Category Archives: Educational

Go Behind the Scenes with Urban Floor’s New Videos

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!

 

What’s the Deal with Hardwood Floors and Allergies?

Allergies are an issue that many Americans suffer from with symptoms ranging from mild to severe depending on the different seasons that come and go. The good news is that hardwood floors have been recommended by doctors and specialists as a way to combat the war between hardwood floors and allergies.

According to the AAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America), hardwood floors are recommended for those suffering from both allergies and asthma. Better yet, doctors prefer hardwood flooring options installhardwood floors and allergiesed inside their own medical offices to minimize the chance of infectious germs and bacteria spreading around.

Why is this? It’s simple: because wood floors do not capture the dust, dander, pollen, and other allergy-causing substances that build up in your home. Dust mites feed off of carpet flooring, rugs, and other bedding options. This means they remain trapped in the carpet.

Carpet requires that you vacuum your room in order to suck the allergens out of it, which doesn’t even guarantee much, as dust mites could be deep within the carpet. If this is the case, then your vacuum cleaner won’t even be able to reach the dust mites. Effective carpet cleaning requires the use of a steam cleaner, which is a chore that not many people enjoy doing.

You shouldn’t be mistaken that hardwood floors will magically make your allergy-causing substances disappear. Dust, dander, pollen, and other allergens will still be present throughout your home but the difference is that natural hardwood floors are easier to clean and take care of. The bottom-line is that it’s easier to manage your dust problems with hardwood floors than it is with carpet.

It’s not just dust, dander, etc. that you should be worried about. Harmful fumes such as smoke are able to be trapped in carpet as well, something that doesn’t occur with hardwood flooring. Pet fur can also be trapped in carpet, leading to unwanted scenarios. Also, children who crawl along your floor will have increased exposure to the germs and bacteria that lurk within your home.

The goal of battling allergies is to minimize the amount of dust you are exposed to and hardwood floors are better at performing this task. It’s not uncommon to find someone who suffered from “random allergies” until they made the switch to wood flooring, when all of a sudden they weren’t having as many attacks.

Hardwood flooring offers more than just allergy benefits, read about the environmental benefits wood floors offer as well!

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!

The Latest Hype: Matte Finish Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are known for their glossy, shiny, almost wet-looking appearance. A hardwood floor’s gloss comes from the amount of light that is reflected off of them, usually measured from a 60-degree angle; the angle at which you will most likely view hardwood floors if you are standing.

There’s a type of gloss finish that actually doesn’t have much gloss to it: matte. Matte finishes attempt one thing: to make hardwood floors seem as real as possible with a very small amount of shine. Matte finish hardwood floors are picking up some ground as consumers are craving a truly “natural”, clean feel to their homes. They give off the illusion of raw wood. There’s something about natural that makes us feel comfortable.

So how shiny, or not so shiny, is matte? Typically, a hardwood floor’s sheen level is measured by its luster, ranging from 0-100%. A hardwood floor’s luster is the amount of glow that is seen from reflected light. Here’s a comparison of various hardwood floor finishes:

High-Gloss = 75% or higher

Semi-Gloss = 55% – 70%

Satin = 30 – 50%

Matte = 1 – 20%

As you can see above, matte floors have the least amount of shine. Everyone has their preference as to what they want in their homes, but perhaps a few considerations should be made.

Matte finishes, and low-luster finishes in general, hide scratches, dirt and other imperfections much better than glossy floors. Matte finishes are more child- and pet friendly than high-gloss finishes because they don’t show as much dust, dirt, or footprints.

On the other hand, glossy finishes just seem too pretty to look at. They tend to be cleaned more often, but for good reason: because shiny floors look impressive. Glossy floors are capable of giving your home a boost to the “wow factor”.

If you’re interested in matte finish hardwood floors, look at our Villa Caprisi Collection, The Composer Collection and our Downtown Series within our Urban Lifestyle Collection. We also have our new Chene by Urban Floor Collection, coming soon… Stay Tuned!

matte finish hardwood floors

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.

What is the Janka Hardness Test and Does It Matter?

You may have heard of this whole “Janka Hardness Test” business, but aren’t exactly sure what it is or what it means to you. No problem, we’ll try and help you out.

You should know that the Janka Hardness Test applies to both engineered wood flooring as well as solid wood flooring. Engineered wood floors typically feature a plywood base with a solid wood overlay, or “veneer”.

Janka Hardness TestSo what exactly is the Janka Hardness Test? It’s quite simple. An 11.28 millimeter steel ball is forced halfway into various wood species to measure how resistant a species is. A rating is then applied to compare exactly how hard certain hardwood floors really are. A rating of 1290 is used as a baseline to see which woods are soft and which are hard. Ratings above 1290 are considered harder variants and those below 1290 are regarded as softer choices.

What do these numbers mean to me?

The harder the wood, the more trauma it can take before it dents. Harder woods are more forgiving of careless mistakes. Harder woods are also forgiving of large pets and kids that roughhouse. Harder woods are better for heavier traffic scenarios but come with a downside: they don’t deal as well in dry climates and have the potential to split.

Ultimately, you want to choose the wood species that looks best to you, regardless of Janka ratings. If you like a certain type of hardwood because you believe it will match your home better or make it easier to work with, then that should be the one you pick. Also, it’s important to understand that the finish of a hardwood floor is the real defense against scratches and the like.

Read more about selecting a wood species here.

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