Choosing the best floors for your home or business is crucial to its look, its ambience. There are a number of advantages to installing, upgrading, restoring, or maintaining wood floors; and in Arizona, hardwood floors particularly enhance Western and Southwestern décor, stand up to the arid climate, and make for easy maintenance! Read on for some answers to popular questions regarding hardwood floors, covering topics including the environment, preservation, and species of wood. 




How is hardwood a cost-effective choice when there are less-costly materials?
Hardwood flooring is a long-term investment. You don’t have to replace your flooring every five to seven years as you do with carpet. It lasts the lifetime of a home with reasonable care and a quality product. If you intend to sell your home in the future, wood floors typically increase the value of your home. Wood floors also provide a warmth and elegance other flooring options lack.


What things should I consider when selecting a species of wood?
There are a number of things to consider when selecting a species of wood, but some of the foremost considerations should be the following: coordinating the grain structure with your other furnishings; durability for high-traffic areas; style, theme, and overall décor of your room or home as a whole—formal, country, rustic, modern, etc.; and budget. Arizona’s warm weather and dry climate are more conducive to certain species than others.


Is hardwood flooring a durable choice for a kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room?
Hardwood flooring is certainly durable for kitchens and powder rooms; however, it is recommended that you check your sinks and refrigerators for leaks and make any necessary repairs before having your hardwood flooring installed. Hardwood flooring is not recommended for bathrooms and laundry rooms. Wet clothes and towels, bathtubs, showers…water damage is a bigger risk factor, particularly with large families and children.


What is the difference between solid wood floors, engineered wood floors, and laminates? Which is better?
A major difference between solid wood floors and laminates is their longevity. Solids last a lifetime (with the aforementioned stipulations) but laminates typically do not outlive twelve years. Solids and engineered floors can be sanded and refinished while laminates cannot. Solids are the most expensive wood floor option, followed by engineered then laminates.


What is the difference between polyurethane, water-based, and tung oil finishes? 
Polyurethane finishes are tough, oil-based finishes that create a hard, durable coating atop the wood. They are known for their excellent durability and stain resistance, as well as a rich look. Polyurethane finishes are available in three sheens. Note that polyurethane, according to the Dura Seal brand’s Web site, “will have an ambering effect when applied over light-colored surfaces,” and should not be applied to floors previously finished with wax, shellac, lacquer, or stains containing wax or stearates. Three coats is standard procedure. These finishes take approximately eight hours to dry, but should not be walked on until the following day. You should wait 48 hours before you replace any furniture or rugs. Please allow for longer drying periods if there is high humidity, low temperatures, or minimal airflow.

Water-based finishes are also considered durable finishes, but have a less offensive odor as they produce no harmful fumes and have a low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) content. Some, like BonaKemi’s brand, are GREENGUARD-certified for indoor air quality. Waterborne finishes have a significantly faster dry time of just one to three hours, and will cure 80 to 90 percent in three days. These finishes do not amber or change color over time, and also serve to promote the beauty of the wood. We apply three coats of these finishes as well.

Tung oil finishes are made from the tung tree, which is indigenous to China, where it has been used as far back as the fourteenth century. The oil is produced from the nuts of the tree. Tung oil maintains its elasticity and soaks into the pores of the wood. They take roughly the same drying and curing time as polyurethane, and we apply our standard three coats of finish. They are a little less durable, but are easier to repair. Tung oil finishes are not recommended for use on floors that endure heavy traffic or use, as they water spot and attract dirt. These finishes will need to be reapplied frequently. However, Waterlox’s brand processes the tung oil with special ingredients that make the surface more waterproof and durable. We do not often use these finishes.


How long does the finish smell after the hardwood floors have been finished?
There are many variables to consider, such as type of finish, how large the finished area is, and the amount of airflow through the finished areas, but after two to three days, the smell is often minimal. Some degree of scent will linger for a couple of weeks—longer if there is little airflow.


What preparation is necessary?
Preparation depends on a number of variables. Furniture must be moved. Existing tile, linoleum, carpet, etc., will be removed, and the remaining slab leveled if necessary. Each manufacturer has detailed guidelines that stipulate surface levels and treatment. In Arizona, solid wood floors require a sub-floor, which consists of nailed-down plywood.




Which should I dust first—hardwood floors or furniture?
Furniture. The rule of thumb is to start at the top of the room and work your way down—floors are last!


What specific cleaning products can be used on hardwood floors?
We recommend using BonaKemi floor cleaner or other brands that specifically do not contain any waxes or silicones.


Can I damp-mop my wood floor?
Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.  


How can I prevent scratches on wood flooring?
Scratches are most often, though not always, created by furniture, high heels in poor condition, cleats, and sliding objects across the floor. Use plastic or felt protectors on the bottom of all your furniture. High heels in good condition (protective caps on the heels still in place) are typically fine. Active dogs around forty pounds or more may put some “character” into your wood floor. If you dog lovers have wood floors installed knowing this, you can still enjoy your floors as well as the next person. Scratches are a fact of life with wood floors, but excepting particularly deep, long, or abnormal indentions, will not affect the beauty or quality of the floor.


How can I restore my hardwood floors myself?
It is always advisable to have a professional restore your hardwood floors.  


Is there an alternative to refinishing?
There usually is not. But depending on the condition of the floors, heavier sanding may not be necessary. A screen (or “buff”) and recoat may suffice.

How can I stop my hardwood floors from splitting?
Keep the humidity consistent, and make certain the wood flooring is acclimated before it is installed. We always have the wood ordered and delivered to the residence or business in time for it to acclimate before we install it.  


My hardwood floors appear to have separated a little. What does this mean, and can it be fixed?
This means the humidity levels have been inconsistent. This may be due to a change in seasons, which typically cause floors to expand and contract to some small degree. More serious separating issues can usually be fixed, but wood is a natural product and does move some.


What steps can I take to prevent damage or excessive wear to my hardwood floors?
Aside from using plastic or felt protectors on all your furniture and avoiding wearing high heels in poor condition, bear in mind that the less grit and debris you track onto the floors from outside, the better. Check your tennis shoes and boots for rocks. Area rugs at entrances are perhaps the best preventative measure, and mats or rugs in front of the kitchen sink are helpful. Do not use products not approved for hardwood floors on your wood floors, as they can dull, scratch, or otherwise damage your floor. If you spill water or some other liquid on your floors, clean the spill as soon as possible, as standing moisture causes damage, including cupping.    




Is wood flooring a healthy choice for indoor living?
Very much so! Wood floors do not collect and hold dust, dirt, bacteria, and allergens as carpets do. A regular routine of dust mopping or vacuuming should keep your floors clean.


Is wood flooring hypoallergenic?


How long does hardwood flooring last before needing to be replaced?
Hardwood flooring will last the lifetime of the home with reasonable care and a quality product, barring fire, flooding, or some other large-scale natural or man-made disaster.


Is recycled wood flooring available?
Yes, it is. You may have heard it called reclaimed wood. In fact, recycled wood flooring is becoming increasingly available, as well as increasingly popular in this time of increased environmental consciousness. It is an ecofriendly choice.




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