most common treatments is recoating. Less expensive than refinishing, recoating provides excellent protection for your floor and brings out hardwood's natural beauty.
Before you embark on recoating your wood floor, check out these 5 things you should know.
1. You don't need to recoat every year.
Time and wear are the enemies of your floor's finish and as you use your floor, surface scratches will appear and the finish will begin to dull. That being said, you don't need to re-coat the floor until finish shows real signs of wear (but don't wait until bare wood is showing!). This will happen somewhere between two to ten years depending on the amount of traffic and care your floor gets.
2. Recoating will not help every floor.
If you have been using cleaning products like oil soaps, waxes, or furniture polishes, there is a good chance a recoat will not work. Those cleaning products leave a residue and can cause the new coats of finish to wrinkle or separate. To avoid this we recommend you clean your floor with vinegar and water or with our cleaning solutions.
3. Recoating doesn't require sanding.
Recoating your wood floors doesn't mean we need to sand. A light screening is all that is needed prior to applying finish.
4. Recoating previously carpeted wood floors usually doesn't work.
Many mid-century homes were built with hardwood floors, but many of those floors were subsequently covered up with wall-to-wall carpeting. We do not recommend recoating in this situation. Many of these floors were covered because finishes were not what they are today and thus were a lot harder to maintain. Although today's finishes are incredible, most will not bond to the wax buildup usually present on previously covered floors. In this case we recommend a complete sanding to bring the floors back to their former glory.
5. Recoating can make your floors look new again.
In many cases recoating your floor will bring back it's orginal beauty. Our experienced sales team can look at your floor and determine if a recoating process will give you the result you are looking for.
If you have further questions about recoating wood floors, give us a call. We can take a quick assessment of your floor and determine what is necessary to restore it to its highest quality.
Photo by Nicolas Vigier. Available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.
A fundamental rule in caring for hardwood floors is to keep them dry. Yet on TV, there are commercials for steam cleaners made to use on them. And if you search the Web, you’ll find numerous manufacturers claiming that their steam cleaners won’t hurt finished wood floors.
Steam is a form of water, but with all this advertising, it’s understandable if consumers come to believe that it’s alright to use steam on finished hardwood.
But don’t be fooled. Even if the H20 is in its steam state, the adage holds true—water and wood don’t mix.
The Damage Done
Steam cleaner manufacturers are able to get away with declaring their products are safe on finished wood flooring because the damage isn’t always immediately apparent. The floors are cleaned, and there’s no sign of a problem.
But over time and repeated cleanings, the wood will absorb moisture from the steam—even if the wood is finished, be it solid or engineered. As the floor boards absorb this moisture, they swell. And since the boards have nowhere to go but up, they begin to pop up and buckle.
And the more you use a steam cleaner, the more damaging each use becomes. Finish doesn’t keep out all moisture, but it helps. However, steam cleaners wear down the finish—causing it to peel, whiten, and cloud—leaving your hardwood floors more vulnerable than ever to water damage.
Listen to the Right Sources
Rather than pay attention to steam cleaner ads, go by the recommendations of the flooring and finish manufacturers. All of them advise against water on finished wood flooring. And in response to the proliferation of steam cleaners claiming to work on hardwood floors, many have begun to specifically mention steam cleaning as something to avoid in the literature they provide consumers.
Your hardwood flooring is an important investment and is a central element of your home’s character and beauty, protect it by not exposing it to harmful heat and moisture.
Once you have your hardwood floors installed, it’s time to start thinking about keeping them clean. Hardwood floor maintenance is very easy but requires different techniques than other hard-surface floors. With care, you can keep your hardwood floors looking new for many years to come.
The Right Technique
We recommend dusting your floors weekly with a flat, dry microfiber mop designed for hardwood floors. Occasionally you may want to use a solution for deeper cleaning. To do this you can use a solution in a spray bottle, mist a small section of the floor and wipe with a terrycloth or microfiber mop designed for damp cleaning.
Never use a cleaner that has wax or oils in it, or one that will "restore the shine" to your floor. These almost always contain ingredients that make it nearly impossible to recoat your floors should this ever be necessary. If you have questions about whether or not a cleaner is safe, please contact us.
You may also use a vacuum cleaner if it has smooth wheels with no sharp edges. If the vacuum cleaner has a beater brush, this must be turned off to avoid burn marks caused by friction.
Installing a whole-house or a single room humidifier in rooms with hardwood flooring will also help maintain your wood floors. In the winter, when the humidity levels drop, wood can dry out which causes gapping or cracks between the boards. Ideally, the relative humidity in your home should remain between 30-50% at all times. In the summer, humidity can be controlled by running the air conditioning and also a dehumidifier in the basement.
What Not to Do
Never use furnish polish on your hardwood floors. While it will make the floors shine, it will also create a slick, hazardous surface. In addition, the wax that is in most commercial brands of furniture polish will create an unsightly build-up on your floors.
Water and wood do not mix, so keep exposure to water at a minimum. We do not recommend mopping your floor with the bucket and mop method often used on other hard surface floors. Water can become trapped within the seams of the floor and inside the wood itself. Over time, this can lead to warping of the wood and water damage to the floors.
Need supplies to keep your hardwood floor looking new and beautiful? Ralph's Hardwood Floors has a great line of cleaner and supplies needed to help you out. Simply call us at 1-800-354-9902 or visit our showroom and we will make sure you get the right product for the job.
Photo by Michael Bentley. Available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.