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Categories Hardwood

The 5 Most Commonly Imported Hardwoods for Flooring

Wood used in the United States that is from trees in the United States is known as domestic wood. Wood that is imported from other countries is known as exotic wood. Domestic wood is by far the most popular choice for hardwood flooring. It is less expensive than exotic wood and oftentimes has a wider range of options. However, exotic woods offer many advantages over domestic woods. That’s why some of them are very popular. Woods from Africa and Brazil are very popular for flooring.

1 – Brazilian Walnut

Brazilian walnut is one of the most popular imported woods. The species of tree is from Brazil originally and that is where much of the wood is found, but it can also be imported from other tropical countries. Brazilian walnut is very popular because it has a deep, rich color with a very unique grain. It’s also popular because it’s one of the hardest woods widely available. A very hard wood is popular for people who have dogs or who want their wood to last a very long time. A hard wood is less likely to get scratched up by pet claws or by moving furniture.

2 – Thai/Burmese Teak

Sourced from southeast Asia, this teak is one of the most durable woods you can find. It is a very dense wood with small pores and a natural oil that makes it resistant to moisture. Teak is not likely to rot in wet conditions. It’s also unlikely to mold or mildew. That’s why it is used widely in the manufacture of boats and ship docks. It’s also great for hardwood floors, especially ones that are installed in basements, ground floors, or porches.

3 – Bubinga

Bubinga is a wood imported from Africa. It ranges in color from a light straw color to a deep reddish-brown that is almost purple or black. It’s slightly harder than domestic white oak. Also, it is resistant to most types of decay and pests. Some reports indicate that bubinga is moderately resistant to boring pests and termites.

4 – Brazilian Cherry

Sourced from Brazil and other tropical climates, this species of cherry is a very unique wood. It has a very uniform and prominent grain. Also, the color ranges from a very pale tan to a deep cherry red.

5 – Mahogany

Mahogany is actually indigenous to the Americas, but is more commonly found south of the United States. It is known for being a very dark color and having a very straight grain. If you are looking for a floor that is dark and dramatic, mahogany is a good choice.

Categories Hardwood

Should You Scrape Your Wood Floors?

These days, refinishing a floor almost always means walking behind a large orbital sander until you’ve buffed your floor down to the bare wood. Then, you will mop on polyurethane and wait days for it to finish curing. This is a very efficient process that works for many newer floors. However, if you have nold floor, that might not be the best process. Older hardwood floors are not finished with polyurethane but are, instead, waxed or oiled. If that’s the case, and if you want to preserve the aged patina of the wood, you should consider scraping it.

Scraping The Finish

Scraping the hardwood floor is perfect for old floors for a number of reasons. For one, it will actually enhance the look of your hardwood because the scraping will not be completely uniform. Since it won’t be completely uniform, the light will hit the different places on your floor differently. That will enhance the patina of age and antiquity. Secondly, scraping will not take very much wood off the surface of your floor. Therefore, the patina will be preserved. That’s in contrast to a big orbital sander that will take off all of the imperfections as well as the stain.

How to Scrape

To scrape an old finish, you’ll need a few tools. You need mineral spirits, clean cloths, and a scraper. You can use a draw knife, a cabinet scraper, or even a putty knife. Either one will give you the control you need. The goal is to scrape up the old varnish or wax without actually scraping the wood. You’ll inevitably get some wood as you’re scraping, but try to avoid that. Work by pushing the scraper away from you so that you don’t slip and hurt yourself. Always scrape with the grain of the wood, never against it. Work in sections, methodically moving across the floor.

After a while, you will notice that the scraper is doing more sliding than scraping. That means that it’s time to get a new scraper blade. You might feel it starting to dig in instead of scraping; that’s also an indication you need a new blade.

If you’re having serious trouble getting the finish up, you can soften it with a chemical like paint thinner or mineral spirits. That should make it easier to pry up the old finish. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to vacuum or sweep away any scraps of old varnish and wood. Clean the floor, and you’re ready to refinish it.

Categories Hardwood

Ways to Heat Your Hardwood Floor

Hardwood floors are exceptional in a great many ways. They look great, they provide warmth and comfort, and they’re timeless. They’re easy to clean as well. There are so many things that hardwood floors do well. One thing that they do not do well is insulate. Hardwood floors are made from thin planks of wood that do not trap much heat. If you’ve stepped onto an uninsulated hardwood floor in the middle of the night, you know how cold they can get. Heat transfer can be expensive as well as uncomfortable. That’s why many hardwood floors have insulated subfloors underneath them. However, that amount of heat transfer can be used to your advantage.

Radiant Heating

Lately, the trend in home heating has been radiant heating. The traditional way to heat a home is by heating up the air with more warm air. That’s not terribly efficient because air is not a good conductor of heat, nor is it a good insulator. That’s why you have to constantly reheat your home to keep it warm. Conversely, a radiant heating system is installed under your floor. That system heats up the floor. The warm floor travels through carpets, tiles, and furniture. Wood flooring, carpets, bookcases, and such are much better at holding onto heat than the air is. That means they’ll stay warm for longer and help to warm your home.

There are a few concerns with installing radiant heating underneath your hardwood floor though.

Hardwood Floor Concerns

The chief concern about installing radiant heating under your floor is the warping of the hardwood. Since hardwoods are still porous, they tend to absorb heat and moisture. When it is warm and moist, the hardwood expands. When it’s cold and dry, the hardwood contracts. Therefore, it’s a little bit of a concern to heat the wood directly. Negative effects are addressed in two different manners.

First, a non-insulated layer is often installed between the heating elements and the floor. That keeps the wood from being heated directly. Secondly, the floor is typically not heated beyond 80 degrees Fahrenheit. At those temperatures, you’re pretty much free from warping concerns. Unless it’s a very high heat, heat alone will not warp your hardwood floors. You would also need to have moisture. Keep your floor dry and the humidity level at a reasonable level, and you have nothing to worry about.

Radiant heating has been proven to be an effective and affordable way to heat your home.

Categories Hardwood

The Trend Towards Textured Hardwood Floors

Hardwood flooring has been trending towards several different types of stains recently; most specifically, dark and cool stains are growing popular. There are also trends in the texture of the flooring itself. The most common hardwood flooring is simply a sanded and polished hardwood floor. These are smooth floors without blemishes. However, other textures have grown more common. The most common types of textures are two kinds that are reminiscent of older hardwood floors.

Hand-Scraped Floors

Before sandpaper and many mechanical processes, wooden floors were smoothed by hand. To smooth a floor by hand, a crafter would use a draw knife. A draw knife has a handle on both ends. The crafter would drag the knife across the surface of the wood. The sharp knife would scraped the wood smooth. However, the crafter could not create each draw with the exact same depth, length, and direction. That means that hand-scraped wooden floors have inconsistent patterns of smoothing. Many people find those patterns very attractive because they make your floor look like a classic floor built before mechanized production.

There are also two kinds of hand-scraped wooden floors. An authentic hand-scraped wooden floor is scraped by a professional who does it by hand. The alternative is one that is scraped by a machine that is designed to mimic authentic hand scraping. The machine scraping will be more uniform and regular than authentic hand scraping but it can effectively mimic the style.

Wire Brushed Floors

A wire-brushed floor is one that is scraped with a stiff-bristled wire brush. The brush scrapes away the surface wood and exposes the growth wood underneath. That means that the wood will take on more texture than a typical glossy finish. Furthermore, a brushed wooden floor will look more like reclaimed wood. Reclaimed wood is wood that has been used for a different purpose and has weathered over time. Then, the wood is used as flooring. To mimic that weathered, antique look, you could turn to a brushed floor.

As with scraped flooring, brushed flooring can be made by hand or by a machine. A hand-brushed floor will be more authentic and less uniform. A machined floor will be more uniform and look more like a weathered floor.

Both of these types of floor are very on-trend at the moment. They help create a classic and timeless look for your floor. They also pair very well with wide planks or varied-width floors.

The post The Trend Towards Textured Hardwood Floors appeared first on hardwood marketing.

Categories Hardwood

Explaining the Natural Grade Hardwood Flooring Trend

Natural grade flooring is a prominent trend that has been growing in the previous few months. The move towards natural grade flooring is consistent with other trends towards more natural and rustic looking flooring. Other similar trends are moves towards wide planks, reclaimed wood, and hand-scraped wood. A natural grade floor is one that is made from many different grades of wood, which means that it will more closely mimic the natural state of the wood.

Explaining the Wood Grades

Wood flooring tends to come in four different grades. Clear grade is the finest and most uniform grade of wood. In this grade, the wood grain is tight and understated. There are no imperfections, knots, mineral streaks, or worm holes in the wood. These planks are basically flawless. The next grade is select grade. A select grade wood plank is close to a clear grade but it will have some differences in wood tone and coloring. The grain might be more pronounced and little more irregular.

The next two grades are common grades one and two. Common grade two has the most imperfections, color variations, inconsistencies, mineral marks, and wormholes. It is a very irregular wood that lacks almost any consistency. To create a natural grade hardwood floor, all four of these grades are mixed together.

Natural Grade Flooring

When manufacturers mix together all four of these grades of wood, they create something that more closely resembles an entire tree. A tree is made up of many different kinds of wood, affected by all kinds of outside influences, and greatly altered by the way it grew. That means that the hardwood flooring of the past was very inconsistent; it was what would now be called natural grade.

Manufacturers in the past used every part of a tree, which means that they would use multiple grades. If you want your flooring to look more classic and timeless, you should consider natural grade flooring.

Versatility

Natural grade flooring is also more diverse than higher grades. They are easier to repair because there is already a significant amount of inconsistency in the wood. That means that replacing a damaged plank with a mismatched plank won’t stand out too terribly. Furthermore, you’ll be able to mix and match widths and lengths to give it an even more authentic look.

The natural grade flooring trend has also led to some less expensive floors because more of a tree can be used. Also, some parts of the tree that were previously thought undesirable are being used in great-looking floors.

The post Explaining the Natural Grade Hardwood Flooring Trend appeared first on hardwood marketing.

Categories Hardwood

Should You Buy Cabin Grade Hardwood Flooring or Factory Seconds?

Hardwood flooring is separated into several different categories that will tell you a lot about the quality and the appearance of the wood. The highest grade of hardwood flooring is typically called select grade. Select grade hardwood flooring has a fairly uniform grain pattern, consistent coloring, very few blemishes, and no knots. That makes it the highest grade for flooring and used in some of the nicest floors. However, that uniformity also lacks some character. Furthermore, it will be the most expensive flooring option you can find. However, if you want to save money, you have options. There are several other grades of hardwood flooring. The lowest grade is typically “factory seconds.” There is no standardization to the grades of hardwood flooring, so many producers will conflate “factory seconds” and “cabin grade.”

What is Cabin Grade?

Cabin grade is named thus because it was deemed only appropriate for creating the floors of sheds, cabins, and other utilitarian purposes. Therefore, it’s also called utility grade. Utility or cabin grade wood will have several different blemishes, marks, burns, splits, and more. Cabin grade planks are typically much shorter than select grade or higher grades of wood. They’re also going to be in many irregular lengths and widths. You’ll have a hard time finding two boards that look the saem or are the same size. Cabin grade wood will have serious inconsistencies in color as well, even if the wood is all from the same species.

Trees have several different types of wood that have many different colors. Wood can also become discolored due to factory processes that accidentally burn the wood, applying the wrong stain, or an improperly mixed stain. Furthermore, the wood can become discolored due to mold, mildew, or just moisture; this wood often turns grayish and is called swamp wood.

What About Factory Seconds?

Factory seconds are sometimes the same thing as cabin or utility grade. In other cases, factory seconds are even lower grade than cabin grade. Factory seconds will have mismatched colors, swamp wood, factory defects, sander burns, cracks, chips, and severely mis-milled boards. When the two grades are differentiated, the difference is usually that cabin grade wood might be cosmetically inconsistent but it will produce a solid floor. Factory seconds, on the other hand, might not produce a stable floor.

If you’re choosing factory seconds, you should make sure you order much more than you need. You will likely end up with about 20% waste with cabin grade and even higher waste with factory seconds.

The post Should You Buy Cabin Grade Hardwood Flooring or Factory Seconds? appeared first on hardwood marketing.

Categories Hardwood

What You Need to Know About Bamboo

When you are searching for different types of hardwood flooring, you’ll likely see something popping up that’s not actually hardwood floor. That would be bamboo. Bamboo is not even a wood. It is a grass that grows very quickly. It can be used to create flooring that looks and feels like hardwood flooring; that’s why it is often included in the ranks of hardwood floors. So, if you’re looking for a hardwood floor, should you consider bamboo floor?

The Hardness

Wood tends to be ranked on the janka hardness scale. The janka hardness scale is useful in terms of flooring because it helps you determine how resilient it will be. For example, a soft wood like pine can be scratched with a fingernail. That means that chairs sliding around, pet claws, and high heels can scratch the flooring. Therefore, the floor will not last very longer in pristine condition before you need to have it repaired or replaced. Alternately, an incredibly hard wood will last for a very long time. So, where does bamboo rank against hardwoods?

For context, a white oak hardwood floor has a hardness rating of 1360 on the janka hardness scale. That puts it near the middle of hardnesses for flooring woods. The way the bamboo is processed and how it is woven will affect the hardness but it begins around 1650 on the hardness scale. It can get as hard as 5150 on the hardness scale. That means that most bamboo is harder than an oak floor.

How it is Processed

How the bamboo is processed will determine how hard it is. Since bamboo is a grass, it is processed differently than wood. Typically, a wooden plank is simply cut from a large tree trunk. That is the method for a solid plank hardwood. For bamboo, the different strains of grass are flattened and then woven together like wicker. They’re then pressed into a single board. If they’re woven and pressed horizontally, they won’t be as hard as bamboo woven and pressed vertically. Alternately, the strands can be actually woven in criss-crossing sections. That will create the hardest possible planks.

The woven bamboo flooring planks are the ones that can be as hard as 5150 on the janka hardness scale.

The major drawback of bamboo is that it has fairly uniform grain that looks something like tiger stripes and not like wood grain. That’s why many people still choose hardwood instead of bamboo.

Categories Hardwood

What is Live Edge Flooring?

There are various trends that ebb and flow in interior design and construction circles. For a long time, wood was the main building material in just about every culture in the world. Over time, newer materials replaced wood in many applications. However, people have begun moving back towards the timeless and classic style of wood. Wood evokes warmth and home when you see it used for flooring, countertops, tables, and much more. There has been another trend that has emerged as well; that is the trend towards live edge wood.

What is Live Edge?

The processing of a tree is fairly simple. The tree is cut down and transported to a mill. It might be allowed to dry as a whole tree or it might be cut first. Either way, it is then cut into boards. It can be cut in many different ways, but it is cut into planks. The planks are cut into perfect rectangles with square edges. They’re packaged, shipped, and sold. Live edge wood is wood that skips one of those steps.

Instead of cutting the boards into perfect rectangles with square edges, live edge planks have edges that are not actually altered. They’re kept in the same state as they were when the tree was cut down. It’s called live edge because it is the same edge the wood had when it was alive. Many people have chosen to use live edge for flooring.

Live Edge Flooring

Live edge flooring is the use of thin planks of wood for hardwood flooring but using live edge wood planks. The planks do not have regular square edges that fit together nicely. Instead, they’re uneven and unpredictable. That’s why they’re so popular. They look rustic, classic, and dynamic. They look like the flooring that was used in antique log cabins, plantation homes, and homes from older eras. There are some concerns about live edge flooring.

Since live edge flooring does not fit together like puzzle pieces, there are gaps between the different planks of wood. If you’re thinking of installing live edge flooring, you’ll have to consider some kind of subfloor that you can use. The subfloor could be a different type of wood.

Live edge flooring is one of the most reliable ways to create a unique and dynamic floor. It is timeless, rustic, and classic. You should seriously consider a live edge floor if you are replacing your floor.

Categories Hardwood

5 Steps for Drying a Wet Hardwood Floor

Moisture is the enemy of your hardwood floor. When the floor stays wet for too long or when moisture seeps between the floorboards, you can have a whole host of problems. A moist hardwood floor can expand and begin cupping, which is when the boards begin to warp. Also, mold and mildew can grow beneath the boards. All of this can lead to a floor in desperate need of repair or even replacement. Here is what to do when your floor is wet.

1 – Dry The Surface Quickly

When water is spilled on your floor, instead of water rising from underneath, you need to attempt to dry the floor as quickly as possible. Typically, water needs time to penetrate the wood or work its way between the floorboards. If you can clean it up quickly, the polyurethane coating on the floor will usually be enough to fight off most moisture.

2 – Consider Fans and Dehumidifiers

For water to evaporate, it needs to come into contact with drier air. The drier the air, the faster the water will evaporate. Therefore, a dehumidifier will dry the air in a room, allowing for faster evaporation. Moving air, such as with a fan, will also speed up the drying process. If that doesn’t work to dry the floor in a few days, you will need to move to more drastic measures.

3 – Remove a Floorboard

In addition to needing dry air to evaporate, water also needs somewhere to go. Therefore, if the moisture has soaked into the subfloor underneath the hardwood floor, you won’t be able to dry it without giving it somewhere to go. You have a couple of options of this. You can remove some of the baseboards trimming the edges of each room. That will expose a little bit of the subfloor and give the water somewhere to evaporate. Alternately, you can remove one or two of the planks of your hardwood floor. Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to use the dehumidifiers and fans to dry it faster.

4 – Consider Desiccants

Desiccants are materials that pull moisture out of the surrounding atmosphere. They’re used to keep packaged materials dry. In an industrial setting, they can also be used to remove moisture from your home or floor. You might need to rent a desiccant dehumidifier from a local hardware store.

5 – Don’t Forget About Mold

Mold is a serious problem any time a dark area is allowed to stay moist for too long. If your floor has been moist for more than a day or so, you’ll need to apply a chemical that will retard the mold.

Categories Hardwood

All About Walnut Flooring

Walnut hardwood flooring is a popular look for many reasons. The beautiful rich color of the flooring is one of the reasons it has become so popular. Like all wood species there are pros and cons of walnut.

There are two different types of walnut flooring; American Walnut and Brazilian Walnut. American walnut is called a variety of different names. It is commonly called black walnut, american black walnut, north american walnut or gunwood. American walnut is mostly harvested from the central United States and has a janka scale rating of 1010. It has a white sapwood and dark chocolaty heartwood with a variety of grain variations. Brazilian walnut is commonly called lapacho or ipe. Brazilian walnut is harvested in Brazil and the lesser antilles. The wood has a dark tone and a janka scale rating of 3684, much harder than American Walnut.

Pros and Cons of Walnut Flooring

Pros-

  • Beautiful and warm
  • Fits the style of many homes
  • American walnut is a renewable resource and an eco-friendly option.
  • Durable and can be resanded
  • The natural color helps to cover some scratching and dents
  • Ideal for radiant heating because of natural stability

Cons-

  • American walnut is relatively soft and can mark, scratch or dent easily
  • Not ideal in homes with children or pets
  • Can show traffic patterns easily because of darkness or the wood
  • Darker hues can make a room feel smaller

Walnut is a beautiful flooring option and can really complete the look of your room. Choosing between wood species can be challenging but in the end there is no wrong choice when it comes to hardwood flooring. Peak floors is able to help you through the hardwood flooring installation process. Please give us a call!

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