Stains and Oak Floors – How to Prevent a Mess

Nothing is more frustrating for homeowners than getting stains on their beautiful new hardwood oak flooring. Stains are not only unattractive but can lower the value of your home. Luckily for you, there are a number of things you can do to prevent stains from forming. Here are the top techniques for making sure stains don’t set.

Preventing Oak Flooring Stains
Using a high-quality sealant can prevent stains on hardwood surfaces.

What causes stains?
The first weapon in your battle against oak flooring stains is knowledge. Knowing how stains form will help you change your behavior and prevent stains from forming in the first place.
Stains are caused when liquid, usually dark, viscous or oily, sits on a hardwood floor for a length of time. The fluid seeps into the grain and heartwood and dyes it, causing a stain. If the floor has been treated with a sealant, the stain will take longer to set. Floors that aren’t treated are most vulnerable to stains – a dark discoloration can set in a matter of minutes.

How can I prevent stains?
The best way to prevent stains is to use good judgement. Don’t run around the house with a full glass of wine. Don’t let you kids carry open jars of jelly from room to room. You get the idea.
Apart from good judgment, the next best way to prevent stains is to use a good sealer or finish. A good finish will help protect oak flooring from most types of liquid stains by preventing the liquid from reaching the heartwood.
The third best way to prevent stains is to act fast. Wiping or mopping up the spill within a few minutes will prevent the majority of stains from setting.

Yes, stains can ruin any attractive oak flooring and cause a lot of disappointment. However, with a little knowledge and the right preventative measures, you can stop stains before they start. Turn in next time when we explore the best ways to remove pre-existing stains. See you then!

Under the Microscope – Water and Oak Flooring

If you’ve ever wondered about the science of hardwood flooring, you’re in luck. Hardwood Flooring Magazine has an interesting and informative article series about how the scientific properties of hardwood affect the installation and maintenance of wood flooring. The following are some highlights from the article, “Installation – Under the Microscope”, in which the author examines how water affects the installation of such products and white oak flooring or red oak flooring.

Oak Flooring
Oak flooring's water absorption rate has everything to do with chemistry.

“Under the Microscope”
The variations in cell type are the cause of differing visual characteristics of hardwood. The authore elaborates:

“Cells formed early in the growing season—earlywood—usually have larger diameters and thinner walls. Cells growing later in the year—latewood—have smaller diameters and thicker walls. Several layers comprise the cell wall, but most of the structural properties are dominated by the thickest layer, called S2.”

“Where the Water Goes”
Water occurs naturally in the hollow center of living wood cells. After wood dies, the water leaves the cells and the wood is vulnerable to changes in humidity:

“Along the sides of the cellulose molecules there are locations where water molecules can attach with a chemical bond. When relative humidity (RH) increases, more water molecules adhere to the sides of the cellulose—it gets fatter but not longer. The result is that the cell walls get thicker, causing the boards to expand. However, there is almost no change in cell length, so there is almost no change in the length of the board. When the humidity goes down, the process reverses: Water leaves the cell walls to go into the air and the wood shrinks.”

Curious about other ways water affects the chemical make-up of oak flooring? Read the full article here.


Estimating Materials – The Best Ways to Figure Out How Much Flooring You Will Need

Determining how much hardwood flooring material you may need for a project can be tricky. On one hand, you don’t want to purchase too much material and be left with a ton of useless extra pieces. On the other hand, buying too little will slow down the installation process once you run out of materials. So how can you accurately estimate the amount of hardwood flooring you will need? That’s easy. Follow the following simple steps and your flooring estimate should be as accurate as you could possibly get it.

White Oak Flooring
Proper estimating techniques, like the ones used on this white oak floor, will help you reduce waste and cut costs.

Use Precise Measurements
You’d be surprised by how many people don’t accurately measure the rooms in which they are planning to install hardwood floors. “Guesstimating” or not getting precise measurements may not seem like a big deal at the time of measurement, but even an inaccuracy of a few inches can lead to the wrong total square footage. Get it right the first time.

Account For Variables
Does your room have a window nook? An extended wall? A closet? Then you’ve got square footage variables. The best way to approach a room with a number of variables is take the total square footage, measure each variable individually and either add or subtract it from the total.

Anticipate Waste
It’s a good idea to add an additional 10% of your room’s total square footage to the order. This covers waste factors that naturally occur during hardwood installation, such as the start and finish runs of flooring and the occasional piece you simply don’t want to use.

Use a Flooring Calculator
It may seem like cheating, but using an online flooring calculator can really help you determine how much building material you’ll need. Most calculator tools are simple and easy to use, so don’t be afraid to get online and try them out.