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!

4 Pre-Installation Considerations for Engineered Flooring

Installing engineered hardwood flooring in your home can be a difficult, time-consuming process. Not preparing your wood and floor space for installation can cause the process to be even more challenging. Regardless of whether you are doing the installation yourself or letting a professional take care of it, there are a few issues you need to address before the work begins. The following are four pre-installation considerations you should take into account before installing your newly purchased engineered hardwood floor.

Installing Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Installing engineered hardwood flooring can be tricky if you don’t take the proper precautions before beginning the project.

Inspection
It’s extremely important to inspect all of your wood flooring materials prior to installation and look for any cracks, holes, or bent or warped boards. While engineered hardwood flooring undergoes a rigorous inspection process before leaving the plant, imperfections and faulty boards can still slip through the cracks. In most cases, installing defective boards will void their warranty.

Order of Installation
Wood flooring should always be installed after all other installation and construction projects are finished. If floor installation is the only project, this isn’t something you need to be concerned with. However, if a new floor is part of a larger remodeling or new-home construction project, make sure you save it for last. This will help minimize the chances of your new boards experience major damage due to other construction projects.

Crawl Space and Subfloor Specifications 
It is very important for crawl spaces and subfloors to be dry before the installation process begins. For crawl spaces, there needs to be at least 18 inches between the joists and the ground. Vapor barriers or retarders must cover 100% of the crawl space, with the joints overlapping by at least six inches. The vapor barrier must also extend at least six inches up the stem wall, be attached and sealed.

Protection
Protecting your engineered hardwood flooring prior to installation is very important. The boards should not be delivered to the installation site until the building is enclosed and humidity and temperature are both stable. Fluctuating temperatures and humidity levels can cause boards to warp and bend, rendering them useless for installation. Finally, don’t deliver boards to the installation site until all painting, drywall texturing, masonry, and concrete laying is finished.

Want to learn more about installing engineered hardwood flooring in your home? Contact Fantastic Floor today to speak with one of our knowledgeable sales representatives. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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.

Top 5 Green-Certified Hardwoods

You love the look of cherry or oak flooring, but how can you be sure that the material you’ve chosen isn’t harming the environment? Luckily, there are certain certifications that wood flooring materials can receive to prove that they have been grown, harvested and distributed in eco-friendly ways.

The Forest Stewardship Council, along with third-party conservation organizations and local governments, help ensure the sustainability of many types of wood species. The following are the top five “green-certified” wood flooring materials. Go Earth!

Brazilian Cherry
Also known as Jatoba, Brazilian Cherry features reddish-brown heartwood and dark black striping. It is also one of the most durable exotic hardwoods available, featuring a hardness rating that is hard to beat.

Smoked Oak Flooring
Buying FSC-certified flooring materials helps support sustainable harvesting practices in the timber industry.

Red Oak
Red Oak flooring has been an American flooring standard for years. The reddish-brown heartwood, white overtones and light, tight grain combine to make a flooring material that looks great in any room.

Tigerwood
Tigerwood is a very popular, very distinctive exotic hardwood. It features dark red tones and wild black striping, giving the wood an exciting, dynamic appearance.

White Oak
Another popular domestic, White Oak flooring comes in a variety of colors and features light tones, sharp lines and a pale brown heartwood.

Angelim Pedra
Native to Brazil, Angelim Pedra flooring features yellow-brown tones and an interlocked, criss-cross grain pattern that gives the wood an exotic appearance.

Remember, buying FSC-certified, green flooring materials helps ensure timber is harvested with sustainability and the environment in mind.

Oak Flooring: Why Buying Local Can Help Save the Economy and the Environment

There is a lot of talk about sustainable forestry and responsible timber harvesting techniques, but how can you determine just how green wood flooring material is? Buying locally-sources varieties such as oak flooring can help lessen the environmental impact your new floors will have on the world. How? Glad you asked. Here are the top three ways locally-sourced products help you go green.

White Oak Flooring
Purchasing locally-sourced oak flooring is good for the environment as well as the economy.

Local Sources
Buying from distributors and retailers that buy from local sources makes it easier to track the material’s chain of custody, or, the production process that takes the material from the forest to your floor. Domestic oak flooring has the benefit of being grown locally, making the chain of custody naturally easier to track.

Transportation Costs
A huge part of the environmental impact of any manufactured product is the amount of transportation that is required to distribute it. As you probably know, transportation is a major source of pollution, so choosing flooring that hasn’t shipped from half-way around the world is a smart ecological choice. And since transportation costs money, choosing a local manufacturer usually means a lower price as well.

Supporting the Local Economy
You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: Buying locally-grown, locally-produced products is a good way to pull the U.S. economy out of the state it is in. By choosing oak flooring material that comes from a local source, you not only help cut down the environmental impact, but you also boost the local economy.

Plies and Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Engineered hardwood flooring may look like solid pieces of hardwood, but there are actually a number of different components that make up the material, called plies. Plies are layers of mixed species of wood that are glued together so their wood grain lay perpendicular to each other. This provides greater strength and prevents the wood from buckling or warping. But what type of plies are available, and which are the best to use for engineered hardwood flooring? Glad you asked.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring
When installing engineered hardwood flooring, make sure the plies are made of high-quality hardwood.

Types of Plies
There are three different types of plies – tropical, softwood and hardwood. Tropical plies are made from mixed tropical woods and are stronger and denser than softwood. Softwood plies are usually made from pure Douglas fir or a mixture of spruce, pine and fir. They are less stable than the other types but are good enough for general construction and industrial uses. Hardwood plies are the strongest and stiffest and is used for high-traffic or high-use areas, such as floors and walkways.

Best Plies for Engineered Flooring
Since the point of plies is to provide additional layers of strength and stability to engineered hardwood flooring, the best type of plies to use are hardwood. Common hardwood plies include red oak, birch, maple and mahogany. Of course, any hardwood works well as plies, though most companies material that is less expensive than the wood that will be going over the plies.

If you’re considering installing engineered hardwood flooring in your home, make sure you find out type and grade of plies the brand uses. After all, there’s no use paying for flooring with shoddy plies.

 

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.