Many people choose a wood species based on its hardness, thinking that a harder wood will be more durable and resistant to wear and damage. While this is true to some extent, the fact is that all hardwoods can be dented and scratched, even with the toughest finish. So it’s more important to choose a floor based on its visual appearance.
Choosing and Buying a Hardwood Floor
Most styles of Abode engineered floors are approved for use over radiant heat. (Solid wood floors, and certain wood species such a jatoba and maple, are not suitable for use with radiant heat systems.) There are some special considerations when installing over radiant heat and the temperature of the floor must be kept within recommended levels to avoid damaging the floor. For more information, read the Special Instructions for Installations over Radiant Heat brochure, available in the Literature section.
Many strata councils have regulations regarding the installation of hardwood flooring. One of the most common is that an acoustic underlay, such as Kentwood Kuiet, be installed under the wood flooring to minimize sound transmission between floors. Check with your strata council to find out what specific requirements they may have.
Hardwood has been a popular flooring material for centuries and continues to be the flooring material of choice for many good reasons.
- It’s durable – well-made hardwood floors can last a lifetime and longer. While the initial cost may be higher than with other types of flooring, hardwood’s longevity makes it an excellent long term investment.
- It’s comfortable – real wood has a natural warmth that no artificial material can replicate and makes a very comfortable living surface.
- It’s uniquely beautiful –hardwood has a beautiful appearance and, as a natural material, every piece will be completely unique.
- It’s a great Investment – real hardwood adds value to your home.
- It’s authentic – real wood has special value and appeal over artificial materials
- It’s sustainable – wood is a naturally renewable resource
There are four basic installation techniques for hardwood flooring.
- Nail Down – the boards are fastened to a plywood subfloor using cleats or staples
- Glue Down – the boards are glued to the subfloor with a special wood flooring glue
- Floating – the boards are glued to each other, but not to the subfloor below. The entire floor ‘floats’ on a cushioned underlay.
- Glueless – a popular variation on floating installation in which the boards have a specially designed joint system that allows the boards to be ‘clicked’ together without glue or fasteners.
A Janka rating is a guide to the hardness of any given wood species. The Janka rating indicates how many pounds of force are required to embed a small steel ball into the surface of the wood to a depth of half the ball's diameter. The resulting number is used as a rating to indicate the hardness of the wood; the higher the Janka rating, the harder the wood.
In a solid wood floor, every board is made from a single solid piece of hardwood. This is the most traditional form of hardwood flooring. It is installed over plywood subfloors using nail down installation.
In engineered flooring, every board is made from several layers of wood, with valuable hardwood used only for the surface, or ‘wear’ layer. The other layers may be plywood, common softwood or even high density fiberboard (HDF). Engineered floors are generally more stable than a solid floor, and they are more versatile too, as they can be installed in practically any situation with a variety of different installation techniques.
Laminate floors are made with entirely manufactured materials and contain no real wood (although the main component of many laminate floors is HDF, which is a wood-based product). Laminate floors have an image of wood (or other material) imprinted onto the surface, to give the appearance of a wood floor.
Again, all hardwoods used for flooring are suitable for the purpose, so it’s better to choose a species and color that suits your individual lifestyle and tastes. For example, generally speaking lighter colored floors and heavier grained woods like oak will be more forgiving of daily wear (dust, footprints, etc) and will require less maintenance than darker floors and clear grained woods like maple. Exotic woods tend to be less tolerant of changes in climate than domestic woods.
Living with a Hardwood Floor
The need for a humidifier depends very much on the climate in which you live and the heating conditions you choose for your home. Humidifiers are seldom necessary in temperate climates, but in cold, dry regions they are very helpful in keeping the humidity levels at a comfortable level. In such cases, the installation of a humidifier has the added benefit of making the home more comfortable for people and pets as well as the hardwood flooring!
A certain amount of noise is normal in many hardwood floors. Because wood expands and contracts with changes in heat and humidity, the floorboards continually build up small amounts of stress at various places in the joints which are released with small noises, usually when the floor is walked on. That noise – the good ‘crackle’ of a real wood floor – should be random and occasional.
If your floor is making a noise that is regular, constant and always occurs in the same place, you probably have an installation issue. Have your installer examine the problem.
Yes, this is normal. Most types of wood change color when they are exposed to daylight, and hardwood flooring is no exception. The change is most obvious on natural colored floors, and some species change color more than others. Usually, the color becomes deeper, richer, and more even. Over time, your newly installed wood flooring will ‘age’ and the color will deepen. You may want to periodically rearrange furniture and area rugs so that the entire floor area gets exposed to light and colors evenly.
Typically, ’gapping’ occurs when the humidity in the house falls below the recommended level. The floor boards dry out and shrink slightly, creating gaps between the boards. This often occurs in the winter when the heating system is working, drying out the air. It can usually be cured by increasing the humidity in the home.
Keeping the temperature and humidity at recommended levels is one of the best ways to ensure the health and happiness of your hardwood floor. Wood is a natural material that reacts to changes in its environment, and your hardwood floor will react to changes in your home. So it is important to keep temperature and humidity at recommended levels at all times, even when the home is unoccupied. The recommended levels are temperature at 60 to 80 degrees F (15 to 26 degrees C) and humidity at 30 to 50%.
Cleaning and Maintaining a Hardwood Floor
No! Steam cleaners should never be used on a wood floor. The combination of heat and moisture and pressure could be very damaging to the wood. For similar reasons, never use a wet mop or cloth when cleaning the floor, always use a damp mop or cloth only.
An occasional cleaning with a vinegar and water solution is okay, particularly if there is a greasy residue on the surface of the floor. However, vinegar is an acid and if used over an extended period of time it may alter the gloss level of the floor.
Abode floors are factory finished with an advanced polyurethane finish that is both durable and easy to care for. (NOTE: a few styles of Abode products are finished with oil based finishes. These require a different care & maintenance routine.) Basic cleaning involves two simple procedures.
Sweep or vacuum the floor frequently to remove loose dust and grit. This is very important to the long term performance of the floor and its finish. Small particles of loose grit act like sandpaper on the surface, wearing it down over time and dulling the gloss. Regular sweeping or vacuuming will help keep these harmful particles off the floors. (Having mats at entryways is a good way to keep grit off the floor as well.)
Day to day wear will ‘dull’ the floor as dirt and oils get deposited onto the surface. To clean these away, use a cleaning solution specially formulated for prefinished hardwood floors, like Kentwood’s Therapy Spray Cleanser. Follow the product instructions.
If the finish has become dull simply from daily wear, a cleaning with Kentwood Therapy Spray Cleanser should be enough to bring back its luster.
If the dullness is the result of fine, tiny scratches in the finish, then you may want to consider a ‘recoat’. This should be done by a professional hardwood flooring technician. Your dealer can recommend someone for this. For more details, see the ‘REPAIRING AND REFINISHING A HARDWOOD FLOOR’ section.
The following products should not be used on your Abode floor:
- detergents, oils, waxes, polishes, bleach, scouring agents
- ‘all in one floor cleaners’
- oil soaps
These products will either damage the finish, or leave residues that will dull the appearance of the floor.
REPAIRING AND REFINISHING A HARDWOOD FLOOR
A hardwood floor can usually be refinished in two ways. A buff & recoat is an effective way to refresh a floor on which the finish has become scuffed and scratched over time. It involves a very thorough cleaning followed by a new coat of polyurethane finish. (Sometimes a bonding agent is required to ensure the new coat of finish adheres to the old one.) With a buff & recoat, the floor’s original finish is not compromised in anyway and the finish warranty remains in effect.
If the finish has been completely worn away or otherwise damaged, it may be possible to have the floor refinished. This involves sanding away the entire finish until the hardwood is exposed, then applying several layers of new polyurethane finish to the entire floor. Whether a particular floor can be refinished – and how many times it can be refinished – depends entirely on the specific style of flooring.
To find out if your syle of Abode floor can be refinished, consult your dealer. Once a floor has been refinished, the original finish warranty is no longer valid. Both of these procedures should only be performed by qualified professional wood flooring refinishers.
Unfortunately, there is no real remedy to repair a dent in the wood. The only real solution is to replace the damaged board.
Usually, yes. It depends on the extent and nature of the damage. If the damage is just to one or two boards, they can probably be replaced. This is a job for a professional installers. (It’s also an excellent reason to keep a few spare boards that were left over after the installation.)
The new boards will probably be lighter in color than the others but they will ‘age’ to match the rest of the floor in time. Likewise the new boards may appear to have a slightly different gloss level than the surrounding boards.
Replacing a whole section of flooring is more difficult as a new order of flooring may not look exactly the same as the previously installed batch. Consult your dealer to see if the product specifications have changed since the original purchase.
Scratches that show as white lines are usually superficial abrasions into the finish on the floor surface. The best treatment for these is a product called 'Tibet Almond Stick', available from your Abode dealer.
Deeper scratches that penetrate the finish and go into the actual surface of the wood itself may need a touch up kit, consisting of a colored marker and spot finisher. Your Abode dealer should be able to provide you with this,