Five Questions to Ask When Buying Hardwood
You have some basic options: solid wood and engineered wood. Solid wood is what you generally think of as a hardwood floor: thick, solid planks of wood. Engineered wood is made of a veneer layer that sits atop a core of plywood. This construction deals with moisture a bit better and is recommended for concrete slab subfloors. The construction of the floor you're working with pretty much will dictate what kind of wood you can use.
Where will I put my Hardwoods?
Installing hardwood floors on a second story is much different than doing so in a basement. A space beneath ground level is what’s known as below grade. A floor that’s even with the outside ground level is on grade, and any floors above this are above grade. Where you're installing the wood will limit your recommended options.
What kind of Subfloor do I have?
Find out what kind of subfloor you have. The three most common types are concrete slab, plywood and particleboard. This will help you determine whether you can install solid wood floors, or if an engineered wood would be best.
What type of wood will work best with my living habits?
Think about how much abuse your floors will take and learn about specific wood species and their durability. Do you have kids and pets? Have large parties often? Or are you a single person who travels a lot? If you have a high-traffic house, you’ll want to go with a harder wood. The Janka scale measures how strong a wood is; basically a BB is fired into a plank and the size of the dent it leaves is measured.
What style of floor will look best in my home?
You might love the look of hickory but then think differently when you see it covering a floor in a kitchen with modern cabinets. That's because some woods lend themselves better to certain styles.When choosing a wood, consider cabinets, trimwork and door casings to make sure the wood won’t clash with other design elements. And coordinate with the colors of the walls and the amount of natural light. This will affect color choice. If you have a lot of windows and skylights, then you probably have enough light to balance out really dark floors. If you have a dark house already, a lighter floor choice will help brighten things.
How much maintenance does Hardwood require?
Learning how to clean hardwood floors is essential for protecting and maintaining your beautiful investment. Since dirt and grime can’t hide on hardwood floors like they can on carpet, cleaning your floors may seem “high maintenance.” However, once you establish your own routine, the best way to clean hardwood flooring won’t seem so difficult.
Giving your floors a good dusting with a microfiber mop or cloth will be your best daily defense against scratches and surface damage. Microfiber cleaning pads often use static electricity to trap dirt, particles, and other household allergens. Using a broom to can be effective as well, but using a broom only pushes the dirt around. When you want to clean your floors without damaging them, avoid lifting your microfiber mop up off the floor when you clean—this way you keep the dirt trapped on the pad.
Weekly maintenance will deal with the harder to reach areas that a daily dusting can’t reach. Vacuums and wet mops are ideal for getting dirt out of trouble areas like corners and the spaces between each piece of hardwood. However, using vacuums and mops come with extra caution when you want to clean floors without damaging them. If your vacuum has a beater bar, make sure it doesn’t hit the bar floor. Also, the wheels on a vacuum might damage the floor. When you’re using a mop, remember that water and wood don’t mix! Avoid putting excess liquid on your floor. Lightly misting your floor with a hardwood floor cleaner will be enough to give it a great clean. A gentle touch is one of the best ways to clean hardwood flooring.
Use proper tools to clean your floor – a mop paired with a machine washable, microfiber pad for dusting and cleaning. Electrostatic action attracts dirt, microparticles and common household allergens. Avoid using water and vinegar, soap-based cleaners, wax or steam cleaners on your hardwood floors. Vinegar and water actually dull the floor’s finish over time, while soap and wax leave residue. Steam cleaners put heat and excessive water on your floor, which can lead to cupping and long-term damage. Regular dusting and cleaning keeps hardwood floors looking new. But protective mats can further your floor’s life. Use natural rubber rug underlayments with a waffle pattern in entry ways or high traffic areas, and use felt floor protectors on furniture.