Ralph's Blog

What Makes a Hardwood Floor Durable, and Why Does It Matter?

Posted on Thu, Dec 31, 2015 @ 15:12 PM

The more durable hardwood floors are, the better they can stand up to wear caused by pets, chidren, heavy traffic, etc.“Durability” in hardwood floors refers to how long the floor can look good without the need for refinishing. Your lifestyle will determine how important this factor is.

If you have a lot of traffic on your floors (kids, pets, a lot of entertaining, etc.), a more durable floor can pay big dividends down the road, as you may be able to put off refinishing for years longer.

On the other hand, if floors will see light traffic (as in, say, a little-used formal dining room), durability becomes less of a concern. That’s because virtually any hardwood floor, regardless of its durability, can stand up to light use for many years before refinishing is necessary.

When determining durability, the first element to consider is the hardness of the species of wood used for the flooring. The harder the wood, the more resistant it is to denting. You can determine how hard a wood is by looking up its score on the Janka hardness test. Popular species that are very hard include Hickory, Brazilian cherry, and Asian Walnut.

However, hardness isn’t the only consideration. We advise customers seeking highly durable floors to also consider the grain of the wood they’re choosing. Some species have prominent grain patterns, which help to hide any dents and scratches, thereby delaying the need for refinishing.

And you can’t forget the finish itself.  We’ve consistently found that urethane “conversion varnish” finishes—such as our Swedish Finish—look better longer than polyurethane finishes. That’s not to say that polyurethane finishes can’t be beautiful and durable, but if you expect heavy traffic on your floors, a conversion varnish is worth considering.

You should also pay attention to the sheen of the finish. Glossy finishes will show dents, scratches, etc. more readily than matte finishes. Color is another factor—dark-stained floors will show wear more than light-to-medium stains.

All that said, one point we’re always sure to make is that even the least durable hardwood floors are still extremely durable. They’re all easy to care for and to keep looking wonderful for many years. Some just happen to be more durable than others—which may or may not be an important part of your decision about which flooring to go with.

Image courtesy of simonov, Creative Commons.

Tags: about hardwood floors, picking the right floor for your lifestyle, finishes, stains & textures, FAQs

What’s on my mind this holiday season? Family, friends … and hardwood floors.

Posted on Sat, Dec 12, 2015 @ 10:12 AM


I love how Christmas and New Year’s bring family and friends together. My wife and I particularly enjoy hosting get-togethers during this time.

So I know from personal experience that with the fellowship of the season also comes a heightened awareness of the cleanliness of your home.  Of course, we try to keep our home clean all year, but we want it to look its absolute best for our holiday company.

And no surprise for a hardwood floor professional like me, I find myself checking out our hardwood floors!

We would already know if they needed refinishing, so what I’m looking for before we have any holiday visitors is whether the floors are clean. We regularly clean them—something we recommend to all our customers—but we like to do it soon before the guests arrive. We don’t want the beauty of the wood and the finish diminished by dirt, debris, and dust.

Fortunately, it’s not hard at all to clean hardwood floors. It’s not a big chore to add to our Christmas to-do list.

We use a Glitsa mop kit, which comes with two microfiber pads—one for dusting and another for damp mopping. First we dust; then we mop, being sure the mop is only damp and that we clean it when it becomes dirty. Then we mop again with only water to rinse. That’s it!

The mopping solution we use is Glitsa Clean, which you can buy in concentrate and mix with water. That’s our preference, but many of our customers prefer to use a Glitsa Clean spray bottle, which allows you to apply a pre-mixed solution directly to the floor with no mixing in a bucket.

We offer great deals on all these Glitsa products because we know they work, but there are other options. For example, you can use a vacuum on hardwood floors as long as it’s soft-bristled and doesn’t have a beater brush. Or you can simply sweep with a soft-bristled broom.

Whatever works for you, great! Just be sure not to use:

  • Steam cleaners (i.e. steam mops)
  • Cleaners that contain chemicals "not recommended" by the manufacturers of your flooring and finish
  • Any wax, oil, or silicon-based products

Cleaning hardwood floors properly isn’t just a holiday thing. It’s something to do year-round, but it’s so easy, why not make it part of your holiday preparations?

Order Glitsa Products

To learn more about cleaning hardwood floors, read our recent blog, “How Do I Clean My Hardwood Floors?”

Ralph's 50th Anniversary Flooring Specials

 Image courtesy of sherman's nest

Tags: about Ralph's, about hardwood floors

How Should I Clean My Hardwood Floors?

Posted on Thu, Dec 10, 2015 @ 15:12 PM

It's not difficult to keep finished harwood flooring clean.Hardwood floors are not only beautiful, they’re an investment that needs protecting. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to keep hardwood floors looking gorgeous for many years.

For surface-sealed floors (i.e., those finished with urethane, polyurethane or polyacrylic), simply follow these basic tips.

1. Clean all liquid spills right away.

Today’s surface-sealed finishes protect against liquid spills, which won’t be any problem as long as they’re wiped up as soon as possible with a damp cloth rag, paper towel, etc.—anything that’s not abrasive. You can also use a mop specifically designed for hardwood floors, such as the Glitsa Mop.

If the spill remains too long, it could cause the finish to whiten, but this can easily be cleaned off.

2. Regularly clean up dirt and debris.

To keep potentially harmful dirt and debris off you hardwood floors, all you need to do is sweep or vacuum it up—or use a dust mop with a microfiber pad. If you use a vacuum, make sure it has a soft-bristled brush that doesn’t rotate.

Like liquid spills, dry spills should be cleaned up immediately. Otherwise, vacuum, sweep, or dust mop as needed. High-traffic areas may need cleaning several times a week.

3. Use a manufactured-approved hardwood floor cleaner to mop floors.

We recommend Glitsa Clean, but whichever cleaner you use, a key point to remember is that none of the ingredients should be on the “do-not-use list” of the manufacturer of your floor or finish.

When mopping, prepare the cleaning solution according to the manufacturer directions, or use a pre-prepared solution. Use a damp mop made for hardwood floors rather than a sopping-wet one, and change the cleaning solution when it gets dirty. When done, mop again with clean water to rinse.

Don’t use oil soaps, waxes, abrasive cleaners, or silicone-based products (e.g., furniture polish).

As with vacuuming or sweeping, common sense will tell you how often you need to mop. Generally, however, high-traffic floors can benefit from cleaning once or twice a month, while less trafficked areas can be mopped even less often.

Wait two to three weeks after a floor has been finished to use any cleaning products at all.

4. Don’t use steam cleaners.

You may have seen commercials touting steam cleaners (e.g. steam mops) that are supposedly able to sanitize, deodorize, and clean finished wood floors. However, flooring and finish manufacturers advise against the use of steam cleaners—with good reason.

The reality is that, while these steam cleaners may appear to work great at first, over time they cause finish to peel, whiten, or cloud. The combination of water and heat also causes the wood to swell, which can lead to cupping or crowning of the planks. This is true for engineered flooring, as well as solid plank.

These tips aren’t meant for hardwood floors finished with natural oils or other penetrating seals. However, for hardwood floors that are surface-sealed—as most are—these simple maintenance steps will keep them in excellent shape for years to come.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia, Creative Commons.

Tags: caring for your hardwood floors, FAQs

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