Category Archives: 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!

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!

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!

 

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

Environmental Benefits of Hardwood Floors

Many people are attracted to wood floors because of their elegant and quality appearance. They are a beautiful addition to a home and they are also an eco-friendly choice. Wood flooring is environmentally friendly.

Wood is a carbon neutral product and provides oxygen during its life cycle.

Indoor air quality is greatly improved when wood floors are present and installed correctly.

Production of wood flooring saves natural resources because they use less water and energy than other materials.

Another great benefit of wood flooring is that it can most definitely be recycled or burned as fuel. This is not the case for various other flooring options.

Aside from looking wonderful in a home, wood floors are truly the best option when deciding on an eco-friendly material. They last for decades and do not need to be replaced frequently, if ever! Who would have thought those beautiful wood floors you step on every day could be helping the environment? url-14

Why Choose Hardwood?

Let’s get basic! Why not? You’re on our page because you might be considering installing wood flooring into your home. Awesome thought. Now let’s learn a little about how wood floors can benefit your home, family, and life! First off, wood floors reveal a sense of elegance when entering a home. They immediately project comfort and style along with a right-at-home feeling.  Because wood floors are natural, they bring a positive environmental factor right into your home.  A great thing about wood floors is that there are so many styles to choose from to match any type of décor.  Every different type of wood has a unique style, design, texture, and color. The options are almost limitless when it comes to customizing your dream floor. Because hardwood is top-notch quality, your home will always stay beautiful as long as the right maintenance is put into keeping your floors the same quality as if they were just bought!

Hardwood lasts for decades. There is no doubt that it reminds sustainable for many years. It is fairly easy to maintain also. Dust mopping on a regular basis will keep your floors looking new as well as the occasional approved cleanser. For those who love to go green, wood flooring has tremendous environmental benefits. Wood floors use less water and energy to produce than other possible flooring options such as laminate or tile. Although they last hundreds of years, the flooring can be recycled! Indoor air quality is even improved when hardwood is installed. Your health will begin to see benefits from your wood floor too. Dust, mold, mites, and dirt build up on carpets, irritating colds, allergies, and other health problems. Allergy sufferers find many pros when it comes to wood floors because of the improvement in air quality.We all know wood flooring is quite an investment. Even though this is true, it is ultimately a great long term investment because it increases the value of your property and adds a beautiful charm to the overall feeling and appearance of your home.
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Picking the Perfect Area Rug for Your Flooring

A bedroom is a place to call your sanctuary. To have the most comforting satisfaction, most people want their decorations and flooring to be just right. Hardwood flooring of course adds elegance and style, especially to a bedroom. It can also add value to your home! Before you make a decision about what kind of flooring best suits you and your style, consider how long you plan on staying in a certain spot (as flooring can be expensive), consider design trends that match with the flooring you choose, and also be aware that it is perfectly okay to design your home  by using area rugs that complement the room’s theme. These come in a variety of sizes, styles, and colors. If placing an area rug on top of your wood floor, remember that hardwood has many benefits such as quality and durability. This means that you do not want to take away the beauty of your hardwood floors by choosing the wrong area rug. A few simple steps will help you find the perfect rug to fit your style.

1. Measure. Of course you need to know what size rug you need to fit the space you are looking to place it. The key idea is to find a rug that does not cover the entire floor, but to leave enough space to be able to see the beautiful wood.

2. Style says it all.  First recognize the color of your floors. The color of the rug and color of the floors should contrast each other. Also, consider those objects around you. What color are the walls? What does your furniture look like? For lighter furniture and cherry wood floors, a traditional area rug would look perfect. These kinds of rugs show many patterns such as diamonds or flowers.

3. Texture is important too! You want to feel comfortable when walking on your brand new area rug. A woven texture tends to be rough, a braided texture is more relaxed and soft, and a bamboo texture is rough.

Final tip: Padding prevents the rug from sliding which is perfect for it to stay in place. The padding should be an inch shorter than the rug itself.

 

 

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