Category Archives: Care and Maintenance

Chuck Talk: Basic Understanding of Moisture and Hardwood Floors

Chuck from Urban Floor covers a basic understanding of moisture and harwood flooring.

Chuck preparing to educate you on moisture and hardwood floors!

Engineered wood floors offer a lot in terms of benefits, but as with any source of wood – moisture content management is important for optimal results.

It All Comes Down to Balance

First, we must inform you that ALL woods hold moisture content. The difference is that engineered hardwood floors are built in a manner that allows them to manage moisture easier. This doesn’t mean they are free from problems when rapid swings in moisture content arise.

  • When relative humidity rises, then woods begin to absorb more moisture. This occurs most during summer.
  • When relative humidity drops, then the wood releases the moisture content it was holding back into the air. This occurs most during winter.

It’s a constant cycle – a cycle that depends on reaching equilibrium. Equilibrium is often met when relative humidity levels fall anywhere between 30%-60% depending on manufacturers.

For any hardwood floor to reach its equilibrium, the moisture content contained within the wood must balance out the relative humidity of the air.

If relative humidity levels are too low, then a common problem that may occur with word floors is the issue of “cupping”, or when corners lift. The issue can be fixed if you get a control on humidity levels – bringing them back down to an appropriate measure. Cracking may also occur if the air is too dry (i.e. relative humidity is too low).

Humidity levels that are too high come with their own set of possible issues as well, such as expansion of the wood. Certain actions within the house may cause indoor humidity to rise. Some of the most popular include running a dryer, stove, or shower. Other appliances such as humidifiers will affect this as well.

Various factors such as the location you live in, the appliances you are running, whether or not you have an indoor humidification system, the type of hardwood you have (including what species of wood), installation process, and other aspect will all have an effect on the performance of the floor.

What Should You Do?

Chances are, you aren’t an expert in hardwood flooring and so most of this may not make much sense to you.

However, by having a simple understanding of the product you paid for, there may be a time where you understand what may be occurring if you notice a slight change on your engineered hardwood floors – in turn, prompting you to take action.

Pro Tip: It is possible to check moisture levels using a tool such as a “Wagner Meter”, which is a commonly accepted moisture meter. It won’t offer much value unless you are experienced/professional.

Reduce Damage on Hardwood Floors this Halloween

reduce damage hardwood floor, halloween 2014, halloween hardwood floorHalloween is almost upon us! That means lots of candies, costumes, decorations, and of course – parties with your friends and families. Parties are always nice to attend, but those hosts who have to endure the havoc that may result we tip our hat to. Fortunately for you hosts out there, Urban Floor is offering you a few tips on how to manage your Halloween party in a way that reduces damage to your hardwood floors.

Minimize Damage Done on Halloween

Rugs are a must.

This is always our best advice for hardwood floor owners. Rugs provide a quick way to cover up what we like to call “high foot traffic” areas that people will always come into contact with. Popular areas include both the front door and any access to the outside. By placing rugs in high foot traffic areas, you allow your guests to brush their shoes off, keeping dirt, grit, and other nasty substances off of your floors.

Utilize the outdoors.

Parties don’t always have to be inside, especially if the weather is nice. Chances are your guests will prefer a party inside, but leaving the fun and games all outside is a great way to encourage people to step outside for a breath of fresh air. This enables your guests to be off of your hardwood floors, which in itself reduces chances of any damage occurring.

Don’t hide the napkins or paper towels.

If you manage to have a party where no one spills any drinks or food, then you may as well grab yourself a lottery ticket because that is one lucky feat to boast about. Chances are, you will have a few spills here and there so make sure you have paper towels and napkins readily available.

Our advice: Put a roll outside, in the kitchen, in the bathrooms, and any other rooms you believe your guests will be roaming.

Buy a few extra cheap trashcans.

If you’re serving candy, then there’s a great chance your hardwood floors will be littered with various wrappers and other food items. By scattering cheap, plastic trash bins around your house, your guests will feel more obligated to actually throw their trash away instead of leaving it to be cleaned up by the host.

It’s not just Halloween parties you can apply this advice to, but essentially any party you have inside of your home, office, or any other place. Hardwood floors are specifically built to take quite the amount of damage, but if there are ways to minimize any damage done, then it’s best to incorporate them.

Happy Halloween from Urban Floor!

Beginner’s Guide to Removing Minor Burn Marks from Hardwood Floors

removing burn marks hardwood floors

Always take care of your floors, even if you have to sand a bit!

Objects fall, accidents happen… it’s near impossible to keep hardwood floors from suffering minor damage as the years progress. Hardwood floors are built to withstand everyday pressure from our feet, large house pets, and the occasional house party thrown, but sudden accidents often leave hardwood floor owners frantically searching for a way to reverse the mistake.

Nicks and scratches are the usual culprits that wind up leaving hardwood floor owners frustrated, but – believe it or not – burn marks happen as well. Burn marks on hardwood floors are usually the result of ironing clothes on an ironing board, cigarettes, cigars, candles, hot coal from hookah, cooking mishaps, and other culprits that vary in the amount of damage done.

Determining The Damage Done

For a quick and easy way to determine how deep the burn mark is, you can take any utility or pocketknife and gently use the tip of the knife to carefully scrape (with the grain of the wood) away the burned wood. This will give you an idea of how bad the damage is as well as remove some of the char. If you determine the damage looks or seems to be worse than minor, then stop there and seek out a professional who can replace the board. You don’t want to risk ruining your floors any further.

The Sandman

If you decide that the burn mark is in fact minor, then you can begin to work it out yourself. To remove minor burn marks on hardwood floors, you’re going to have to begin sanding the accidental scorch out of your floor. This can be done with sandpaper. 80-120 grit sandpaper should be enough to sand out a minor mark. You may want to look into a sander that can be purchased for a reasonable price at any home improvement store. This will speed up the process greatly… just remember to sand WITH the grain!

Finishing Up

After sanding out all or most of the mark, you are going to have to refinish that part of the wood so that it looks new again. There may still be residual char present, at which point you can use a dry paintbrush to clear any of this away. Next, buy some tung oil. This can also be purchased from any home improvement store. Use a clean towel to apply this oil over the affected area. Wipe away any excess oil with a separate damp cloth. Finally, apply a certified hardwood floor polish that will add the shine back into your floors. We recommend using Bona® products.

Did You Know… ?

Some burn marks actually add a handful of character to a hardwood floor. Before panicking, take a step back and see exactly how the burn mark appears in relation to the rest of the décor in the room. Maybe it doesn’t look as bad as you had initially imagined?

If you liked this article, then view our other post on removing nicks and scratches from hardwood floors!

Damp Mopping – The Way Experts Clean Their Wood Floors

damp mopping wood floors

Remember: Damp Mop.

Damp mopping is a very simple way of cleaning hardwood floors. It also happens to be a tried and true method that many experts believe is the most effective way in cleaning urethane finished wood floors on a day-to-day basis.

What Do You Have To Do?

Anyone can do it; all you need is a mop and some water. There are many different types of mops to choose from. Microfiber and/or sponge mops are popular choices for many.

Dirt and grit are the biggest enemies of a wood floor, so before you begin cleaning with a damp mop, remove any dirt and grit by sweeping with a soft broom, or vacuum (do not use a vacuum with a beater bar).

Fill up a bucket with water (NO SOAP), take your mop, dip it into the bucket of water, and – here’s the important part – make sure you squeeze any surplus water out of it. This gives you a damp mop that you can now use to glide over your hardwood floors with ease. There’s nothing fancy to it.

But What About Homemade Cleaning Solutions?

Many people claim specific do-it-yourself cleaning solutions that involve a host of different easily attainable products such as white vinegar, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, liquid dish-washing soap, and even black tea bags perform well on cleaning their wood floors. While some may swear by these methods, there’s no guarantee of these methods working in the long-term. People claim they help restore the shine of a finish, but it’s only short-term.

The issue experts have with these simple do-it-yourself cleaning methods is that they will in fact leave a nasty “dulling” residue on your hardwood floors. Solutions with vinegar and lemon juice contain acids that may harm a floor’s finish in the long-term.

Better To Be Safe Than Sorry

As the saying goes, “It’s better to be safe than sorry”. All you have to do is ask yourself if it’s worth the risk to put your trust into a hardwood floor cleaning solution that you found on the Internet.

Our best advice is to stick with the easiest solution of them all – a mop and some water (make sure it’s DAMP!)– and occasionally use cleaners such as Bona® as a “spot” remover when necessary. Always carefully follow cleaner manufacturer’s instructions.

5 Ways To Prevent a Ruined Hardwood Floor

ruined hardwood floor

As we begin to see more and more families make the switch to hardwood flooring, we want to remind you of a few ways to keep yourself from the sight of a ruined hardwood floor.

1. Welcome Home

As you’re out and about throughout the day, your shoes pick up a handful of debris ranging from just normal everyday dirt to gum, and if you’re really unlucky – dog doo. The last thing you want is for this debris to catch your hardwood floors. This is why it is essential to add a welcome mat to the entrance of your home, giving you an efficient space to take your shoes off without adding in the extra chore of cleaning your floors.

2. Too Much Cleaning

Everything in life is about balance. While cleaning your wood floors is definitely a great habit to pick up, it can actually be damaging. Here’s the main reason why: too much water or solution. Dry mopping or dry-damp mops work best. The last thing you should do is blast your floors with a wet mop. The same goes for overdoing it with cleaning solutions.

Instead of cleaning the whole floor, perhaps stick to certain areas that appear filthier than others. Some people have tried steam cleaners (with some cleaners advertising a “wood flooring option”). Our advice – stay away from steam cleaners.

3. Here Comes The Sun

For those who live in cooler climates, this won’t affect you much. But for those of us stuck with lots of sunlight should highly consider investing in blinds, shades, drapes, and/or moving furniture around to distribute the sun equally throughout the room. Too much sunlight may damage hardwood floors, can dry out the finish, and cause discoloration.

4. Cushioning the Furniture

It’s nice to come home and throw yourself into a chair to relax. Sometimes, this results in unwanted scratches to your floors. An easy solution: furniture padding. You should spend no longer than an hour of your day searching for furniture pads to place under the corners of any furniture – couches, chairs, tables, etc. Chances are, your local hardware store will be carrying them.

5. Cat Scratch Fever

Pets are great companions, but your hardwood floors may have a different relationship with them. The biggest concern with pets is their nails. Their nails could leave small scratches, leaving you with a ruined hardwood floor. If pets could, they would probably trim their own nails like we humans do, but they can’t. When you begin to notice your pets’ nails becoming a little too long, then it’s time for a trimming. With some pets, this chore can be a real hassle. If that’s the case then look into a professional groomer who can also give them a nice bath, too!

Protecting Your Hardwood Floors from Guests

It’s common for families and friends to get together for celebration. It’s also common for many homeowners with hardwood floors to realize how their guests have left the floors with scratches or spills.

Hardwood floors are very durable; especially engineered floors that are specifically made to handle guests. However, it’s hard to control what happens during an event. Follow our 4 tips below to ensure you are proactively protecting your hardwood floors from guests:

Rugs
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: rugs are hardwood floor’s best friends. The trick here is to strategically place any rugs in ‘hot spots’, or spots that will contain lots of foot traffic. You definitely want to place a rug right at the entrance for people to take their shoes off or wipe their shoes down. This also goes for any backdoor or side entrances where your guests may be going in and out.

Chairs
If you have any chairs, then you may want to consider adding some cushion to the bottom in case you have guests that decide to plop into the chair, with their weight causing the chair to move backwards, potentially scratching your floor. Depending on the type of chair, you will either need felt pads or chair glides. Both are easily attainable at your local hardware store.

Paper Towels
Chances are, a few minor spills will happen during your event. Keeping a sufficient stock of paper towels handy can save you anguish later on. In case a guest spills soda while pouring, a paper towel can quickly mop up the mess. Keep a few a rolls scattered in various spots throughout the house where you believe a spill is most likely to occur. If a larger spill happens, then it would be best to use a mop to clean your hardwood floors.

Outdoor Eating
If you’re overly stressing about your floors and weather permits, then you should consider having your guests eat outside to further reduce the likelihood of any damage or spills occurring. This will require you to have enough chairs and tables handy, as well as table covers, paper plates, and plastic utensils. Most importantly, make sure the trashcan is also placed outside.

We hope these tips help you in proactively keeping your hardwood floors looking sharp for any event you host. Above all make sure you enjoy the time you have with your family and friends!

Read more on how to prepare hardwood floors for you, your guests, and your family.

Can Sunlight Damage Hardwood Floors?

Did you know that sunlight can actually damage your hardwood floors?

The unfortunate part is that yes, sunlight or ultraviolet rays are indeed harmful to your precious hardwood floors. Hardwood floors become discolored when they are exposed to sunlight over time. Certain floors will become lighter than they originally were while others will become darker, such as Maple and Brazilian Cherry.

The fortunate part is that you can dramatically slow the process down by taking necessary precautions.

Window Shopping
Blinds, shades, curtains, or other draperies for your windows go a long way in keeping sunlight at bay. If you have a large glass sliding door, then it would be best to invest in a screen for added protection. Another option is to look into window films that have proven to be safe and effective in protecting you and your hardwood floors from harmful UV rays.

Change For The Better
It’s important to change the arrangement of your furniture, rugs, and couches to allow for an equal distribution of sunlight on your floors so that colors stay consistent across your whole room. If you decide on moving furniture on hardwood floors, make sure you do it properly.

Moving Furniture on Hardwood Floors

You may have heard, seen, or read somewhere that moving your furniture without proper care can lead to unwanted scratches on your engineered or solid hardwood floors. Nobody wants that, nor do they have time or money to fix it. Here are a few tricks of the trade that can save you the hassle of dealing with nicks and scratches.

Rugs – by slipping an appropriate-sized rug under the furniture you need to move, you can slide the whole piece slowly to your new location. Make sure you use the soft side of the rug (i.e. the top side)!

Towels – by sliding towels under the legs or corners you can slide your furniture around smoothly.

Plastic bags – if possible, you can tie plastic bags to the legs of your furniture to move it around without scratching up your hardwood floors. To be extra sure of avoiding scratches you can double up the bags.

Business cards –these cards are made out of slick paper good for sliding around furniture. Just stick them under the legs or corners and slide away carefully.

Felt pads – this is our best recommendation for you as felt works very well for moving furniture on hardwood floors. You can find them at them at your local hardware store or order them online.

Here’s a video showing you what felt pads look like and how to apply them:

How Long Do Hardwood Floors Last?

This is a common question that many hardwood floor owners have. The answer is both simple and complex. The simple answer is that the wood in the floor itself can last a lifetime. The complex answer is that while the wood may last forever, the beautiful finish/gloss/shine that it has will dissipate over time.

If you’re comparing hardwood floors to carpet then you’ll be happy to hear that carpet should normally be replaced about every 10 years while hardwood floors don’t need to be replaced, but refinished or recoated.

hardwood

So the real question becomes: “When should I refinish or recoat my floors?

The answer really depends on how well you take care of your floors.

  • Do you routinely clean your wood floors?
  • Do you make sure to immediately clean up any spills that may happen?
  • Do you stay proactive by keeping your pets from damaging your floors?
  • Do you constantly rearrange heavy furniture with proper padding underneath?

We hope you’ve answered “yes” to these questions because this is how you can really prolong the life and finish of your luscious hardwood floors.

Recoating is a simpler process that aims to extend the life of your finish. Refinishing wood floors is a much deeper process that essentially gives you the look of having freshly installed floors. Recoating is less expensive and if done roughly every 3-5 years, then you can drastically reduce the amount of times to have your floors refinished. Typically hardwood floors should be refinished every 8-12 years, but this varies depending on how rough you are with your floors.

Some people don’t refinish/recoat their floors and are perfectly content leaving them the way they were installed. That’s fine, but it will lack the eye-catching luster that brings hardwood floors to life.

With the technology we have today, engineered hardwood floors are built to last. Combine that with a strong multilayer polyurethane and aluminum oxide finish and now we’ve got a floor that’s ready for battle.

Read more about engineered hardwood floors.

Hardwood Floors and Pets

While hardwood floors are a great addition to your home for a variety of reasons, many buyers often ask if pets and hardwood floors mix. Have you ever said something along the lines of: “I want hardwood floors, but I’m afraid my pets will ruin my investment by scratching it all up”? If so, you’re not alone.

Hardwood Floors and Pets

The good news is that yes hardwood floors and pets do mix, and they can mix very well. Whether it be large dogs, small dogs, or cats, the trick is to limit the amount of damage that could be done by staying proactive with these tips.

Trim, Trim, Trim!

As obvious as it sounds, keeping your pet’s nails constantly trimmed is your best bet to long-lasting hardwood floors. This is especially important if you have a large dog (i.e. Labrador) as larger dogs carry more weight, which can really scratch up your beautiful hardwood floors. You can either do it yourself or have a professional dog groomer perform the task for you.

If you have high energy dogs that like to take off running because they heard a noise or heard someone at the door then it’s best to keep them situated in an area where you may not have hardwood flooring, such as the kitchen. If your house permits, it may be worth investing in a dog gate that can separate your dog from areas that you do not want scratched up.

Fancy a Nice Bath?

Dogs love to go outside; it’s one of the few things that they truly look forward to (besides food and a good belly rub of course). If you have a dog that is constantly going in and out of the house, then it would help to place a mat outside so that it can pick up some of the dirt and other debris before coming back inside. This will only help a slight amount so it’s important to make sure your dog is bathed from time to time in order to get the remaining debris out of their hair, especially their feet. You don’t want them tracking their garbage everywhere.

Did someone say Rugs?

Rugs go a long way in preventing scratches on hardwood floors. By covering up areas where your dog is likely to be a majority of time with rugs, your hardwood floors can stay in tip-top shape for a long time as well as add a nice touch to your floor.

The Denser the Better.

Denser woods have a lesser chance of being ruined by the force of larger dogs. So how do you find out how heavy certain hardwood floors are? It’s actually quite simple thanks to the Janka Hardness Test. This test measures how much resistance certain woods can take. The ideal choice would be to choose a harder wood such as Hickory because it’s not only heavy, but features a lighter color as well. Lighter colors have a natural tendency to hide any scratches that may arise.

But what about Cats?

Cats are light and therefore do not cause much concern when it comes to hardwood floors. Their sharp claws only come out as a defense mechanism, when they’re playing with certain toys, or if they’re using a scratching post. If you manage to keep their scratching post and toys in an area that’s away from your hardwood floors or in an area covered with rugs, then you shouldn’t have any problems with cats. I’d be worrying a lot more about that nice sofa you just bought!

Another great perk to having hardwood floors over carpet flooring is when it comes to the vomiting, urinating, or defecating that may arise from your pets. With carpet flooring, these annoyances become even more annoying when they not only stain the carpet, but also embed their smell into it as well. Nobody wants to deal with that. With hardwood flooring, these annoyances are only slightly temporary and require a quick and easy clean up before you’re back on your way.

If you do end up with some minor scratches on your Hardwood Floors, no big deal, just follow our guide on Removing Minor Scratches on Hardwood Floors

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