The Myths of Hardwood

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If you’re in the market for hardwood flooring, you’ve probably started looking around online to get your questions answered – What type of flooring is best for my home? Why do I need an underlayment? Will my dogs scratch this floor? And so on. We’re here to clear up the MYTHS about hardwood so you know what to expect when your flooring arrives!

Hardwood Floors

I only have white oak and red oak to choose from.

Although White and Red Oak are still very popular, we have hundreds of beautiful exotic and domestic wood species!

I should be able to use every piece of wood I purchase.

Realistically, wood is a product of nature; not perfect. The industry allows a tolerance of 5% for defective boards, natural or manufacturer related, based on the total purchase. Some 8-10% for the exotics. If board width size seems to vary during installation, place boards of the same width size together in the same row.

My floor has more different colors and grain variations than the store sample, so I must not have received what I ordered.

Wood floors are like snowflakes. No two trees are alike so no two boards will be alike. Your floor is assembled in your own home, and is made up of 300 to over 1,000 different pieces of wood. Your custom floor is unique, never to be duplicated!

Hardwood floors should not scratch or dent.

Although Hardwood floors of all species are durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of daily life, top finishes and wood can still scratch or dent given enough applied pressure or resistance. Higher gloss will show more imperfections. Manufactures do not warrant against scratching and denting. Despite today’s advanced technology, water spills, dirt and other abrasive substances can damage a wood floor’s finish. Location, traffic patterns, how often the floor is vacuumed and cleaned, children and/or pets are all factor that influence wear.

My roller chairs should not damage my wood flooring.

Roller chair wheels can damage a wood floor if equipped with hard plastic or metal rollers. The wood industry recommends barrel-type rollers made of non-marring rubber.

Tables, chairs, and furniture should not scratch or dent my wood floor.

Wood is a natural material and can dent or scratch. Place adhesive felt furniture pads on the legs of chairs and all furniture to prevent damage to the floor’s surface.

High heel shoes will not damage a wood floor.

High heels are damaging to hardwood flooring. They strike the floor with more force per inch than an elephant’s foot. High or spiked heels in disrepair are especially harmful, as the heel acts much like a tiny hammer pounding away at the floor with as much force as 10,000 pounds per inch!

All hardwood species and wood floors have the same hardness factor.

Not true. The wood industries have developed a Hardness rating scale or Janka scale that represents the resistance of wood to denting, marring, and wear. The higher the number, the harder the species, and the more resistant it is. Red Oak is 1290, Brazilian Cherry is 2890, and Brazilian Walnut is 3680. Bamboo is a grass product its hardness can be compared to that of Maple or Hard Pine, though not held to the same standards.

If my wood floor changes colors or fades, it is because the finish or wood is defective.

No. Actually all wood floors can experience color shade change overtime. American cherry and many exotic species like Brazilian Cherry are photosensitive and will gain a richer, darker patina. Area rugs and large furniture that cover the floor should be moved periodically to allow exposure to UV light and air on the area. Eventually, the entire floor will reach the same even shading. There are no known values established for this natural condition, therefore, manufacturers do no warrant against these natural characteristics beyond control.

Acclimation and Installation

Wood floors that are sanded and finished at the job-site are more durable than a factory manufactured finished floor.

A pre-finished floor gives you the added benefit of a perfect finish applied under dust-free, ideal conditions at the factory. Ours include five to eight coats with aluminum oxide suspended in the finish. The only thing harder is diamonds! Factory finishes are much harder than any product site-applied, requiring air-drying.

Repairs are easier to make on a sanded and finished floor than a pre-finished floor.

If needed, pre-finished boards can be replaced one at a time. Job site finished boards require four or five days of sanding, staining, finishing and then waiting for the finish to dry. After that, it may still not match the sheen of the floor.

My wood flooring can be delivered and installed the same day.

The industry and most wood manufacturers recommend that solid wood flooring be delivered to the job site at least 3-5 days before the installation. This properly acclimates the wood to ‘normal living conditions’. Temperature of 60F to 80F and a relative humidity of 30% to 50% with the HVAC fan left in the “on”? position to provide a continuous flow of air across the floor are ideal. Be sure to check our installation guidelines for various products on our web site.

When my wood is delivered can I store it in the garage, out of the weather?

No. Wood flooring should never be stored in a garage, in a basement, directly on cement or in out buildings. No exposure to moisture of any type should be permitted. Uncontrolled humidity or moisture vapors can penetrate into the wood flooring, causing it to swell or cup.

Wood floors cannot be installed in a basement on a concrete floor.

Not so. We offer many fine quality engineered wood floors that feature cross-grain ply construction. These floors are very stable and resist expansion and contraction. Be sure to test your concrete floor for excessive levels of moisture over 3%. Concrete installations (Gluedown or Floating) normally require moisture barriers.

My basement, crawl space, or concrete slab looks dry so I should not have any problems with a new wood floor.

About 90% of installation complaints are due to moisture. Your installer should always check the subfloor and protect against moisture before installing the floor. Moisture issues are job site related.

I have radiant heat, so I can’t install a new wood floor.

Many of our floors work well over radiant heat such as Floating, Laminates and Engineered. For solid wood, always shop for stability. Ask your sales assistant about this. Be sure to follow the radiant heat manufacturer’s guideline for thermostat controls. Do not exceed 85F surface temperatures.

I was told to re-seal my hardwood or bamboo after installation to protect it against pet urine, vomit or spills. 

Regular cleaning is always recommended however applying another sealer over the original finish will void the warranty. Once between the boards sealers can promote gapping and act as an adhesive preventing normal expansion of the flooring.

Wormholes, mineral streaks, and knots are defects in wood.

Because wood is a product of nature, most character marks such as pinholes, mineral streaks, and knots are allowed in most grades.  If a board is undesirable to you, tell your installer not to install it or cut it out. All wood manufacturers state that the responsibility for final inspection and approval is that of the installer and consumer.  Once the board has been installed, it is deemed to have been accepted by the installer and homeowner.  No claim for an installed board that is visibly defective will be honored. Product claims are viewed/determined from a standing position.

Flooring Issues

If I find a defective board after the floor is installed, the manufacturer will replace or repair it.

No. It is the responsibility of the installer/customer to inspect the floor to be installed and be selective in choosing each board in quality, grading, and natural color variation before installing it.  Once installed, the floorboards are deemed to be acceptable to both the installer and the end-user. If necessary, individual board replacements can be accomplished.

When wood floors warp or cup, it is because the wood flooring is defective.

Cupping is due to excess moisture or over drying and is considered jobsite related. Improper water maintenance, a plumbing leak, or moisture from the crawl space, basement, concrete slab or high/low-relative humidity can be the reasons.

 It is best to keep the relative humidity low or dry in my home.

The wood flooring industry recommends that you keep the environment at “normal living conditions”. That is a temperature from 60F to 80F and a relative humidity of 30% to 50% with a continuous flow of air across the floor.

If my wood floor shows gaps between boards in the winter months, it is defective.

Nearly every wood floor endures some separation in between boards.  In winter, when homes are heated and the air is dry, wood flooring gives up some of its moisture and shrinks.  When that happens, cracks appear between the boards.  In the spring, when the heat is off and the indoor environment regains moisture, most gaps normally close. Wood boards become dormant with indoor humidity levels of 30-50% and temperatures of 60-80F.

Cleaning

Damp mopping is the best way to clean a wood floor.

Just the opposite! Water and wood do not mix.  Throw away that bucket and mop!  Water causes deterioration of the wood itself as well as the finish. Use maintenance products and procedures that will not harm your urethane finish. Ensure compatibility with urethane finishes.

Cleaners with vinegar or ammonia are the best products to use for cleaning.

Never use these kinds of cleaners, as they can dull and damage your hardwood floors and void warranties. Use products safe for urethane finishes.

I have heard the oil-soaps are the best way to clean my wood floor.

Soaps and detergents can leave a harmful film causing the top finishes to yellow or crack. Consult the product labeling for its expressed warranties.

It is best to use my vacuum with a rotating brush to remove grit and debris from my wood floor.

While weekly vacuuming is important for removing dirt and grit, a hard bristle brush beater bar can scratch and damage your hardwood.

Wood floors require a lot of time and effort to maintain them.

Unlike other types of floor coverings, hardwood floors can be kept looking like new with a minimum amount of effort.  Never damp mop your floor.  Use only products designed for wood floors.  Just spray and dry mop the floor.

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