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Hardwood Maintenance

Why Is My Hardwood Floor Creaking?

Hardwood floors are known for their long-term durability. Even so, they’re not immune to age and general wear and tear. Whether from constant use or just from growing older, you will find that eventually the boards will start to creak. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about creaky floors so you can decide for yourself if you have an issue that needs addressing.

What Causes Squeaky Floors?

There are a wide variety of completely different reasons why your floor could be squeaking. Let’s get into some reasons why this might be happening.

Seasonal Changes

As the seasons progress from one to the next, the temperature changes. In the winter, the air getting colder can cause even brand new boards to squeak a little. This is because as the cold and dry winter air, the boards will naturally contract a bit, becoming smaller. This creates tiny gaps between the boards and even the subfloor.

This contraction results in the boards being able to move more and rub against each other or even the fasteners. Seasonal squeaks are nothing to worry about and typically go away as soon as it starts getting warmer. You can mitigate this issue quite well by just keeping the humidity of the room between 40 and 60 percent.

Joist Problems

If you didn’t know already, joists are basically a small structure that sits beneath both the floor and subfloor. They are horizontal bars that help stabilize your subfloor and help prevent it from moving around. Any issues with the joists can cause the flooring to become looser and create creaking.

Some problems the joists may have include them being too loose, getting warped, or gaps forming between them and the subfloor. The easiest way to verify this is to have access to a basement below the boards and the room beneath the boards.

Subfloor Problems

Uneven subfloors are one of the most common ways that a squeaky floor can happen. When the subfloor is not level with everything else, it creates a gap between itself and what’s above it. This naturally allows for the board above it to move around and create noise. Another culprit may be that the joists and the subfloor are misaligned.

If you think that the joists may be the source of the issue, then the best thing you can do is get it repaired or replaced by a professional. Damaging your subfloor through accidental damage is a mistake you very much don’t want to make.

When you boil all this down to the simple basics, it always comes down to the fact that the board is becoming loose and moving around to some degree.

Are Squeaky Floors a Sign of Danger to the Structure?

Fortunately, creaky floors are basically never a sign that something is about to actually break. Squeaking does not mean that there is structural damage. If the floor was also bending or bowing in some way, then that would definitely be an issue, but by that point, you wouldn’t need the squeaking to see that happening anyway.

Any floor of any type can squeak, but hardwood floors and stairs are usually what it’s happening with. Squeaks happen when the house is settling after a change in temperature and the boards start to dry out and expand. This in turn causes the floorboards to start to rub against each other, the nail casings, or even the subfloor.

Thankfully, creaky floors are also typically really trivial to fix.

How To Fix Your Creaky Floorboards

Creaky Floorboard

source: unsplash

To figure out exactly where the boards that creak are, you will definitely need a second person. The reason for this is quite simple. You can’t both be on top of the boards, walking around to make them squeak, and be on the floor below to pinpoint where the board is.

An unfinished basement or crawl space is ideal for this job since it means that all you need to have on you is some carpenter’s glue or any other construction adhesive as well as a thin wood shim. All you’d need to do is smear some of the adhesive onto the shim and gently tap it into position between the joists and subfloor. If that’s not easy to do, then you can also just jam directly between the bad boards and good ones adjacent to it.

If you end up finding that the gap is too large for a shim to work, don’t fret. There’s another great alternative as well. Get your caulking gun and simply apply the adhesive between the subfloor and the joist. Once it’s all hardened, the squeaking should be a complete thing of the past.

If the cause of the squeaking is because the boards are actively rubbing against the wooden subfloor below it, there is an admittedly more tricky option you can take to fix it. Take a short wooden screw and drive it through the bottom of the subfloor and into the base of it. Take it slow and be careful, you will want to ensure that the screw does not go too far in, as you risk the bottom of the screw sticking up out of the floor where you could step on it.

For stairs, one reliable way to fix the creaking is to access the back of the stairs where you can get under them and then, using the shims and glue we mentioned earlier, tap them into the joints between the treads and the risers. If you are for some reason unable to get under the boards, then you can do this from above as well, but you will want to make sure to trim the exposed parts afterward with a utility knife. If all else fails, you could just try applying adhesive directly on top of the boards, but you will also want to do this carefully to avoid a big mess and an annoying cleanup.

Fixing Creaky Floors From Above

You will notice that we didn’t put much emphasis on doing these fixes from above. The issue is that if you can’t get below the boards, you may have some difficulty that requires more precision than you would need otherwise.

One good method is to buy either ring-shank flooring nails (recognizable from the little rings that cover it) or cement-covered flooring nails, then hammer them into the seams between the bad boards. If what’s causing the squeak is the board coming detached from the subfloor, you can try hammering two nails at opposite 45-degree angles into the joists and filling in the holes with wood filler.

Final Thoughts

The sound of creaking can be rather unpleasant. With proper maintenance, your hardwood floor can stay in top condition for as long as you let it. If you’re in Colorado and you haven’t already done so, you can get a quote on your unique flooring needs by using this link or by calling us at (800) 639-3006.

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Hardwood Maintenance

The Effect of Salt and Snow on Hardwood Floors

At MacDonald Hardwoods, we love everything to do with hardwood floors. It’s our passion and the subject we know the most about. So as hardwood lovers, we do our best to preserve our floors and teach others how to do the same. Something that not many people talk about is the effect that salt and snow have on hardwood floors. That’s what we will be discussing.

Let’s get right into it.

The Relationship Between Salt and Snow

First, you are probably wondering how exactly salt gets onto your floors and why it matters. It’s important to keep our walkways safe during the winter when it gets icy. No one wants to see their mailman trip and fall. With that in mind, it’s become common for homeowners to sprinkle rock salt onto their walkways in advance of snow.

This works great and the walkways become safe to walk on. However, a side effect is that when the snow melts you can no longer see the salt. That is until it is tracked into your home from everyone’s shoes. By the time you realize what’s going on, your floors are already damaged.

How Does Salt Damage Hardwood?

hardwood floor with salt damage

source: unsplash

The crystals that come from calcium chloride are the issue. These crystals can really damage a hardwood floor finish. At a microscopic level, you would see small, rough-edged particles from salt. The rough edges unfortunately are able to ruin hardwood when stepped on or dragged across the floor. Both finished and unfinished hardwood are at risk.

Salt stains often leave a white film or residue. It’s rather unsightly. So if you live in an area where it snows frequently and you have to use rock salt outdoors, you should pay extra close attention to the solutions and prevention section further down.

How Does Snow Damage Hardwood?

snow damage on hardwood floors

source: unsplash

Compared to snow, this is a bigger issue.

When snow gets onto your hardwood floors, it doesn’t cause immediate damage. Snow isn’t the real problem. But once the snow melts and turns into water, the water saturates the entire floor, and this condition is often referred to as cupping. After some time, a lot of moisture is absorbed into the underside of the wooden boards, which then expands the bottom of each board more than the top. As a result, the hardwood takes on a wavy appearance in addition to each course of wood being raised at their seams.

Water-damaged hardwood more often happens due to leaks rather than just tracking in snow. However, snow is still able to cause damage when the source is snow from your roof. On your roof, when the snow melts into water and then freezes into ice, this is a serious problem that can lead to something called ice damming. Ice dams form at the edge of a roof and prevent water from draining off the roof, which leads to the water having to back up behind the dam, leading to leaks inside your home. This happens because the water that gets stuck finds cracks and openings in the exterior of your roof covering which is the entry point into the home.

When dealing with this issue, the most challenging part is waiting for the floors to dry out, knowing that there isn’t much you can do at the moment. If you are lucky and your floors are cupped like a washboard, they have the unique ability of being able to flatten out over time, which means you can avoid replacement. Most people have to wait a week for the water to dry out, which is then a good time to call in a flooring contractor.

The flooring contractor will perform a moisture test, and depending on the result, you may have to wait a few extra weeks because of how long it takes the water to dry. There isn’t much of anything to be done during this time. But after the moisture readings are consistent throughout the whole room, the process of repair or refinishing can begin.

It’s very important that your contractor doesn’t sand your floors before the floor is completely dry. If they do it anyway, you will unfortunately be left with something called crowning, which is basically the effect of cupping but in reverse.

If you don’t address potential water damage to your hardwood, the structure of your home can be at risk due to the growth of mold. Mold grows and spreads very quickly and will eat away at anything in its path.

Solutions and Prevention

It’s not the end of the world (at least not yet!). If you’re quick enough to react, you can usually get away with not having to pay for replacement hardwood when there is damage from salt and or snow.

Put a heavy rug in front of your door and in the doorway. Rather than salting the outside of your door, having rugs in place is extremely valuable. Wipe your shoes on the rugs.

Knock snow, salt, dirt, and other particles off your shoes before entering. Most people have something near the door that they can kick a few times. The force of the kick is able to get rid of most unwanted things.

Remove shoes upon entry. In most of the world, this is common sense. But here in America, most people wear their shoes anywhere in the home. With respect to the longevity of your hardwood, this is a big no-no.

Have waterproof mats available at the door. Once you’ve kicked nasty things off your shoes, and wiped them on the rug, you should then remove your shoes and put them onto a waterproof mat where they are able to safely dry out.

Have water-absorbent cloths nearby. The entrance of your home is where most issues start, so you should have cloths or towels at the door ready to wipe up any excess snow, dirt, water, etc., as needed.

Vacuum your hardwood floors regularly. You already are familiar with vacuuming carpet, but hardwood can also be vacuumed. This is a great way to get rid of salt, sand, dirt, and even water in some cases. It’s best to have a vacuum made for hardwood floors.

Have a roofing contractor come by during the winter. Your roofing contractor will easily be able to identify ice damming or the potential of it and find solutions with you so you don’t have to worry about leaks. And if there’s no issue, which there often isn’t, it won’t cost much at all for them to come by and just spend a few minutes with you finding that out.

Use hardwood floor cleaning products. A popular DIY solution that totally shouldn’t be used is vinegar, which often leaves a residue of its own. Be careful about the products that you use!

Contact your flooring contractor for advice. Your flooring contractor will be able to figure out if replacements are needed or if sanding, refinishing, and filling in splintered or corroded areas is possible.

Final Thoughts

Overall, hardwood floors are extremely durable, especially when compared to their carpet counterparts. There are only a small amount of drawbacks, and dealing with salt and snow is one of those drawbacks. The best way to manage the issue is by preventing it from happening in the first place. And if you follow the tips in this blog post, you will definitely be able to do that.

If you’re in Colorado and you haven’t already done so, you can get a quote on your unique flooring needs by using this link or by calling us at (800) 639-3006.

Categories
Hardwood Maintenance

Products to Avoid Using on Hardwood Floors

[Source: Unsplash]

Hardwood floors are a beautiful choice for flooring. Their durability and value retention are just a couple of the many reasons to use them. It’s good practice to clean once or twice a week to keep things nice and tidy. That said, care must be taken to not damage them when trying to do so. The use of the wrong product can  stain, scratch, weaken, or even destroy the boards over time. In this article, we will go over all the products you should avoid using, as well as talk about what you should be using instead.

Avoid Wet Mops

One of the worst things you can use on your floor is something you may be completely unaware of being a problem. Wood naturally absorbs water, especially when not given a good enough finish. By using a wet mop and bucket, much of the water you’re using on the surface to remove grime is going to get soaked up into the boards. This will cause the boards to swell, bend, and eventually even pop out of alignment altogether.

What to do instead

Start by vacuuming up the floor. Ditch the water entirely. Instead, use a dry microfiber mop head to sweep up the dirt, then follow it up with either a specially wetted microfiber mop head that uses proper wood floor cleaning solution. We recommend using the MacWoods hardwood floor cleaner as the cleaning solution for this case. If you don’t have the special mop or cleaning solution, the next best thing would be to lightly dampen a cloth with warm water before wiping down the floor. Excessive water can cause damage.

Don’t Use Steam to Clean

You should never use a steamer on your hardwood. This is a recipe for destruction, as just like with a wet mop, will eventually cause water damage and warp the boards. It’s actually even worse than a mop, as the water isn’t just passively sitting on top of the boards, but actively superheated and injected right between them. This will cause the wood to peel, flake, discolor, not to mention all the problems caused by just a wet mop alone.

What to use instead

As before, use a wood floor cleaning solution instead. If you’re steaming because you’re trying to clean a certain spot, just get down and use a rag with the solution. A little elbow grease often does the best job.

Vacuums Can Be Bad, Too

Vacuums are great for getting up all kinds of different dirt and debris. The problem isn’t the suction itself, but rather the beater bars as well as the hard plastic wheels on the back of the unit. Just like how you wouldn’t want to use a rolling office chair on hardwood without a rug, so too would you want to avoid using a vacuum without proper padding. 

What to use instead

A dustpan and broom will often work best here. You also can use a vacuum if you really want to, but If you’re going to use one, make sure that it has soft rubber wheels and that you turn off the beater bar before going over the wood. Use caution and you should be fine.

Using the Wrong Cleaning Solution

This is a situation where it may not even necessarily be your fault. There are a dearth of cleaning solutions that market themselves as safe to use on wood when they aren’t safe for that at all. Knowing what to use and what to avoid is vital for the longevity of the wood. The following is a list of the solutions that we don’t recommend you use.

Polishes

While this won’t necessarily damage your wood, it’s usually a bad idea to use it. While it will initially make the boards look brand new, it won’t last long. Eventually, it will lose the shine and leave an ugly and waxy floor. This now useless coating will need to be entirely sanded off before you can put any new coat on. Just steer clear if you can help it.

Ammonia

This is a solid NEVER for wood. Ammonia has tons of different uses all throughout the house, but hardwood floors are not one of them. The chemical will outright damage the wood by dissolving the very fibers in it, keeping it intact. 

Bleach

Speaking of bleach, this is another one for the “AVOID AT ALL COSTS” list. It can discolor the boards permanently, even when used in small amounts. There is no good use-case for this product on hardwood floors, you’re only setting yourself up for failure.

[Source: Unsplash]

Vinegar

Using vinegar and water as a homemade hardwood floor cleaning solution can have a negative effect on your hardwood floor. It’s important to remember that when you clean your hardwood floors, you aren’t actually cleaning the wood—you are cleaning the chemical finish on the wood. The finish is the protective layer of your hardwood floors.

Windex (And the Like)

It’s more useless than anything. Not only does this usually contain abrasive ingredients just like in ammonia that damage the floor, but it also won’t do much of anything beyond that. The cleaner simply isn’t designed to get anything off wood. If you want to use a spray, use the MacDonald Hardwoods Floor Cleaner. Take some of it and pour it into a spray bottle, then spray away. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe it off when done. This is much more effective, lets you tackle the problem the same way, and comes with none of the risks.

What Should I Use Instead?

MacDonald Hardwood Floor Cleaner, which you can pick up in our store, is a great option for cleaning hardwood floors. If you can’t get a hold of that, you can use a damp cloth (ideally, a microfiber cloth) with warm water to clean. 

Conclusion

Your wood floor is precious. It has a value that, when properly taken care of, can last full generations. As much as wood floors are usually known for being durable, there are still plenty of ways to successfully damage them, as outlined in this article. By avoiding the products listed here, you will be saving the value of your home, not to mention avoiding unnecessary repair costs.

Categories
Hardwood Maintenance

Protecting Hardwood Floors From Furniture

[Source: Unsplash]

In the world of floor care, importance is often emphasized on protecting your hardwood floor from getting scratched and damaged by your furniture. All it takes is one careless drag of the chair across the floor to potentially leave a permanent mark on the wood. 

In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about good floor-friendly habits that will keep your hardwood looking as spotless as the day they were installed. Let’s get started. 

Take Off Your Shoes

This is already fairly common in many eastern countries. By taking off your shoes before stepping into a room in general, you’re preventing yourself from tracking in dirt and grime from outside. For hardwood floors specifically, the tracked-in moisture can seep into the floorboards and further damage them. Consider installing a shoe organizer of some kind so that you aren’t just leaving your shoes in a random corner.

Pick It Up

The simplest tip you can follow for keeping your floors unmarred involves simply being extra careful. Rather than dragging your couch across the floor when it comes time to redecorate, instead enlist somebody to help you carry the other end of it so that no part of the couch is touching the floor. You can’t leave marks if it never meets the floor in the first place!

Don’t Use Wheeled Furniture

The hard plastic wheels on your office chair, bench, or any such furnishing will quickly cause scratches if you’re just rolling around on it without protection. It’s just a terrible idea that you will regret as soon as you start doing it.

Buy an Area Rug

Area rugs are a good option if used strategically. By keeping your furniture on an area rug, you create a gap between the floor and legs of the furniture. In addition to protecting from scratches, it will also help keep dirt and other junk from getting spread all over the floor. Not to mention that a rug on top of a hardwood floor is always a pleasing visual. Don’t cover the entirety of your beautiful hardwood floor, only the places that have furniture on them. 

Redo the Finish Periodically

Over time, there is a small possibility that the finish can start to have small imperfections. When this happens, the floor in those spots becomes a little more susceptible to damage than it already was. When you start to see light scratches appear, that’s your cue that it’s time to get the finish redone. This will not only restore protection, but depending on the finish, it may even buff out many of the lighter scratches completely.

[Source: Unsplash]

Furniture Pads

Now the big one. If you’re not going to use a carpet, and often even if you do, you should also consider putting protectors on the bottom of the furniture legs to keep them from scratching the wood. If you’re really cheap, there’s always the old tennis ball trick when you put holes in them and then stick them on the ends of the legs, but there are much more elegant ways to do this than that.

Tap-On

A Tap-On protector is held on by a small tack or a hollowed-out nail. These are the most secure method of attaching pads. You will still need to be wary about breaking the pads however, as if the nail gets exposed, you will definitely get scratches in the floor.

Self-Adhesive

Self-Adhesive pads are the cheapest and easiest to find. All you need to do to attach them is peel off the paper or plastic cover and adhere it to the bottom of the legs. The downside to this convenience is that it won’t last nearly as long. Check on them periodically to ensure they’re still attached propyl and aren’t getting dirty.

Slip-On

These protectors work exactly like they sound. You just slide them right over the legs, like socks. Assuming they fit, they strike a good balance between durability and secureness.

There are also material types for the pads to consider.

Plastic

Plastic covers should generally be avoided if at all possible. They will wear down the finish on the hardwood over time and even create scratches – the very thing you’re trying to prevent.

Rubber

Rubber is a much better option, though not perfect. It’s best used on furniture like couches, anything that isn’t going to be moved too often. If you do use it on things like chairs, move them carefully, as you may leave scuff marks in the wood. On the up side, you will find it very difficult for it to slide around thanks to the rubber.

Felt

Felt pads are usually the best choice for hardwood. Their softness will prevent the finish on the wood from wearing out and there’s no real chance of any gouges being made. Just make sure you get pads that are decently thick, as ones that are too thin can wear down quickly and expose the legs back to the wood again.

Consider “Furniture Traffic”

 How often you’re moving your furniture around is a major factor in choosing what type of padding will be best for your situation. As you see, there is a wide array of different options for different use cases to consider. There are a few areas in particular where furniture traffic becomes the most important.

The dining room and kitchen space is one such location. Failing to choose the right pad for this will be the most disastrous as it’s typically where the most furniture movement is taking place. Self-Adhesive and Slip-On pads are going to wear down faster, so make sure you’re replacing them as needed.

The family room is another important place. Kids may be jumping about on the couch, as well as people simply throwing themselves onto it after a long day. These actions will shove around the furniture rather violently depending on their weight, so choosing a rubber pad may be the best option here. 

Conclusion

As you now understand, there are plenty of great ways to keep your hardwood floors safe no matter the occasion or situation. Homeowners have long since dealt with the frustration that comes from the interaction of floors and furniture, including scratches, dings, and everything in between. Most just deal with the problems as they come and don’t take steps to avoid them from happening again. A major bonus to take into consideration is that your property value can be lowered if damage can be detected. By following these tips, your floors will have no trouble lasting the test of time.

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Hardwood Maintenance

Is It Time To Replace My Floor?

Is It Time To Replace My Floor?

Just like anything else in your house, nothing lasts forever. Floors are no exception, especially when you consider the fact that you’re constantly walking on them. With proper care and cleaning, you can extend that life, but eventually, you will need to replace it. The question is, how do you know exactly when that time is? Furthermore, what materials have what kind of life expectancy, and what sorts of problems should you expect to see in them? 

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know to be able to make an informed decision about your floor, whether it’s layered with carpet, tile, or an existing hardwood floor.

carpet

Source: Unsplash

Carpets have a lifespan that can greatly vary based on how they’re treated. A good quality one that is in a fair condition when purchased typically lasts around 20 years or so, but a poorly treated one may start looking and feeling awful after only a year. For example, the carpeting on the floor of a college dorm room will usually pale in comparison to the carpeting of a household family room.

Of the flooring listed here, carpets have the easiest signs for when they’re starting to lose their luster. Their colors will fade, they’ll start feeling rougher, and in general, it will just be pretty evident that something needs to be done about them.

Signs

Visible stains are the first and most obvious giveaway that something needs to be done. This doesn’t always mean that it needs to be replaced, as sometimes just putting an aesthetically pleasing rug over it and decorating around it may be sufficient, but other times it’s just too much to cover up without making it obvious.

Physical damage is another, like rips and tears. This is something that could technically happen at any point in its life if it’s treated badly enough, but happens especially when it gets older, as the fabric simply becomes more brittle and fragile.

Lastly, and probably most fatal, is a bad odor. If after even repeated cleaning with chemicals and using a steamer fails to remove the unpleasant smell, then it’s probably time that you look into something new.

Tiles

tile

Source: Unsplash

The life expectancy for these is going to vary based on type of material. Ceramic tiles are fairly unique in that they, under even average conditions, can be expected to last for generations. In these cases, when you replace them is less about when they’re worn out and more about when they’re “worn out”, as in when they’re just not the style you want to go for anymore. They’re simply dated rather than being broken or damaged in some way. Other types of tiling are a bit more fragile. 

Tiling has the innate advantage of not being one big sheet. Because every tile is inserted separately from one another, you only need to replace the tiles that are damaged.

Another common household tile type is porcelain. The appeal comes from the way that it looks very similar to brick, wood, and even natural stone. It’s elegant and requires little upkeep. You can get it in different colors and styles which makes it very flexible. It won’t crack or fade over time. The installation of porcelain tile is somewhat difficult and requires some things in advance like adhesives, making the cost a little higher.

Signs

Cracking and chipping is something that can be caused by a number of things. Obvious causes can be dropping something heavy onto them, but even a sharp blow from the right angle may cause damage when you wouldn’t expect it. This may not be immediately evident to you depending on where this damage happens.

Tenting, or when some of the tiles begin to partially come up in an arch shape, is usually less the fault of the tiles themselves and instead of the adhesive used to attach them either not being sufficient to begin with or just wearing out. This frustrating and particularly ugly problem can happen as early as just a few weeks after installation. In scenarios where this does occur, it may not be good enough to just replace the adhesive where it came up. You may need to have the entire work redone, as it could later tent in different places as time goes on.

Loose tiles are usually an immediate deal breaker. Nobody wants to be accidentally kicking around something that sharp. The best solution is usually to redo the entire floor’s adhesive, as tiles may continue to come up as the adhesive wears down. If many tiles in the same general area are all coming up at the same time, then it could be a sign of a dangerous structural issue. It may be wise to have somebody take a look at your building’s foundation. The last thing you want is an avoidable catastrophe.

Hardwood

Source: Unsplash

Hardwood flooring is another durable choice for flooring. With the right care, hardwood floors can easily be expected to last 25 years before needing any kind of work done on them. Oftentimes, you won’t even need to replace it when it does start to look a bit worn, instead just needing to have something like their coating refinished or resanded.

Of course, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes you really will need to have it ripped up and replaced, but there’s plenty of occasions where you will be able to save a bit of money. Hardwood has a lifespan like anything else.

Signs

Squeaking is something that varies in annoyance and severity. A small amount of it may just become routine and not bother you. Louder squeaking, on the other hand, may quickly become unbearable. Unfortunately, this is not usually something that makes for a simple repair, as refinishing processes become more difficult to perform and may not look very good afterward.

Sloping (floors that aren’t level), like squeaking, may be a cause for replacement based on how annoying it is. A little bit of it may just be dealt with and ignored. However, a large amount of sloping may again suggest a structural issue and necessitate somebody taking a look at your foundations.

Conclusion

In the end, floors aren’t designed to last forever. No matter what they’re made of, whether it’s carpet, hardwood, tile, or any other type, there will eventually come a time when they’re going to be replaced for one reason or another. It may be because it’s worn down or broken, or it may just not be the style you want anymore. Make sure that when the time comes, you’re going about it in a way that makes the most sense for the situation.

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Hardwood Maintenance

Preventing Damage to Your New Hardwood Floors

Preventing Damage to Your New Hardwood Floors

Preventing damage to your flooring is one of the best things you can do to keep your hardwood floors in great condition for years to come. It’s unrealistic to think your floors will never get damaged, because light wear and tear is normal. However, there are a few key steps you can take to prevent more damage than necessary. 

Living Room with Hardwood Floors

Source: Unsplash

Preventing hardwood flooring damage starts even before you install your flooring. If you are in a position where you can pick your own flooring, it’s best to research what type of hardwoods will work best for your house. Some hardwoods naturally have character and more “imperfections” that are better at hiding scratches. Species like White Oak and Red Oak and Hickory are known for these characteristics, and might be a good option in high traffic areas with kids or pets. You can read more about hardwood flooring textures here

Understanding where species of wood falls on the Janka scale is also important. The Janka scale rates the durability and hardness of hardwood flooring, which is an important factor in understanding how different styles of floors will hold up long term. 

janka scale

Source: superiorflooring.ca

After you purchase and install your hardwood floor, moving furniture as minimally as possible is crucial. Dragging larger pieces like tables and sofas give a greater possibility of scratching. If you do see yourself having to move furniture periodically, it’s best to invest in felt pads or protectors that attach to the bottom of furniture. Even if you don’t plan on moving furniture, adding these small preventative elements can help protect your hardwoods from accidental sliding. Remember, if you do need to move a piece of furniture, you should always lift and never drag. 

It’s also critical to maintain consistent levels of moisture and humidity in your home. Excessive moisture in your home can cause your floors to expand, while too little moisture can cause hardwoods to contract and shrink. In order to maintain proper humidity levels, we recommend using an air conditioner, dehumidifier, or a humidifier in the winter. Wood species will react differently in different geographic locations, so make sure you understand what types of hardwood flooring works best for your climate before you buy. 

Other ideas to keep in mind are to try and prevent any water damage from occurring in the first place, and installing curtains to minimize sun exposure. It’s best to occasionally rearrange furniture (with protective padding!) every few years to prevent sun damage in isolated areas as well. 

Also remember to be cautious when cleaning. No vinegar and water! Some products, like Rejuvenate, have been known to destroy certain types of hardwoods. We highly recommend our very own MacDonald Easy Hardwood Floor Cleaner to ensure no damage is done to your floors. With these tips in mind, your hardwood floors should be glowing for years to come.

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Hardwood Maintenance

How To Spring Clean your Hardwood Floors

How To Spring Clean your Hardwood Floors

While it may be hard to think about spring with many parts of the country blanketed by snow at the moment, our clocks have officially been set ahead and spring is on the horizon. Like many people, you may be taking a look at your house and realizing that winter months haven’t been too kind to it. Maybe you’re spring cleaning your closet or maybe you realize your hardwood floors are in for a deep clean. In this article, we talk about all the ways you can safely treat and clean the hardwood floors in your home. 

First, it’s important to remember that every species of hardwood floors are different. Be sure to check with your manufacturer beforehand to ensure you’re cleaning your specific type of hardwood correctly. But for the most part, these tips are universal when it comes to cleaning hardwood floors.

Cleaning Hardwood Floors

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Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Before cleaning, dust or vacuum your hardwoods to pick up any stray dirt. If vacuuming, be sure you’re using the correct attachment so you don’t damage the floor, like the floor-brush attachment. While dusting or vacuuming can pick up stray pet hair, dust and more, it won’t deep clean months of buildup. 

For periodical (or a deep spring clean), you’ll want to use a commercial wood-cleaning liquid. There are a variety of liquid wood cleaners online, just make sure you read the instructions before treating your floor for the first time. Our highly-recommended hardwood floor cleaning products like the Easy Hardwood Floor Cleaner™ and the MacMop™ are specially formulated to safely and easily clean your floors without risk of damage to your polyurethane finished wood floor.

Whichever cleaner you choose, you’ll then want to wet and wring out a clean mop or rag and scrub your floors. Try not to saturate the floors with too much cleaner. Unlike tile, hardwood floors are porous and absorb and hold moisture easily. The greatest risk you run into here is water seeping down into the floors and causing warping, movement, or swelling. After the cleaning product is applied, you can rinse your mop with clean water and then lightly wash the cleaner off your floors. Make sure you dry any wet spots.

Cleaning Hardwood Floors

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Removing Stains

If your spring cleaning includes removing persistent stains from your hardwoods in addition to a deep clean, you’re not alone. When water gets through the finish of the hardwood floors, it will then darken the actual wood. This means you’ll need to get through the finish layer. You can do this with a variety of tools such as steel wood, sandpaper, vinegar and even pastes. 

For more instructions, you can check out our other blog post which details how to remove every type of stain with ease. If you want to read about some of the common mistakes that happen when cleaning (and how to avoid them) check out this blog post

 

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Hardwood Flooring Hardwood Maintenance

5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Your Hardwood Floors

When it comes to redecorating, one of the single most effective things you can do is update your flooring. Trading your old carpet for a beautiful hardwood floor can really add a splash of style to your space and instantly update the overall look and feel of your home.

But before you take the plunge and invest in hardwood flooring, it’s important that you understand the specific care requirements that come with them. Although timber flooring may seem like a low-maintenance option, a certain amount of TLC is required to keep it looking spick and span.

What’s more, you may have to throw out everything you know about cleaning too! It is all too common that those with wooden floors end up ruining them simply by cleaning them incorrectly.

While it may seem a daunting prospect to choose a flooring option that is a little temperamental, don’t reconsider just yet. All it takes is a little knowledge of how to clean your hardwood floors so you don’t make the mistake of inadvertently damaging your floors.

Here are five of the most common traps people fall into when cleaning their hardwood floors.

Using An Incorrect Vacuum Attachment

Unfortunately, not all suction tools were created equal. In reality, some vacuum attachments can have adverse effects on hardwood floors. Over time, an incorrect vacuum head can scratch wooden surfaces and leave more pesky spaces for dust or dirt to hide, all in all, making them harder to clean. In this case, definitely steer clear of any attachments that contain rotating brushes or a beater bar with stiff bristles, as these heads are too abrasive for soft wooden materials and will cause damage.

Alternatively, you should opt for an attachment which has a soft brush or felt component with less resistance. You could also consider using a vacuum with a lighter or smaller canister as these machines aren’t as heavy and are less likely to create dents or marks.

Mopping Wooden Floors As You Would Tiles

Wooden floorboards are porous, which means they absorb and hold moisture. So, it makes sense that using a wet mop to clean is a no-go when it comes to wooden flooring. The greatest risk you run into here is water seeping down into the floors and causing warping, movement, or swelling.

That said, you can still mop your floors, but it’s best to avoid mopping with a saturated brush. Instead, grab a mop that’s basically dry, or only slightly damp, to maintain that polished look. Your wood floors will thank you later!

Using Common Household Cleaners

Vinegar and ammonia-based cleaners are highly renowned in the household cleaning world, as they are known to be both cost-effective and versatile. However, using such products on hardwood floors is an absolute faux pas. While these products, will without a doubt eliminate debris or stains, they will also damage the wood’s finish by slowly eating away at the surface. 

Not only this, you should also avoid natural cleaning agents like baking soda and abrasive bottled sprays, as these cleaners will lessen the protective coating of your hardwood floors.

Opting for an oil-based cleaning product is your best bet. Oil-based cleaners are best for hardwood floors since they will not damage the wood’s appearance, prematurely age the wood, or diminish the protective surface.

If you’re unsure what cleaner to use, you should contact your flooring manufacturer who will be able to advise you on the best care instructions for your product. 

Excessive Amounts of Water Left On The Floors

Water is the enemy of hardwood flooring. Although it is impossible to avoid small spills here and there, it is important to note that excessive amounts of water can cause the wood to buckle. Not only this, exotic hardwood styles like Brazilian Cherry, Jarrah or Merbau could develop discolored patches as a result of water.

Neglecting Regular Hardwood Maintenance

After your hardwood floors are installed, you’re home free, right? Unfortunately, no! Wooden floors need long-term care to ensure they continue to look good as new. Most people don’t realize this, but sweeping regularly can not only eliminate dust but also extend the lifespan of the wood.

Also, if you begin to notice scratches here and there, it’s best to repair these floorboards as soon as you can. The sooner you attend to little problem areas, the easier the repair job will be; it’s the difference between buffing out a spot and sanding the entire board down to refinish. To this end, think about caring for your hardwood floors like you do lawn maintenance: regular mowing takes considerably less time, energy and money than tending to an overgrown jungle of weeds!

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Hardwood Maintenance

5 Reasons Hardwood Flooring Can Make Your Home More Child-Friendly

These days, hardwood flooring is a popular choice to create a timelessness elegance in any space. However, if you have children, there are an extra set of considerations you may need to think about before simply opting for a style you find aesthetically pleasing.

Hardwood flooring can sometimes be a little more temperamental than other floor surfaces such as tiles and carpet. While it’s an impossible task to keep any style of floor immaculate with children around – spills, muddy footprints and general play are all par for the course, right? –  certain hardwood flooring can be impacted by children much more than the other options.

That said, hardwood flooring can be the perfect addition to your family home (and can actually make it more child-friendly), especially if you make the right decision from the outset.

Here are the top 5 reasons you should consider hardwood flooring in your family home.

Some Hardwood Flooring Can Be More Durable Than Other Flooring Options

Durability is key when you have kids around, so choosing a wood that will stand the test your children put them through is essential.

Bamboo offers many benefits in this department; the perfect balance between stamina and style. While Bamboo has a similar appearance to timber, it is actually a harder substance, meaning that when the kids forget that the house isn’t their personal playground, there is less chance the floors will be scratched. Furthermore, bamboo is resistant to stains. Perfect for the inevitable spills that your little darlings will send its way!

But bamboo isn’t your only option. There are a number of durable hardwood flooring options which may be a good choice for you. Here’s a hot tip: before you set your sights on a wood you just love, check its Janka rating which will tell you just how durable it is. If it’s low, say no!

Lighter-Toned Woods can Disguise Dirt

You wouldn’t be alone if you thought that darker-colored woods would be perfect for hiding dirt, dust and debris. However, when it comes to hardwood flooring, the opposite applies. 

Light-colored hardwoods such as cherry or oak are a couple of options to consider for the family home because they minimize the appearance of dust and brighten up your living space. Certain light-colored options will help you maintain that effortless look without spending hours cleaning, which is a definite bonus when you’re too busy with the kids or you forgot it was your turn to host your family summer cookout!

Hardwood Floors Are Less Likely to Stain Than Carpets

With the kids running amok and that cup of juice sitting precariously close to the table’s edge, it won’t be long before it comes crashing down and spills all over your floor. This is where hardwood flooring really comes into its own, basking in its child-friendly glory! Unlike carpet, wooden floors are much less likely to stain. Simply wipe up the mess to remove any remnants of the accident!

Hardwood Floors Are a Healthier Alternative

Carpet and thick rugs collect dirt and food scraps like sponges. With hardwood floors, there are no worries that your little ones will be exposed to harmful substances trapped in the floor beneath them. After all, for most children, the floor is where they spend most of their playtime, so carpets provide the perfect breeding ground for them to get sick; hardwood flooring virtually eliminates that issue.

Not only this, hardwood floors are also a great alternative for children who suffer from allergies since they are less likely to collect pesky pollens or animal fur. If health and safety are a concern for you, hardwood floors are a great non-toxic choice for your family.

Hardwood Floors Are Easy To Clean

Let’s face it, life with kids means endlessly cleaning up after them. With that said, making decorating decisions to make clean up easier is definitely something that all parents should be thinking about. Enter, hardwood flooring.

Although hardwood flooring does come with a set of maintenance requirements, when it comes to cleaning up spills quickly, this versatile flooring option comes out on top. Unlike with carpet, you won’t be reaching for that hot bucket of water and a myriad of cleaning products when your little ones drop their cereal on the way to the table. You can simply wipe up the mess with a paper towel and run a slightly damp sponge over the area to remove any sticky residue. Easy!

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Hardwood Maintenance

How to Remove Persistent Water Stains from Hardwood Floors

If you’ve ever had hardwood floors or wooden furniture, you know about the dangers of staining. And there is nothing more dreadful to the material than water! Some of them are clear, some of them are dark, and most of them can be permanent. 

Unlike what some may believe, however, it is possible to remove them, even the older ones. Here are some of the best ways to get rid of these stains:

ATTENTION: Before starting, always make sure to clean the floors and wipe away the dust. This will help avoid any scratches or additional wear. 

Dark Stains

If water gets through the finish of the hardwood floors, it will then darken the actual wood. This means you’ll need to get through the finish layer. 

Steel wool.

This is only recommended for people that have a good eye and can use their hands well. Slightly rub the stained area in order to remove the stain. Do it very lightly. Also apply pressure to unstained areas close to the stain, blending it in so there’s not a major bump.

Sandpaper.

While the steel wool might not work for some, it’s unlikely that filing with sandpaper won’t help. Do it the same way as suggested for steel wool, filing through the stain and blending slightly to the unstained areas.

Vinegar.

An ingredient common to every household, vinegar can help remove the layers of the stain. Just soak a damp rag and put it on the stained area, leaving it there for 5-10 minutes. You might need to apply it more than once to remove it completely, or for bigger stains.

Chlorine bleach.

A more chemical and effective option would be using chlorine bleach. Since it might be a bit strong, start with a solution that’s four parts water and one part chlorine bleach. Apply it with a white cloth and let it work for around 10 minutes. Let the floor dry and see if the stain was completely removed. If not, do it again until it does, but strengthen the solution slightly every time.

Hydrogen peroxide.

Some people might not like to work with chlorine bleach, and might want another chemical option. Hydrogen peroxide might be the way to go, since it is not as strong as bleach. Do the same as you would for chlorine bleach, but instead of starting with a 4:1 ratio, do two parts water to two parts hydrogen peroxide.

Apply finish, and finish!

Now, the last step would be to apply finish that matches your floor to make it match again. Should there be any visible bumps, use 0000 steel wool to rub it away until it is evened out.

Light Stains

These are your run of the mill, superficial stains, most often ones left by moist glasses.

Pastes.

There are many products you can use to remove it in a few minutes that work as a paste. Baking soda paste (1 part water, 1 part baking soda), salt paste (salt with only a few drops of water), even toothpaste. You can rub them gently and apply nail polish once you are done.

Petroleum jelly.

Sometimes, these faster tricks might not work. Another alternative that can be easily bought is petroleum jelly. It can be applied and left to work overnight. You’ll just need to wipe it away the next morning!

With the right trick, the right amount of effort, and patience, you can get that water stain out in no time, and forget about cloths, mats, and rugs to cover them up!