Hardwood Flooring Basics

Hardwood Flooring Basics

Get the basics about hardwood flooring

Hardwood Flooring Basics

Wood flooring has a timeless look, and it gives a house a warm feel. Today, hardwood flooring products are available in a wide variety of colors, grains and species, and options span various price points.

Before you buy hardwood, there are a few things you should know that will help you make a more informed decision. When purchasing hardwood, you can buy factory-finished wood flooring or unfinished flooring. With factory-finished products, the manufacturer applies finish before the product is sold. Unfinished flooring must be sanded and finished by your installer once the floor is in place.

Here are the basics of wood flooring.

The Nature of Wood

Wood’s hygroscopic nature requires that special care be taken by our skilled craftsmen. If the humidity is too high, it may not be possible to properly install the floor. High humidity causes the wood to absorb moisture, which causes expansion of the boards and can lead to “cupping” or raised edges. Even after the floor is installed, a better and smoother finished is obtained with our state-of-the-art sanding machines when the floor and the atmosphere both are dry.

Your Wood Floor’s Appearance

The beauty of wood, like all things in nature, is derived from the unpredictable quality of each tree and board. Every board has its own individual grain. As a result, each piece takes stain differently- sometimes lighter, sometimes darker- making the color of individual boards look different from the surrounding boards. Such individual differences are not defects. They create the character that makes each floor unique. Also, depending on the temperature and humidity conditions at the time of application, the gloss level on your new floor may vary from the showroom sample.

Our Installation Procedures Ensure Lasting Quality

Because it is frequently beyond the control of your builder to reduce the moisture content of your new home to a safe level in a short period of time, the proper installation and finishing of your hardwood flooring may delay the completion of your new home. At FCA, all of the craftsmen involved with the installation of your new floor take the precaution of making regular moisture meter readings on both the hardwood floor strips and the decking. They may recommend postponing the installation or finishing of your floor if the readings are too high or too low.

Hardwood Expands and Contracts

In spite of everyone’s best efforts, as a hygroscopic material, it is normal for wood to expand and contract even after you move into your new home. It is normal for wood to swell when it absorbs moisture. Also, it is normal for wood to shrink when it loses moisture. Due to the inevitable expansion and contraction in all floors, spaces must be left along the wall so that the floor has room to move. For this reason, quarter round molding is used along the walls. Also, as the strips in a hardwood floor shrink, the floor will begin to show “hairline cracks” between the strips. Such cracks are considered normal if they close up during the non-heating, highly humid months of summer and are not wider than the thickness of a dime during the very dry months of winter.

Humidify During the Winter

To minimize shrinkage or “hairline cracks” in the winter introduce moisture into the home by using a humidifier.

Dehumidify During the Summer

Conversely, in the summer, you may notice “cupping” or raised edges cause by high humidity in your home. To help avoid this normal swelling process, reduce humidity by using your air conditioning during the humid months. For even more control, operate a dehumidifier in

Protect Your New Hardwood Floor

Use protective mats in front of sinks and doors leading to the outside. Put fabric glides on the legs of your furniture; they allow furniture to be moved easily without scuffing the floor. Clean the glides regularly since grit can become embedded in them. Avoid casters made of hard materials like metal or hard plastic.

Never drag or push heavy chairs, furniture or appliances over your wood floor. High-healed shoes will leave permanent dents in most hardwood floors. Dogs and other pets can damage nearly all finishes with their toenails and claws.

Ultraviolet light will cause your hardwood floor to change color. To avoid uneven appearance, move area rugs occasionally and drape or shade large windows.

Cleaning Products For Hardwood Floors

Protect your investment by using the recommended cleaning, maintenance and restorative products on your new flooring. Your dealer will usually have these products in stock.

Thank You for Your Business

Because we want you to be a satisfied customer, it’s important that you have good information and know what to expect with your new hardwood floor.

It’s hard to put your finger on it, but there’s something about a real hardwood floor that just brings a room together. All the beautiful things that make up your home take on a warmer glow and new elegance. It’s not hard to imagine a hardwood floor as the foundation of your personal sanctuary- a calming influence far away from such worldly concerns as early morning meetings, traffic jams and demanding people.

While your new floor won’t be a solution for the problems of your everyday life, there is one thing we can say with certainty. A custom hardwood floor will make just about anything in your room look better.

Like anything made from fine wood, there is a great deal of craftsmanship that goes into producing the finished product. Every floor has its own distinctive character; it is like no other.

Another important characteristic to remember is that wood is hygroscopic material. That means that when it is exposed to varying temperatures and humidity, wood releases or absorbs moisture until it is in equilibrium with the surrounding atmosphere.

Caring for Hardwood Flooring

Custom hardwood floors, when properly finished, are the easiest of all floor surfaces to keep clean and looking good year after year. Follow these guidelines:

Routinely: Dust mop, sweep or vacuum at least twice a week to keep grit and dust free.

Spills: Soak up and blot spills promptly. It is safe to wipe with a barely damp cloth and then towel-dry.

Restoration: Know the brand of flooring and the type of finish on your floor before applying any cleaning products. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper care or consult a floor-finishing specialist.

Custom Finished Polyurethane Floors: Spot clean with PolyCare™ and PolyCare Scuff Remover™, available at any FCA store.

Do Not: Wet mop because standing water can cause wood to swell and buckle. Also, do not use: Murphy’s Oil Soap™, Fantastic™, Formula 409™, dish washing detergents, powdered all-purpose cleaners, paste wax, Endust™, Pledge™, Future™, Mop-N-Glow™, Brite™, or any similar products. Above all, never use a self-polishing acrylic wax made for sheet vinyl on a wood floor. These products make wood slippery and dull, especially if coated with a polyurethane finish.

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