Category Archives: Educational

Real Christmas Trees and Hardwood Floors – Advice to Keep in Mind

Urban Floor advises hardwood floor owners prepare for real christmas trees and hardwood floorsChristmas trees are a wonderful addition to any home during the holiday season simply because they bring back many memories, as well as leave a fresh natural scent in your home. However, many hardwood floor owners are skeptical of placing a real Christmas tree on their luscious hardwood floors in fear of potential damage. Good news: you can sport a fresh, real Christmas tree with hardwood floors!

The potential damage from Christmas trees on hardwood floors will come from a few sources: the tree stand, tree sap, needles, or water. Follow Urban Floor’s advice to make sure no harm is done.

Initial Preparation

It is recommended that you purchase a tree stand mat (also called floor protectors), or use a folded towel or blanket, to create a soft base for the tree stand to relax on. This will save you from the possibility of scratches to your hardwood floors.

Pro tip: We suggest shaking as many of the needles out as you can before bringing the tree into your home. Followed by cleaning the area that your tree will be placed in.

Tree Skirts

Just as rugs are hardwood floor’s best friend, a tree skirt is a Christmas trees’ best friend. You can get fancy with this, but whether you use a tablecloth, plastic sheet, store-bought Christmas tree disposal kit, or something else just make sure you have a tree skirt under the tree to help catch falling needles, as well as prevent water or tree sap from seeping onto your floors.

Needle Management

Falling needles will not damage your floors, but if you or someone else steps on them and begins to drag them around, then there’s always a possibility of scratches.

Make sure you are sweeping any needles off your floor whenever you have the chance. We recommend using a broom over a vacuum to make sure your vacuum does not become damaged.

Pro tip: Have your guests leave their shoes at the door.

It takes a little bit of upkeep maintenance to house a beautiful Christmas tree whether you have hardwood floors or carpet, but it’s all worth it in the end.

We wanted to personally wish all of our readers and subscribers a wonderful Holiday season! Have fun, be safe, and stay smart. Happy Holidays from the team at Urban Floor!

Carpet to Hardwood Floors – Why Do People Switch?

Urban Floor's flooring 101 guide gives you everything you need to know in order to make the switch from carpet to hardwood floors

Let Urban Floor help you piece the puzzle together!

Some of us reading this article may already have hardwood floors – fist bump for you! Let us know if the reasons below were something you happened to consider when making the switch. For those still with carpet we’ll give you a quick, easy list of the top reasons why people switch over to hardwood flooring from carpet.

1. It’s More Preferred Over Carpet

You can say this is subjective but when you look at the many reasons why, then it’s easy to see why more and more people are flocking towards the change.

For one, hardwood floors offer more longevity over carpet – especially because of the ability to be refinished for a new appearance. Engineered hardwood floors are not able to be refinished as easily as solid, but certain engineered flooring options offer the ability to refinish at least one time, adding a considerable amount of longevity.

Secondly, they are easier to clean. Dirt and debris oftentimes become stuck deep within carpet, unable to effectively respond to vacuums. Over time, you have to steam clean your carpet in order to restore it back a healthy state. For hardwood floors, this isn’t the case. A simple damp mopping job goes a long way.

2. Hardwood Flooring Raises The Value of Your Property

This ties in directly because hardwood flooring is more preferred. Real estate property with hardwood flooring sells more often than property with carpet. A house may meet all of a buyer’s needs, except lack the hardwood-flooring component and it would still be a deal breaker. That’s how important hardwood flooring can be.

Don’t miss out on added property value by sticking with carpet. An investment in hardwood flooring may raise the value of your home to a price that returns your initial investment back to you and some.

3. Hardwood Floors are Better with Allergies

It’s safe to say a large majority of us suffer from allergies that come and go depending on a variety of factors throughout the year’s changing seasons. The bottom-line is that dust, dander, pollen, and other allergy-triggering substances are not trapped easily with hardwood flooring as they are with carpet.

Does this mean my allergy problems will fade? Perhaps. Hardwood floors do not guarantee an allergy-free environment, but because they are easier to clean and do not trap dust mites as easily as carpet – they help serve as a promising option to those who suffer, as noted by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

2015 is almost here… what’s your New Year’s Resolution? Maybe this year you can make it a goal to switch from carpet to hardwood flooring! :)

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.

Urban Floor’s Simple Hardwood Floor Buying Guide

simple hardwood floor buying guide by Urban FloorWhen it comes to modern hardwood floors, there are so many varieties, designs, colors, finishes, styles, installation options, etc. to choose from that it can be quite overwhelming to newcomers or even current hardwood floor owners who are looking for a fresh change. This is why your hardwood flooring experts at Urban Floor have created a simple hardwood floor buying guide for you to follow when selecting a type of hardwood floor.

3 Q’s

1st question: where are you planning on installing your hardwood floors?

This will help you determine the type of hardwood floor you should select. If you are having hardwood floor installed over concrete, then you will want to purchase engineered hardwood floors because they are specifically made to be installed in areas where other options cannot physically deliver on.

2nd question: do you live in an environment subjected to moisture?

Environments subjected to varying degrees of moisture change (i.e. living near a beach/basements) should be taken into consideration. If you live in a high moisture environment, then engineered hardwood floors would be a better option as they are strategically engineered to handle shifts in moisture. Moisture can cause hardwood floors to warp and this is limited with engineered floors.

hardwood floor foot traffic3rd question: will you be having people in your home often? Hosting events?

If yes, then you will want to consider hardwood floors that offer excellent protection against foot traffic. Hand scraped engineered hardwood floors offer durable protection from foot traffic as they are made to resemble floors that look worn. One thing to look for regarding foot traffic is the thickness of the floors. The higher the thickness, the better it will handle foot traffic. For example, ¾-inches of hardwood is much stronger than 5/16-inches.

Tip: The Janka Rating of a hardwood floor will also give you insight into how strong a wood floor is.

That’s a Wrap

From answering these 3 questions, you’ll be able to narrow your choices down. Everything else is about aesthetics and appearance, which is entirely subjective to each individual and you may have to play around with many samples until you find a specific floor that suits your style.

Work with your hardwood floor salesman to further narrow down your options and be sure to ask them certain questions that can be found in another one of our simple guides. View the guide here.

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!

Go Behind the Scenes with Urban Floor

Are you one of those “visual learners” that would rather watch a video than read text? We don’t blame you, which is why we have proudly made a set of 5 new videos that aim at enhancing our user’s browsing experience.

We take you a little behind the scenes at what goes on here at Urban Floor and the values we stand by, as well as elaborately describing certain collections that we take pride in because of rigorous effort to obtain some of the most sought after ecologically sourced woods, on top of delicate craftsmanship that leaves no room for error. It sounds like a mouthful, but that’s what we’re all about here at Urban Floor – true quality.

What’s even better? We’re affordable! We were just recently voted in as one of the top hardwood flooring brands for both product availability (we have a wide variety) and of course, price.

So what are you waiting for? Be sure to check out our short videos made specifically for you. And by short we mean less than 3 minutes.

What Urban Floor is All About

A Truly Diverse Collection, Urban Lifestyle

A Popular Collection, Royal Court

An Artistic Collection, Composer

Our Newest Collection, Chêne

Instructional Videos Also Offered

In case you’re looking for a quick, short video on how to clean your hardwood floors, then be sure to take a look at our care & maintenance videos all offered on our Youtube channel. Of course, these videos also will not exceed 3 minutes because nobody has time for any video that lasts more than 3 minutes, right?

You’ll find a simple collection of short videos that tackle some of the most common hardwood flooring questions including moving furniture on wood floors, removing minor marks, cleaning your floors, as well as other topics. Who knows… you may learn something in less than 3 minutes!

FAQ: What Questions to Ask a Hardwood Floor Salesperson?

questions to ask hardwood floor salesperson, hardwood floor faqYou’ve just made the decision to purchase hardwood floors for your home – a decision that you may have lost sleep over (we certainly hope not!). Simply put, hardwood floors add value to your home so with that alone we are inclined to say you made a great choice!

The issue now is that there are still plenty of answers that you seek in regards to your new found flooring choice. To help save you time on finding the right questions to ask, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions many newcomers have for their hardwood floor salesperson.

Should I get solid or engineered hardwood floors?

There’s a fair amount of differences between solid hardwood floors and engineered hardwood floors. Having a salesperson compare and contrast their positives and negatives will give you a better insight into selecting a floor that best suits your needs.

Does wood species matter? If so, what’s best for me?

Yes, wood species does indeed matter. Your salesperson will suggest an appropriate species of wood depending on what colors you are seeking, the style you want, and of course, your budget. A great salesperson will be able to explain the subtle design differences between dark, medium, light, and exotic woods.

What do I do about my pets? Are they bad for hardwood floors?

If this is a concern, then your hardwood floor salesperson will help you select a wood species that is known for it’s durability and hardness. These aspects are measured using a method known as the janka hardness test.

How much gloss or shine do I want in my floors?

Your floor salesman should be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages of hardwood floors that shine more than others. Hardwood floors come in 4 types: Glossy, Semi-Gloss, Satin, and Matte. They are all referred to as the floor’s “sheen”.

Do my floors come with a warranty?

Have your salesperson explain to you the warranty that your floors come with. Quality floors are typically backed by solid warranties. Be sure to read the terms and conditions as well to make sure you understand everything, if you don’t then you’ll have a chance to ask your salesperson.

Don’t be alarmed about ordering slightly more square feet than what’s required.

Your salesperson will most likely be ordering more square feet than what your area actually offers. For instance, if you’re looking to cover 1,000 square feet and your salesperson suggests ordering 1,100 square feet then don’t be alarmed. It’s a general rule in hardwood floor installation to order 10% more than what’s necessary.

How long will it take to install my hardwood floors?

After selecting a hardwood floor, be sure to ask your salesperson this question as it will give them a chance to explain everything you will be getting in your floor such as factory-finish or site-finished floors, wood species, and what you should do in preparation for a job that could take several days for a quality installation.

Why can’t I just install the hardwood floors myself?

Of course your salesperson is going to want to push for having his or her company install the hardwood floors for you, but it goes beyond just making coin. Simply put, hardwood floors are not as easy to install as it may seem. Unless you have previous experience working with hardwood floor installation, it’s best to leave a professional to handle the job – especially since they have access to the right tools.

The switch to hardwood floors should be a fun experience for you! It’s similar to revamping your wardrobe with new clothes for a completely different look, feel, and experience. Get as many answers as you can to make the process as seamless as possible.

Happy Flooring from Urban Floor!

Urban Floor Outlines Important Wood Flooring Terminology

The hardwood flooring industry is filled with jargon, or terminology, that is used to explain various aspects of wood floors. To keep you from scratching your head trying to make sense of it all, we’ve comprised a list of the popular terms that customers will often see describing the characteristics of our hardwood floors.

Hand-scraped: the term, “hand-scraped”, is often used to describe a wood floor that features characteristics of older style floors that are scraped by hand. Features of hand-scraped hardwood floors may include gentle waves and scrapes. They are popular with active families.

Distressed: this term is used when boards are intentionally created with imperfections such as dents, scratches, and other surface damage to give off the appearance of a worn look. It adds a very wholesome, natural look that many hardwood floor owners are fond of.

wood flooring terminology

Our Lambrusco is a great example of a wire-brushed floor!

Wire-brushed: used to describe a floor that had its soft grains hollowed out by using wire brush, leaving only the hard grains for a weathered, rustic effect. It’s actually a distressing technique that also gives boards a timeworn look.

Prefinished: used to describe floors that have already been sanded, stained, and finished inside of a manufacturing plant as opposed to site-finished where the same process in done during the installation, or on-site, inside of a customer’s home.

Engineered: as opposed to solid, engineered is a type of multi-layered flooring that is “engineered” a specific way inside of a manufacturing plant and features distinct advantages over solid wood flooring. Only the top part of the board, known as the veneer, is made of solid hardwood. Engineered flooring is more stable and has lower susceptibility against temperature and moisture swings.

Bevel Edge: each plank, or board, features different types of edges that connect two pieces together. Beveled edges feature grooves, as opposed to square edges, also known as regular edges, that meet each board squarely. Beveled edges allow for easier maintenance. Micro-beveled edges, also known as eased edges or kissed edges, are very similar except the grooves in the planks are smaller (i.e. the bevel is smaller) and are not as pronounced as beveled edges. Kissed edges can also hide minor irregularities such as plank height.

Knot: these show where branches were once joined to the actual tree. They are typically dark, round, and hard.

Finish: there are many types of finishes that exist, but they all refer to the protective coating that is applied to the floor. A common finish applied to wood floors is polyurethane, which is a clear durable finish.

Smoked: hardwood floors that have been intentionally darkened during the drying process.

Species: this refers to the type of tree the hardwood planks were milled from. Common species you may have seen on our engineered hardwood flooring website include oak, hickory, and maple. Hardwood floors all begin with a species of wood – this is where the magic happens.

If you want even more information – with pictures as well – then visit our Flooring 101 section!

What Hardwood Flooring Trends Do Homebuyers Prefer (2014)?

It is common for hardwood flooring trends to change often, with consumer’s tastes and preferences differing in many ways to the point where it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is a reputable majority finds true satisfaction in.

Urban Floor
wants to give you a few pointers on what homebuyer’s preferences are – mainly based on hardwood flooring trends that have been picked up on this year. One thing we know for sure is that hardwood floors are quickly becoming the new standard of flooring in homes – over carpet that is!

Brown Is The New Black

These days, it’s hard to go wrong with hardwood floors that contain brown. Homebuyers are enthusiastic about brown floors mainly because they are easier to match furniture and other surrounding décor with – perhaps something that is highly attractive to first time homebuyers who feel swamped with many important decisions.

Brown floors also manage to give off a wholly “natural” look that is hard to emulate using other shades. Many hardwood floors we offer feature natural grain patterns, unfilled knots, and a hand-scraped finish that adds to a floor’s natural, authentic touch. A nice light beige hardwood floor will complement any house well. The whole idea of “natural” is something that has been taking off for some time now – not just in hardwood floors, but other areas such as the foods we consume.

Satin Finishes

Homebuyers are beginning to prefer satin finishes to shiny, glossy finishes. Glossy finishes do not give off the “natural” feel that consumers are looking for – natural is important! Glossy finishes have a tendency to show dirt, footprints, and other imperfections, as well as require more upkeep and maintenance over satin finishes.

Did You Say… Kitchen Flooring?

Tile used to be the automatic, go-to choice for kitchen flooring, but surprisingly homebuyers have gradually begun the shift from tile flooring to hardwood flooring; largely in part because many home and décor magazine feature this style.

The reasons why? Because hardwood flooring is easier on your feet, adds more style to your kitchen, matches cabinets well (this depends on the colors of the cabinets), makes your kitchen appear larger than it really is, is easier to clean, and happens to be very competitive in pricing in comparison to tile.

At the end of the day, a homebuyer will select a hardwood floor they believe fits their needs. Urban Floor is always trying to keep up with the latest trends so that we can provide our sincere customers with the necessary options they need in order to make an informed, well thought out decision.

homebuyers hardwood flooring preferences

The Empire, featured in our Royal Court Collection, looks great in kitchens!

Ever Wonder Exactly How Engineered Hardwood Floors Are Made?

Over here at Urban Floor, we’re big proponents of the engineered flooring movement. Here’s a question for you: What comes into your mind when you hear or see the word “engineer”?

Perhaps it’s something along the lines of man-made construction using skills, knowledge, and science? If so, this is exactly what we’re referring to when we say, “engineered hardwood floors” – hardwood floors that are constructed using skills, knowledge, and science to create a product tailored a specific way.

How Engineered Hardwood Floors Are Made

It all starts with beautiful trees that are carefully cut down, loaded, and sent to a factory where the engineering magic begins. There are a wide variety of tree species that engineered hardwood floors can be made from, each with varying degrees of strength!

First, the large chunks of tree must be de-barked using industrial machines for preparation. A question lurking in the wood flooring industry is what to do with the bark chippings from this mandatory process. So far the best use is for bark mulching – which is used for gardening and landscaping for various purposes. One example of bark mulch’s benefits is that it can hold in moisture for plants, effectively slowing down the time it takes for them to dry out.

After the trees have been debarked, it’s time to turn large chunks of solid wood into fine-engineered hardwood floor planks – the ones that are actually installed in your home. The tree is shaved into slices of real wood known as veneers. This veneer is what will be featured on the top of your engineered floor, giving it the hardwood appearance you seek. Below this veneer contains multiple layers of strategically placed plywood. It’s strategically placed because these plywood layers are stacked on top of each other in opposite direction. This is what gives engineered hardwood floors the benefits they have over solid hardwood flooring options: dimensionally stable and more resistant to changes in temperature and humidity reducing expansion, shrinking, and warping, as well as reducing the tendency of split wood.

The final step of the process ends at a finishing factory where your wood floors are prefinished with different sealants for added protection and longevity. Your engineered hardwood floor may also be sent through a distressing process that involves hand scraped finishes or wire brushed finishes for customizability-sake. It all depends on what you want your floor to look like – old, modern, exotic, etc. It then ends up carefully laid into your home (often by a professional), waiting to receive compliments from your family and friends.

engineered hardwood floors

The process of how engineered hardwood floors are made is truly fascinating. Hopefully you begin to see exactly why we love engineered hardwood flooring so much. Really though, we love all hardwood floors!

 

Plugin from the creators of Brindes Personalizados :: More at Plulz Wordpress Plugins