Engineered Hardwood Floors for the New Year

 

With the New Year here, we’re proud to show off two of our premier Engineered Hardwood Floors Collections: Composer and Royal Court. These collections offer an illustrious approach to hardwood flooring.

Engineered Hardwood FloorsThe Composer Collection aims for a classical approach with its natural splits, mineral streaks, and unfilled knots. Finished with a strong Klumpp German finish combined with unique technics of wire brushing and sand blasting, this collection is very resistant towards scratches and dentation. This 11.5” wide engineered hardwood flooring collection is a combination of classical craftsmanship with modern technology, which makes for a perfect balance of harmony in your home.

A sub-collection includes our Composer Orchestra Collection. This 7.5” wide Collection boasts a vintage feel that combines the beauty of European oak with unmatched durability. Our inspiration comes from driftwood, capturing the atmosphere of the ocean. By selecting the Viola, Cello, or Piccolo variants, your home will feel one step closer to the relaxing vibes of the beautiful blue ocean. View The Composer Collection 

engineered hardwood flooring


The Royal Court Collection offers a prestigious approach to your hardwood flooring needs. With a bold overtone, this collection craves the attention of anyone who steps in to your home. Like the Composer Collection, engineered hardwood floors are used to enhance the style of any room by giving it the eye-catching elements that a King or Queen would seek. View The Royal Court Collection

We know many people have New Year’s Resolutions, perhaps switching to engineered hardwood floors is yours.

 

Choosing the Right Hardwood Floor Finish

 

Hardwood floors are highly durable if they’re properly taken care of. Routine cleaning methods such as dusting and mopping will help your hardwood floors go a long way. Hardwood Floor finishes provide that extra toughness your hardwood floors crave. Think of it as a car wash, when the car is finished, it looks nice and glossy. Hardwood flooring finish acts the same way, except they last far longer than any car wash. They help your floors stay structurally solid as well as provide your floors with a unique lasting look, helping them stay natural and fresh. There are two main types of sealants for residential hardwood floors: surface and penetrating. 

Surface Sealants

Surface sealants are exactly the way they sound: sealants that lie above the surface. They aim at coating the top of your hardwood floors by creating a thin, strong layer of protection. There are a few types of surface sealants you should be aware of.

Shellac – this sealant is one of the oldest in the books, but still has some shine to it. It provides your hardwood floors with a natural glossy overtone. It’s not as durable as some of the other sealants, but it still gets the job done when you’re looking for a cheap, sustainable sealant.

Varnish – another oldie, but goodie. It typically isn’t used much today as better options exist, but it still is versatile when it comes to different tints. It’s relatively inexpensive (similar to Shellac) but requires a deft hand to apply as it dries slow, allowing dust to complicate the process.

Lacquer – this is a finish that can be applied by spraying it on. Water-based lacquers cost more than varnish or shellac, but offer a quality glossy finish that is very durable.

Urethane – these are the new standard of finishes. They boast the highest possible gloss and excellent durability. Oil-based, water-based, and acid-based urethanes exist. Oil-based are normally inexpensive and easy to apply, but are potentially hazardous to your health and take awhile to dry. They also have a tendency to turn yellow over time. Water-based are more environmentally friendly and do not yellow over time, but lack the strength of an oil-based urethane sealant. Acid-based urethanes dry extremely fast and do not yellow over time, but are flammable and typically require a professional to apply correctly.

Penetrating Sealants

Penetrating sealants do exactly what their name says: penetrate your hardwood floors. These sealants soak into the wood by filling the pores, helping to protect it. Penetrating sealants help bring out the best in your wood. However, they typically aren’t favored because they do not give off the fancy gloss that surface sealants can produce. They must also be applied consistently. There are three types of oils to familiarize yourself with.

Tung Oil – a classic that has been used for many years is tung oil, which is an oil that comes from tung tree nuts. It’s a very natural “green” product that is easy to apply. It’s not the most durable choice, as it requires many applications to receive the durability you want, but it’s one of the least harmful choices out there.

Linseed Oil – an oil made from flax plants, this oil is also a natural choice very similar to tung oil. This oil isn’t as water-resistant as tung oil, but you can fix most scratches that may happen on your hardwood floors easier with this sealant. It’s more forgiving.

Danish Oil – this oil is normally a mixture of tung oil and varnish. It can also be classified as a surface sealant, but it penetrates as well. It dries quickly, is more durable than the other oils, and requires fewer coats. Of course this all comes at the cost of a higher price than the other options.

Sealants are a great investment to maintaining your hardwood floors and there are two things to keep in mind when you select one: dry time and the color it will produce.

We hope this information can help you seal the deal. For more info, view our post on Refinishing Your Hardwood Floors

 

Removing Minor Scratches and Nicks On Hardwood Floors

 

Hardwood floors are a great addition to your house, but they are prone to scratches. If you manage to nick or scratch your hardwood floors then don’t panic. There are a few tricks to follow without the help of a professional.

Depending on how minor of a scratch it is and the color of your hardwood, chances are you can simply use a Sharpie pen to touch up and hide the scratch. It’s an inexpensive option that can curb your headache.

Who knew walnuts could repair scratches? Believe it or not, rubbing a shelled walnut over the scratch could fix your problem. When you rub a walnut, it’s natural oils come out which acts as a scratch filler and natural sealant.

Olive oil and vinegar is another known alternative method to fixing a scratch. By mixing olive oil and vinegar and pouring a small amount onto your scratch, it’s possible that your scratch can dissolve within 24 hours.

If these methods don’t satisfy your problem, then another promising option exists: wax sticks. Wax sticks combine stain and urethane (which produces that lovely gloss) to fill in nicks and scratches that require more attention. However, make sure you choose a wax stick that will best match the color of your hardwood floor. This isn’t as hard as it sounds because hardwood floors combine well with many colors, except for white scratches of course.

Be Proactive:

Preparing for them can prevent many scratches. Scratches are commonly formed from moving around furniture. The best way to prevent this is to invest in furniture pads that act as a small cushion under your furniture. Not only do they prevent scratches, but also allow for easy movement.

Rugs are hardwood floor’s best friends. You can prevent scratches by placing a rug under your furniture. This can also allow for easier movement, while adding a nice touch to the room. Aside from just furniture, surface rugs work very well in securing areas you feel are more likely to get scratched up (i.e. an area where children are playing).

For more information, please visit our section on Cleaning and Care for Hardwood Floors

 

Is Your Hardwood Floor Environmentally Responsible?

 

In today’s climate, everyone does what they can to help the environment. U.S. environmental regulations are put in place to help safeguard our natural resources, and consumers expect the businesses they buy from to be compliant with these laws and hold the same beliefs as they do. But what happens when you find out not only is a company you’ve bought from accused of breaking environmental laws, but your beloved hardwood floor may be an illegal product- harvested from protected forests?

For Lumber Liquidator customers, this nightmare is a reality.

Hardwood Floors and the Environment

The large chain, Lumber Liquidators floor supplier is accused of breaking the Lacey Act, a federal regulation that prohibits importing lumber that was illegally harvested. According to a Wall Street Journal report, a federal investigation initiated by an environmental group was prompted after suspicion was raised regarding the harvest of trees for hardwood flooring from protected Russian forests through a Chinese supplier of hardwoods. The report claims that Lumber Liquidators was aware of the source of the lumber from their  Chinese suppliers, but continued to buy from them despite the illegal means of obtaining the wood. The Russian forests harvested by the Chinese supplier are protected habitat areas for the endangered Siberian Tiger. Currently, there are only approximately 450 feet of natural habitat left for Siberian Tigers in far east Russia.

How to Buy Environmentally Friendly Hardwood Floors

Lumber Liquidator customers who purchased oak or birch flooring may be walking on endangered habitat woods- a nightmare for the environmentally conscious. As a consumer, you can take steps to ensure you don’t inadvertently contribute to the downfall of endangered forest and animals through deforestation of protected habitats.

Environmentally conscious flooring begins with selecting a reputable company and doing research into how and where the company obtains its lumber. You can also check to see if any charges have been filed for EPA violations that could potentially harm your local environment as well. Choosing a company that encourages green practices in the workplace is a bonus, as is finding a company that gives back to the environment whenever possible. Green energy sources, energy conservation, recycling, and participating in local and global environmental events are all desirable actions as well.

Another easy way to help protect our environment is to purchase engineered wood flooring, which uses less hardwood materials than traditional solid wood floors. You still get the same great look and quality as solid hardwood flooring, but with a more environmentally conscious product that costs less than solid wood flooring. The Reduce, Reuse, Recycle slogan is always a good practice to keep in mind when shopping for flooring options.

Urban Floor is an environmentally conscious company providing premium engineered hardwood flooring for consumers who care about the environment. Contact us today for more information about environmentally friendly engineered floors for your home or business.

 

14 Tips for Engineered Flooring Care

 

Caring for your new engineered flooring is an important task to keep your floors looking great for years to come. Caring for engineered wood is very similar to caring for hardwood floors, but if you’re new to wood flooring, you may feel a little lost about which products to use and how to avoid damage during everyday use. Here are 14 tips to help you in caring for your engineered wood floors.

How to Care for Engineered Floors

  1. Most manufacturers recommend cleaning hardwood or solid engineered flooring with a damp mop or cloth only. If you find you need a little more cleaning power, purchase a cleaner made specifically for finished wood flooring. Remember, your engineered flooring is cared for mostly the same as you would for hardwood floors since the uppermost wear layer is comprised solely of hardwood.
  2. Always sweep or dust before you mop. Remove as much dirt and debris before mopping to avoid damaging your floors.
  3. Clean up spills as soon as possible. While engineered hardwood flooring is less susceptible to water damage than Solid hardwood flooring, prolonged exposure to liquids can result in damage.
  4. Use only a dry to damp mop or cloth for best results when cleaning.
  5. Protect your engineered floors from UV damage by pulling drapes or blinds during peak sunlight hours to shield your floors from direct sunlight.
  6. Place all houseplants and furniture on soft coasters or felt pads to avoid nicks and scratches.
  7. When cleaning your engineered hardwood flooring, wipe in the same direction as the wood grain for best results. This will help remove stubborn dirt from cracks and crevices in the flooring.
  8. You can choose to fill in nail marks created during installation by filling them with similarly colored wood putty. Simply wipe away any excess putty and gently clean the area with a small coat of urethane. Allow to dry for one hour.
  9. Sweeping or dusting your floors every day will help prevent a build up of dirt that will require hard scrubbing or cleaners to remove. Regular care is best for your engineered floors.
  10. Keep pets’ toenails trimmed and filed to avoid damaging your floors.
  11. Be sure to keep the moisture level of your home regulated year round to keep your engineered Hardwood floors looking great for years to come. Proper humidity control is essential for the long term upkeep of your floors.
  12. Hard water can leave a dulling effect on your engineered floors over time. Use softened water or special hardwood floor cleaners to remove this mineral buildup and restore a natural luster your flooring.
  13. Do not place electronics directly on your engineered hardwood floors. The heat generated from electronics can damage your flooring over time.
  14. Choose your engineered floor care products carefully. Be sure to read the entire label before using a product on your engineered floors. In general, if a product is safe for use on hardwood floors, it is safe for your engineered flooring.
  15. Caring for white plank floors may require a little extra TLC. Never bleach or use detergents containing bleach on your white plank engineered floors. To keep your floors white, avoid using well water (which may contain staining iron) and clean your floors daily.

Caring for your engineered flooring properly will ensure your floors stay beautiful for years. For more tips on caring for your new engineered floors, contact Urban Floor, the premier producer of engineered hardwood flooring since 2003.

 

Making your hardwood floors family-friendly

 

A large, active family (including pets) is a gift, but let’s face it, all the lively, vivacious commotion may require some adjustments to your home. While you can strive to maintain a mess-free, danger-free living zone, you don’t have to sacrifice style or sophistication to achieve it. A house is meant to be lived in, not admired on a shelf, so it’s important to be realistic about your daily requirements when choosing a home décor. Instead of waiting till the kids outgrow their home-marring antics, consider installing a hardwood flooring that can meet the challenge, take a beating and keep on giving. Hardwoods are easy to mop up and they make it a cinch to manage pet hair, debris and dirt, keeping allergens to a minimum. Hardwoods are also far more comfortable for bare feet than tile or stone flooring in the kitchen. We offer dozens of sturdy, durable, high-traffic flooring choices that will tantalize the eye while going easy on your pocketbook. From toddlers to teenagers, it’s best to go with the highest ratings on the Janka hardness scale, usually Brazilian Cherry, Hickory or Santos Mahogany, although one of our trained specialists can help you navigate the different species, finishes and colors if you have something specific in mind. A rustic orshabby-chic style of décor with a vintage touch may suit your chaotic lifestyle better than a more contemporary design. Remember also that darker colors and more complex grains tend to minimize the appearance of stains and footprints while adding a cozy feel to any room. If your shedding pet’s hair or fur is a concern, think about choosing a flooring color that blends in with your pooch’s coat. Your pet’s nails will also need to be trimmed and rounded to avoid scratching your flooring. Overall, our “Chiseled Edge Collection” or “Mountain Country Collection” to be the most appropriate floor species for families with canine members.urban 022

Your hardwoods can be accented and protected with area rugs, which not only add color and whimsy to a room, but also serve as a soft landing for little people who are just learning to use their legs. Area rugs can be washed or disposed of once they’ve absorbed a maximum of abuse, and as such are very versatile and handy. They also provide a great buffer for pet bowls, sparing your hardwoods the daily crumble of kibble and overturned water bowls.

The main thing is that family, pets and hardwood flooring are highly compatible. With a little extra care, proper species and style selection and an adaptive décor, your house can be the home sweet home you always dreamed of.

 

The Great Flooring Debate: Should you put flooring beneath counters and appliances?

 

cabinet

Before you start remodeling your master bathroom or installing a brand new kitchen, you should first stop and ask yourself a question that has been puzzling people for years. Should you bother to lay hardwood flooring beneath your appliances and cabinetry, where nobody is going to see it?

Most folks will ponder that puzzle for only a few minutes before coming down on one of the argument or the other. But there are valid arguments to be made on both sides of the issue. So let’s have a look at what many home contractors and experienced homeowners and interior designers have to say.

 

Arguments for Complete Flooring

The general consensus among those who believe that yes, you should extend those beautiful hardwood floors even into unseen spaces, comes down to one major point. They feel that since nobody has a crystal ball to peek into the future, it’s always a good idea to leave yourself plenty of options later on down the road.

  • Let’s say, for example, that you skip the flooring beneath your kitchen counters. What happens years from now when you decide to upgrade that kitchen and rearrange the whole flow of the room?

 

  • Your choices are going to be dictated by whether or not you floored underneath those counters or appliances. If you did not, then when you move things around you’re inevitably going to wind up with big conspicuous blank spots where instead of polished hardwoods you have ugly plywood subflooring.

 

  • Had you gone the extra mile, then you would have wall-to-wall hardwoods. Your room would be a smooth canvas on which to draw up whatever kind of design configuration suits your style and taste.

Arguments against Flooring Underneath

That makes perfect sense. But other people will point out that flooring all the way underneath stoves, dishwashers, bathroom vanities, or kitchen cabinets is a total waste of money. They say it makes a whole lot more sense to omit those sections.

  • If you have 60 or 80 square feet of space occupied by counters and cabinets, for example, you can potentially save some cash to pay for the base moldings.

 

  • There is another reason you may want to go with cheap subflooring beneath those cabinets and counters. If you do not put your hardwoods underneath them, that makes it possible to install the heavy appliances and cabinetry first.

 

  • You don’t risk dragging a stove or heavy counter over the hardwoods and scratching or otherwise damaging them. Then install the floors cleanly, right up snug to the edge of your cabinets and they’ll look great and be a tight fit.

Perhaps the bigger question is what do you and your floor installer think is the best course of action? Have an in-depth discussion and let your flooring professional know your current vision as well as your long-term plans. Then crunch the numbers and pick the method that makes the most sense!

 

How to choose the best species for your flooring!

 

Choosing the right wood species for your hardwoods is an important decision, as it will affect the look and feel of your home for years to come. With over 60 unique flooring products to choose from, we are confident you will be able to find your perfect match, that special combination of style and function that will satisfy your eye, your conscience and your wallet.

Although there are many factors to consider — including the amount of traffic your floors will encounter, the room, furniture and walls where your new floor will be installed and of course your budget — your choice of wood will be essentially a creative one, based on your personal preference. Don’t be afraid to set practicality aside and go with a flooring that you just find irresistibly attractive. You will be more inclined to care for the wood and take the necessary preventative measures when you are dealing with a floor you adore on a daily basis.Hickory-Tumbleweed-TCH-412-HT-R-RGB

 

Let’s start by considering the amount of traffic your floor will sustain. Do you have children? Pets? A large family that is always coming and going? In this case, a harder, more durable wood that is not as susceptible to dents will be the best selection. If you would like to research this more in depth you can consult the Janka Hardness Rating, a scale that rates the different wood species according to their ability to withstand force. Brazilian Cherry, Santos Mahogany or Hickory are all excellent choices when it comes to a strong, resistant wood that will be slow to show scratches, wear or tear. The Chiseled Edge flooring is also a good option for a high traffic area. The chiseled marks reduce the visibility of most dentation and scratches (www.urbanfloor.com/Maple-Legacy.html). Our shades range from light to warm to dark and rich, so never feel you have to substitute function for aesthetics.

Brazilian-Cherry-Natural-EX-BC303-RNext let’s consider the walls and other furniture in your home. To highlight a dark mahogany desk for instance, it’s always best to select a light-colored flooring to establish contrast and create a dynamic interior design. Grain will also play into the equation. Do you desire a more streamlined, contemporary look? Then you may want to consider a few of our modern maple selections. If you plan on creating a distinctly rustic décor, oak and hickory might be the way to go!

Lastly, be sure to examine the wood samples in Birch Shadow Urbanfloor.comyour own home under your normal light conditions. Flooring you fancied in the showroom may not look the same once you get it into your natural habitat. Play around with natural and artificial lighting, making sure you will like your selection under all conditions.

For more assistance with choosing the right wood species for your home, feel free to contact us. We will be happy to answer your questions and help guide you as you enhance both your home’s value and appearance with the beauty of hardwood flooring.

 

 

Laminate flooring Vs. Hardwood flooring

 

What is Laminate flooring and how does it differ from hardwood Flooring?

With hundreds of different flooring product choices on the market, homeowners want to make informed decisions. One of the most common areas of confusion has to do with the difference between hardwood flooring and laminated flooring, oftentimes referred to as “laminated hardwood” or “Pergo”.

What is Laminated Flooring?

Laminate wood flooring is manmade flooring that usually contains a layers of compressed high density fiberboard (HDF), sandwiched between layers of synthetic material.

  • There is an outer layer, which is the actual laminated layer. It protects the material from normal wear and tear such as scuffing.

 

  • Beneath this thin layer is a highly realistic, high resolution photographic image of wood. The sole purpose of this layer is to create a visual illusion of actual wood.

 

  • Then comes an inner core of high-density fiberboard, made of fibers, compressed at high temperatures and fused together with chemical adhesive. This layer adds structural strength to this product.

 

  • Finally, at the bottom of the flooring where it contacts the subfloor, there is a backing that serves as a moisture barrier to prevent the floor from swelling and warping.

Laminate is fast and easy to install, and some of it simply snaps into place without nails or glues. But it is also much less stable than a hardwood floor, and offers none of the warm aesthetics of authentic wood.LaminateFlooring-300

Price versus Longevity

Laminated flooring is considerably cheaper than real hardwoods, which is its biggest selling feature. But when we’re talking about something that will become a permanent part of your home, it’s important to break down those financial calculations to make sure they take everything into account.

Let’s say, for example, that you’re building a house and you expect to live in for the rest of your life and then perhaps pass it on to your children. Many laminated floors can be expected to last 5 to 10 years. But hardwoods typically last a minimum of 75 years, and some of them have been around for centuries.

Maintenance and Repair

Meanwhile laminated flooring cannot be repaired, which greatly limits its sustainability. You may have no choice but to rip up the entire floor and replace it with something new. Do that two or three times and a cheap laminate floor may wind up costing twice as much as a real hardwood floor.

Real hardwood is much more durable, and can be repaired is necessary. Repair it, sand it, or if you desire, stain it to a different shade. The same hardwood floor can be used for generations as long as it’s well maintained.

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Hardwood floors add value to your house

 

Why Hardwood Flooring Adds Value to Homes

These days the inventory of available homes is enormous, and that gives buyers a diverse selection of inventory. Home sellers need to distinguish themselves from the herd, and that can be a difficult challenge. But paying close attention to important details can pay big dividends.

When selecting your flooring, for example, there are many interesting choices and possibilities. Hardwoods may be the way to go, however, because they have attributes that set them apart in attractive ways that often make them a bottom-line asset. Hardwood flooring not only enhances the beauty, ambience, and quality of life in a home, for instance, but it can be a dynamic facilitator of faster sales at better prices.

 

Return on Investment

Adding-Value-To-Your-Home-e1338351026288According to an article published on CNN/Money, adding hardwood floors also tends to boost the resale value of a home in the same way that adding a fireplace or extra room does.

Of course conventional wisdom tells us that the best dollar-for-dollar returns usually come from creating an extra bathroom or remodeling and upgrading the kitchen. Hardwoods can play a contributing role in that regard, too, though, because many of today’s hardwood flooring products have the finish and durability to make them perfectly compatible with kitchens and bathrooms.

Less Time on the Market

As a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker commented in a professional forum on Realtor.com, “Hardwood floors enhance the chances of your house selling faster. It will compete better with the inventory of ‘like’ properties.” But there is more to the idea of a quick sale than meets the eye. Real estate professionals often use “time on the market” (the number of days it takes for the property to sell) as a guiding metric.

In healthy market cycles, for example, that timeframe is typically six or seven weeks. Data from the National Association of Realtors confirms that when the market was booming back in 2004 the median selling time shrank to just four weeks. But during the real estate recession that followed the average time on the market ballooned to ten weeks, while prices plummeted nearly 13 percent. So if hardwood flooring can speed up a sale, it means that it has the potential to be the difference between a house that sells as if it’s a bull market and one that languishes for months on end without a nibble.

Search Engine Parameters

Meanwhile one of the most convincing arguments for hardwood flooring happens to be one of the most often overlooked. Buyers don’t want to waste time touring homes that do not meet their criteria, so they tend to be quite specific about the features and amenities they want. They’ll search the MLS listings, for instance, using strict parameters. Not surprisingly, “hardwood floors” is one of the most popular search terms used today.

You may have a wonderful home with dynamite curb appeal. But if it doesn’t have hardwood flooring it may never even show up in a buyer or Realtor search that specifies hardwoods. You’ll remain hidden below the radar, while other homes in your neighborhood generate plenty of buzz and positive interest.

Value-Adding Characteristics

Even when buyers do not ask for hardwood floors, however, they tend to respond favorably when they encounter them in a home. They immediately feel that the builder or homeowner did not cut corners just to save money. Hardwoods are indicative of custom homes, for example, and instantly convey finer taste and enduring elegance.

By the same token, the presence of wall-to-wall carpeting or comparable generic types of flooring can be a telltale sign that saving a few dollars was more important than investing in durable quality and sustainable aesthetics.

Choose wisely and carefully, based on your own unique personal tastes and preferences. But don’t forget to factor in the influence that excellent hardwood flooring may have on your home’s value and marketability.

 
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