Fun Activities with Hardwood Floors

 

The benefits of hardwood floors extend beyond the traditional things you’ve probably already heard of by now – air quality, low maintenance, a lot of variety to choose from, easy to clean, adds value to your house, etc.

We’re going to switch things up a bit by letting you in on a benefit that we’re willing to bet is vastly overlooked: fun activities to do on your hardwood floors. Of course, these activities we suggest are completely safe from damaging or ruining your hardwood floors as well as being kid-friendly.

Dance Away

Literally the absolute best activity to perform on your hardwood floors is to do exactly that: perform. The best way to go about this… soft socks. Chances are you’ve already attempted it at some point, either on your own hardwood floorsor someone else’s, but we recommend trying to replicate Michael Jackson’s outrageously famous “Moonwalk”. The Moonwalk isn’t for everybody, but it sure is fun to try.

In any event, you will definitely be able to channel your inner dance skills that have been longing to come out. Not to mention its great exercise. Throw some music on and practice away. Our only recommendation: make sure no one is looking.

Nerf Toys

Remember Nerf? You know, those toy foam darts that have been famous for several years? Well, Nerf guns are a great activity you and your kids can enjoy partaking in. Whether it be blasting each other with some of the latest and greatest Nerf guns or playing indoor basketball using their latest Cyber Hoop®, you’ll be sure to enjoy your time with the children. Just make sure the hardwood floors aren’t too slippery.

Also, if you need to move furniture out of the way in order to create a perfect line drive jam, then consider applying furniture padding in order to simply scoot your furniture out of the way. Sometimes you have to go the extra mile to score that 10/10 dunk.

We enjoy having fun every once in awhile. Fun is what keeps us alive and feeling refreshed. If you haven’t already, you should check out the fun video we made at Urban Floor with a fresh new take on the addictive tune that’s been going around known as #selfie, made popular by a group named The Chainsmokers. Enjoy the video and let us know any fun ideas you’ve encountered with your 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.

 

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

 

Can Sunlight Damage Hardwood Floors?

 

Did you know that sunlight can actually damage your hardwood floors?

The unfortunate part is that yes, sunlight or ultraviolet rays are indeed harmful to your precious hardwood floors. Hardwood floors become discolored when they are exposed to sunlight over time. Certain floors will become lighter than they originally were while others will become darker, such as Maple and Brazilian Cherry.

The fortunate part is that you can dramatically slow the process down by taking necessary precautions.

Window Shopping
Blinds, shades, curtains, or other draperies for your windows go a long way in keeping sunlight at bay. If you have a large glass sliding door, then it would be best to invest in a screen for added protection. Another option is to look into window films that have proven to be safe and effective in protecting you and your hardwood floors from harmful UV rays.

Change For The Better
It’s important to change the arrangement of your furniture, rugs, and couches to allow for an equal distribution of sunlight on your floors so that colors stay consistent across your whole room. If you decide on moving furniture on hardwood floors, make sure you do it properly.

 

Moving Furniture on Hardwood Floors

 

You may have heard, seen, or read somewhere that moving your furniture without proper care can lead to unwanted scratches on your engineered or solid hardwood floors. Nobody wants that, nor do they have time or money to fix it. Here are a few tricks of the trade that can save you the hassle of dealing with nicks and scratches.

Rugs – by slipping an appropriate-sized rug under the furniture you need to move, you can slide the whole piece slowly to your new location. Make sure you use the soft side of the rug (i.e. the top side)!

Towels – by sliding towels under the legs or corners you can slide your furniture around smoothly.

Plastic bags – if possible, you can tie plastic bags to the legs of your furniture to move it around without scratching up your hardwood floors. To be extra sure of avoiding scratches you can double up the bags.

Business cards –these cards are made out of slick paper good for sliding around furniture. Just stick them under the legs or corners and slide away carefully.

Felt pads – this is our best recommendation for you as felt works very well for moving furniture on hardwood floors. You can find them at them at your local hardware store or order them online.

Here’s a video showing you what felt pads look like and how to apply them:

 

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.

 

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.

 
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