10 Questions to Ask Your Hardwood Flooring Supplier
By Greg Gaylord | Submitted On September 26, 2010
10 Questions to Ask Your Hardwood Flooring Supplier Before Purchasing
1. If there are any problems, who do I call?
Most flooring stores will be buying the flooring they are selling to you from a distributor who purchases the flooring from the manufacturer. Sometime, especially with products coming from overseas there is more than one distributor involved. In many cases if you have an issue with your flooring and complain to the retailer they will call the distributor and let them know there is a complaint, the distributor will tell the manufacturer there has been a complaint. In most cases the manufacturer will deny the complaint and if you are lucky they will even send a representative to deny your claim in person. Most retailers would correct a manufacturing problem to make their customers happy because they are the ones dealing with the customers face to face but in reality they do not have the final say unless they want to replace the flooring out of their own pocket. The manufacturer is so far removed from the actual client that they know it is better for their bottom line to deny the claims and assume they will never have to deal with the issue because they are so protected by their warranties. Picture a person at a desk with a pile of hardwood flooring claims on their desk with a big stamp that says “denied”.
2. How durable is the finish?
Durability is probably the most important things to consider when purchasing a prefinished hardwood floor. The finish is what you are actually walking on and must be very durable to have a beautiful lasting floor for years to come. Many imported prefinished floors have very little durability and the finish can be taken off with a few swipes of 150 grit sandpaper. When buying hardwood there are a few ways to test the finish: one would be to take 150 grit sandpaper and rub the finish to see if the finish will come off and two would be to firmly press the edge of a coin against the finish, a quality finish will dent but not come off. Quality manufacturers will have aluminum oxide or better yet titanium oxide hardeners in the finish. Many offshore manufactured products will say they have aluminum oxide in them but actually do not. To test if a hardwood floor has aluminum oxide in the finish simply put the sample in your microwave and if it sparks, it does indeed have aluminum oxide in the finish. I know that may seem a little strange but it’s something worth checking because hardwood flooring is a big investment and you want to know the durability of the finish.
3. What is the structural and surface warranty?
This is a very important part of choosing a hardwood floor. Anyone can put a 25, 30, or 40 year warranty on the finish of their product but the real question is; will they stand behind their warranty. Many large hardwood flooring manufacturers have warranties that are up to ten pages. When you read through the entire warranty and all of the exclusions it really gives the client the impression that there is actually no warranty at all. The problem is most consumers don’t take the time to read the warranty and are shocked when they find out the issue they are having with the flooring is one of the “exclusions”. Most warranties will say that there is an industry standard of 5% margin for error which means that when your entire floor is complete the manufacturer is allowed to have 5% of the boards defective. That means a finished floor of 1000 square feet would be allowed roughly 100 boards with any kind of defect.
4. What is the waste factor of the flooring?
The waste factor of the flooring is an important issue as well. If 10-15% waste is what is suggested by the manufacturer than that means you will have to buy that much more to get enough to install your entire floor. The higher the recommended waste factor the lower quality the product. You may find when comparing products for price on may be more than the other but you must factor in the difference in waste to the price. A floor for $6 with 3% waste would cost you $6.18 which would be the same cost as a floor with 10% waste that is $5.62 and the product with 3% waste would definitely be a higher quality product. The bottom line is you shouldn’t have to sort the waste out of the boxes; the manufacturers should be taking the waste out at the plant so you are only getting good quality pieces you can install in your floor.
5. What is the average length of the flooring boards?
The question of the average board lengths is one that is not commonly asked when it comes to hardwood flooring. It is something not a lot of people think about until it is brought up. The longer the average length of the floor the better the floor looks especially in large rooms. One foot and two foot lengths produce a very choppy and unattractive floor. The box size is not the only way to tell what the average length is; you can have an 8′ box with all short pieces in it. Many offshore manufactured products are in four foot boxes with will definitely ensure you are getting a floor with very short lengths. It is not only offshore products that have short lengths but many North American made products as well. One very high end Canadian manufacturer has an average length of 27-29″ in their 3-1/4″ Select and Better Red Oak.
6. What is the moisture content of the flooring?
Moisture content is a very important factor when installing hardwood flooring. You need the flooring to be at a proper moisture level for your home/interior climate which is typically between 6-9% moisture content. Installing hardwood flooring with a moisture content that is too high will cause spaces in the floor when the flooring dries out, and installing a hardwood floor that is too dry will result in cupping when the flooring picks up moisture. If the retailer selling you flooring does not have a moisture meter and can check the moisture for you then I would suggest you run. The majority of people selling hardwood flooring know very little about wood and moisture, if they don’t even have a moisture meter, that is a sign that they are not professional and know nothing or very little about hardwood flooring and shouldn’t be selling it.
7. What does the supplier recommend for acclimation?
I know you must have heard someone say “the flooring must sit in your home for two weeks prior to installation”. This is a very general statement and in most cases will do more harm than good for your hardwood floor. If you did this in a new home and it sat in the home while they were drywalling, painting, the wood would be so damp by the time you installed it that you would just be asking for trouble. The fact is a new home will have 1000 to 2000 gallons of water that will be oozing out of the home the first two years. If your flooring is sitting in the home before it is installed it will absorb all of that moisture. If you are having the flooring sit in your home you will want to make sure it is stored in normal living conditions to avoid it from drying out too much or picking up too much moisture. In some cases, a seasonal dwelling, you may want to have the hardwood flooring absorb the moisture before it is installed. If the home is always a high humidity environment then you want the wood to pick up moisture so it can be normal living conditions for that particular environment. You want to have a hygrometer to measure the humidity in your home before the installation and monitor your humidity after to ensure your home is in the proper humidity range to avoid issues with your flooring.
8. What does the stain/finish look like?
Many large manufactures will finish all different woods at the same time without making adjustments for each wood because each time they make adjustments it effects the production. The fact is, each wood needs to be finished differently to achieve the nicest stain/finish. Oak requires more finish to “fill in” the grain or else it will appear very pitted which is not something desirable in an oak floor. You want to be able to hold a piece up to the light and see a perfect smooth finish. Maple requires more brushing than oak so the stain can penetrate into the wood and not appear “blotchy”. Maple is a beautiful wood and with the proper staining you can really bring out features such as Birdseye and tiger tail. If not stained properly these features are hidden.
9. Does the supplier warrant the work done by their installers?
If you are purchasing flooring from a company and having your own contractor install the flooring you want to make sure your installer is a professional. In many cases if you use your own contractor and there is an issue you will have the installer blaming the issue on the hardwood and the manufacturer blaming the issue on the installer. When nobody takes the blame you won’t have very good luck getting your issue resolved. If you are buying flooring on a supply and install basis you want to make sure the company warrants their installers work and the installers are qualified. Many stores will sub out their installations to contractors so they really don’t have the ability to monitor their work unless they visit every jobsite. You can see a list of certified hardwood installers in your area by going to http://www.nwfa.org.
10. What grade is the flooring?
Comparing flooring by grades can be very confusing and misleading. Many large manufacturers have five or six different grades of flooring so just because brand A has a less expensive product than brand B they may not be the same or even a similar grade. There is really no standard grading system for prefinished flooring so just because the product is labelled “select and better” may not mean it is the best quality flooring.
Greg Gaylord is experienced in the manufacturing, prefinishing, installation, and inspection of hardwood flooring. His company Gaylord Hardwood Flooring is a small Canadian hardwood flooring manufacturer producing only the highest quality hardwood flooring products including wide plank engineered flooring up to 10″ wide, exotic hardwoods such as Jatoba and Ipe, as well as all domestic hardwood flooring products such as maple and hickory. For more information visit the Gaylord Hardwood Flooring website: http://www.gaylordhardwoodflooring.com.
Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/Greg_Gaylord/773463
Hardwood Floor Care
By James Delony | Submitted On August 21, 2010
In many homes in Houston, hardwood floors are one of the most beautiful focal points in the home. They come from a wide variety of woods and can be finished in just about any color and finish you can imagine. While hardwood floors are very durable and traffic resistant, proper care and maintenance is essential to keeping them beautiful for many, many years.
The key to keeping hardwood floors looking beautiful lies with keeping them as clean and dry as possible. Dust and other debris on the surface of hardwood flooring gets ground into the finish, and this causes floors to dull over time. The longer this surface contamination is left on the floor, the more deeply embedded the debris becomes and this causes more damage to the finish. If not attended to, this can actually strip away the finish and leave raw wood exposed. Keeping a good coat of wax on the floors will prevent casual spills from absorbing into the wood if you act quickly clean them up. The good news is that keeping your floors clean is a simple matter of sweeping them a couple of times a day with a swifter mop (use a micro fiber pad) and a product like Orange-Glo.
The biggest problem with hardwood floors is getting them scratched by the demands that simply living on them causes. You must take care when moving things around on hardwood floors. When living on hardwood floors, do not drag anything across them when moving furniture or other heavy objects. Use large area rugs under heavy furniture, and keep pads under furniture legs, as these will move when sat upon or brushed up against. These will dig into the wood if left unprotected. Large dogs with toenails that click as they walk can do a lot of damage to hardwoods. Even small dogs and cats can damage hardwood floors. If their toenails are clicking on your hardwoods, it is time to clip them back. Have a door mat so people can clean the soles of their shoes before they walk on the hardwoods.
In my home, I put a ceramic tile “stoop” inside the front door so someone who comes in with grit in their soles can slip them off without damaging the hardwoods.
Pets also may have an accident on your floors, and these must be attended to as soon as found. The beauty of the floor and the health of your family is at stake. Bacteria in the animal’s urine or feces are a health hazard, and when animal fluids get on hardwood floors, acids in the fluid will attack the floor. It is important to use something like Orange Glo that will eliminate the acids. Keeping your floors properly waxed will help prevent these stains from penetrating the wood as quickly.
While scratches are the most common wear and tear issue hardwood floors have to deal with, by far the biggest enemy of hardwood floors is water damage.
Houston hardwood floors are often subjected to high humidity, tropical storms and even hurricanes. Local flooding is always a possibility when living along the Gulf Coast. In addition to weather related flooding normal hazards like plumbing leaks, roof leaks and such can play havoc with hardwood floors. Water will destroy the finish of your hardwood floors, and in severe cases, such as urban flooding, the individual slats of wood will absorb so much water that they will begin to swell and warp.
Almost any Houston handyman service can wax or refinish your hardwood floors, but restoring hardwood floors that have been flooded is a job best left to those professionals certified by the IICRC. Always bring in a professional when this happens, because inadequate drying will result in mold growth later in the areas that did not get dry. Be sure that your technician is certified in water damage restoration with the IICRC, the national certification organization for floor care professionals. If called in time, these professionals can take measures to save your hardwood floors from total destruction. You can visit the IICRC online at http://www.iicrc.com.
In the event of major urban flooding, these steps can save your floors while you wait for a professional to arrive.
Call your insurance adjuster and take any photos you need for insurance purposes before you start the cleanup process.
- Get everything off the hardwood floors as quickly as possible. This means carpets, rugs, and furniture.
- If it is safe to do so, use electric blowers to blow air onto the hardwood
- If possible, direct the flow of these fans downward. Just prop them slightly to one side.
- When you get a large dry spot, move the fan, and dry out another spot
- You will notice that your previous dry spot will begin to look wet. This is due to wicking. Just keep moving the fans around until there are no more wet areas.
- Lean the fans along cracks of walls to force air into these places to help the drying process along.
- Humidity in a flooded home is incredible, open the windows and place fans in them on one side of the house to force wet air out and bring dry air in. This will do more to dry your floors than the fans on the floors will. You must get the moisture out of the house or it will simply absorb right back into the wood.
The key factor to saving the floors that have been flooded is to get them dry as fast as possible. As soon as possible after the flooding event, you MUST remove everything from your hardwood floors, not just carpet and rugs, but furniture as well. Get as many fans and blowers as you can find and point them downward so that they will dry out the hardwood. As soon as you see a dry spot, move the fan. Be sure to open the house up to the outside so that all this water vapor you are creating will be able to escape from inside the home. If your relative humidity is 50% or less, you can dry the floors out much faster by using fans to blow this hot, drier air into the house along with the floor blowers. (do not do this on high humidity days, it is not as effective). You will have to blow the floors until they are dry, which may take many hours, even days.
Because wood wicks water, as soon as you create a dry spot, the dry spot will start to pull in moisture from the wet wood around it. This greatly increases the rate of drying the floor over not moving the fans around. Many hardwood floors are installed on a “bed” that creates an air gap under the wood slats. If this is the case for your floors, try to create a funnel with a piece of plastic or canvas and force air underneath the floors along any cracks you can find. Use duct tape to tape the funnel to the fan, and an office stapler to staple it over the crack you want to dry out. Take your time, failure to let the floors dry completely out will set up conditions for mold to grow.
While hardwood floors can almost always be restored or replaced, or simply re-finished to restore their beauty. this is very expensive compared to performing the proper maintenance in the first place.
You cannot do anything about flooding, but you can avoid dragging that recliner across the room to put in front of the TV for the big game.
Remember, keep them clean, wax them as needed, get water off as fast as possible, deal with pet stains (and toenails!), properly.
James Delony grew up in the Sugar Land/Ft. Bend County, TX area working in the family construction, concrete, and landscaping business. He has continued to add to his extensive array of construction skills over the years, including handyman services. He has been trained and certified in water damage restoration and carpet cleaning by The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC).
Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/James_Delony/744558