Category Archives: News

Urban Floor Engineered Flooring Article Featured on the LA Daily News!

Engineered Flooring to Become New Leader in Hardwood Floor Market

engineered flooring

Very exciting times for us at Urban Floor with a new article that was covered in the LA Daily News on the topic of engineered flooring and how they have risen from the bottom to a fierce, reputable contender in the wood flooring industry.

Just how much of a contender are engineered hardwood floors? Well they currently hold just close to 50% of the total hardwood floor market, and will soon surpass solid hardwood flooring options as the market leader.

We’re strong believers in hardwood flooring options that keep the environment in mind, but options that also make sense. The benefits of engineered hardwood floors do outweigh other flooring options in many ways. Sure, solid hardwood flooring and laminate hardwood flooring have their benefits. Solid hardwood flooring can be refinished and re-sanded multiple times, while laminate flooring is typically the most cost-effective choice.

So back to making sense… just how does engineered flooring “make sense”? No brainer:

Environmentally conscious – for each square foot of solid hardwood veneer, you can make up to 24 square feet with engineered hardwood. Talk about saving trees.

Installation – Engineered hardwood can be installed in just about any place, including above concrete, which we believe is quite impressive. Now who would be installing hardwood over concrete? People who have basements that do not want carpet and do not enjoy walking over concrete.

Have it your way – The many different ways engineered hardwood floors are manufactured is truly amazing. Different sizes, colors, thicknesses, width, styles, patterns, you can customize your engineered hardwood the way you want it.

Basically, we love engineered hardwood floors, which is why many of our collections are indeed just that – engineered hardwood floors! Read the full article on why engineered hardwood floors are gaining market share.

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.

Hardwood Floor Trends of 2014

As professionals of hardwood floors, it’s important to stay on top of the latest hardwood floor trends. So what have hardwood floor consumers been raving about? Here’s what we’ve found:

Wide planks – Many consumers of hardwood flooring are starting to prefer planks as wide as 10 inches or higher! The new standard has been set to a width of 5 inches. Some may even say that 7 inches is the new standard. We can safely say that we are up to speed on this latest shift towards wider planks.

Exotic woods – Just the word ‘exotic’ brings out a feeling of awe. The thing about exotic woods is that they feature unusual grains and patterns that are completely natural. Examples of exotic woods include Acacia and Brazilian Cherry. Consumers of hardwood floors prefer this natural, wholesome look in their homes.

Engineered flooring – It’s no surprise that engineered flooring is still a strong hardwood floor trend as it’s an eco-friendly approach to hardwood floors as well as cost-effective. On top of this, engineered floors can be installed over concrete and below grade (unlike Solid flooring). In general, the trend towards ‘green’ products has been gaining growth for quite some time.

Dark colors – Hardwood floor enthusiasts are beginning to prefer bolder, darker colors such as dark brown, black, or auburn. Darker colors provide a more sophisticated, vintage appearance that can be very captivating. This isn’t to say that lighter colored floors are outdated. It’s all a matter of preference.

Wood walling (also called wood wall covering) – This is a recent phenomenon in which the walls of your house are replaced with hardwood flooring. It may sound very bizarre, but it’s catching ground. Again, it goes back to the whole idea of the natural look that provides homeowners with a sophisticated appearance that cannot be achieved through traditional white walls.

Head over to our Pinterest account for more ideas on hardwood floor trends & designs!

hardwood

How to Install a Hardwood Floor

DIY experts take us step-by-step to help install beautiful wood floors

Step 1: Choose the Boards

Choose the hardwood species and board widths for the room installation.

Step 2: Measure the Room

Measure the width and length of the room and multiply for the square footage. When ordering hardwood flooring, allow 10-15 percent extra for irregular boards and any cutting mistake.

Step 3: Check for a Squeaky Floor

Check the sub-floor. Minimum requirements are a 3/4″ plywood sub-floor. Make sure there are no squeaks in the floor. If there’s a squeak, screw a long drywall screw into the sub-floor and joist where the squeak occurs. Remove shoe-molding from the room and sweep and clean thoroughly.

Step 4: Roll Out the Vapor Barrier Paper

Roll out strips of vapor barrier paper, allowing at least a 4″ overlap and staple securely to the sub-floor. Use 15 pound tar paper or felt. It is relatively inexpensive (it’s approximately $12 a roll at a home improvement store). Mark with a pencil along the baseboards where the joists are located.

Step 5: Start Installation

Start the installation at the longest unobstructed wall. Remove the shoe molding, and snap a chalk line 3/8″ out from the baseboard (this allows for expansion in the hot, humid weather and contraction in the colder, drier weather of the hardwood flooring).

Step 6: Place the Boards

Begin by selecting a long board to start the first row. Pick one that is straight. Align the edge of the board with the chalk line and drill pilot holes down through the hardwood plank and into the sub-floor and joist. Face-nail each board at the point of every joist and set the nail with a nail-set. Face-nail the entire first row and remember to keep the board lengths random. It is important to face-nail the first row because the pneumatic nail can’t get down in there. It will hit the wall and the force would push the wood against the baseboard, which would lose the 3/8″ expansion and contraction.

It is important to lay the first boards perpendicular to the joists which are underneath. That is important because you want a nice solid anchor. Look at the subfloor to see which way the nails and seams ran. Try to go underneath the crawl space to see how they run.

Step 7: Hand-Nail the Rolls

After the first few rows have been installed, drill pilot holes down into the tongue of each board and hand-nail the rolls until there is enough clearance for the pneumatic nail gun.

Tip: Lay out a box of hardwood boards ahead of the installation to visualize lengths, wood grain and colors of the boards. When laying out the boards, keep in mind to never have the ends of boards in adjacent rows line up with each other. Keep the lengths random and at least 6″ in length.

Step 8: Staple the Boards

Using the pneumatic nail gun, place the gun lip over the edge of the board and strike firmly with the mallet, driving the staple into the tongue of the hardwood plank.

When installing up to a threshold, it is not critical to make cuts exact. Come back later after the floor has been installed and use a circular saw to cut across for a precise cut.

use pneumatic nail gun to staple tongue into plank

Step 9: Cutting the Baseboard

When cutting along the baseboards, select a piece that will fit in there and leave 10 or 12 inches more and cut it off. Use the other piece on the beginning of the next row. You don’t always have to get it in there real close and throw out the end piece. That will save some time and waste.

use cut off boards from one row to start next row

Step 10: Fill in the Gaps

Be sensitive to the way the ends fit together. One end has a tongue and the other end has a groove — this is called end matched. Make sure to always cut the wall end of the wood so that you do not cut off the groove that fits to the tongue. If that happens, that would result in a pretty big gap. Find a piece and lay it alongside the hole and flip it over. Make sure when you make the mark to cut off the wall side, not the room side. When you make the mark, butt it up against the baseboard and then mark at the end of that tongue. That will leave a 3/8″ gap for expansion and contraction when installing the piece.

Note: Before nailing, make sure to put at least two nails in every board. The rule of thumb is to place a nail every 10″ to 12″.

Step 11: Work Around Clearance Issue

As you near the opposite wall, clearance for the pneumatic nail gun again becomes an issue. Drill pilot holes and hand-nail the boards until there is no longer clearance for the drill and hammer. At that point, drill pilot holes down into the top of the boards and face-nail the boards, remembering to set the nails with a nail-set.

Tip: Use a pry bar and a few extra scraps of flooring to firmly seat the hardwood plank as you nail.

Step 12: Fit Last Board Into Place

If there’s a narrow gap for the last board, take a measurement and rip (cut length-wise) the last board to fit into place. Remember to leave a 3/8″ gap at the end wall for expansion and contraction space.

Step 13: Fill Holes With Wood Putty

Replace shoe molding in the room and putty all of the nail holes that have been face-nailed. Be sure to get wood putty that matches the floor. Fill the hole and wipe off the excess.

Step 14: Hardwood Floor Maintenance

Maintenance is easy for a pre-finished hardwood floor — keep grit off of the surface by sweeping regularly and use a flooring cleaning kit (alcohol-based) and spray on and wipe off with a damp cloth. Hardwood floors also help cut down on dust mites.

See more pictures and examples at http://bit.ly/129zwQu

Tips for Handling Asbestos During Home Renovations

Tips for Handling Asbestos During Home Renovations
by Brian Turner

Since Hurricane Sandy hit the tri-state area, many older homes must be renovated and rebuilt. These home renovations must be greeted with caution because many homes built before 1970 may have materials containing asbestos. Insulation, floor tiles, drywall and joint compounds may all contain asbestos.

Asbestos may become airborne when removed from the home for replacement. When asbestos is inhaled, it becomes lodged in the lungs. Ten to 50 years later, it may develop into mesothelioma. This type of cancer is difficult to treat and may be fatal. Consider these tips to minimize asbestos exposure:

1.  Do Not Disturb Asbestos
If you encounter asbestos, you should not drill through it, saw it, break it, hammer it or disturb it in any way. Housekeepers or janitors should not sand or buff floor tiles made with asbestos. Wet stripping is recommended with floor tiles made of asbestos. During the buffing process, low abrasion pads are recommended. Speeds below 300 are suggested.

2. Involve Professionals for Asbestos Containment  
Report all suspected asbestos materials to Environment, Health and Safety (EHS). The report may include damaged insulation on a pipe, broken ceiling tiles and spray-on insulation. Asbestos abatement workers may be hired to determine if asbestos is present and remove it from the home. In the meantime, others should be prevented from disturbing the asbestos to avoid exposure.

3.Monitor Your Health After Exposure
After exposure to asbestos, you should monitor your health closely for early detection. A mesothelioma blood test can detect the cancer before symptoms appear. After exposure, you should be tested annually. Ensure the test is approved by the FDA. Other diagnostic tests may include an X-ray of the lungs to determine how well the lungs are working.

Click Image to Enlarge

Asbestos in the Home

Image courtesy of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

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Thinking About Doing Your Own Carpet Demo?

Thinking About Doing Your Own Carpet Demo?
by Ron Call

In this day and age of trying to save a buck or two on your home remodel you may want to consider doing your own demo.  If you’re planning on installing your new flooring project soon, doing your own demo (removal of existing floor covering) may save you a few bucks.  Here is how you can Do-It-Yourself.  For this project we will assume that we will be installing a new floating wood project.

If you have an existing old carpet to tear out here is what you will need.

  1. Hammer
  2. Pry bar
  3. Floor scrapper
  4. Sharp utility knife
  5. Work gloves
  6. Safety glasses

First start in one corner of the room and then pull up the carpet off the tack strip.  Once you pulled up the corner, pull along one wall raising the carpet only as high as to release it from the tack strip pins.  If the carpet is down so tight that you cannot grip it to pull it up, try cutting a slit down through the top of the carpet in the corner large enough to get your hand underneath then pull it up.  Now go around the perimeter of the room pulling it up along the wall from corner to corner.  Once the carpet is released from the tack strip it’s time to start cutting the rug.

First cut the carpet at any doorway seams to separate one room from another.  Carpet is very heavy so you will want to cut the carpet in manageable size strips maybe four to six feet wide.  Then roll it up in individual pieces light enough to carry without hurting yourself.

Once the carpet is gone take your floor scrapper and remove the padding, it may be glued or stapled.  Wear your gloves! Staples are sharp and trust me I have the scars to prove it.  Once you have released the pad roll it up and dispose of properly.  Depending on where you live you may be able to recycle the padding and the carpet both, which will save you dump fees and possible pay for your gas as well.  I’ve gotten as much as $40.00 for a whole house worth of old nasty padding.

Now it’s time to tackle the wood tack strip around the perimeter of the room.  Grab your pry bar and hammer, put on your gloves and safety glasses.  Take the curved edge of the pry bar place it on the floor up against the tack strip right next to one of the nails that secures it to the floor.  Start at either end of the tack strip, now hit the pry bar down low by the floor with your hammer to dislodge the nail and raise up the tack strip.  Once the first nail pops up move to the next nail.  Do this around the entire room until all the tack strip is removed.  Dispose of carefully as tack strip pins are very sharp and very painful.  Double check the perimeter of the room for any tack strip nails that may have been left behind and remove them with your pry bar.

You do not want these nails under your new floor.  Scrap any glue residue from the pad off the floor or remove any staples.  Sweep the floor and call your flooring company and tell them you’re ready for your install.  It’s hard dirty work doing demo but if you have the time and inclination, you can save a nice chunk of change.  Depending on the size of the job the savings could be hundreds of dollars.  And nothing makes your installer happier than a floor that is ready for install.  Installers love to install, not so much doing demo…

If you ever need advice, guidance or have questions you can always get in touch with me under the “Ask Ron” section of our blog HERE.

You Get What You Pay For

You Get What You Pay For
by Ron Call

So I’m driving down the road today with my wife in the car coming back to San Diego from a business trip in LA.  I admit after a long 5 hours in the car I was a little grumpy.  And this radio advertisement comes on and tells me they sell their flooring at 80% off cost.  After I calmed down ranting and raving things like “sure 80% off a 100% mark up, bunch of lying so and so’s”!  My wife says don’t get mad about it just blog about it.  So anyway I’m calm now and collecting my thoughts.

Ron Call, your Urbanfloor Guy

Everyone needs to make a profit.  That’s how we all pay the bills right?  If no one could make a profit we’d all be poor living on dirt floors.  But 80% off?  Come on, next they will be selling stuff at what?  100% off?  Remember you get what you pay for.

I did an installation for a customer last month that is a perfect example of you get what you pay for.  I’m a licensed flooring contractor that works out of a small shop.  I am typically hired by retailers, interior designers and general contractors to do installations of the flooring that they sell.  Occasionally I’ll have a customer usually a referral where I’m asked to provide both the flooring and the installation.

So I head over to her house to meet with her and go over all the details.  I find out what type of flooring she wants, I figure out how much material that will be needed and what type of sub-floor she has (very important).  Because she lives upstairs in a condo, I also need to make sure for any sound proofing requirements.  She also lived right on the ocean which can bring a whole set of challenges in itself.  So I submitted my bid for labor which detailed exact square footage required, moldings, base boards, demo of the old floor etc., everything but the floor that she would eventually choose. We planned on me returning in a few days with samples of all the different types of flooring she was interested in.  A couple days later she called to say that she was putting things off for a couple weeks as her mom was ill.

Two weeks later she called me very excited that she had found the perfect bamboo floor at that large national discount chain.  (I won’t mention their name) but they constantly advertise on T.V. and have their signs hanging in baseball parks all over America.  I was a little disappointed that I didn’t sell her the floor myself but I was happy she was happy, and work is work.

So we scheduled the installation for two weeks later.  She scheduled her vacation time so she could be home during construction.  The plan was I would pick up the bamboo and deliver it, start the demo and prep which was extensive, then on day 4 after proper acclimation we would start putting down some wood.

Here’s where its starts getting a little sticky.  We pick up the bamboo and deliver it to the house up two flights of stairs and stack it in the dining room.  I open one of the boxes to verify the color and quality and to my shock and dismay it’s solid bamboo not engineered.  Which basically means it needs 10 -14 days acclimation not the standard 3 days for engineered products.  This customer’s home was one block from the ocean which means acclimation is hyper critical even for engineered products let alone a solid one.

I tell my customer the situation and I explain that we cannot start the install for two weeks.  She was beside herself telling me that she could not change her vacation time and what could I do.  I explained that without proper acclimation her floor would have no warrantee from the manufacturer.  And that from my experience, installing a solid floating floor without proper acclimation would almost surely fail and that I, in all good conscience could not install it.  So the job was rescheduled for 2 weeks later as the discount store did not have a similar engineered product in stock so we could not exchange it.  My customer thought she was getting a good deal saving what she thought was a few cents per square foot.

In the end she took 2 more weeks off work unpaid and I lost 2 weeks of work myself.  Between the both of us it cost us thousands of dollars.  I went to the see the store manager at the discount warehouse and he was no help at all.  I asked him if he qualified his customer’s to make sure that what he’s selling people is actually suitable for the application involved (he should have known she lived by the ocean and sold her engineered flooring).  He basically told me when a customer comes in and buys a floor that his sub-contractors don’t install he just sells the customer what they want.  Cash and carry, all he cared about was that he made the sale.

The purchase of new flooring in your home can be one of the most expensive purchases that you will ever make.  You need to make sure that you shop at a good retailer with experience and one who only utilizes good licensed contractors.

Some retailers don’t use sub contractors they use their own employees, which is fine as long as the retailer is themselves an experienced contractor.  There are many factors to consider when choosing new flooring and there are many things that need to be considered to ensure your flooring purchase is a good experience such as type of floor, environment, location of the home, sub floor, type of home (ie: single family, condo, apartment, mobile home or a high traffic business location), method of installation, type of floor, warrantee and the list goes on and on.  Sometimes when you’re trying to cut corners and save a few pennies it ends up costing you more in the end.  Remember you get what you pay for!

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