How to Handle Photosensitive Hardwood Floors

From oak flooring to Ipe decking, every type of hardwood is vulnerable to the elements to some extent. There is one element, however, that many home owners overlook entirely: light.

Red Oak Flooring
Even materials such as oak flooring are susceptible to UV exposure.

The following are some tips for protecting your hardwood floors from UV exposure, taken from the informational article, How to Handle Photosensitive Hardwood Floors. Enjoy!

What is photosensitivity?
Photosensitivity is the reaction a certain material has to light. In terms of hardwood flooring, it is UV light that has the most impact. UV exposure causes colors to fade, and in some instances can dramatically change the look of your floors.

Plan for light exposure.
Unless you have installed it in a windowless vault, there is no way to completely protect your new hardwood flooring from UV exposure. One option many people take is to simply allow it to happen and periodically change the room’s design scheme to fit the new color.
Talk with a professional about what kind of color change to expect. You can then choose furnishings, paint, and other design features to match not only the current color of the wood, but the shade it will eventually become.

Control light sources.
Hanging heavy curtains or blinds allows you to block out harmful UV rays during their peak daytime hours. Minimizing exposure can help slow the color change, though it won’t stop it entirely.

Rearrange furnishings often.
You’ve probably seen hardwood floors in empty rooms that have phantom furniture “shadows” – outlines on the floor where a couch or dresser sat for years and years. The color difference between the exposed floor and the areas underneath the furniture is usually quite stark. To avoid this, simply rearrange your furnishings every so often, especially in a room that receives a lot of natural light. The changes don’t have to be dramatic, just different enough to more equally expose the wood to UV rays.

An important thing to remember when dealing with photosensitive hardwood material like oak flooring is that color change is a natural process. You may want to delay the process, but you can’t avoid it entirely.

Four Popular Types of Wood Floors

So you’re thinking about installing hardwood floors in your home, but you’re having a tough time deciding on what type of wood to use. Never fear – the following are exerpts from the article “Four Popular Types of Wood Floors”. Enjoy!

Ipe
“If you had to describe Ipe flooring in one word, it would be “durable”. This species of hardwood has one of the highest Janka hardness ratings in the world, and it is so dense that is occupies the same class of fire-retardant materials as steel. It is also very dimensionally stable, meaning it won’t bend or warp as much as other species.”

Ash
“One of the best features of Ash flooring is its impact resistance. As you may know, Ash is often the top choice for baseball bat manufacturers, so you know it can hold its own against heels, paws, and heavy furnishings.
“Ash flooring features a reddish-brown heartwood and creamy white tone, giving it a very dramatic and fun look.”

Bubinga
“Originating in central and western regions of Africa, this exotic hardwood is known for being one of the most dynamic, eye-catching species available. Its wavy figure and high luster has made it a top choice for many high-end uses, such as trim, doors, and even custom guitars.”

Oak
“Depending on the type you choose, oak flooring can feature bright, crisp tones and heartwood that ranges from pale gray to reddish-brown. The grain pattern is tight and uniform, which adds beauty to the wood without being too much of a distraction.
“The hardness and dimensional stability of oak also make it very useful for flooring purposes. With a Janka hardness rating of 1,360 pounds and a very low tangential/radial shrinkage differential, oak flooring will last many years.
“Because it is less dramatic than other hardwood choices, oak flooring works well in rooms that have conservative design schemes. Great for bedrooms, living rooms and dens, oak is the perfect complement to any traditional decorating style.”

Smoked White Oak Flooring
Smoked white oak flooring is a great choice for any room.

Quarter Sawn Lumber – The Pros and Cons

Ash Rift-Quartered Hardwood Flooring
Ash rift-quartered hardwood flooring board.

Although most of the world’s lumber is produced using plain sawn methods, many hardwood flooring and decking professionals prefer quarter sawn material. Why? What makes quarter sawn materials so special? And what, exactly, IS a quarter sawn board? This post takes a look at the specifics of quarter sawn wood and why so many people prefer to to plain sawn. Enjoy!

What is “quarter sawn”?
The term “sawn” refers to how the lumber is cut during production. The main types of sawing techniques are plain sawing and quarter sawing, which can produce both rift and quartered lumber. As you can probably guess, quarter sawn lumber means the log has been cut in quarters during production. Rift lumber has been cut so the growth rings are at an angle of 30 degrees to 60 degrees, where quartered lumber has been cut so the growth rings are 60 degrees to 90 degrees.

What makes quarter sawn so great?
Appearance – One of the main reasons people choose quarter sawn lumber is its unique, attractive grain pattern. Quarter sawn lumber has a split medullary ray, also called pith and wood ray. This split ray has a shiny, reflective surface that looks great for flooring or trimming.
Stability – Quarter sawn lumber is more dimensionally stable than plain sawn lumber. Quarter sawn does not shrink or swell in width, making it a great hardwood flooring choice for areas with extreme temperature fluctuations or rooms with high traffic.
Surface – The surface of quarter sawn lumber is better suited for painting and staining. It is also more resistant to surface checking or splitting.

But is it all sunshine and roses?
Unfortunately, no. There are, of course, a few downsides to quarter sawn lumber. Producing quarter sawn wood requires a higher level of skill and, when done correctly, takes longer to produce. Also, it is estimated that only about 2% of all lumber in the world is quarter sawn, meaning that it is harder to get and can be more expensive.
Despite the downsides, quarter sawn is still a great lumber choice. If you’re looking for a high-shine hardwood flooring option with an interesting grain pattern and a resistance to shrinking, swelling, and warping, then you should definitely look into quarter sawn lumber.

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.