Can Engineered Flooring Be Refinished?

Engineered hardwood flooring has a lot of great benefits – it is lightweight, can be installed in any room in the house, and often doesn’t even need to be nailed down during installation. However, because it is not a solid hardwood product, not all varieties have the thickness needed to be sanded and refinished when damaged. But never fear! Many engineered products have a top layer thick enough to be sanded and refinished one or more times. The following are a few steps you should take when considering refinishing engineered hardwood flooring. Good luck!

Engineered Red Oak Hardwood Flooring
Engineered flooring needs to be at least 3mm thick in order to be refinished.

Check the Board Thickness
Engineered flooring needs to be at least 3mm thick to allow for refinishing. There are a couple of ways to easily check this. First, you can try to find any spare boards that may have been leftover from the installation process. If you don’t have any, remove a heat vent cover – this will give you a good side view of your floor.

Check with the Manufacturer 
Calling the manufacturer of your engineered hardwood flooring is probably the easiest and best way to find out if your floors can be refinished. Many manufacturers will even give you tips or advice on the best way to go about the refinishing, if you are planning on doing it yourself.

When in Doubt, Call a Pro
Not a hardwood flooring expert? Don’t worry – most people aren’t. If you don’t feel comfortable with the tools or nature of work, call a professional. You may think that you’re saving yourself money by doing the project yourself, but if you do it incorrectly you could end up costing yourself a lot more time and money than you expected. For most hardwood floor repair projects, it’s usually good to just leave it to the pros.

Yes, engineered flooring can be refinished, if it meets the 3mm thickness requirement. Contact Fantastic Floor today to learn more about the process. We look forward to hearing from you!

Excerpts from “Oak Flooring – America’s Hardwood Flooring Sweetheart”

We talk a lot about oak flooring on this blog, and for good reason. It is attractive, durable, dimensionally stable, and comes from mostly local sources. Here are a few blurbs from the informative article, “Oak Flooring – America’s Hardwood Flooring Sweetheart”. Enjoy!

Natural White Oak Flooring
Natural White Oak Flooring

Looks
Oak flooring comes in two main varieties: white oak and red oak. From dark reddish-brown to pale whites and grays, the warm color of oak matches a cornucopia of design schemes.

Durability
Oak is a species that really puts the “hard” in “hardwood flooring”. Depending on whether you are using red or white oak, the Janka hardness rating can range from 1,290 pounds to 1,360 pounds. Combine these high ratings with a very high density, and you have a flooring material that can stand up to a lot of wear and tear.

Resistance to Buckling
Buckling, bending and warping are big problems facing home owners with hardwood floors. Luckily, both red and white oak flooring experience expansion and shrinkage at a relatively even rate, meaning your floors won’t warp or bend as easily as other species.

For more information on oak flooring, read the entire article here.

The Best Protection for Your Hardwood Floors

You’re no fool – you know that in order to protect your newly installed engineered flooring you’re going to need some sort of sealant, stain or varnish. But which should you choose? What’s the best protection for your floors? Here are the main types of wood protection, what types of floors they work best on, and how to use each.

Sealants
Wood sealant is a great choice if you’re concerned about uneven grain or stain patterns. Most often used on soft woods, wood sealant will penetrate your floors and harden, helping slow stain absorbency and giving your floors a more even color distribution. Sealants help protect wood from the elements and are most often used in decking projects, but they can be used on floors in high-traffic or extremely open rooms. Softwoods such as spruce, white pine and Douglas fir (sometimes referred to as SPF lumber) take very well to sealants and are common flooring and decking choices in the US.

Shellac
Used for centuries as a wood finish, shellac is a natural resin produced by tree-dwelling insects. Shellac isn’t as commonly used as it once was, but it can still be found at hardwood supply stores and is a great choice for DIY-ers because it doesn’t produce a lot of fumes. Shellac is very compatible with most other finishes, and when used as a primer can help protect wood from stain blotching or resin bleeding. It also acts as a sealant. It isn’t the most durable wood protectant, so if you only use shellac plan on doing touch-ups as scratches happen.

Varnishes
Varnishes offer great protection to wood floors, but are a little trickier to apply than stains and sealants. Made up of a combination of resins and oils, varnishes must be applied in a completely dust- and dirt-free area as the wet varnish surface is very susceptible to damage. Polyurethane varnishes offer the best protection, making them perfect for indoor use.
The downside to varnishes is that they add a plastic appearance to the floors, which some people find unappealing. Varnishes also tend to yellow and crack with age, so they require a bit more maintenance in the long run. They can be applied to any type of wood, however, and many people find the versatility and protection worth the plastic appearance and down-the-road maintenance.

Stained Tigerwood floors

Stains
Very popular in hardwood flooring projects, stains accent and emphasize wood grain while offering moderate protection. Stains are the most versatile wood protectant, coming in a variety of transparencies and colors, and are generally either oil-, latex- or water-based. Stains are great on woods with striking or exotic wood grain patterns, such as Acacia, Cumaru, and Tigerwood. The downside? Stains don’t offer great protection, so be prepared to reapply more often than you would a varnish or shellac.

My Replacement Engineered Flooring is the Wrong Color – What to Do

Engineered Flooring Mismatch
Don't let this happen to you! (Shopped for effect, hopefully someone would notice this before installing!)

I recently got a good question from a reader asking for advice regarding some replacement flooring. Here was their scenario: “We just bought a house where most of the rooms and halls have a beautiful floor. Some rooms had a bad stained carpet so we got rid of it. We searched on the internet and we bought what was the perfect match. Today they came, and OMG they are way too dark reddish looking compared to what we have. It’s supposed to be the same floor by the picture but they don’t have the same color and black ends as ours.”

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence. Hardwood flooring, even of the same species and style, can vary dramatically from manufacturer to manufacturer.

A good metaphor for this phenomenon can be found in the printing world. Printers mix inks in order to achieve colors, much like painting. The industry standard is Pantone, using the Pantone color chart. This helps printers get as close to true color as possible. The Pantone system specifices exactly how much of each color ink should be mixed to achieve a certain color, which helps keep colors consistent from printer to printer.

So enough about printing, how does this apply to engineered hardwood flooring? Like so: Unfortunately, there is no Pantone-like system for staining or style in the hardwood flooring world. Each manufacturer will modify their wood flooring as per their specification. You may think you’re safe because your species is a natural, with no stain. Unfortunately, this is not so. Many manufacturers will stain photosensitive woods that change color due to sun exposure so that those woods’ color already looks like what they will darken to down the road.

So enough with the scares (it is almost Halloween after all, right?), what can you do to avoid this terrifying scenario?

Remember this: In the hardwood flooring world, color is king. Two engineered wood flooring products  may be labeled the exact same thing, but until you have real live samples to compare to your existing flooring, you really have no idea. Also, please save yourself a lot of agony and do not base your color matching off of pictures on the Internet. (Sorry for all the bold passages, but this is important stuff, people!) This is in no way to disparage Internet hardwood retailers or to say that their photos are intentionally misrepresentative; the fact is that computer monitors are not all consistent in terms of color, so all web photos should be considered an approximation until you have a sample in hand.

In addition, if you are trying to match an existing floor, try as hard as you can to get the identical product from the same manufacturer. If this means contacting whoever built the house, or previous owners, whatever you can, because this is the only way to guarantee that you will get the most accurate match. If you can’t do this, then be sure to bring samples from the retail store or e-tailer shipped samples and compare them to your existing floor. (Also, make sure you specify to the retailer that you want samples that are representative of the color spectrum, so that you aren’t stuck with a patchwork of grain types and colors on one end and a mostly consistent grain type and color for the rest.)

It’s a lot to remember, fair homeowners, but your reward is a beautiful floor that’s consistent as well as the satisfaction of knowing you avoided the mortifying consequences of an unmatched floor. Now that’s scary.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

The Sticky Subject of Choosing the Right Glue for Installing Your Engineered Floor

So you’ve decided to install your new engineered floor yourself. You’ve got your kneepads, your saws, pencil, tape measure, a few other accessories and a whole lot of gusto. You’ve decided to go with a glue-down installation. Now the question is, what kind of glue do you use?

After making the complicated choices of choosing the right type of wood, both for looks and structural integrity, then  choosing the appropriate installation method for your floor’s location, glue choice seems like a minor no-brainer. However, there are important things to consider when choosing glue.

First off, are you installing in a location where you have any worries about moisture content? If you have any concerns, it’s best to choose a glue that acts as a vapor barrier as well as an adhesive. It will take a slightly larger chunk out of the pocket book, but it beats having mechanical failures due to moisture down the road. (For those of you skipping over this section, stay tuned for the upcoming post “Board Replacements and You: Why oh Why Didn’t I Just Spring for the Vapor Barrier Glue?”)

Additionally, make sure the glue you’re buying has a guarantee in place. More than this, check to see if the manufacturer of the glue guarantees that their glue will work with the product you are installing. If you’re not installing your floor yourself, check with your installer as well about adhesives. Installers might be prone to stick with adhesives they’ve had luck with in the past, but this might be the time that things don’t jive, and you’ll be the one holding the ball after things go haywire. So be sure and check with the adhesive manufacturer and make sure your installer is on the same page with your findings.

Some other points: Make sure the glue stays on the bottom of the board. Don’t let it creep into the joints, as that will kill your tight fit. Also have solvents on hand for when you get that sticky stuff on yourself. We want you to become attached to your floor, but…

Finally, check your glue for which size/type of trowel it recommends, and also check its dry time, which should both be written on the container. You may have downed a quadruple hazelnut latte prior to getting rolling, but you’re probably not going to cover 3,000 sf in an hour. Although YouTube it if you do, because that would amazing.

Stopping short of diving into the full subject of installation, these are some of the important aspects to remember about glue for your engineered hardwood flooring project. Good luck on your journey into the magical world of adhesives!

Here are a few popular adhesive brands to check out:

Bostik Best (PDF! Not too hefty on the load time, but just FYI it’ll take a second to load.)

BST Urethane (ditto)

Franklin 811 Titebond