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Chuck Talk: Understanding Wood Floor Cupping 101

Jul 27, 2016

wood floor cupping 101Cupping is an aspect of hardwood floors that some people will notice, but others will not. Of course, those who are experienced in the industry/trade will spot these imperfections with ease. But some of us will not & this guide is created for people like you.

Wood Floor Cupping 101

Let’s begin with defining exactly what “wood floor cupping” is. When the sides of hardwood floors are higher than the center of the boards, then it will produce a concave-like appearance or pattern. This is what cupping is. It doesn’t matter if the hardwood flooring is solid or engineered, this phenomenon may occur to both types.

We won’t go into more advanced details, but the issue arises from a response by the wood floors to changes in moisture content. However, we want to mention that cupping in engineered wood floors is reduced because of the integrity structure in which they are manufactured. Engineered wood floors use a backer, which is often plywood, to specifically provide stability in changing moisture conditions. Neat, right?

See: Understanding Moisture & Hardwood Floors.

The Reality of the Situation

In a large majority of cases, people have their hardwood floors installed by a professional who take into account moisture levels and the type of subfloor that your floors are installed on. By factoring in all of the components, the chances of someone experiencing cupping with their hardwood floors are reduced. Anyone who has installed hardwood floors on their own may (i.e. the DIY’ers) find these issues more troubling and frequent.

And the honest reality of the situation is that – in most cases – cupping may occur, but it may not be enough for the owner or anyone else to notice.

What if I Notice Cupping in My Wood Floors?

If you happen to spot cupping on your wood floors, enough that it bothers you every time you lock sight on it, then we absolutely suggest hiring a professional to analyze the situation, and work towards a fix. Because cupping occurs on a board-to-board basis, most often only a couple of boards will need to be replaced.

Understand that wood floor cupping most often occurs in the wintertime because of rapidly changing moisture levels. If your wood floors are installed during this time, then the professional in charge of installation should be well aware of the issue and work towards preventing it from occurring by installing your hardwood floors correctly.

Oil-Based Finishes for Hardwood Floors

Jul 15, 2016

oil based finished hardwood floorsOil-based finishes are only one type of finish in the hardwood flooring market, but they have slowly been making a strong return. Their largest competitor is water-based urethane finish. A few reasons why oil-based finishes are gaining ground are not simply because of the appearance that can be achieved, but because of the environmental factors, ease of installation, and ease of repair.

Benefits of Oil-Based Finishes

We just touched briefly on a few of the benefits oil-based finishes offer, but we want to elaborate even further:

Strengthens wood fibers – oil-based finishes do not sit on top of the hardwood floors, but will actually penetrate the floors and strengthen the wood fibers, which leads to a decreased chance of shrinkage, better hardening, and enhanced water repellent.

Learn How to Prevent and Fix Water Damage.

Easily repairable – what this actually means is that if minor scratches or typical wear and tear were to occur, then a floor with an oil-based finish would respond to fixes much easier than other types of finishes – without the use of a professional required.

DIY: Fixing Dens, Scratches, and Gouges on Hardwood Floors.

Environmental concerns addressed – most oil-based finishes are created from plant-based raw materials. An example of this may be found on all floors featured in our Composer Maestro collection of oil-finished hardwood floors.

Design/Appearance
– in short, it’s really tough to receive the same type of rich, wood glow that is attained from the use of an oil-based finish over water-based urethane finishes. Oil-based finishes have a way of bringing your hardwood floors “to life”.

Where Would I Start in Applying an Oil-Based Finish to My Hardwood Floors?

If you’re interested in applying an oil-based finish to your hardwood floor as a way to refinish it and restore it’s beauty, then we highly suggest hiring a professional to get the job done correctly & efficiently. If you are ever unsure of how to perform a DIY task on your hardwood floors, we always recommend a professional in order to prevent accidental, irreversible damage from occurring.

How Can I Prevent My Hardwood Floors from Fading Over Time?

Jul 12, 2016

prevent hardwood floors fading sunYou’ve purchased new hardwood floors and the salesmen told you that your beautiful hardwood floor’s colors would most likely fade over time. Or they didn’t tell you this. Either way, it’s important to understand that with any hardwood floors, there will be color fading experienced.

Remember: Hardwood Floors are NATURAL

Hardwood floors at their very core are NATURAL. This is an important feature to emphasize. Anything that is natural will undergo changes as it ages over time. For hardwood floors, the changes occur in the color of the wood. Some species of woods will fade lighter and some will fade darker. This process is known as “patina”.

Some people have absolutely no problems with their hardwood floors fading over time. Sometimes the changes are so subtle only you would notice. And then other people prefer to have their floors stay their original color from the time they were first purchased. In this case of the latter – what can you do to prevent this natural fade from occurring, if possible?

Preventing Hardwood Floors from Fading Over Time

First you must understand the 2 factors that cause hardwood floors to change color at all:

1. Exposure to sunlight.
2. Applied finishes and/or stains.

Minimizing exposure to sunlight.

The key here is to reduce your hardwood floor’s exposure to sunlight. The best way to accomplish this is by covering up your windows, as windows are the main source of sunlight to your floors. Blinds, drapes, or shutters all work very well. More costly options include upgrading your windows to low emissivity glass or window film, but work very well at keeping UV rays and IR light at bay.

Outside of windows, you may also utilize furniture and rugs to your advantage. By constantly moving rugs and furniture around, you spread he sunlight across all areas of the wood, which will slow down the fading process greatly. Also, it can be very fun to move your interior around every so often – it’s a nice change of pace.

Choosing the right finish.

Lastly, let’s talk about finishes. Oil-based finishes bring out very rich colors in your floors, but will yellow over time for a slightly amber appearance. Some people may be very pleased with this. However, if you’re absolutely concerned about maintaining your hardwood floor’s original color, then we recommend applying a water-based finish, which essentially remains clear the entire time, minimizing any long term fading that may occur.

But My Hardwood Floors are Already Faded?

If your hardwood floors have already reached the stage where the faded color has made it’s presence known and you absolutely cannot stand the sight of it, then the only solution is to sand them down and re-finish them. However, unless you know what you’re doing we strongly recommend a professional to handle this task.

How Can I Protect a Hardwood Floor from a Rolling Office Chair?

Jun 20, 2016

protect hardwood floor rolling office chairAre you concerned about the appearance of your hardwood floors becoming ruined by office chairs? This is a legitimate concern for many hardwood floor owners who enjoy sporting hardwood floors in their office, either at work or even at home.

Rolling office chairs undoubtedly overtime will leave marks on your hardwood floors unless you take proactive steps in an effort to prevent this issue from occurring. Scuff marks are the number one issue, which occur from wear and tear moving back and forth, especially if your chair has hard casters on it.

Protecting Hardwood Floors from Rolling Office Chairs

Follow our advice below to prevent shredding your hardwood floor from rolling office chairs.

1. Check Your Chair’s Casters/Wheels

Check out your chair’s casters, or wheels, and see if they feel hard or not. Chances are they will be hard as most are made from hard plastic or hard nylon.

Replacing them with a softer alternative is what we recommend. Softer alternatives include rubber, urethane, and neoprene options. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully in order to replace your casters.

If this is too daunting of a task, then we have an easier approach you could try. Place a layer of duct tape around the caster’s circumference and this will lesson the impact on the floor.

2. Utilizing Area Rugs or Chair Mats

Look in to purchasing a chair mat for your rolling office chair. This will keep the wheels on the mat and off of your hardwood floors. If you find yourself moving your chair around often and in wide space, then consider purchasing a larger area rug instead. Rugs of woven material are recommended.

Caution:
We do not advise using plastic mats of any sort as many people have found that when tiny pieces of debris (i.e. grit and rocks) become stuck between your floors and the plastic, damage ensues.

3. Maintenance

Maintenance goes a long way. By consistently keeping your floors clean from debris, as well as your chair’s rollers or casters, very little damage will happen to your floors. Combine this with the other 2 options we suggested above and your office floors will shine for many years!

Questions You May Be Asked When Buying Hardwood Floors

Jun 3, 2016

buying hardwood floor questions askHere at Urban Floor, we sell hardwood floors. Duh, right? Well, being salesmen for all of these years in the hardwood flooring industry, we’ve come to learn a few things: that most people interested in hardwood floors often don’t know what they want. Is this a problem? Absolutely not!

However, if you’re in the market for hardwood flooring you’ve probably already come to the realization that it’s an investment worth making – but only IF you manage to find the perfect floor. That’s where a salesman comes in to the equation, to help you find the perfect floor based on your needs & wants.

Our point is that most consumers simply do not know what they “need” or even what they may “want” in a hardwood floor. When salesmen detect this, they will ask you certain questions attempted to bring out these needs and wants.

FAQs to Think About Before Searching for Hardwood Floors

The questions you use below you most likely will hear from hardwood floor salesmen. The benefit of having access to these questions beforehand are that it will give you time to think about your response, which will help narrow your perfect floor down.

1. What’s your lifestyle like at home?

Are you retired, do you have teenagers still living the house? Children? Pets? Constantly on the go or more relaxed? The answers to these questions will greatly narrow your choices down because certain species of hardwood floors work better than others for certain lifestyles.

2. Is your home built on a slab, over a crawlspace or basement?

If yes, then undoubtedly the salesman will direct you towards engineered hardwood floors which work very well for these environments over solid hardwood floors.

8 reasons to choose engineered over solid hardwood flooring.

3. What’s your home décor like?

Do you find that you lean more towards a formal, traditional, casual, country, modern, or rustic approach? Or perhaps something else not listed here? The nswer to this question will certainly drop a huge clue to your salesman on what type of flooring to consider: smooth, hand scraped, distressed, etc. as well as the type of color that may be preferred to match your décor.

4. Do you expect your wood flooring to look the same 10 years from now?

It’s important to be realistic about what you’re getting vs. what you want. Hardwood floors naturally will change over time due to sunlight, general wear and tear, temperature fluctuations, etc. If this is a large concern for you, then it should be made known upfront.

5. How long do you plan on staying in your home?

Hardwood floors may last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance. Most people don’t plan on leaving their home anytime soon, but it’s still worth asking to gauge. If you know for sure you will in or the long haul, then you may be directed towards most high-end flooring options that are made with better care and quality versus affordable floors that may be more suitable for those only staying in their home for a couple years or so.

Now that you know what types of questions salesmen will ask, here’s our other guide on what you can ask your salesman (which essentially go hand in hand with each other).

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