Monday, September 26, 2016
 

HydroCork: The newest in Luxury Vinyl Plank

By Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

One of the newest additions to our site, Hosking Hardwood Flooring, is also one of the most durable, comfortable and beautiful Luxury Vinyl Plank options available on the market today. HydroCork is made by Wicanders, which is already a high ranking player in the cork industry. Wicanders has taken cork to a new level with HydroCork, by combining an agglomerate cork composite core with a durable top decorative layer. This new flooring hybrid therefore boasts all the comfort of cork flooring along with all the durability of traditional Luxury Vinyl Planks at a very affordable price. Talk about bang for your buck!

hydrocork_roomscene

Let’s take a look at all the benefits of HydroCork:

Versatility with Installation

HydroCork has a total thickness of 6mm. So, in addition to being able to install it over standard subfloors, such as plywood or concrete, it is also perfect for renovations (installation over existing floor covering types). It can easily be installed over flat tile or vinyl (carpet would need to be taken up). The thinner dimension will prevent crazy height differences when transitioning to other floors in your home or for clearance under doors. HydroCork is also approved for installation over Radiant Heating Systems, which are becoming increasingly popular in new homes. Additionally, HydroCork is approved to be installed at any grade of the home as well as in commercial applications. **25 Year Residential Warranty/15 Year Commercial Warranty.

Ease of Installation

As homeowners get craftier and more budget minded, they tend to skew towards DIY projects to save money. This tendency does not exclude new flooring installation. Flooring manufacturers have lately taken this into consideration and have sought to make flooring installations easier and easier through the use of click locking, glueless technology.

HydroCork features an exclusive PressFit locking system unique to cork. Simply line up one plank to the next and press the joints together. The cork locking system is compressed with the addition of pressure on the board and then expands back to lock the joint. Planks can be cut by simply measuring, scoring and snapping the unnecessary length off. Pressure is applied with the help of a rubber mallet. Installing a new floor in your home has never been easier.

hydrocork_click

These HydroCork Luxury Vinyl Planks are glueless, so there’s no mess during installation and you will only need a vapor barrier if you’re installing below grade (basement level). The PressFit locking system guarantees a strong and stable seam for ultra dimensional stability.

Insulating Properties

Cork has some great natural properties that really benefit the home and the inhabitants of the home when used as a floor covering. These benefits carry over to HydroCork because of the cork core. Firstly, HydroCork is going to offer better acoustic insulation than traditional hard surface floor coverings. It will be less noisy when walked on and will help a little to soundproof a room. Secondly, the natural thermal insulating properties of HydroCork means your floor will be warmer to the touch and will help with room temperature consistency, cutting down on energy expenses.

Cushion Effect

Cork acts as a natural cushion. When impressed upon, cork will bounce back to its initial shape. This means, not only does HydroCork offer more comfort when walking on it, but it also is easier on joints and tendons when walking on it, making for a more wellness-minded room. Along the same lines, HydroCork is a lot more impact resistant than traditional hard surface floors like hardwood or tile. This property makes HydroCork ideal for high energy rooms, like kitchens. Dishes and glasses are more likely to make it out intact when dropped on HydroCork, and without damaging your floor.

hydrocork_layers

Water Resistant

Finally, there is an affordable floor covering on the market that is also water resistant! HydroCork will not swell when exposed to humidity or water. This makes it perfect for installation in bathrooms and kitchens, where water and spills are more prevalent. **For more information on installing HydroCork in bathrooms, check out the HydroCork Installation Instructions.

Realistic Visuals

HydroCork offers a range of colors and wood species visuals with ultra realistic wood like textures. Guests who don’t know they’re walking on vinyl will think it’s real hardwood.

Ultimately, HydroCork offers benefits for any home at an affordable price. From quiet residences to busy households with kids and/or pets, HydroCork offers the best of beauty, comfort and durability. You can view the different colors/styles of HydroCork here on our site: Wicanders HydroCork Click LVT.

 

What’s a Subfloor?

By Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

The Foundation of a House

One of the most important factors of a house’s structural integrity comes from how strong the flooring system is. Essential elements include strong foundation footings, properly spaced support columns and appropriate sized and spaced floor joists.

The consequences of a poorly structured flooring system could definitely affect how flooring choices in the future perform as well as the structural integrity of your home. Movement of the floor system, sagging subfloors, unbalanced heights, separation of flooring and squeaky subfloors can all develop from inadequate floor foundations.

Types of Subfloors

Once you have a stable flooring foundation, your subfloor creates a base for your actual flooring. Whether you’re building a new home or renovating an older one, it’s important to know the differences and benefits of standard subfloor types. Knowing what your subfloor is will help guide you to what type of flooring you can use as well as how much work will be involved with installing a new floor.

**Keep in mind that all manufacturers have their own installation instructions. The information provided below is for generic purposes only and we always recommend consulting the specific installation instructions for the particular brand you’re installing prior to installation to avoid voiding that manufacturer’s warranty.**

Plywood Subfloor

Plywood has been the most popular material used for subflooring for homes built within the last 40 years. Plywood is typically made of cross layers of birch or pine. The cross layers of plywood offer a myriad of benefits. They reduce splitting, reduce expansion and contraction and reduce warping. Overall, a plywood subfloor’s cross layers will increase the collective dimensional stability of the foundation. Plywood subflooring is typically either 5/8 IN. or 3/4 IN. thick and comes in sections of 4 FT. x 8 FT. sheets. CDX plywood sheets have tongue and grooves, allowing for the sections to be connected to each other for a strong connection. It’s recommended, when installing, to apply a thick bead of subfloor caulking adhesive to the flooring joists before using 2-1/2 IN. deck screws (every 8 IN.) to attach the CDX plywood subfloor.

Plywood subfloor

Plywood subfloor

As long as it’s securely attached, flat and not flexing, plywood is the perfect subfloor to install virtually any type of flooring over (solid, engineered, click lock floating or laminate). If you’re installing a floor type that is thinner than 1/2 IN. thick, you may want to consider strengthening the subfloor with an additional layer of 3/8 IN. or 1/2 IN. thick plywood.

If you’re stapling or nailing down, it’s important to use a layer of 15 lb. black felt paper between the plywood subfloor and the new flooring to prevent transfer of anything that may travel up through the subfloor. For floating applications, you will need to use the manufacturer’s recommended foam underlayment.

Plank Subfloor

Sometimes, in older homes, homeowners will tear up old flooring and find that their subfloor is wood planks. These planks are usually 3/4 IN. thick and anywhere from 4 IN. to 8 IN. wide. Typically the planks are made from pine boards which are nailed to the flooring joists. When installing new flooring over plank subflooring, it’s important to make sure each plank is securely fastened to the flooring joists and, if not, re-secure them prior to starting the new install.

Plank subfloor

Plank subfloor

Once planks are deemed secure and flat, you can pretty much install virtually any flooring type over this subfloor (with a few caveats). When installing solid flooring, it’s important to install the length of the boards perpendicular to the subfloor planks, otherwise you run the risk of having the new flooring pull apart with expansion and contraction of the plank subflooring. If running the new solid board in the same direction as the subfloor planks is important in your situation (running the boards parallel to the longest wall will make the room appear larger), you can install a layer of plywood (3/8 IN. or 1/2 IN. thick) over the plank subfloor (glued and screwed down) to increase strength. The same goes for installation of engineered flooring when it’s stapled or nailed down to the plank subfloor.

If you plank on floating an engineered floor (or a laminate), using a click lock floating floor, it’s important to make sure your plank subflooring is flat. If there are discrepancies, you will need to add a layer of 3/8 IN. or 1/2 IN. thick plywood (glued and screwed down) prior to installation. With floating installations, as with solid/engineered staple or nail down installs, you will want to install the boards perpendicular to the planks in the subfloor. However, if you add that extra layer of plywood, you can install in any direction you’d like.

Oriented Strand Board (OSB)

OSB is a surface made from wood chips glued together. Usually OSB subfloors are 3/4 IN. thick. These subfloors are typically both glued and screwed down to flooring joists, as this will make the OSB more stable and will eliminate squeaking.

OSB subfloor

OSB subfloor

Solid hardwood, engineered hardwood, click lock floating floors and laminate can all be installed over OSB subfloors. It’s always recommended to install flooring planks perpendicular to the flooring joists for added stability. When stapling or nailing floor boards down, as always, 15 lb. black felt paper is recommended as an underlayment and a foam underlayment is recommended for floating applications.

If the OSB subfloor seems weak or flexible in some spots, it’s recommended to add a layer (glued and screwed down) of 3/8 IN. or 1/2 IN. plywood to the subfloor for added stability.

Concrete Slab Subfloor

Concrete slabs are usually poured everywhere from 4 IN. to 6 IN. thick. Keep in mind that when concrete floors are first poured, it could take 3 months or more for the water in the mix to evaporate and for the subfloor to dry out. It’s important to perform a moisture test on any concrete slab subfloor prior to installing hardwood flooring. Additionally, most manufacturers will have guidelines as to the limit of how uneven a concrete floor can be for installation of their product. Installers need to make sure to refer to these guidelines as warranties will be void if the differential across the subfloor is too high. Old, uneven concrete subfloors can be fixed easily by using a self leveler. Self leveling agents dry within 1 to 8 hours, depending on the thickness of the pour. If any adhesive residue from previous flooring has been left on the concrete, it needs to be cleaned off with a scraper.

Concrete slab subfloor

Concrete slab subfloor

3/4 IN. thick solid hardwood flooring cannot be installed over concrete slab subfloors; there is just way too much moisture transferring up from the concrete and the thick solid can’t handle it. The results would be cupping, buckling and warping of the boards. If solid hardwood flooring is an absolute necessity over a concrete subfloor, a sleeper system can be built over the concrete slab or you can glue down and screw two layers of 1/2 IN. thick plywood into the concrete. Both options are quite labor intensive and will add significant height to your subfloor. With the majority of hardwood installs over concrete, the homeowner goes with engineered hardwood flooring.

Engineered flooring was designed specifically to go over concrete slabs and can be installed either by direct glue down or by floating. If gluing engineered down, it’s important to make sure the concrete subfloor is at less than 4% moisture year round. It’s also recommended to use a water resistant adhesive with included moisture vapor protection. When floating an engineered floor, click lock floating floor or a laminate over concrete, it’s important to use the recommended foam underlayment with an attached vapor barrier. For extra protection against moisture transfer, we also recommend using an additional 6mil plastic sheet over the concrete.

Particle Board

Particle board

Particle board

Particle board is a material usually found when old carpeting is ripped up. It is not structurally appropriate for installing new flooring over and is basically a glorified cushion. Particle board has excellent potential to absorb extra moisture and fall apart, becoming burdensome to any type of flooring installed directly over it. Additionally, particle board does not hold staples or nails well. Hardwood flooring adhesives have the potential to eat right through it over time. It is highly recommended (and usually required by manufacturers) to take up any particle board prior to installing new hardwood flooring. If absolutely necessary, engineered, click lock floating or laminate flooring can be floated over particle board but it’s definitely not recommend because of moisture and structural integrity problems. Additionally, with most manufacturers of hardwood flooring and laminate flooring, if you install over particle board, you’ll be voiding any warranty offered with the new flooring.

Installation Over Existing Flooring 

Sometimes, homeowners looking to save time and money inquire about installing new flooring directly over their old flooring. This option is typically not recommended. Several problems can emerge affecting the overall room appearance, door clearance (both inside doors and doors leading to the exterior of the home), appliance space and transitions to adjacent rooms. Installing new flooring directly over old flooring is also going to significantly add weight to the subfloor and floor joists, potentially compromising the structural integrity of the entire system. If installation over existing hardwood flooring is absolutely necessary, installing perpendicular to the existing hardwood planks will help to prevent gapping.

Installing new flooring over existing ceramic tile is also not necessarily recommended, but if absolutely necessary, engineered flooring, click lock and laminate flooring can be floated over existing ceramic tile as long as the tiles are still adhered securely to the subfloor. Of course, an underlayment would be required and it’s very important to make sure the tile floor is flat, with nothing protruding from the surface.

Fixing Old Subfloors

With use, everything has potential to wear out and become less pristine than it once was when first installed. Subfloors are no different. Prior to installing new flooring, it’s important to always check how your subfloor is holding up and fix any trouble spots. Plywood and OSB can become weak and flexible in spots. Plank subfloors can shift with expansion and contraction and become loose and/or unattached from the floor joists. Concrete subfloors can become uneven over time. Taking the time to fix these problems prior to installation of new flooring can prevent headaches down the road.

If you notice squeaky subfloors under flooring that you don’t plan on replacing anytime soon, there are solutions that don’t involve taking up your flooring. Squeaks are typically caused when the subfloor isn’t joined securely enough to the floor joists. Repair kits are available, enabling homeowners to use snap screws to secure loose subflooring through hardwood or carpet. Additionally, joist bracket systems are available if you have access to the flooring joists (from the room below) which will tighten the connection of the joists with the subfloor.

You may also be interested in: How to Fix a Squeaky Floor, Homeowner Expectations for a Hardwood Flooring Purchase

 

Muskoka UV Oil — Not Your Average Oiled Floor

By Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

Although most of the prefinished hardwood floors we offer are done in a standard Aluminum Oxide Finish cured under UV lights for ultimate durability, we have been seeing more and more top hardwood flooring brands offering special oiled flooring options. There are quite a few benefits of installing an oil finished floor in your home, but there are also some drawbacks to be aware of. For more in depth information on standard oiled floors, take a look at: How to Clean Your Oil Finished Wood Floors.

Summing up the benefits:

  • The oil finish soaks into the surface of the wood, filling the pores and creating a tough surface
  • Shallow surface scratches can be “spot repaired” by re-oiling that specific section of floor
  • Oil finishes often offer a matte sheen, which is often desired for specific aesthetics
  • Oiled floors typically stand up to normal residential traffic pretty well, often just needing to be swept or vacuumed on a weekly basis

Now, for the more annoying aspects of oiled floors:

  • Oil finished floors, for the most part, need to be oiled immediately after installation of the hardwood and then allowed to cure
  • Although weekly maintenance of oiled floors can be low-key, most manufacturers recommend routinely re-oiling the entire floor every year
  • If a deeper clean is needed, standard cleaning products cannot be used — you must use a cleaner specifically made for oiled floors

Now that that little refresher on standard oiled floors is over, let me introduce you to Muskoka’s UV Oil Floors.

muskokaoiled

Although not exclusive to just these collections, the Muskoka Etched Collections and Wirebrushed Collection feature their UV Urethane Oil Finish. The Etched and Wirebrushed surface textures really add a lot of depth and interest to a room and the special Muskoka Oil Finish has a lot to do with that. The UV Oil Finish from Muskoka is unique in that it kind of takes the best of both worlds to form a tough surface that’s easy to maintain. It has the low maintenance features of an Aluminum Oxide finish but with the spot repair benefits of an oiled floor. More specifically, the UV Oil Finish from Muskoka is non-oxidative — so it’s a lot less work.

Maintenance for Muskoka flooring with UV Urethane Oil finishes:

  • Muskoka floors with this oil finish do not need to be oiled immediately after installation
  • They do not require yearly oiling maintenance
  • If a shallow scratch occurs, Muskoka recommends using Loba Aqua Oil to spot repair the scratch
  • If a deep scratch occurs, Muskoka offers color matching pens and fill sticks to repair the gouge prior to applying the Loba Parkett Oil for repair

lobaoilOne thing to keep in mind when spot repairing Muskoka UV Oiled floors is that once you apply the Loba Oil, you would need to start re-oiling that area on a yearly basis (like you would a standard oiled floor). This is because the reparative Loba oil is an oxidizing oil (oxygen in the air will break down the oil, ultimately degrading the quality and drying it up) whereas the special UV Urethane Oil applied at the Muskoka factory is non-oxidizing.

Aside from being the standard finish applied to Muskoka’s Etched and Wirebrushed floors, homeowners can also special order the UV Urethane Oil finish on most of Muskoka’s other products. The UV Oil offers an ultra matte sheen that is really on trend right now.

For a more in depth look at the recommendations from Muskoka for regular cleaning and maintenance of their UV Oiled Flooring: Muskoka UV Oil Care and Maintenance.

We offer the full line of Muskoka Etched and Wirebrushed products. You can view them all here in the Muskoka section of our website: Muskoka Hardwood Flooring. Samples available.

You may also be interested in: The Evolution of Muskoka Flooring, The Canadian Way, Surface Texture in Hardwood Floors

 

How to Fix a Squeaky Floor

by Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

 

It’s as eventual as that first gray hair or your first wrinkle — squeaky subfloors.

As houses settle, as floors are walked across, as seasons change. All of these cause shifts in your subfloor. As plywood subfloors are are put the test and stressed, they eventually start to offer a little give when pressure is applied and the subfloor becomes loose from the flooring joists. This results in a squeak.

We all know that squeaky floors can be annoying. It used to be that the only way to fix a squeak would be to rip up whatever flooring was down and repair the subfloor directly. If you’ve already been planning on replacing your old flooring, then fixing the subfloor once you rip up is a great idea. This pretty much involves checking out the subfloor for any water/mold damage and replacing it. If it’s a problem with just wear over the years, you can resecure the subfloor to the joists and you could even add another layer of plywood to increase the structural integrity of the subfloor.

But what happens if you weren’t planning to tear up and replace your flooring?

Your answer: counter snap screws and/or joist brackets. We have a variety of products for most any situation that will help you get the squeak relief you need.

Attack the Squeak from Underneath

The situation: a squeaky subfloor located above a room with an exposed ceiling. Think of an unfinished basement or maybe a room with a drop ceiling where the tiles can be easily removed to give you access to the underside of the floor above.

The solution: Squeak Relief Joist Bracket.

t_srb-12These joist brackets are incredibly easy to install. Just find where the squeak is in the floor (this may require a helper to walk around on floor while you are ready below) and then find the appropriate joist supporting that portion of the subfloor. Tack the bracket in place and then use the two screws to affix the bracket, cornering both the joist and the subfloor (as shown in the picture to the left).

Whatever type of floor you have (hardwood, laminate, tile, vinyl or carpet), you can use joist brackets to fix your squeaking problem as long as you can get to the underside of the subfloor.

You can find these Joist Brackets on our site in both a 2 pack (Squeak Relief 2ct.) and a 12 pack (Squeak Relief Contractor Pack 12ct.).

Fix a Squeak from the Surface

The situation: a squeaky subfloor located in a room where there’s no access to the subfloor from the underside. This is very common, as many homes these days incorporated spackle finished ceilings into their design.

The solution: Counter Snap Screws

countersnapscrewCounter snap screws are made to be drilled into a surface and then, right at the top of the threads of the screw (swirly part), the head of the screw is scored and meant to be snapped off. This offers the strong hold characteristic of a screw, with the looking of a finishing nail.

There are two kits available to be used with the counter snap screws to make it easier for a homeowner to utilize them. One is a starter kit for fixing squeaky subfloors below hardwood and the other is a starter kit for fixing squeaky subfloors below carpet. Counter snap screws can also be used in other woodworking scenarios where you’re looking for the strong hold of a screw but with the appearance of a finishing nail (that can be filled).

Aside from the kits, you can find packages of counter snap screws on our site here: 50ct. Counter Snap Screw Pack or 250ct. Counter Snap Screw Pack.

Fixing Squeaks in Hardwood Flooring

In the hardwood counter snap starter kit you’ll find: 25 counter snap screws, the screw snapping fixture and a #2 square head drive for your drill. You simply need to find the spot in your hardwood floor from which the squeak is coming from, place the fixture over it and drive the counter snap screw down into it. Once the screw goes far enough into the flooring, you’ll hear a snap. That is the pressure snapping the screw at the scored notch. Take away the fixture and the top part of the screw will come with it. Now you have firmly secured the subfloor and can use finishing putty or wood filler to fill in the small hole.

CS25

 

You can find this counter snap kit for hardwood here on our site: Hardwood Flooring Counter Snap Starter Kit.

Fixing Squeaks in Carpeted Rooms

SNM100

In the carpet counter snap starter kit you’ll find: 50 counter snap screws, the clawed alignment & depth control carpet fixture and a #2 square head drive for your drill. The general principle of the carpet counter snap starter kit is very similar to that of the hardwood flooring kit shown above. Find the spot in your carpeted flooring where the squeak seems to be coming from. Using the clawed fixture, drill a counter snap screw directly into the carpet and down into the joist supporting the subfloor. Unlike the hardwood counter snap fixture, the screw with the carpet fixture will not snap immediately.

You’ll in picture below, a notch in the carpet fixture.

countersnapcarpetOnce you’ve driven the counter snap screw through your subfloor, you simply use the notch in the carpet fixture to break off the screw at the scored notch. The screw will securely retighten the subfloor to the joist but the screw will be broken off below the carpet line, efficiently hiding it from view and you won’t feel a thing when walking across it.

You can find this counter snap kit for carpet here on our site: Squeeek No More Kit.

The moral of the story is: don’t think you have no other options than to live with squeaky subfloors in your home. With a few easy steps, you can’t fix the squeaks yourself and live in peace.

Find all our squeak relief products here: Squeaky Floor Repair Kits.

 

Solid Red Birch Hardwood Flooring

by Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

rs_redbirchRed Birch is huge right now.

The counterpart of Yellow Birch, Red Birch is the heartwood of the Birch tree while Yellow Birch is the more prominent sapwood of the Birch tree. Yellow Birch is typically more readily available, but Red Birch just has a bit more pizzazz. Red Birch showcases beautiful red undertones and has subtly interesting grain patterns, making it an amazing and much talked about addition to any room in your home. As it’s a lighter color, Red Birch flooring works really well to open up spaces — but there’s still a bit of color variation from board to board, preventing the viewer from getting bored.

Red Birch falls at a 1260 on the Janka Hardness Scale, just a smidge softer than Red Oak. It works well in rooms with average residential traffic, but you might want to keep it away from heavier trafficked areas of the home or heavy commercial settings.

Because of discrepancies in supply versus demand, quality Red Birch flooring has become a bit difficult to find and lead times are steadily increasing. Luckily, we just got in a new shipment of premium quality solid Red Birch hardwood flooring and right now it’s at an amazing price: Red Birch Natural Select & Better.

red birch

This is a 3/4 IN. thick solid hardwood Red Birch floor, 3-1/4 IN. wide. It’s made by Lauzon Wood Floors — so you know it’s premium stuff. This Canadian mill has super strict milling standards and an impeccable grading system for their hardwood flooring. This Red Birch floor is a Select & Better grade, so you’ll find a little bit of shade variation from board to board, but for the most part it will be uniform coloring. You’ll also find subtle and wispy grain lines, characteristic of Birch.  Lauzon offers this hardwood floor with a 30 Year Residential Finish Warranty and a Lifetime Structural Warranty.

Click on the picture of Red Birch above to seeing all sale pricing and order samples of this floor. But we’ve only got a limited quantity in stock, so don’t delay!

 

The Importance of Hardwood and Laminate Flooring Samples

by Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

Ordering $1000′s worth of hardwood or laminate flooring online can seem a bit daunting at first. Add to that the concept of seeing a tiny square picture of a floor and basing your purchase off that, and you’re upping your potential for disaster. It’s difficult, too, to get the true coloring of a hardwood or laminate product by simply looking at a website. Brands try to get their colors online true to the product, but different monitors can show different tones and shades.

I recently had a customer on the verge of ordering a particular product. She asked me over the phone if the board was more of a “red red” or more of an “orange red.”

As my perception of color could be a bit different than her own, I really couldn’t give her a solid answer on this. I could offer my opinion, but not the concrete affirmation of color tone she was looking for. Ultimately, the solution for her was to order a sample. Something she could hold in her hand and see just how red it was.

Hardwood & Laminate samples for color match.

samples

We always recommend viewing an actual sample of the material you’re interested in prior to committing to it. This is especially important for a stained hardwood floor. With a natural wood, like a red oak natural, coloring is going to be pretty standard from brand to brand (although amount of character/grain patterns can differ based on grade level used), but not all stain colors are considered equal across the industry. For example, a “gunstock” stain color from one hardwood flooring brand may be a completely different shade than a “gunstock” stain color from a second hardwood flooring brand. Samples from each brand would help to distinguish the two different “gunstocks.”

There is a caveat though, especially when it comes to real hardwood flooring: it’s important to keep in mind that wood is a natural product and a single sample might not be an absolute representation of the hardwood floor as a whole. Within the cartons of the color you choose could be slight variations from board to board and/or different grain patterns than that of the sample you saw. Usually homeowners interested in real wood floors understand and appreciate that hardwood flooring is a product of nature and that no two boards can be guaranteed to be exactly alike.

How do you get a sample of a hardwood floor?

samplesboxCustomers at Hosking Hardwood Flooring can order samples of many of the hardwood flooring products we showcase on our website. However, with over 50,000 SKU #’s, it’s difficult to have a sample of every single floor on our website available in our warehouse. 

You can tell when we have a sample of a particular product available, because you’ll see this under the picture of the specific product:

addsampletocart

If you’re interested in a product on our site which does not seem to have a sample that we carry, there are a few different ways you can go about seeing the specific floor in person.

Firstly, pretty much any respectable brand of hardwood flooring or laminate flooring is going to have their own website. The site could be very involved or a bit on the simplistic side, but they usually have some sort of online presence. The more involved flooring brands sometimes actually allow customers to order samples directly from their website.

Examples: QuickStep is known for their up-to-date and informative website (http://www.quick-step.com/); and they also offer laminate samples to ship direct to you, for a small fee. Anderson Floors offers up to 4 samples of their hardwood flooring products to ship to you for free via their website (http://andersonfloors.com/).

Of course, it would be great if all hardwood and laminate manufacturers offered this sample service direct from their website, but it’s just not feasible for some brands. An alternative to getting samples shipped to you, is finding a way to get to where the brand’s samples are. It depends on the magnitude of the particular flooring brand, but most hardwood and laminate flooring displays can be found in a showroom local to you. To find the closest showroom for a particular brand, visit the brand’s website and use their “Dealer Locator” to search.

Sometimes a larger showroom display board is more beneficial than a small color swatch sample, as there is typically more than one board shown and you can see some of the more common variation that may occur in that specific floor. Seeing more than one board is especially important in rustic grade products and exotics like Brazilian Cherry or Santos Mahogany (as, with specific exotic species, there can be a ton of color variation from board to board).

Other benefits of getting a sample in your hands:

  • While we obviously don’t recommend it with the display boards in a local showroom, if you are able to procure a sample of the hardwood or laminate floor you’re interested in, you can beat it up.

Seriously.

Step on it.

Stomp on it.

Drag a chair over it.

Drop your keys on it.

Seeing how the hardwood or laminate react to certain everyday traumas can be really helpful in determining if that really soft American Cherry can stand up to your busy foyer or if you’ll have to go with a harder Maple or Hickory.

We’ve even had a customer get an engineered sample and stick it in water to see if the finish would delineate if there was an appliance leak.

  • Perhaps, before you beat up your sample, take a minute to feel the surface texture. Is it smooth? Handscraped? Wirebrushed? Is it the texture that you want for your flooring?
  • Holding a sample of hardwood or laminate flooring gives you a great opportunity to see the construction of the floor board before it’s put down. You can see how the floor is put together: check out the total thickness, the wear layer (if it’s an engineered), the number of plys (if it’s an engineered), the core (if it’s an HDF engineered or laminate).
  • On a more aesthetic level, having a sample in your home allows you to compare it to the room decor colorwise. Nobody wants a new hardwood floor in their kitchen that’s going to clash with the new cabinets.

The ultimate take away: seeing a physical sample of the hardwood or laminate floor you’re interested in is never a bad idea. In fact, it’s very much recommended — especially when considering ordering a floor online. The sample will give you a much better idea of the tone and richness in color of the hardwood or laminate floor than simply looking at a picture online.

You may also be interested in: Homeowner Expectations for a Hardwood Flooring Purchase, Finding the Perfect Hardwood Floor

 

Solid Maple Hardwood Flooring

by Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

Ranking a 1450 on the Janka Hardness Scale (Red Oak comes in at 1290), Maple is a wood species that has been used for hardwood flooring for centuries in part because of it’s exceptional durability. Also, Maple’s creamy white coloring and subtle grain patterns can really open up a room and can be used to complement virtually any aesthetic taste.

Because of its naturally lighter color, natural Maple hardwood flooring is perfect for residential areas with heavier traffic and tend to hide imperfections like scratches and dents more readily than its darker counterparts.

Additionally, Maple flooring can be very versatile, as there are different grades available with varying amounts of color variation and/or character marks. For a elegant and sleek look, go with a higher grade like Clear Maple or Select & Better Maple. These grades have the cleanest look, with minimal color variation. For a more casual aesthetic, you may want to go with a Select or Rustic Grade as these grades will show darker character and a broader spectrum of the natural color variation of Maple.

The downside to Maple is that it can get kind of expensive, depending on the grade and clarity of the boards. We’ve decided to make getting your hands on a solid Maple floor for your home a little easier on the wallet.

For a limited time, we’re offering two different natural Maple 3/4 IN. thick solid hardwood floor products from PREMIUM manufacturers. These are two of the best Canadian hardwood flooring manufacturers out there and we used our exceptional buying power to get you the goods at amazing prices.

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Lauzon Solid Maple Natural 3-1/4 IN.

The first one is from the prestigious Lauzon Wood Floors. It’s a 3/4 IN. x 3-1/4 IN. solid Maple Natural in a Select & Better grade. It features a uniform appearance and the 3-1/4 IN. width really makes it perfect for any type of room. This Maple Natural comes with a 30 Year Residential Finish Warranty and a Lifetime Structural Warranty.

The owner, Jeff Hosking, loved this solid Maple Natural floor so much that he purchased an entire truckload and is passing the savings down to you. Usually retailing for anywhere from $8 to $10.99, you can find it here for $4.99 per square foot. We’ve already sold over 6000 square feet of this amazing solid maple, so make sure to order a sample and get your new maple floor now, before stock is depleted!

Mont Royal Maple Natural Extra grade 4-1/4 IN.

Mont Royal Maple Natural Extra grade 4-1/4 IN.

 

Our second solid Maple Natural is a product from the up and coming Canadian mill Mont Royal. Mont Royal offers a wide range of domestic wood species in a variety of grades. They offered us an amazing deal on their Maple Natural Extra grade (their version of a Select grade). This Maple Natural Extra offers a beautiful range of color variation and a moderate amount of darker mineral streaks for that more casual look. Additionally, these solid boards are 3/4 IN. thick and 4-1/4 IN. wide. The wider boards really offer an amazing canvas to showcase all the beautiful natural character included in a Select grade Maple.

If you’re looking for a premium quality solid Maple Natural floor in a wider width, you’re not going to find a better price than this: $4.18 per square foot. For a 4-1/4 IN. wide solid Maple! Samples are available via our website. We recommend ordering more than one sample, so you can truly see some of the variation included in this Extra grade. Special in-stock pricing is only available for a limited time.

 

 

Homeowner Expectations for a Hardwood Flooring Purchase

by Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

We have found that when homeowners come to us looking for hardwood flooring, there are three major requirements that they are aiming to fulfill: value, reliability and appearance. During the decision making process, different consumers will have different expectations and needs for each of the three.

Value

iStock_000020861023LargeValue is all about how much you’re paying for something in relation to what you’re actually getting. Some homeowners have it in their budget and are willing to pay a little more for a higher quality product. These could be considered premium products from premium manufacturers, like Muskoka or Lauzon, or they could be considered products with a more specific stylized appearance, like a handscraped surface or an exotic wood species. Some homeowners are looking for a more affordable hardwood product and are willing to consider hardwoods with less uniformity of color or shorter board lengths. It’s important to be familiar with what kind of budget you’re working with in order to determine what kind of hardwood flooring product would work within your budget’s parameters.

Reliability 

As with any consumer product, different manufacturers are going to offer different levels of quality and reliability. Typically, hardwood manufacturers which have been around for decades will have proven track records, vouching for their dependability. These well known brands are known for their reliability and work hard for excellence in both their products and their customer service because any negative reviews would hurt the reputation they’ve spent so many years building. Lesser known manufacturers tend to feel less accountability and may not be up to par when it comes to product warranties, communication or milling standards.

Appearance

woodspeciesWhat a hardwood floor actually looks like is usually the deciding factor when it comes to making a final purchase; after all, the visual is what you’re going to be seeing day in and day out: you want to make sure it’s something that you actually like. It’s important to keep in mind that hardwood flooring is a natural product, though. While the small sample in a showroom may give you a good idea of what the product might look like in your home, it can’t be used as a complete representation of what the hardwood floor will exactly look like when installed.

Depending on the wood species, natural products can have slight (White Oak) to moderate (Hickory) to extensive (Brazilian Cherry) color variation from board to board. It’s hard to see this color variation from a small sample or even in a larger showroom display board. Stained products sometimes face the same dilemma, as different parts of the same tree can take a stain color slightly differently.

Grain patterns can’t always be counted on either. Depending on what region the specific tree came from and, especially with exotic wood species, sometimes grain patterns can be completely off the map.

Additionally, natural wood flooring will change color a bit over time. With exposure to light, natural wood flooring will get richer and darken in color, ultimately reaching maturation at about 6 to 8 months. Again, this is due to the face that hardwood flooring is a natural product. The photosensitivity of different wood species can vary greatly: Red Oak and White Oak change so slightly that it’s hardly noticeable, while exotics like Brazilian Cherry go through a metamorphosis in color, becoming much richer in tone at the point of maturation. For more on the specific characteristics of different wood species: Choosing a Hardwood Flooring Wood Species.

Most homeowners interested in hardwood flooring know about these variances and appreciate the uniqueness and authentic feel that natural wood flooring brings to their home. Other homeowners want a very specific look and are unwilling to accept the fact that there may be slight variances within the natural wood product they select. In this case, it might be best to look into a fabricated flooring material, like laminate or vinyl, in order to get that very specific color desired.

Grading Expectations

Wood grading refers to the way hardwood flooring raw material is sorted when it is first milled. Sometimes it’s human observation that is used to determine grade, other times grades are determine through computer scans of each milled board. Different grade levels are dependent on color variation from board to board as well as amount of character present on that board. The clearer grades are generally more expensive, the mid range grades are typically more popular and the rustic grades will have the most character and color variation.

Not all manufacturers will offer multiple grades in their product lines. Most brands will focus on one or two of the grades that they think will appeal to their target market and/or price points.

Clear Grade products are going to be the most uniform hardwood floors on the market. Boards are clear and the color from board to board is pretty uniform. Unusual character marks or crazy grain patterns are virtually non-existent. Not too many hardwood manufacturers offer a Clear Grade.

Select & Better Grade is the most popular choice for manufacturers to use when creating their natural hardwood flooring. The S&B Grade offers slight color variation but relatively standard grain patterns and typically little to no darker character marks.

Red Oak Select & Better

Red Oak Select & Better

Select Grade is a step down from S&B. There will be slight color variation and some darker grain patterns. Small knots are allowed in this grade. It’s common for manufacturers to use a Select Grade when creating their stained products, as much of the color variation from board to board and the more visible grain patterns are covered up by the stain.

Rustic Grade hardwood flooring features color variation, darker grain patters, filled knot holes and sometimes a mixture of heartwood and sapwood. Ultimately, this creates a very distinct mosaic of the nature of real hardwood. Rustic Grade hardwood has the same quality as other grades, so it shouldn’t be seen as less durable or junk flooring — it’s just graded according to the appearance of the board and is much sought after for homeowners interested in a “country” aesthetic.

Some of the darker character marks you might see in a Maple Rustic Grade

Some of the darker character marks you might see in a Maple Rustic Grade

Cabin, Value or Tavern Grade flooring is the lowest grade available. Lots of times, these grades contain shorter boards, unusual coloring, unfilled knot holes, dark graining, etc. These grades are not 1st run products, but rather, are considered 2nds as they are boards manufacturers don’t feel fill the requirements necessary of their 1st run material.

To a certain point, the grade of flooring you purchase has an impact on how much of a waste factor you’ll need to account for in your order of hardwood flooring. A waste factor is the extra percentage of material needed to cover cutting waste and board selection. With a Clear Grade, Select & Better Grade or Select Grade floor, you will get mostly good boards — but there may be one or two that you just don’t like the looks of and don’t want installed. The waste factor is recommended to cover being choosey like this. With these higher wood grades, it’s generally recommended to order a 5%  to 8% waste factor over the actual square footage needed. With lower grades, like Rustic or Cabin, it’s generally recommended to order 8% to 10% overage as a waste factor.

For more information: How to Measure for Hardwood Flooring or Laminate Flooring.

Warranty Expectations 

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Many homeowners who purchase hardwood flooring products don’t have a clear understanding as to what is included in a manufacturer’s warranty. A brand typically boasts 25 Years, 50 Years or even a Lifetime Finish Warranty. But this can be deceiving and consumers come away with the idea that their new hardwood flooring is guaranteed not to scratch or dent. What a finish warranty really means is that over that span of time, with normal household traffic, the factory applied finish will not wear off. Finish warranties do not cover scratching or denting to the surface. Additionally, if you sand and refinish at any point in the future, you’re void that factory finish warranty.

Structural warranties are also included on hardwood flooring products by manufacturers. Structural warranties are typically good for the lifetime of the hardwood flooring, but they don’t cover water damage or cupping/buckling that may occur as a result of high or low moisture content in the air. When warranty issues do arise, manufacturers will often ask for an inspection to be done. Guidelines from the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) state that inspections are to be performed from a standing position and not down on hands and knees. Warranties also do not cover the installation of undesirable boards (boards with darker streaking or giant knot holes). Once the board is installed, it’s considered to be accepted by the purchaser. Ugly boards that you do not want in your floor should be pulled from the carton and counted as part of the waste factor.

For a more in-depth look at hardwood flooring warranties: Hardwood Flooring Warranty Expectations.

Overall, hardwood flooring is a beautiful and financially beneficial upgrade to any home. However, it’s important for to have the right expectations of this natural product before ultimately deciding on what’s right for you and your home.

You may also be interested in: What is the FSC?, Finding the Perfect Hardwood Floor, Molding & Trim Guide for Hardwood and Laminate Flooring, Water vs. Wood.

 

Surface Texture in Hardwood Floors

By Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

Surface texture of a hardwood floor can add a lot to the atmosphere for a particular room. It can accentuate the elegance or add to the warmth of a more casual setting. There are a few different surface textures available when it comes to prefinished hardwood flooring. Featured in this post are the top four: smooth, handscraped, distressed and wirebrushed.

Smooth

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The most popular surface texture we see in prefinished hardwood flooring is a smooth surface. Floor boards are sanded flat and then finished at the factory. Read about the advantages of factory prefinished flooring here: Prefinished or Unfinished Hardwood Flooring. Hardwood flooring with a smooth surface can definitely enhance the elegance of a room, especially when used in a darker finish. Keep in mind that smooth hardwood floors will show scratches and dents more readily than a more textured hardwood floor.

There are countless examples of beautiful smooth surfaced hardwood flooring, but here are a few of our favorites:

Somerset Solid Color Collection and Engineered Color Collection, Owens PlankFloor, Muskoka Solid Gallery Collection and Engineered Architectural Collection, Lauzon Ambiance Collection

Handscraped

texture_scraped

Handscraped surface textures can be anywhere from subtle to extreme. Pictured above is an example of a somewhat moderate handscraped hardwood floor. You can see that there are several indentations and, overall, the board surfaces have a wave like appearance created with the wood scrapers. Handscraped hardwood flooring definitely brings a more casual look to a room, adding warmth, comfort and a lived-in ambiance. The more handscraped texture a hardwood floor has, the more it will hide scratches and dents. Lots of homeowners with larger dogs in their households opt for a handscraped texture in their hardwood floors simply because wear and tear is more easily concealed.

There are some brands that just “do handscraped” better than others. Here are some of our top handscraped hardwood options:

Ark Handscraped Engineered and Solid, Shenandoah Engineered Hardwood Floors, Anderson Virginia Vintage, Armstrong Gatsby Hand Sculpted, Mannington Inverness Hand Sculpted

Distressed

texture_distressed

When a hardwood floor is listed as distressed, it is typically antiqued, but in a different way than with the handscraped texture. Distress marks could include dents, burn marks or blackening of edges. The goal is to make the hardwood floor look lived on and beaten up. Distressed flooring is perfect for heavy trafficked households or homes with lots of pets, as the polished distressing helps to camouflage any actual dents and scratches that may occur.

From lightly distressed to totally destroyed (but in a good way), here are our best distressed looks:

Nature Wood Americana Distressed, Mannington Chesapeake Hickory, Columbia Berkshire Distressed

Wirebrushed

texture_brushed

A hardwood floor which is wirebrushed offers a middle ground texture — between smooth and handscraped. The wirebrushing process is just as it sounds; the finish is lightly scraped with a wirebrush, creating long and linear strokes. This wirebrushed texture really accentuates linear grain patterns, like that of oak flooring and it makes a hardwood floor a little bit more interesting than if it had just a smooth surface.

A little texture never hurt anybody. Here are some beautifully subtle wirebrushed hardwood options:

Kahrs Harmony Collection, Kahrs Artisan Collection

There are many instances where a specific collection will feature more than one of the textures described above. It’s not unheard of to see a hardwood floor with a handscraped AND distressed look, or a distressed AND wirebrushed style. Just another way of showing homeowners the endless options available; the only limit is (corny, but true) your imagination! Whether completely smooth or featuring a bit of rough texture, the surface feel of a hardwood floor in addition to color and width can definitely add to the milieu of your home.

You may also be interested in: Pets and Your Hardwood Flooring, Top Handscraped Collections, Hand Scraped Hardwood Flooring, Customer Expectations When Buying Hardwood Flooring.

 

WeCork: The Serenity Collection

by Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

It’s time to pop the cork and celebrate: there’s a new cork flooring product on the market causing quite a splash!

For years, consumers have loved the attributes of cork flooring, but opted for the more traditional look of hardwood for their homes. Now, with the Serenity Collection from WeCork, you don’t have to choose.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of a cork floor:

  • corksEnvironmentally Friendly || Cork flooring is created from a renewable source. Learn more detail on how cork is made here: Why Cork Flooring is an Environmentally Friendly Flooring Option.
  • Ultra Durable || Cork flooring bounces back. Place something heavy on cork flooring and instead of denting, you’ll find that it springs back to its original shape.
  • Thermal & Sound Insulation || No more cold feet in the morning. Cork flooring naturally absorbs and keeps heat locked in and it can also be used over radiant floor heating systems. Cork is also often used as a sound proofing material. This reduces sound transfer from room to room as well as offers a quiet tread while walking.
  • Moisture Resistant || Liquid spills are repelled by cork flooring, making clean up super easy.
  • Hypo-Allergenic || Mold, dust and mites don’t cling to cork flooring like they do to carpeting.
  • Anti-Bacterial || Cork flooring naturally resists the growth of bacteria.
  • Natural Cushion || Cork flooring is naturally soft underfoot & fragile items are less likely to break on cork flooring when compared to a fall onto a hard surface floor. Perfect for homes with kids!

What if your hardwood floor could have all these same benefits? Well, now it can! …with the new Serenity Collection from WeCork. From light hardwood flooring to dark hardwood flooring and everything in between, there’s an option to complement any room aesthetic.

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WeCork uses digital printing technology to infuse the surface of their Serenity Collection cork flooring with high definition images of real hardwood flooring and real tile surfaces. Finish that off with a “Hot Coating,” and you get a beautiful oil-like, satin luster visual.

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The “Hot Coating” finish infuses the Serenity Collection with the durability necessary to stand up to tough residential and commercial settings and is considered an AC5 Rating. The digital hardwood or tile visual won’t fade over time with use or exposure to light.

WeCork equipped this Serenity Collection with a Unilin locking system, making installation quite literally “a snap.” These floating cork floors can be installed over standard subfloors or over existing pvc or vinyl (cannot be installed over carpeting). It’s always recommended to use a plastic moisture barrier between the subfloor and the new cork flooring to retard any moisture that may be transferring up. Other than the moisture barrier, no other underlayment should be used. Feel free to install the floating Serenity Collection cork floors on, above or below grade levels (basements).

Floating cork flooring, much like floating hardwood flooring, needs room to move, so during installation it’s required to leave 3/8 IN. expansion gaps around room walls or other fixed objects.

The Serenity Collection from WeCork gives you all the features of a cork floor with all the beauty of a hardwood or tile look. Start shopping the hardwood styles or the tile styles now!

 
 
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