It is very important to clean and maintain your new hardwood floor to keep it looking good for many years after installation. With the proper care, your hardwood floor will remain just as beautiful as the day you install it for several decades to come. Although the type of wood used does affect how well it will hold up to day-to-say use, but it all comes down to how well you take care of your new hardwood floor.
Type of Finish
Cleaning and maintenance depends on the type of finish you have on your new hardwood floor, not the wood type. This is where many mistakes are made when choosing cleaning products to care for hardwood floors. Hardwood floor finishes fall into two different categories.
The predominant type of finish for hardwood floors is a surface-sealed finish, including:
- Poly acrylic (waterbase)
The other type of hardwood floor finish is penetrating seal-treated and oil-treated finishes, such as:
- Wax, which is not as common today
Technically, floors with surface-sealed finishes in urethane, polyurethane and polyacrylic are more resistant to spills than lacquer, varnish and shellac. Therefore, they should be cleaned in the same manner as oil-treated or penetrating seal-treated floors.
If you are not aware of the exact type of finish you have on your new hardwood floor, put a small amount of water on it and let it sit for about ten minutes. If the water leaves a spot, then your hardwood is most likely wax or oil-based. If there is no spot, your floor is probably finished in urethane, polyurethane or polyacrylic.
Another test you can use to determine the type of finish you have on your hardwood floor is to run your finger across it. If your finger leaves a smudge, then it is finished with a penetrating sealer not a surface sealer.
Basic Care for All Hardwood Floors
One of the greatest advantages to a hardwood floor is that regardless of the finish, a number of cleaning and care techniques apply to all types. Here are a few simple everyday tips to keep your new hardwood floor beautiful for years to come:
Doormats and Rugs
Shoes carry dirt particles that will scratch the surface of your hardwood floor and result in faster aging. Place a doormat by the main entrance so everyone can wipe his or her feet before stepping on your new floor. You can also place a storage bin or small bookcase near the door and require everyone to remove his or her shoes upon entry into your home. For the high traffic spots, use non-staining rugs to protect the surface of your new hardwood floor. Never place mats or rugs near your dishwasher or sink, as water may be an issue in these areas.
You should put furniture protectors (felt pads) on the legs of all furniture to prevent scratching when the furniture is moved across your floor. This is especially important if you have sectional furniture that is moved frequently.
Sweep your hardwood floors daily to remove dirt, dust and debris, minimizing damage to the surface. You can also use a vacuum as long as it does not have a beater bar.
Immediately wipe up spills as soon as they happen to avoid any excess moisture seeping into your floor. Never allow standing water to remain on your floor for any length of time.
Easy Steps to Cleaning Your Hardwood Floors
It is possible to clean your new hardwood floor with a surface-sealed finish in three quick and easy steps:
- Sweep with a broom or Swiffer to remove any dust and dirt particles.
- Mop carefully using a solution of water and dish detergent, or other solution made especially for surface-sealed hardwood floors. Remember never allow standing water to set on your floor.
- Buff your floor with a clean, soft towel until completely dry.
Cleaning hardwood floors with any other type of finish is just as easy:
- Sweep and vacuum to remove dust, dirt and debris.
- Use a soft, dry cloth to buff away any stains or scuffs.
- Use a liquid wax stripper designed for your particular finish, following the manufacturer's directions exactly. Then allow the floor to dry.
- Use a wax formula made especially for your finish type by applying a thin layer according to manufacturer's instructions. Allow time for the wax to dry, and then apply a second coat if necessary.
- Rent a buffing machine or use dry, soft towels to polish your floor to a nice shine.
- Do not use any kind of wax finish on any urethane floor finishes. Once wax is used it must remain wax unless refinished.
Depending on the type of stain to be removed, there are specific ways to protect your new hardwood floor:
- Water - use sand paper or steel wool to remove, and then refinish
- Cigarette Burns - dampen a piece of steel wool and use to remove stain
- Heel Marks - rub vigorously with steel wool to clean floor
- Ink - wash the area using steel wool and floor cleaner; if cleaning is unsuccessful, sand spot and refinish
- Gum - harden with ice until brittle, then break off; clean with a cloth to remove any gum that remains
It may seem like a rather daunting task to maintain your new hardwood floor, but your efforts are worth it to be able to enjoy your beautiful floor for many, many years.
Stone concepts are becoming increasingly popular in the custom project market. Unique and beautiful stone can turn any remodeling project into the ultimate finished design with such distinguishing qualities that everyone who visits your home will ask how they can get that same natural, comfortable feel for their own homes.
A wide range of stone products are available to incorporate into any project, including floors, countertops, and walls, decorative - inside and out. The uniqueness of stone products make it possible to create a warm feeling in the larger rooms of your home that invites guests in and leaves them with feelings of comfort and ease in a natural setting.
In addition, distinctive stone items will also work in smaller of spaces to catch visitors' attention at first glance and seem as though the stonework fits the space perfectly, making the layout complete. The functional design of stone is exactly what you need to make your home unique.
Give your home a unique look that is long lasting, ageless and solemn. Natural stone makes any home feel special, providing an unforgettable setting that will make all of your visitors jealous. Make your living area compelling and make it exceptional by making it all about stone. From countertops and walls to subtle accents, from irreplaceable settings to classic looks, stone creates an air of specialty.
In the Kitchen
In recent years, the more conventional kitchen design concepts have been challenged by the desire to create unique design styles. One of the most tremendously popular trends in kitchen design these days is the use of natural stones.
Combining the natural, feel of stone floors with the elegance of suspended lights creates a warm atmosphere in your kitchen. Natural stone tiles have character and depth that you just cannot get from ceramic tile. Stone is a product of nature, which means that no two pieces are exactly alike. The inimitable natural shading and texture of each stone increases the exceptional beauty of accents, floor tile, listellos and murals.
In the Bath
Stone provides the bath with a natural element that is unlike any other material. The imperfect, rough look of stone tile gives the bath rustic character. The stone tile in the shower can be installed over a waterproof membrane to help withstand moisture effectively.
This high-quality material instantly adds elegance to any bath, introducing nature-inspired hues that provide a neutral color scheme that is as calming as a day at the spa. Wrapped in the beauty of natural stone, your bath will boast a sophisticated, traditional style.
Stone tile on the walls and floor provide textural interest in the bath and balances the vibrant colors of the cabinetry. Mixing colors and styles of stone will create a beautiful high-end look in any bath.
Natural stone has been around for centuries as an elegant and respected building material in the architecture of Rome, Greece and in famous structures such as the Taj Mahal, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Even today, stone is an illustrious material in construction because of its durability, environmental friendliness and visual appeal.
Stone is such an incredible material due to the fact that it takes long to weather and erode, providing a solid foundation. There are several types of stone from which to choose, and it is available in many different colors, shapes and sizes to suit your project needs. Stone can be used throughout the home from fireplaces to floors; it can even be used to build an entire home. This material is one that should not be overlooked by anyone planning to build or remodel a home.
Remodeling projects can be exciting, but they can also be very stressful if you do not know what to expect before the work begins. In fact, if you are not prepared, remodeling may be nothing but total frustration. It is important to think your project through as much as possible before your project starts.
The Initial Consultation
Once you make contact with a general contractor, he or she will arrange an appointment to meet with you in person to discuss the project. This should be a free, no-obligation consultation. The contractor will ask you a few questions about the work you want done, take measurements and photos of the space to be remodeled. It is important that you ask any questions that come to mind, as this consultation is about understanding your needs.
When it comes to pricing your remodeling project transparency is crucial. The price on the estimate should be the exact amount you are expected to pay with no hidden fees. The written estimate is a contract that describes exactly what will happen with your project and how much each task will cost. It may be sent via email or presented to you in person. The contractor should follow up with you in about five to seven days.
After you agree to the estimate, you will need to meet with the contractor to finalize the contract. Next, the contractor will set up appointments with vendors to pick out tiles, fixtures, etc. After the initial consult to pick out features, some designers may provide 3D renderings for you to approve. On larger projects an architect or structural engineer may also be consulted. A construction manager will then be assigned to your job to be your main point of contact and should be present every day on your job site.
The contractor should spend some time going over site preparation with you so you will know what to expect once the job begins. This may include such things as placement of portable toilets and dumpsters, workers' points of access and anything you need to do to prepare the space. All furniture and personal items should be removed from the renovation space. The work will create a lot of dust and the workers will be in and out constantly. Many contractors use plastic sheeting to cover floors and belongings in order to minimize the dust penetration.
Construction will begin once the site is ready. The length of the construction phase depends on the project, but these rough estimates will give you an idea of what to expect:
- Additions: 1-2 months
- Basement: 4-5 weeks
- Deck: 1 week
- Kitchen: 3-6 weeks
- Guest Bath: 2 -3 weeks
- Master Bath: 3-5 weeks
- Screened-in Porch: 3 weeks
A typical workday should begin around 8-9 AM and end at 5 PM, Monday through Saturday. The general contractor should be there in person on the first day to introduce you to the construction manager that will be in charge your project. He or she should also check in at least twice a week to make sure everything is still on track with time and budget.
After construction is complete, the contractor should perform a homeowner walkthrough. The contractor should personally review the renovation and prepare a list of any minor cosmetic issues in need of repair. You may also want to add your own items to the list. At this time, the contractor will explain the new features to you. For instance, if a water shut-off valve has been moved or added, or a new water heater has been installed, you will be informed on how to use it. The work crew should take care of the items on the list in 5-7 days. Final payment should not be paid until this list is completed and you are completely satisfied with the renovation.
Remodeling projects are extremely exciting, yet they are inconvenient for the homeowner. There may be a lot of noise, dust, dumpsters and portable toilets in the yard and workers in and out of your house all day. If you have hardwood floors installed, it may be necessary for you to leave your house for 3-4 days once the finish is applied. Remodeling is not a walk in the park by any means and it is important that you be mentally prepared for it.
Now that you have chosen hardwood flooring for your home, you need to begin planning for the installation process. Being prepared will ensure less stress for you to get the beautiful hardwood floor you desire.
How Long Will It Take?
All hardwood flooring projects can vary in length. The greatest factor is whether you plan to install prefinished or unfinished hardwood flooring. In most cases, prefinished hardwood flooring takes less time to install than unfinished hardwood. However, every situation is different, but most homeowners want the least interruption time, especially if living in the home during the installation.
Hiring a professional to install your floors will be quicker than doing it on your own. After all, professionals do it every day. In many cases, the real benefit will not be the amount of time saved, but the money you save on your hardwood floor installation.
Expect a Mess
When installing a hardwood floor, one major consideration is the mess. From dust created by cutting the boards to the glue used to strengthen the hold of installed boards and the scraps from the cut boards, such a mess can make a tough job even tougher if you do not know how to manage it correctly.
The installation of new hardwood floors can create quite a mess inside and sometimes outside your home as well. Usually, the installer will collect the waste materials and dispose of it for a fee. Discuss this with your installer prior to the installation to know what to expect according to the terms of the agreement.
Acclimating the Wood
All unfinished hardwood products must be acclimated to their new environment for at least two weeks for concrete slabs to four weeks on pier and beam before the sand and finish to allow the natural material to expand or condense. Prefinished engineered flooring can in most cases be installed immediately upon delivery of the product.
You should never overlook acclimation to the environment for solid wood floors to the installation site. Although it is not as important for engineered hardwoods because of the stability in the manner in which they are constructed, solid products will contract and expand significantly due to variations in relative humidity levels.
Staining Hardwood Floors
Installing hardwood floors can be a laborious and expensive project. You may want to save money by deciding to purchase unfinished wood and finish the floor on your own. If you choose to do it all by yourself, you can get still get a professional look; all it takes is a little planning.
To do to finish the floor yourself, you need keep a few things in mind:
- Allow the wood time to rest on site before finishing.
- Use plastic to seal off doorways to maintain consistent temperature and humidity levels.
- Hardwood floors have to be sealed on all sides, so pre-seal areas that you will not be able to reach once the floor is installed. There is no need to seal the back of strip flooring, but for wide plank flooring it is recommended.
- You need to sand hardwood floors a minimum of three times with increasingly finer grades of sandpaper. Be sure to sweep and vacuum the floor thoroughly following each sanding.
- Use a rag or brush to generously apply the stain, and then allow time for the stain to sink in before removing any excess.
- Once the stain is dry, brush on the finish coat and allow it to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Use 150 to 180 grit sandpaper, an abrasive pad or steel wool to sand the floor, and then wipe clean the surface.
- Sand, clean and coat the hardwood floor again until you achieve the look that you desire.
All through history, hardwood flooring has set the standard for beauty and style in the most sophisticated homes. No other flooring provides the timeless quality of wood with undeniable warmth and comfort.