Category Archives: Tip of the Week

Fixing Dents, Scratches, and Gouges on Hardwood Floors

Our engineering team here at Urban Floor wanted to address a common question asked by many hardwood floor owners: how can I fix dents, gouges, and scratches that have accidentally occurred on my hardwood floors?

It’s a good question, and we can help you answer this professionally. First off, understand that in any case, hardwood floors CAN be repaired. The beauty of hardwood floors are that they are installed in boards and if a couple of boards have issues, then the worst case solution is to replace only the boards; something that isn’t as easy with carpet when things go awry.

Secondly, accidents will happen. Fallen objects, rambunctious children, sporadic movements from pets may accidentally result in unwanted scenarios. Luckily, there are DIY methods of correcting common accidents.

For Minor Scratches (Surface and Micro)

We have a small guide we have written in the past that can be found here.

However, a solution presented here that is not found in the guide above is the use of color coordinated stain pens. Surface scratches are minor blemishes on the top veneer of the hardwood floor.

Urban Floor’s personal recommendation for surface scratches:

MinWax Stain

We trust this brand because it is offered in many different shades and it works and is very easy to use. Their products can be found at their website, www.minwax.com.

Micro scratches penetrate the top finish and can be addressed easily with a cover up product to help fill in and mask the scratch.

Urban Floor’s personal recommendation for micro scratches:

repair hardwood floor dents scratches

BONA “cover-up” Products

Cal Flor “Scratch Away”

These 2 recommendations are top-notch and work like a charm for minor scratches.

For Dents + Gouges + Deep Scratches

A dent or a gouge is a flooring term used when actual hardwood floor has been removed.

Urban Floor’s personal recommendation for dents, gouges, and deep scratches:

MinWax

Touch Up Solutions

Keep in mind that after several years of use, depending on foot traffic exposure, a polyurethane floor may begin to lose its luster and show signs of wear and tear. In this scenario, a re-coat may be necessary to restore its original beauty.

Chuck Talk: The Best Rug Pads for Hardwood Floors

best safest rug pads to use on hardwood floorsWe emphasize area rugs quite often here at Urban Floor. The reason why is because area rugs truly are a hardwood floor’s best friend. The combination of the two makes for a unique personalized balance. If you’re interested in area rugs, then you’re going to want an appropriate rug pad to accompany it. Here’s the tricky part: it can often be difficult to choose the best, safe rug pad for hardwood floors.

Do I Even Need a Rug Pad?

Yes, you do need a rug pad and we’ll list the top reasons why:

Safety – this is the main reason why a rug pad should be a no brainer when purchasing an area rug. Picture a slip n’ slide. That’s what happens when you have an area rug without a rug pad underneath.

Floor Protection – simply put, rug pads offer protection from damage that may occur to your floors from the harsh abrasive backside of your area rug. It also helps protect against dents, color transfer and staining.

Expert Advice on Selecting the Right Rug Pad for Hardwood Floors

A rug pad’s job is basic: hold the area rug firmly in place, which will inevitably lead to prolonging its life and beauty.

Things to Keep in Mind:

• A rug pad for hardwood floors should not contain any glues, adhesives, chemicals, plastics, or PVC. These can stain or stick the surface – ruining your floors.

• The more dense and heavier your rug pad, the more protection you will receive from dents, etc.

Urban Floor’s Professional Recommendations

Natural Felt – A great choice for larger rugs. We recommend a 30oz to 40oz weighted rug pad if you go with the natural felt route. Make sure 100% natural felt is used.

Natural Rubber
– Perfect for smaller rugs and offer durability, stability, and grip. If thickness is an issue, then rubber pads work the best.

Combination of Rubber and Felt – An excellent choice for both durability and stability. Provides a non-slip grip, while adding cushioning for both large and small rugs.

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! :)

3 Wood Flooring Recommendations Perfect for Your Dining Room

With Thanksgiving here soon – we’re pretty excited to stuff our faces with great home cooked food including the usual culprits of turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauces, and of course the pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream. What’s one thing all of these have in common? They all end up in the dining room where guests and families begin to indulge. Urban Floor recommends it’s top 3 engineered wood flooring choices that are an excellent choice for your dining room.

1. Chianti

The Chianti hardwood floor is a great option for dining room flooring.

Dark wood flooring is especially popular these days, which brings us to our first recommendation: Chianti. This hardwood floor heightens your dining room experience with a warm, elegant feel perfect for family gatherings and events such as Thanksgiving.

Pro Tip: Area rugs are hardwood flooring’s best friend! They complement each other well. To add a little style or class to your dining room, consider an appropriate area rug to fit underneath your dining room table where you and your guests will be dining.

2. Messina

The Messina wood floor is perfect for the dining room.

Another European white oak suggestion that works very well for the dining room because of two simple aspects:

Dark wood
- it’s dark, but does not overwhelm.

Lacquer finish
– it also has a nice, smooth wire brushed finish topped with lacquer for excellent durability.

Durability is an aspect that should be considered for dining rooms as foot traffic generally flows in the dining room – not just for events, but because people often walk through this room to get to their kitchens.

3. Walnut Apache

Walnut Apache hardwood flooring works very well for the dining room.

Deviating a bit on this one, but the Walnut Apache is also an excellent hardwood flooring choice for dining rooms. It’s a dark brown hardwood floor that seeks to stand out with its semi-gloss stain. If you’re looking to really impress, then the Walnut Apache will certainly deliver. Its half-inch thickness also makes it perfect choice for hosting events – especially Thanksgiving dinner.

If you noticed, we stayed away from distressed or hand scraped flooring options as dining rooms are meant to impress. Of course, distressed and hand scraped wood floors are stylish in their own regard, but they do not come off as elegant or as “classy” as a nice European Oak, dark hardwood floor (with the exception of the Walnut Apache made from American Walnut and features a heavy scraped finish that appears more smooth than natural).

The one thing we’re all thankful for here at Urban Floor are our wonderful customers who appreciate the passion we have for exceptional hardwood flooring. Happy Thanksgiving!

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.

5 Ways To Prevent a Ruined Hardwood Floor

ruined hardwood floor

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

1. Welcome Home

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

2. Too Much Cleaning

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

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

3. Here Comes The Sun

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

4. Cushioning the Furniture

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

5. Cat Scratch Fever

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

Protecting Your Hardwood Floors from Guests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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