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General Home Improvement Hardwood Flooring Hardwood Maintenance

Best Moisture Barriers for Hardwood Flooring

When you are preparing to lay down your hardwood flooring, you want to ensure that you are getting everything right. Let’s face it; you don’t want to put in all this time and money on your beautiful hardwood floor and then have it messed up in a few months from buckling. Since moisture is the number one enemy of hardwood flooring, you should do all you can to prevent moisture from slipping in unannounced.

By adding a moisture barrier, you can protect your hardwood flooring and protect your investment in that flooring. While many choose to have a professional lay the flooring, some want to do it themselves. For all you DIYers, here is a little more information about the different flooring types and which kind of barriers are suitable for them.

Floating Floor Barriers

Floating floor barriers are just like the name implies. They are barriers that are made to protect floating floor types like laminate or tile. Since there are wooden tiles and laminate flooring nowadays, this is an option for many people. These barriers are typically made from plastic to protect against moisture. The plastic is simply laid before the flooring is placed on top.

If you intend to use wood subflooring, you do not need a floating plastic barrier because the subflooring needs room to breathe. Since your flooring will not be nailed or glued down, your barriers do not have to be thick, either. However, if you have other subflooring like cement, you should use plastic or paper to protect against the moisture that often accumulates in these conditions.

Nailed Floor Barriers

When you are installing nailed flooring, you want a barrier that will protect the subfloor as well as the flooring. By installing plastic sheeting on top of the dirt under the subfloor, you can protect your subflooring from getting too much moisture. Between your subfloor and your new hardwood, you can lay a special felt paper that helps to eliminate moisture from getting to the topmost layer of flooring.

Since you need to purchase two different types of protection in this situation, your budget might need to be raised to accommodate the extra expense. You can purchase this felt paper and plastic at most stores that sell flooring, like hardware stores or home improvement stores. Most stores will be able to cut the plastic and felt paper to your required length, making it easier on you. If you are unsure about what is needed for a project, check with a reputable flooring dealer first.

Glued Floor Barriers

Glued flooring is often installed to concrete subfloors. These subfloors typically gather a lot of moisture especially in moisture-rich areas where humidity or heavy rain is common. If you are preparing to glue down your wood flooring to a cement subfloor, you will need a heavy moisture barrier product. These work to protect your subfloor from sweating during humid days or accumulating water from heavy rain or spills.

The most common barriers for glued flooring is epoxy or resin to help seal out the moisture and prevent more from soaking through. You can buy the correct epoxy at home improvement stores or hardware stores. Usually, the epoxy is laid with a trowel, but you can DIY it by using special tools to lay the epoxy. Remember to give it plenty of time to dry completely before laying your flooring.

Conclusion

Some flooring comes with a built-in barrier that is great for different floors, especially floating flooring. You can even purchase barriers that have noise absorption like cork, which might even help to insulate your flooring. Before you purchase flooring or barriers, you should check for built-in barriers and also look at the subflooring to see which would be the better option for your home. If you are unsure take pictures and consult a reputable flooring professional to avoid expensive mistakes and learn more about choosing the best hardwood floors

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General Home Improvement Hardwood Maintenance

Winter is Coming: This is How to Keep it Outside Where it Belongs!

In our last post, we talked about ways to keep the heat inside when temperatures plunge outside.  This time we’ll talk about how to prevent the winter weather from wreaking havoc inside your home. Follow these steps to weatherize your home.

Step 1: Weather-Ready Your Roof

Before the snow starts falling, check for any buckled, missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace them before they result in a leaky roof.  Make sure flashing around the chimney, walls, skylights, and vent pipes are firmly adhered and in excellent condition and seal any joints where water might penetrate with roofing cement.

Beware of Ice dams

Ice dams result when snow that has gathered on your roof melts as a result of the heat from your home and begins sliding down your roof, then refreezes when it gets to a colder spot.  When enough snow refreezes in a given area, any snow or ice that follows gets dammed up behind it.

Eventually, this dam will back up to spaces that never get cold enough to freeze and the melted snow and ice will find another path­­—through the shingles and seams of the roof; this can quickly cause cracks through which even more water will soon seep, causing severe damage that is difficult and costly to repair.

Making sure your ceiling and attic are properly insulated can go a long way in preventing the original melt-and-freeze action that causes ice dams in the first place.  If your house is designed to have a vented roof, make sure the vents are open and free from debris.

You can also have de-icing cables installed on your roof to eliminate those spaces where ice might refreeze.  Remove pile-ups of snow after storms and keep your gutters clear to ensure that melted snow and ice have a safe place to go as they run down the roof.

Step 2: Clear Your Gutters

Clogged gutters can cause all kinds of trouble at the best of times. But, when temperatures drop below freezing, and snow and ice start piling up, it can melt all at once awhile later with nowhere to go and lead to siding, foundation and roof damage. It can also cause floods that can destroy your hardwood flooring.

Winterize Your Home: Clean your Gutters via @macwoods

While the weather is still mild, check your gutters and downspouts to make sure they are properly fastened and can support the weight of whatever ice and snow typically falls in your area.  Once the leaves have stopped falling (or periodically as they fall), make sure to clear them out of the gutters so you can start fresh when the winter precipitation comes.

Also, make sure your downspouts spout at least four or five feet away from the house, which will help prevent flooding when all that snow and ice start to melt.

Step 3: Winterize Your Pipes

Plumbing is especially susceptible to freezing, and burst pipes can cause extremely costly damage to your home, including­—altogether now—your hardwood floors.  Preventing this damage, though, is not so difficult.  Water lines that run along exterior walls and through uninsulated areas of the house that need insulation against the cold, and turn off exterior water faucets.

Right now, before it freezes, go ahead and disconnect your garden hoses and drain any water that remains in the faucets by turning them off from the inside, then leaving them on outside until the water stops running.  You can also insulate them with special faucet cozies you can get at the hardware store.  And, just in case, know how to shut off the water valves in your home.

Step 4: Trim Your Trees and Shrubs

Now is also the time to prune trees and shrubs.  They are starting to shut down for the winter anyhow, so they’ll experience less shock from the trimming, plus less surface area provides less opportunity for damage from the cold.  Be especially sure to cut away any limbs that could fall on your home when they get weighed down with ice or snow.

Step 5: Ready a Mudroom

Winter wet and muck can cause severe damage to hardwood floors.  To prevent this, create a protected space just inside (or outside) the doors you use the most where your family and guests can leave wet boots, slickers, and umbrellas.

Get a Mudroom Ready Before Winter via @macwoods

Remember, a mudroom doesn’t have to be a whole room.  If your hardwood runs right up to your front or back doors, find a rug, or even an old piece of carpet, to fill the space in front of the door, then put a proper mat on top of it.  This way you have something to trap the muck and protection against splash over.

You may also want to put a waterproof barrier underneath the carpet or rug — but, if you do, be careful that water does not get trapped underneath it (where it will have no escape but into your hardwood floors).  If you have space, add a bench with cubbies underneath and a rack where folks can hang wet outerwear; this is also an excellent way to keep bulky winter gear out of the way inside the house.

Make sure, too, that the space outside the door remains clear of snow and ice, and have a heavy duty doormat where they can knock off clumps of ice and snow before they ever even come inside.

Step 6: Enjoy More of the Cozy Indoors

Here in Colorado, we have all sorts of ways to enjoy the winter months.  But when the storms come in and the days get short, your home is your escape from the dreary cold.  If the winter weather gets to you, make sure that inside space will cheer you up.

Inspect Your Light Bulbs: 

First, make sure there are enough of them.  You may want to add a few lamps around the house to provide extra light when the sun goes into hiding.  Also, consider the quality of light.  Full spectrum light bulbs do a much better job of mimicking sunlight than your average bulb and are less expensive and less bulky than sun-simulating UV bulbs.  Also consider eco-friendly bulbs, which offer more light for the same power, giving you a brighter room even when your light fixtures may limit your wattage.

Add Some Color: 

One of the benefits of hardwood is that it goes with everything, right?  So change up your décor for the winter.  Find a few bright pillows, throws, or curtain accents to add to your rooms.  You can even find or make slipcovers for furniture with brighter patterns that will bring extra life to your indoors while the world hibernates outdoors.

Utilize More of Your Space: 

In case you’re not a skier or winter hiker, you’ll need other ways to keep from becoming sedentary through the winter.  Try creating a space where you can stay fit indoors.  If your home is small,  find a corner of a room where you could put a yoga mat or a set of weights; if you have extra space.

Ready Your Garage For Winter Indoors with Floor Tiles via @macwoods

If you don’t have to use your garage to park your car, consider creating an exercise room or playroom for the kids; the new space doesn’t need to be elaborate — just make sure you have somewhere big enough to move around and stretch out those weary winter limbs. You can easily make the makeshift room more comfortable and appealing by adding garage floor tiles or a protective floor coating.

 

Final Thoughts

These tips should help you get your house ready for winter.  But don’t forget, you also need to prepare your family, pets, car, and yard.  There’s a lot to do before the freeze.  That’s why it’s always best to get started early.