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Quick And Easy Hardwood Maintenance

Hardwood flooring is an enduring classic and with good reason. It’s beautiful, strong, and capable of a long lifespan in your home with the proper care and maintenance.

What, you ask, is the proper care and maintenance for hardwood floor?

Glad you asked!

 

The Basics

Hardwood is not a waterproof flooring material. While it’s easy to care for, it does need to be handled differently than a vinyl or a porcelain tile. Hardwood is natural, from trees (duh) or, in the case of bamboo, from grass, and therefore is subject to the same expansion and contraction from moisture. You can use the same cleaning procedures for an engineered hardwood floor and a solid hardwood floor.

 

The Process

At least once a week give your hardwood once-over with a dry duster like a Swiffer to pick up dust, pet dander, or debris that could scratch your floor.

unnamed (3)

If you prefer to vacuum, be sure to use one without a beater bar. The frequency with which you do this depends on your lifestyle and your home’s inhabitants: a single person living alone will be fine dusting their floors once a week, but someone with pets and children may need to do it more frequently.

For a more intense clean, switch from the dry method to a damp method. You’ll need a liquid cleanser like Murphy’s Oil Soap and a damp rag or mop. The key here is damp, not wet; dip your implement into your cleaning solution but be sure to thoroughly wring it out before putting it on the floor. Rinse your mop the repeat this procedure with clean water.

It’s important to note that you should always be sure to check the flooring manufacturer’s website or instruction manual to see how they recommend cleaning your hardwood floors. Always follow their instructions!

 

The Varieties

If you’re interested in a green cleaning method, why not try a spot of tea? Boil a pot of water and steep two black tea bags. Then, damp-clean your hardwood like you would with any other solution. Black tea’s natural tannic acid brings a great shine to hardwood.

Curious about more green cleaning? We’ve got a whole post about it here.

 

The Conclusion

Caring for your hardwood floors doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive, or time-consuming! All it takes is a little bit of regular maintenance to keep your floors beautiful for life.

Posted in Hardwood Flooring

What’s The Best Floor For Dogs?

We got this question over on our Facebook page the other day, and since it’s a pretty common line of inquiry, we decided to post it here too!

Kyle asked,

What flooring do you have that you would recommend for someone who has two dogs?

There are a couple things we’d recommend. Waterproof vinyl is a classic choice. WPC vinyl is very sturdy, waterproof, tough as nails, and great for dogs of any size but especially bigger dogs.

pet-friendly-floors

 

Rigid Core vinyl is in the same category, waterproof, tough, and gorgeous. It’s a recent addition to the flooring market and is very popular with busy families, pet owners, and more. It’s less flexible than traditional vinyl (hence the rigid!), so it’s extra tough against dogs of all sizes, even larger breeds like Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, and French Mastiffs.

Laminate is very tough but it’s water resistant, not waterproof. It may be worth looking into if you’ve got smaller dogs. Look for a wear layer in the description and specs, it will give you extra protection.

Got any more questions about choosing the right floor to fit your needs? Call, click, or email us today! Our dedicated flooring experts are standing by.

Posted in Customer Q & A

Understanding Sound Ratings

Sound can have an important impact on your quality of life. Foot traffic, ambient noise, sirens outside, arguing neighbors…the sounds of day-to-day life can make a big difference! Some flooring materials have sound ratings you may encounter during your research process. We’ve broken down the most common ratings for you:

STC Rating

Sound Transmission Class. This is the most common unit in North America for airborne sounds like speech, dogs barking, and outdoor traffic to name a select few. STC ratings indicate a material’s ability to absorb sound: the higher the rating, the better the material. This rating is used for a lot of building materials.
In order to reduce noise level, building codes and home owner’s associations frequently have a minimum STC rating requirement for their materials.

IIC Rating

Impact Insulation Class. This measures how much an impact sound travels through a material. In some cases this measures how much of the sound travels to the room below. Just like with the STC rating, a higher number indicates better absorption. To offer a visual, imagine dropping a book onto a hardwood floor and the thunk you’d hear. Now imagine dropping that same book onto a carpet. It would make a much softer and more insulated sound. The carpet would have a better IIC rating than the hardwood.

NRC Rating

Noise Reduction Coefficient rating. This measures how much sound is absorbed by a material and doesn’t reflect back into the space at large. Since sound travels in waves, it bounces off of hard surfaces like flooring and walls when it’s not absorbed. A higher NRC rating indicates how efficiently a material can absorb sound. Vinyl, cork, and rubber are some examples of floors with high NRC ratings.

What’s The Best Way To Reduce Sound Pollution Inside?

There are a few simple ways to reduce noise in your home without breaking the bank or upsetting your décor plan:

•  Add Some Throw Rugs. Not only do they add variety, but they help reduce noise from foot traffic as well as absorbing sound traveling up through your hard surfaces.

•  Seal Gaps. One sneaky way sound travels throughout your home is under doors and through electrical outlets. Even little openings like outlets provide sound waves with ample room to bounce around, so plug them up while you’re at it.

Posted in Glossaries

What’s The Best Floor For A Daycare?




 
We got this great reader question the other day, and it deserved its own post!
 

I am looking to open a daycare. The current floor had dirty carpet on it. I pulled it up and have plywood floors! I need an easy, cheap and easy-to-clean for children. Any suggestions?

 
Oh, yes! Yes we certainly have a few.

First, let’s look at this person’s lifestyle. They’re renovating their space to open a business, a commercial area as opposed to a residential one. That means they need a floor that can withstand heavier foot traffic, as more people will coming in and out. It also means they’ll want a floor better suited to things that get tracked in on people’s shoes, like dirt, water, and debris.

Next, they tell us about the business they’re going to start: a daycare. In other words, a business with kids, fun, and a little bit of chaos! Any floor in a daycare will need to stand up to a lot of wear and tear; it also needs to be easy to clean in case of spills, accidents, or who knows what else.
 

Life with kids in a nutshell.


 



So, what are the options? We can rule out carpet right away. Hardwood, although gorgeous, isn’t the best for commercial spaces, as it can scratch and scuff. Porcelain is waterproof and easy to clean, but it can crack if heavy objects are dropped on it and it’s very slippery when wet.

From a solely durability perspective, laminate is your best bet. It’s strong, stable, available in a huge range of colors, and it’s water resistant. The key word there? Resistant. Modern laminate is much better than it used to be about water and spills due to advances in protective coating and sealing, but the inner core boards underneath will still soak up moisture like a sponge if they’re exposed. New advances in flooring technology recently brought us the most water resistant laminate on the market (link); it’s even got a 48-hour water warranty, a first for laminate.

If you decide to go with laminate, be sure to check the AC rating (link to RC). That’ll tell you how durable the floor is, and while they’re all pretty dang durable, you’ll be surprised at just how much of a beating laminate can take.

If you want a waterproof floor, you want vinyl. You can literally overflow a bathtub onto vinyl flooring and clean it up without any trouble or flooring damage.

(No, that’s not hyperbole. We’ve done it.)
 

 

Vinyl used to be available in sheets only, but thankfully for your style and your wallet it’s come a long way since then. Today’s vinyl isn’t the spongy mess of yore; instead it’s sold in sturdy planks and tiles designed to look like wood or stone. It’s also highly durable and a top choice for pet owners because it’s so easy to clean. Vinyl is one of your best choices for a busy environment like a daycare; it can handle the delightful chaos that inevitably results from daily life with kids.

It’s easy to care for, easy to love, and easy to install. If you want to go one step further, there’s WPC vinyl. WPC is a virgin (non-recycled) material that’s engineered specifically for toughness. Thicker than normal vinyl, WPC floors frequently have attached pads like premium cork to ensure a softer and quieter sound underfoot. It’s the closest thing on the market to a waterproof laminate!

Do you have specific questions about the right floor for your home or business? Call our flooring experts at 1-800-804-5251 today!

Posted in Z-Level: Our Odds & Ends

What Is The Eastridge Finish Warranty?




Recently we’ve gotten some questions about our Eastridge hardwood flooring products. We’ve done our best to put them all together in one handy dandy blog post to tell you everything you need to know. Read on:
 

What is Eastridge Hardwood Flooring?

Each floor model in the Eastridge line is made on the same lines with the same materials as their First Quality counterparts. Eastridge products are selected out during the manufacturing products due to natural hardwood characteristics that come directly from the trees themselves. These characteristics include mineral streaks, knots, and grain variations. In addition, Eastridge products may have manufacturing anomalies like color variations, edge defects, shorter planks, and uneven finish.
 

I Thought Cabin Grade Flooring Doesn’t Include A Warranty?

Often Cabin Grade floors don’t come with warranties. This is one of the things that make Eastridge stand out from the crowd, though: it’s Cabin Grade flooring that’s backed by a five-year manufacturer’s finish warranty.

That’s right: a manufacturer’s warranty. This major flooring manufacturer believes in their Eastridge products, so they decided to stand behind them with a finish warranty.
 

What Does A Finish Warranty Cover?

Unique Wood Floors summed it up perfectly:

“The finish warranty usually guarantees the finish won’t wear through to bare wood or separate from the wood over the designated warranty period.”

In other words, the finish warranty is more self-explanatory than it seems. It covers the floor’s finish and warrants that said finish will not wear through or peel off of the hardwood flooring under normal residential usage conditions when the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions are followed.

Our Eastridge hardwood floors come with a five-year manufacturer’s finish warranty.
 

Does This Mean Each Plank Will Look Perfect?

No. You’re still purchasing Cabin Grade flooring, so expect those same characteristics and imperfections and plan for the standard 15-20% extra when calculating how much material to buy. You can learn everything you need to know about Cabin Grade flooring here.
 

Should I Be Nervous About Buying An Eastridge Floor?

Absolutely not! Eastridge hardwoods are great products at incredible prices. We recommend reading up on Cabin Grade hardwood and looking at your flooring needs while you decide if Eastridge is right for you; as always our Flooring Experts are standing by to answer your questions. Just call 1-800-804-5251 or click on FloorsToYourHome.com to chat with them, and they’ll help you find the floor of your dreams at an unbeatable discount price.

Posted in Z-Level: Our Odds & Ends

Favorite Floor Favorite Pet Contest!





We love customer photos, and we love customer photos with pets so much we’re hosting a contest to celebrate! Send us your best shot of your pet on your FTYH floors and you could win a $100 Amazon gift card!
 
Cow-Contest-image-
 

How To Enter

 

Post a picture of your pet on any one of the Facebook posts linked below on your floor to win! Be sure to share this post with your friends!

Our Customer’s Cow Picture
Our Customer’s Dog Picture
Our Customer’s Cat Picture

Post a picture of your pet on your floor on our Facebook post for your chance to win! Be sure to share the post with your friends!
ENDS SOON: Wednesday, September 6th at 9am EST
Share your favorite photo below for a chance to win!
Here’s some of our entries so far! GOOD LUCK!

We will notify our 10 finalists via Facebook messenger. Once we have 10, those finalists’ photos will be available for voting on the website FloorsToYourHome.com (specific URL to be announced on the start date, and specific voting rules will be posted there). Voting will be open to everyone, but contestants are strongly encouraged to advocate for their pictures on Facebook (or Twitter, or wherever they would like to, really! Hire a skywriter if you want, just know that we’ll want pictures of that too.)

The five pictures with the most votes will win their contestants a $100 Amazon Gift Card. The winners will be announced on our Facebook page on Tuesday, September 19th at noon EST.
 

Rules

 
1. Photos must be your own work.

2. Get creative, but keep it family-friendly. Here’s an example:
 
rocky-the-rabbit-2
 
Above all, have fun! We’re so excited to see what you come up with.

Posted in Z-Level: Our Odds & Ends

How Is Bamboo Flooring Made?





Next up in our “How Is That Flooring Made?” series we have…Bamboo!
 

What Is It?

 
Contrary to popular misconception, bamboo isn’t a tree or a hardwood…it’s a grass. Various species of bamboo can be found in many parts of the world, primarily in areas with tropical humid climates. It’s a plant of high renown and cultural significance in south Asia, east Asia, and southeast Asia. In addition, bamboo also one of the best multi-taskers of the plant world, used for food, building material, scaffolding, and now flooring.
 

Bamboo scaffolding in Hong Kong.


 




The tensile strength of bamboo rivals that of steel alloys, concrete, and graphite. Bamboo’s growth speed also far outpaces traditional hardwood: an oak tree may take up to 40 years to reach maturity, while a bamboo stalk can be ready for harvest in as little as three years.

Not bad for a grass!
 

How Is It Made?

 
Although bamboo can be harvested after only three years, a longer maturation period – closer to six years – is preferred. After the stalks are harvested, they’re then milled to remove the tough green outer husk, and cut into long strips. Next, the strips are boiled. This removes any impurities like dirt or grit along with bamboo’s natural starch and sugars, which makes it less appealing to pests like termites. The boiling process also helps reduce humidity-based expansion and contraction in the future.

Next, there’s a choice of processes that the material can undergo. Carbonization via steam pressure will darken the planks, while uncarbonized bamboo can be stained or left at its natural color.
 

Carbonized bamboo.


 




Regardless of whether the bamboo is carbonized or not, it’s kiln-dried to remove the last of its moisture. Once the planks are dry, they’re milled to include tongue-and-groove installation and protective coatings like aluminum oxide.
 

What Types Are Available?

 
Bamboo flooring comes in three main types that vary by grain pattern:

• Horizontal
• Vertical
• Strand Woven

All are made by fusing the treated bamboo strips together with either glue or resin.
 

Cross-section of a horizontal plank, top, and vertical plank, bottom. Diagram from Starcraft Custom Builders.


 

Horizontal

The horizontal sides (the widest sides) of each bamboo strip are glued together, face up, and then laminated for uniformity. Since they’re placed face up, some individual characteristics like growth knuckles may be visible, much like a knothole in hardwood. These give some uniqueness to the finished look.
 

Vertical

This follows the same principle as horizontal grain planks, except the vertical sides are glued together. The vertical lines give a visual appearance that’s similar to a hardwood grain pattern; vertical planks are laminated like horizontal planks, in order to achieve uniformity and consistency.
 

Strand Woven

This one is much more self-explanatory than it might seem at first glance. Bamboo remnants are woven together in a cross-hatch pattern and then compressed together. The result is an grain pattern that’s distinct from traditional hardwood. Sometimes it can be subtle, other times it can be “tiger stripes” levels of contrast.

Strand woven bamboo is a popular choice, not only because of its high durability – around twice as hard as other bamboo floors – but also because it’s such a green material. Those bamboo remnants used in the planks would otherwise be considered waste material and discarded. The final product is smooth, beautiful, tough, and UV resistant.
 

Expressions Corboo Spice Click Together Strand Woven Solid Bamboo


 

How Do I Know If Bamboo Is Right For Me?

 
Bamboo is a great choice for consumers looking for a green flooring material that doesn’t sacrifice beauty. It’s a neat alternative traditional hardwood that can stand up to busy life.

Posted in How Is That Flooring Made

What’s So Great About Luxury Vinyl?





Show of hands here, friends…who doesn’t love a little bit of luxury in their lives?
When it comes to flooring, luxury is frequently associated with exotic solid hardwoods (link) like ebony and mahogany that set the bar for both beauty and expense. While there’s nothing wrong with solid hardwood – it’s a classic for a reason – it’s also not right for every home, and certainly not for moisture-prone areas. This is where Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) gets its chance to shine.
 

Titan Gray Slate Click Together Luxury Vinyl Tile Flooring.


 

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF LVT?

While there are a lot of great things to be said about LVT, we can break it down to the five biggest perks:

•It’s waterproof.

It’s reasonably priced.

It’s easy to care for.

•It’s tough.

•It’s stylish.

Sounds awesome, right? Let’s take a closer look.
 

Water Resistance

Like all vinyl floors, LVT is 100% waterproof and won’t warp in the unfortunate instance of a flood or natural disaster. This is a great choice for moisture-prone areas in your home like bathrooms, kitchens, and basements!

Unlike hardwood, LVT doesn’t expand or contract when exposed to moisture or high-humidity environments, so it’s a great choice for folks in more humid climates.
 

Great Style At Affordable Prices

All too often, “luxury” becomes synonymous with “expensive.” That’s not the case with LVT! The timeless style of exotic hardwood, elegant marble, and many more can be yours at a fraction of the cost.
 

Easy Maintenance

No one wants to dedicate a huge chunk of their time to floor cleaning, and with LVT there’s no need to! A quick once-over with a broom or a duster like a Swiffer is enough for daily maintenance; a more thorough clean can be easily achieved with a damp mop, neutral-pH cleanser, and a water rinse. There’s no need for harsh chemicals with LVT: in fact, they should be avoided entirely for the health of your floor. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow their recommendations for your specific model of LVT.

Check out this post to learn more about how easy it is to take care of your vinyl floors.
 

High Durability

Most, if not all, LVT floors feature transparent wear layers that provide an extra level of protection against impact, stains, scratches, and wear. They won’t chip, warp under high-moisture conditions, or turn unsightly yellow with age. Spills and accidents are easy to clean up; even issues like pet accidents and water bowl spillage are no problem! Claws won’t scratch or get trapped between planks; these floors will stand up to wear and tear from even the biggest dog breeds.

Posted in Vinyl Flooring, waterproof

Questions From Our Comments Section





We love our blog readers! They ask us some great questions and bring a great community feeling. Of course, if one person asks a question, someone else has probably wondered about the same thing, and so in that spirit we’ve decided to share some of the recent queries from our comments sections!

Read on to learn more, and don’t hesitate to chime in with questions of your own!
 
Q: What about engineered wood floors with pets? –Carla

Hi Carla! The suitability of engineered hardwood for pets depends on a few things. The size and species of your pets is a big consideration; big dogs have a higher chance of scratching engineered hardwood than a smaller dog or a cat. For example, a playful Great Dane with scrambly paws and claws would cause more damage than a Yorkie. There’s also the accident factor to consider, whether it’s a puppy being house-trained or a cat with a hairball. Engineered hardwood is not waterproof, and the chemical makeup of pet urine (cat urine is very alkaline) can lead to damage. As a rule we recommend other materials over engineered hardwood for pet owners, but the final decision will come down to your preferences and what you want out of your floor.
 

Your best friend doesn't have to be your floor's worst enemy.

Your best friend doesn’t have to be your floor’s worst enemy.






Q: I am interested in buying a house built in 1989 but it has laminate floors. How safe is this house with those laminate floors? -Gloria

Hi Gloria, it’s impossible for us to say 100% definitively since we don’t have any information about that specific flooring other than it is in fact laminate. However, we can tell you that if the laminate is more than a few months old and has ever been ventilated (i.e., the windows in that room have been opened), you should be just fine. Unsafe laminate floors don’t continuously produce the hazardous chemicals you read about, once they’ve been emitted they’re gone and the flooring won’t make more. The home should be perfectly safe! If you have more concerns before purchasing the house, we recommend speaking to the homeowners and the realtor, as they should be able to give you more detail about the specific make and model of laminate in that home.
 
Q: I’m possibly installing a solid hardwood Acacia flooring. The store suggested I use a pad underneath to help with echo, suggesting that tighter, harder flooring echoes more. This seems odd to me, as I have seen dozens of exotic hardwood floors to down directly on black felt. Your thoughts on this? –Scott

Scott, you’re dead right. We put proper padding under floating floors, not under nailed or stapled down floors, which is how solid hardwood gets installed. The only real alternate to the black felt is a red rosin paper, which has some moisture barrier benefits. In truth, neither is required, and – I verified with our installers – they’ve never used anything else, just the black felt, red rosin, or nothing at all. That’s how it is with solid hardwood. Your intuition is being a good friend to you today.

A beautiful solid acacia floor.


 




Q: I have a finished basement that seems to attract water issues from the water main springing a leak into the basement, my dog having an accident, and a condensate pipe overflowing. I need a flooring that will not have to be removed if there is a substantial amount of water. I am leaning towards thin set and grouted porcelain flooring. What do you think I should do? –Carolyn

Hi Carolyn, I would say yes, you’re in the right area! Glazed porcelain is designed to withstand water and is available in a large variety of colors, so hopefully you’ll find something that fits your decor. It’s a great bet for basements!

Posted in Customer Q & A

4 Things You Need To Know About Floor Pad




We talk a lot on this blog about how important it is to do your research. Trust me on this one: the headaches of research now are worth their weight in migraine prevention gold later. Lost in the metaphors yet? Me too. Let’s break it down further: Research will save you time and money, because it lets you make an informed flooring decision and prevent problems down the line.

Not only is this true for your flooring material, it’s also true for your underlayment. Choosing the right pad is critical for a long and happy life with your floor. Here are five important things to keep in mind during the research and selection process.
 

‘PAD’ AND ‘MOISTURE BARRIER’ DON’T ALWAYS MEAN THE SAME THING

Most of today’s underlayments do have built-in vapor barriers that resist moisture diffusion through walls and subfloors. It’s a well-known fact that prolonged moisture exposure can be detrimental to flooring materials like hardwood and laminate; the best thing you can do is prevent those problems before they start. A moisture barrier is a very thin sheet of plastic that goes on top of the subfloor. It’s usually 6 mil thick – 6 micrometers, or 6 tenths of a millimeter – I know it sounds small, but it’s more than enough to get the job done.
 
pad-and-barrier
 
Be sure to check that your underlayment has a moisture barrier; even if you’re using a laminate with attached pad you may still need to use a moisture barrier. Check the manufacturer’s specifications, ask your installer, or call your flooring retailer if you’re unsure. Better safe than sorry!

What’s The Difference Between A Moisture Barrier And A Vapor Barrier?

These two terms are used interchangeably when talking about floor pad. If your underlayment advertises a vapor barrier as opposed to a moisture barrier, there’s no need for confusion. It will also work to block moisture and you won’t need to add an additional layer of pad.
 

THERE IS A GREENER OPTION

It is possible to get premium protection while still looking out for the environment. Our best-selling SuperFelt underlayment is made of recycled felt fibers that offer superior warmth and sound-proofing. Since this is a thicker pad, it may not be suitable for all floors, so be sure to check your manufacturer’s specifications before purchase and installation.
 

Superfelt Roll

Superfelt Roll


 

IT’S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND YOUR SUBFLOOR

A great life with your new floor doesn’t start with the material you choose – it starts with your subfloor. Odds are you have one of three types of subfloor:

• Cement
• Wood
• Pre-Existing Floor Covering

Creating a level surface is critical regardless of what kind of subfloor you have. Seams, grout lines, and imperfections will all need to be repaired prior to installing your new floor. This will prevent myriad issues down the line. For a more in-depth look at subfloors, check out this post.
 

Leveling a concrete floor.


 



Your subfloor type will help you choose your perfect underlayment. If you have a concrete subfloor, particularly in an area like a basement, moisture can be an issue, so you’ll definitely want a vapor barrier. Unchecked moisture from concrete subfloors can lead to mold, compromised adhesives on glued down flooring materials, and warped flooring.

Moisture prevention is also important for wood subfloors. Whether you have a plywood subfloor or a plank subfloor, a moisture barrier or underlayment paper will help prevent moisture problems before they start. Again, don’t forget to check your manufacturer’s specifications and talk to your installer!

Underlayment can cover up very minor subfloor imperfections, but it should not be seen as a substitute for taking the proper leveling measures. Remember, a level subfloor is critical!


DON’T FORGET RUG PAD!


Throw rugs are one of our favorite ways to add charm and personality to a room. With reasonable price points and an endless supply of styles it’s easy to find a throw rug that meets your needs and matches your decor. They’re also great for covering up flooring imperfections, stains, or scratches. The only issue? Unsecured throw rugs can be slippery on smooth surfaces like laminate and hardwood.

Is this a major issue? Not really, no…until someone trips over a bunched throw rug. Non-slip grippers and pads are available at most home improvement stores; some are the more traditional checkerboard-style rubber, but some newer models are made of felt or felt-rubber combinations.

Posted in Basic Installation Tips

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