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Hardwood Cleaning Tips

Today's Prefinished wood floorings are easier than ever to keep clean needing only minimal care to keep looking good, year after year. Here's a few simple cleaning and preventive maintenance tips for hardwood, cork and bamboo floorings with urethane finishes.

First, vacuuming, dust-mop or sweeping regularly is the best way to remove surface dust, grit and dirt before it gets walked into the finish, dulling the luster. Vacuuming also pulls accumulated dust from the grooves of factory finished and plank floors. Sand particles are very destructive and are really tiny pieces of glass, like sandpaper ready to scratch the finish. When vacuuming, soft attachment parts are recommended, best to avoid the notorious, beater-bar, its spinning bristles can scratch or generate enough heat to permanently leave hot-spot marks on the finish

If you do have scratches, quite often minor ones can be concealed using liquid scratch covers, sprays or lotions. Dents and nicks can be filled using wood floor repair kits (Touch-up markers, epoxy fill sticks or wax color pencils) usually available at your local home store. If your floor is severely damaged you can consult a professional about refinishing, or perhaps just an individual board replacement may be all that's needed. Scratching and denting of installed flooring while unfortunate is beyond a manufacturer's ability to control therefore not considered a product defect. Interestingly, the purpose of today's urethane top-finishes serves the same function as waxed floors did in the old days in that finishes are intended to take the abuse first, thereby protecting the actual wood. Therefore, as unsightly as scratches are the urethane top-finishes are actually working as intended... protecting your investment.

Secondly, remember that wood and water doesn't mix well. So never pour water directly onto your floor or wet mop the floor like mopping ceramic tiles. Even small amounts of water can cause hard water spots, clouding or deterioration to the finish or edge cup the wood. When selecting maintenance products please note the labeling instructions. Only use products specifically designed or safe for urethane finished floors. Note that some cleaners may interfere with future re-coating such as waxes and oil soaps. The application is also important as many cleaners will direct you to apply the cleaner to the applicator first then the floor, rather than directly to the floor. You must adhere to the manufacturer's labeling directions for their warranty.

Lastly, protect your floors by using chair leg protectors and walk-off mats or throw-rugs just inside the entrances. Choose non-solvent, felt or plant based products. Do not use synthetic rubber or plastic backed mats as trace chemicals can attack, discolor, yellow or fade the finish. These types of mats often react negatively exposed to direct UV light. Some non-slip padding's placed under throw- rugs may also contain plasticizers harmful to urethane finishes.

Please see our Flooring 101 for more installation details and how to get the most from your new flooring.

Bob - Technical and Installation

Posted Date: 4/6/10 12:00 AM Direct Link


Since 1994, Lumber Liquidators has offered more than 120 varieties of flooring including hardwood, bamboo, cork or laminates from premier brands such as Bellawood, Durawood, Schön, Virginia Millworks Hand scraped planks, Morning Star bamboo and Dream Home laminates. Because of this, exotic flooring choices have become more mainstream for the everyday consumer. The most common hardwood species selected for flooring is domestic red and white oak, maple. hickory, ash, and cherry. By far, Brazilian cherry is the most popular exotic species used in flooring, followed by other desirable species like Teaks, Mahogany, Rose wood and Brazilian Walnut. With the availability of these specialty floorings including bamboo and corks, it becomes more important than ever to protect the investment through best installation practices.

Our Bellawood and Durawood solid products are installed using standard hardwood floor staplers or cleat nailers. While installers may have fastener preferences, both types work well. Professional installers also know how wood hardness will vary between species and will react differently when cutting or nailing. Most species present little problems when nailing, however a few denser exotic species can be more difficult. It should be noted that the denseness or brittleness of a particular species is viewed as a characteristic, not a defect. When nailing the harder species like Brazilian Walnut, Ebony or Teaks, knowledgeable installers employ several nailing methods to greatly reduce the occurrence of board damage.

If you choose to install or nail the hardwood yourself here are a few suggestions to help with your project. Tongue fracture and surface dimpling during installation is common and can be minimized by using the correct nail thickness, using the recommended shoe adaptor, or changing the angle of nail entry. To do this, many installers will temporarily adjust the nailing machine angle by applying layers of duct tape or cardboard to the bottom foot plate of the nailer. In addition, to reduce surface dimpling, the use of a thinner 18-20 gage cleat nail may be needed. Use caution when fastening the harder exotics with Staple machines. The drive bar in Staplers are wider and if fasteners are overdriven can act like a wood chisel, splitting tongues. Do not mix fasteners when nailing. Staples and cleats hold differently when mixed can result in irregular seasonal gapping and or movement. Using an oversize foot plate on the nailer to distribute the driving force, protecting the board edge is also encouraged. If however, all normal nailing methods prove unsuccessful when nailing the denser species, then drilling pilot holes and hand nailing may be required. When face or top nailing, pick areas of the grain or pattern that would best hide touch up fillers. Do not use significantly bowed, crooked or twisted boards. Use a spline whenever a change of board direction is needed, these should be glued and nailed into place.

The lower profile sizes (1/2" to 5/16") are installed using specially designed thinner 18-20gage pneumatic cleat nailers and some Staplers. Ensure that you are using the correct sized fasteners and adaptors. If nailers prove unsuccessful at fastening these harder and thinner floors, many installers will use 100% urethane wood flooring adhesives rather than nailers, especially with brittle species like Australian Cypress.

The MORNING STAR and Supreme bamboo can be installed using the Staple down, Nail down or Glue down methods. In addition to the suggestions above it's a good idea to test the nailer. This is done by fastening a sacrificial board to the floor, then checking the surface dimpling or edge damage in a well lighted area. Next, make all adjustments to the nailer and air pressure setting before installation begins, remove the test board.

Our Flooring101 self help link offers Installers and our do it yourself (DIY) customers a variety of installation resources including Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and printable documents related to specific products.

Bob - Technical and Installation

Posted Date: 12/30/09 12:00 AM Direct Link


Site related gapping
As we go into the winter months, hardwood flooring owners are sometimes shocked to find gaps in their installed floorings. Naturally customers will call the flooring manufacturers with all kinds of questions assuming that gapping is a defect with their product. In reality, side gapping in hardwood during this time of the year about the thickness of a dimes edge is considered normal or "seasonal". "Seasonal gapping" is always site related and is commonly experienced by many hardwood customers throughout the country. During drier times of the year, all wood products including furniture undergo a type of stress or shrinkage related to a drier environment.

Ideally, to minimize board gapping or a separating between installed planks, the indoor environment such as; humidity levels of 30-55% and temperatures of 60-85 degrees should be maintained, before, during and after installation. Admittedly, this can be problematic in arid parts of the country, or when using drier forms of heating such as; electric and oil furnaces, wood stoves and in floor radiant heating all of which promotes an over drying of hardwoods. Fortunately, gaps due to over drying can be corrected by introducing and maintaining the above indoor humidity. Customers that have brand new prefinished solid wood installed should avoid placing wood fillers into these gaps for at least one full season thereby allowing "seasonal gapping" to close back normally during the more humid summer months. It is common for wood flooring especially exotics with natural oils to take extended time to "settle in" after installation.

The nature of wood is fibrous like a dense sponge, its shape or dimension is always altered by moisture. In view of this, it is beneficial to view wood acclimation as an ongoing process well after the installation. If the indoor environment is maintained correctly by the customer, then wood, cork and bamboo products will become relatively dormant greatly minimizing the occurrence of gapping.

Installation related gapping
Board gapping during installation however is a different matter. It is the installer's responsibility to closely examine the flooring for visual defects and to ensure proper board placements. A poorly installed floor can have preventable gaps. Wood flooring is manufactured to be installed in random lengths, therefore avoid board grouping for example; shorter lengths should be mixed in throughout the job. If a particular board end is not square, tapers in width, has a nick, splinter, or has some sort of flaw, just cut off the problem area and use the good parts in closets or near walls. Another way to prevent board gapping when installing boards 5" or wider, any boards found to be undersize by 1/8", these should be selected out and placed altogether in the same row, used in closets or along the walls greatly minimizing the occurrence of installed gapping.

Bob - Technical and Installation

Posted Date: 12/23/09 12:00 AM Direct Link