Tuesday, August 22, 2017
 

Hardwood Flooring Warranty Expectations

By Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood Flooring Warranties: What to Expect

When it comes to understanding just what is included in a warranty and what is not, fine print can get really confusing. A hardwood flooring warranty can be a great selling point for a particular product. However, all too often consumers get caught in the middle if a problem occurs down the road and these warranties weren’t properly explained at time of purchase. Hopefully, we can clarify some of the basics of hardwood flooring warranties here.

warranties

Structural Warranty

There are a few different types of warranties when it comes to hardwood flooring. Perhaps the most important one is the Structural Warranty. With reputable hardwood flooring manufacturers, you’re apt to find that most hardwood flooring products will carry a Limited Lifetime Structural Warranty, which applies to both unfinished and factory finished flooring. Structural Warranties guarantee that the hardwood flooring planks are stably sound and won’t crack, split or warp when installed properly.

It’s always important to follow the specific manufacturer’s prep and installation instructions, as installing hardwood flooring improperly could possibly void the warranty. Grade level (1st floor vs. ground level vs. basement), subfloor type and radiant heating systems can also be problematic for certain products, so you need to make sure the flooring you choose is approved for your particular room conditions. It’s not unusual for some manufacturers to demand the installer use their specific installation accessories (tools, underlayments, etc.) during installation to avoid voiding a warranty. It’s important to follow instructions for subfloor prep as well, as one of the major and most common situations where the Lifetime Structural Warranty is no longer valid is in a setting where there is a higher moisture content than recommended for that specific manufacturer’s hardwood floor.  Moisture is the number one reason for hardwood flooring to start performing badly (warping, buckling, cracking, etc.). Manufacturers know this and will quickly dismiss a claim where excessive moisture had a chance to get at the boards. It’s better (and cheaper) to be safe than sorry and have to replace your entire floor just because proper precautions weren’t taken prior to installation.

(For more on moisture issues with hardwood flooring, our previous post: Water vs. Wood)

Residential Finish Warranty

Finish Warranties are a little bit different than Structural Warranties, as most of the time there is a specific number of years time limit on how long the Finish Warranty is valid for. The standard in the hardwood flooring industry for a Residential Finish Warranty right now is about 25 years. Although, with improving technologies, many hardwood flooring manufacturers are upping their Finish Warranty periods to 35 Years (Lauzon Designer Collection), 50 Years (Somerset Floors) and even Lifetime Finish Warranties (Award Floors). A Finish Warranty can be a bit confusing for some consumers, as it implies a lot more coverage than it actually has. A Finish Warranty won’t cover scratches, dents, gouges or damage to the finish caused by moisture. The basic principle of a Finish Warranty is that it guarantees the factory applied finish will not wear off in the time period stated when used in areas with standard residential traffic.

It’s kind of obvious, but still needs to be said: if you sand and refinish your hardwood flooring at any point, you’re automatically voiding the Finish Warranty. Why? You’re taking off the finish and that’s what the Finish Warranty is covering. To avoid scratches and the urge to refinish your hardwood flooring too soon, just make sure to keep it clean and use chair glides on all furniture legs. The major cause of hardwood flooring surface damage is when heavy things are dragged across the surface of the floor. As mentioned previously, scratches aren’t covered by the Finish Warranty, but shallow surface scratches can be somewhat fixed with the use of a touch up kit.

Commercial Finish Warranty

A Commercial Finish Warranty covers just what its name suggests: use in a commercial setting. The guarantees are the same as with a Residential Finish Warranty, but usually Commercial Finish Warranties cover fewer years because commercial settings (offices, restaurants, etc.) experience heavier traffic.

Hardwood Flooring Warranty Claims

Although top manufacturers invest a huge amount of money in Research & Development, making sure that the flooring stamped with their brand name is stably sound and a quality product, it’s not a perfect world and sometimes hardwood flooring has legitimate structural or finish issues that do fall within the limitations of the Structural or Finish Warranty. If you’re experiencing an issue with your hardwood flooring and decide to file a claim, in most cases, the manufacturer will tell you to contact the retailer from whom you purchased the hardwood flooring from. The retailer will act as a liaison between you and the manufacturer, relaying information about the problem you’re experiencing. It varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but usually if a claim is accepted, the manufacturer will reimburse the end user for material and labor costs. All in all, if there is a problem with your hardwood flooring, the manufacturer probably already knows about it because, chances are, other similar claims have been filed, investigated and approved.

EdgeCupping

Not all claims, however, are verified and accepted by manufacturers. As mentioned previously, moisture issues are the leading cause of damage to hardwood flooring and are not covered by the warranty. If a manufacturer needs more in depth evidence that the problem was caused by the actual flooring itself and not improper installation of their product, they will insist that you have an independent inspector come out and determine cause of failure.

To the left is a photo of an installation that was inspected for a homeowner in the area. You can see that the boards are cupping and bowing up, creating a sort of wave effect throughout the room. An inspection determined that there was an existing moisture problem with the subfloor that should have been addressed prior to installation of the hardwood. The report was submitted and the warranty claim was dismissed because the manufacturer’s installation instructions, which included a required subfloor moisture content check, were not followed properly. There was nothing wrong with the actual flooring, all the damage was moisture related.

Purchasing Based on Warranty Offers

A Structural and Finish Warranty can be a good gauge as to whether the manufacturer of the hardwood flooring you’re interested in stands by their product. This somewhat attests to the quality of the product. But, should the warranty time period cause you to choose one product over another with a warranty period of fewer years? It’s hard to say for sure, but there are a lot of other aspects of hardwood flooring that should more importantly drive the decision to purchase: wood species (different hardnesses mean different durability levels), color (does it match the aesthetic you’re going for?), construction (solid vs. engineered), etc.

Ultimately, the warranty offered with a hardwood flooring product should be considered when making a purchase, but make sure you understand what’s included in the warranty and what is not before you let an attractive flooring warranty confuse you.

You may also be interested in: Customer Expectations, All About Wear Layers, Pets and Your Hardwood Flooring

 

Engineered Floor Review: Owens PlankFloor

By Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

Owens Unfinished and Prefinished Engineered PlankFloor

Owens Engineered Flooring is one of the most prominent of hardwood flooring brands available in the consumer market today. The construction of Owens Engineered Flooring stands out from competitors and Owens products are praised on a global scale in both residential and commercial settings.

The Owens Flooring brand is a part of a larger conglomerate, Quanex Building Products Corporation. Quanex is a global brand, offering engineered and aluminum building materials to builders all over the world. Their engineered products include vinyl window & door parts, glass sealant systems, engineered wood flooring (Owens Wood Flooring), wood moldings and custom screen products. Quanex also produces aluminum sheet products for a multitude of implementations.

Construction

When Owens perfected their engineered wood floor construction, they coined the term PlankFloor. Their PlankFloor features a Limited Lifetime Structural Warranty, and for good reason: the construction of Owens Engineered Flooring is nothing short of perfect. Using the highest quality baltic birch plywood, Owens fuses 9 layers together using their PUR Glue, creating an incredibly stable core.

On top of the core is one of the thickest wear layers in the industry. Owens uses a 3/16 IN. thick (4.7mm) sawn wear layer of wood. This superior wear layer not only offers a highly realistic solid wood appearance, but also allows for Owens engineered flooring to be sanded and refinished multiple times over the lifetime of the floor. With a core so strong and a wear layer so thick, it’s not surprising that Owens Engineered Flooring can last as long as 3/4 IN. thick solid hardwood flooring in residential settings.

owensplank

Owens Engineered Flooring is available both Unfinished and Factory Finished. Owens uses an Aluminum Oxide UV Finish on their factory finished products and this is guaranteed with a 35 Year Residential Wear Through Finish Warranty (5 Year Commercial Finish Warranty). Their Factory Finished Engineered Flooring also comes with the same Limited Lifetime Structural Warranty as their Unfinished Engineered Flooring.

Environmental Aspects of Owens Engineered Flooring

Owens gets all of the raw material for their engineered products from legal and regulated sources, complying to all Lacey Act practices. Additionally, Owens is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, which means all of the raw materials they use are harvested in a safe manner that is most beneficial for the environment and surrounding communities. Engineered flooring is known for being a bit more environmentally friendly than standard 3/4 IN. thick solid hardwood flooring simply because of the amount of raw material it takes to produce a single plank. Manufacturers can typically make up to 4 planks of engineered flooring with the same amount of material that it would take to make a single solid wood plank.

Aside from using less raw material, Owens Engineered Floors also takes steps in a “greener” direction with their PUR Glue, which is a formaldehyde free formula while still being water resistant. The plywood used to make their engineered flooring is all CARB Phase II compliant, with ultra low emissions, keeping the air inside your home pollutant free and healthy.

Compared to Other Engineered Brands

As previously mentioned, Owens Engineered Flooring has one of the thickest wear layers in the industry. A thicker wear layer means that an engineered floor can be sanded and refinished more times, therefore extending the life of the hardwood floor.

When choosing the perfect engineered flooring, durability is key; and Owens has got it covered. A bit different than other engineered flooring manufacturers, Owens covers the entire surface of the birch cross layers with adhesive, to ensure a tight bond. This also helps to minimize expansion and contraction due to moisture changes in the air. Additionally, Owens performs a slew of glue bond tests, ensuring that their engineered core isn’t going to delaminate or fall apart during use. These tests involve everything from submerging the engineered cores in water to putting them in ovens at harsh temperatures. Owens has even submerged their products in beer, to ensure these premium engineered floors will stand up to commercial settings, like restaurants and bars.

Installation of Owens Engineered Floors

Owens Engineered Flooring is suitable for virtually any room of your home. It can be installed at any grade level and over plywood subfloors, concrete subfloors and even over radiant heating systems. Owens PlankFloor can be nailed, stapled, glued or floated and is perfect for both residential and commercial settings. Quanex Building Products also has a complete line of transition pieces and moldings which match their Owens PlankFloor perfectly finishing an Owens room.

Plainsawn vs. Quartersawn vs. Riftsawn

From traditional domestic wood species to unique exotics, Owens Plank Flooring has it all. Owens even has a wide variety of Rift and Quartersawn Oak products, which can be harder to find in the marketplace. Quartersawn products are known for being naturally more stable no matter the environment that they are put in and are less susceptible to warping when there are moisture changes in the air. Additionally, grain patters are slightly different with quartersawn products because the logs are first quartered and then the individual planks are cut on a diagonal from the core out to the bark. Quartersawn Oak graining can typically be a lot straighter and finer than plainsawn flooring, with occasional flecks, representing the medullary rays of the tree. Riftsawn planks are similar to quartersawn, but are focused to be cut at a more narrow degree to the tree rings, creating a tighter, more narrow grain pattern without the ray flecks prominent in quartersawn. Riftsawn planks create the most waste (unusable tree pieces) from the log.

Customizable Styles from Owens Engineered Floors

Bevel Options available on Owens PlankFloor

Bevel Options available for Owens PlankFloor

Although their standard products are pretty impressive as is, Owens also offers a lot of different specifics, including customizable options. This ensures their end consumer is getting exactly what they want in their new engineered floor.

Widths range from 2-1/4 IN. to 8 IN. The standard in the industry pretty much only goes up to about 5 IN. wide.

Standard lengths are already on the longer side (at 1′ to 8′ random lengths) when compared to other engineered manufacturers’ 1′ to 48′ random lengths. Customized length options from Owens include 3′ to 10′, 4′ to 10′, 5′ to 10′ and 6′ to 10′, allowing you to really create a specific look with your hardwood flooring.

The standard thickness for Owens Egnineered, both Unfinished and Prefinished is 5/8 IN. For those looking for a thinner or thicker board option, Owens does offer a variety of custom board thicknessed with a variety of wear layer thicknesses. Available is: a 1/2 IN. thickness with either a 3.5mm wear layer or a 2.6mm wear layer, a 5/8 IN. thickness with a 4.7mm wear layer (standard), or a 3/4 IN. thickness (same as a typical solid hardwood plank) with a 4.7mm wear layer.

The standard edge profile for Owens Unfinished PlankFloor is a Square Edge (for a seamless appearance). The standard edge profile for their Factory Finished PlankFloor is a Micro-Bevel. Owens offers three additional custom bevels for those looking for something a little different: Chamfer Bevel, Grand Bevel and Radius Bevel.

With standard Owens PlankFloor you’re going to encounter a smooth surface, but due to accelerated demand in the market for flooring with a little more texture, Owens is now offering handscraped options for their Unfinished flooring.

Lead Times for Owens PlankFloor

With all of the processes involved in creating Owens PlankFloor from the original tree to the finished product, it’s no surprise that lead times can be a little longer than other engineered products on the market. Standard lead times as of right now can run anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 weeks. Specific Rift and Quartersawn products have potential to take even longer (up to 10 weeks). Therefore, it’s important to plan ahead if you’re considering an Owens PlankFloor, as it might not be as readily available as the competition’s products.

Ultimately, Owens PlankFloor is an engineered floor that just give end users a bit more than their competition. From their warranties to their super strong structural bonding techniques to all of their customizable options, Owens is doing an exceptional job of giving homeowners and business owners the floor that they both want and need.

 

The Canadian Way

By Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

Canada is known for many things. Hockey. The maple leaf. Excellent health care. Lakes.

canada

You can now add hardwood flooring to that list. But why are Canadian brands flying past the competition when it comes to hardwood flooring quality?

In the flooring industry, the general consensus is that hardwood flooring products coming out of Canada are simply the best. One of the major benefits that Canadian mills have over other hardwood flooring manufacturers is that their machinery is constantly improving. With every technological advance, Canadian mills update their processes, ensuring that the best quality product on the market at the time is leaving through their warehouse doors.

Firstly, technological advances in machinery have made sorting raw material by grade easier. By taking out dependence on the human component and sending each plank through a computer to scan for character and color percentage, the Canadian mills offer grade levels with the smallest margin of error. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Technology currently in place tests for moisture content in multiple areas of each board, identifies optimal pieces for longer average lengths and determines the best finishing side of the particular plank. And, all along the way are quality check points. Lauzon boasts that throughout their entire manufacturing process, there are over 75 quality control checkpoints; a much higher number than your average hardwood flooring manufacturer.

The steps Canadian mills are taking to continuously improve technology are mutually beneficial for both the end consumer and the manufacturer. The end users will have hardwood flooring that will stand the test of time as well as peace of mind that they chose the highest quality flooring available. The manufacturer minimizes waste by using this advanced technology, therefore reducing costs and improving their ROI. All of these advanced processes cost a pretty penny, but for these premium Canadian manufacturers, ensuring a consistent high quality product to their end consumer is worth every cent.

Aside from having the most state of art machines, Canadian manufacturers definitely make the effort to educate their sales representatives and retail family. Of the top three Canadian manufacturers that we carry (Muskoka, Lauzon and Mont Royal), all three send their sales reps to our showrooms on a regular basis to update samples and educate our sales force on any new features/products. These sales reps for the Canadian mill are incredibly knowledgeable and constantly in touch, making it easier to sell their products and enforcing the fact that the end consumer is their number one priority. Furthermore, companies like Lauzon make sure their line of communication with the end user remains convenient and open by using their websites to supply the most up to date information on their products and their brand.

lauzon

Ultimately, when you choose one of the premium Canadian hardwood flooring brands, you can rest assured that you’re getting the top quality that you’re paying for.

 

Molding & Trim Guide for Hardwood and Laminate Flooring

By Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

Figuring out which molding or transition piece will be needed to complete a room has a tendency to be a bit confusing for the average homeowner. The following resource is meant as a guide, hopefully making it a little easier to understand which moldings are beneficial for specific situations.

General Molding & Trim Information

Keep in mind that real wood moldings can differ slightly from laminate moldings. Additionally, one manufacturer may have a slight variation in their version of a molding from the next manufacturer. Moldings and transition pieces offered by manufacturers are often designed to match the color of a specific floor that they offer. It’s important to understand that moldings may not match floors exactly, because wood is a natural product and one piece can take a stain a little differently than another. Typically molding lengths are 78 IN., but this can differ from brand to brand in the industry.

The following descriptions offer a general guideline for some of the most popular molding and transition types. Dimensions and profiles may differ slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer and the general descriptions below are meant only for general guidance.

Quarter Round

One of the most popular type of molding is called a Quarter Round. Quarter Rounds are typically 3/4 IN. by 3/4 IN. and are used to cover the necessary expansion gap between a hard surface floor and a wall. Read more about expansion gaps here. Along the same line as Quarter Rounds, some manufacturers offer a molding called a Shoe Base. Shoe Bases are typically a little thinner or a little shorter, but work in the same manner as a Quarter Round. While most manufacturers offer Quarter Round to match (as close as possible) the color of their specific floor, it’s common to see Quarter Rounds painted or stained the same color as the rest of the trim in the room.

moldingquarter

Installation of Quarter Round is very simple and is something anyone can do. Simply nail the Quarter Round (or Shoe Base) into the baseboard or the wall using 6 penny finish nails approximately every 10 IN. When preparing a room for a new installation, it is necessary to remove existing Quarter Round prior to installing the new flooring. Quarter Round can be used alone, or it can be used in conjunction with a Wall Base (baseboard).

Wall Base

Another popular molding used to cover expansion gaps is a Wall Base. Wall Base heights differ from manufacturer to manufacturer but typically can range anywhere from 2 IN. high to 5 IN. high. Wall Bases can be plain and generic or very decorative and, like the Quarter Round, homeowners usually prefer these moldings to be painted or stained the same color as the rest of the trim in the room.

moldingwallbase

Wall Bases are installed using 8 penny finish nails, nailing approximately every 16 IN. and can be used with a Quarter Round or without.

T-Molding

T-Moldings are aptly named, as the profile resembles a capital T. A T-Molding is used in situations where you’re transitioning from one hard surface to a second hard surface. The top part of the T-Molding overlaps both hard surfaces. It’s incredibly important that these two hard surfaces are the same height, as, if one side doesn’t have the appropriate support, that side of the molding will start to crack once it’s being stepped on. The same reasoning goes for why the T-Molding can not be used to transition to carpet, there’s just not enough support.

If hardwood flooring is being floated across a few rooms, it’s always recommended to use T-Moldings in doorways. In larger areas, an expansion joint is also recommended if floating hardwood flooring layout is going to exceed 30 FT. in any particular room.

moldingtmold

To install a T-Molding, a space needs to be left between the two hard surfaces. The transition piece is then glued down where it meets the subfloor using construction adhesive. It’s recommended to place a heavy object on the newly glued T-Molding overnight, in order to ensure a tight bond. In addition to being glued down, you can also choose to face nail the T-Molding (in the middle of the T-Molding) to the subfloor using 8 penny finish nails.

Flush Reducer

When you’re installing a hardwood floor using a nail, staple or glue down installation, a Flush Reducer can be used to smoothly transition the new hardwood floor down to a second flooring type, such as vinyl, tile or even low pile carpet.

moldingfreducer

Flush Reducers can be glued to the subfloor with construction adhesive and/or face nailed using 8 penny finish nails. A Flush Reducer can only be used with flooring that is secured to the subfloor (nailed, stapled or glued down) and not with a hardwood floor or laminate floor that is being floated. This is because a floating floor needs room to move and a Flush Reducer would not allow for the necessary expansion gap. For transitions from floating floors, the use of an Overlap Reducer would be necessary.

Overlap Reducer

When installing a floating floor, it’s incredibly important to leave expansion gaps where the new flooring meets up with walls or with a second floor. Overlap Reducers were created for the purpose of transitioning smoothly from this floating floor to a second floor (vinyl, tile, carpet, etc.). Much like a Flush Reducer, an Overlap Reducer gradually slopes down to meet the second floor, but instead of locking in flush with the hardwood, an Overlap Reducer has a small protruding piece which will overlap the floating hardwood or laminate flooring. The purpose of this overlap portion of the transition piece is to hide the expansion gap left, allowing the floating floor to move without restriction.

moldingoreducer

To install an Overlap Reducer, simply glue down to the subfloor using construction adhesive and/or you can face nail into the subfloor using 8 penny finish nails. Do not adhere the Overlap Reducer to the actual hardwood or laminate flooring at all. The overlap part of this transition piece is meant to simply rest on the floating floor.

Threshold

Sometimes referred to as a Baby Threshold, Thresholds are used in situations where a hardwood or laminate floor is meeting up with a second floor of a different height. Instead of a gradual slope, like a Reducer, a Threshold has a rounded off square edge appearance. Thresholds are perfect when butting a hard surface floor up to a high pile carpet and are also often used when hardwood or laminate floors are meeting up with a sliding glass door track. A Threshold will overlap the hardwood or laminate floor and create a defined transition to this second surface.

moldingthreshold

To install a Threshold, simply glue down to the subfloor using construction adhesive and/or you can face nail to the subfloor using 8 penny finish nails. It’s important to note that if you’re using a Threshold with a 3/4 IN. thick solid hardwood floor, the bottom of the molding may rest at approximately 1/4 IN. above the subfloor. The Threshold can still be used. You would just need to use a heavier bead of construction adhesive or use a filler piece on the subfloor under the bottom of the molding to offer more support to the Threshold.

Square Nose Reducer (End Cap)

Square Nose Reducers are very similar to Thresholds but have a more squared off edge. Typically used with floating floor, a Square Nose is perfect for butting hard surface floors up against vertical obstacles, where a Quarter Round or Wall Base would be difficult to use to cover an expansion gap (brick wall, fireplace, sliding glass door, etc.). The Square Nose Reducer overlaps the hardwood or laminate floor, hiding the expansion gap with the overlapped portion of the molding.

moldingendcap

Installation of a Square Nose Reducer would involve using construction adhesive to glue the transition piece to the subfloor and/or face nailing the piece to the subfloor using 8 penny finish nails.

Flush Stair Nose

Stair Nose pieces are sometimes also referred to as Bull Nose pieces or Step Downs. Stair Noses are used on the front edge of a step when you’re using the actual floor boards to cover stairs. The Flush Stair Nose butts right up against the floorboards and creates a seamless transition to the end of the step. Flush Stair Nose pieces can only be used in conjunction with a nail, staple or glue down install.

moldingfstairnose

Stair Nose pieces are installed by gluing down to the stair subfloor using construction adhesive in addition to face nailing. When face nailing Flush Stair Noses, you should use two 8 penny face nails approximately 3 IN. in from the end of the stair on both sides and then two 8 penny face nails in the center of the Stair Nose. If your stairs are extra long, you should aim for two face nails approximately every 20 IN.

Overlap Stair Nose

Floating applications require a different kind of Stair Nose: one which can allow for the required expansion gap for floating hardwood or laminates. Overlap Stair Noses have a small protruding piece which overlaps the floating floor and hides the expansion gap, leaving room for free movement of the floating floor. As you can’t float floor boards on individual stairs (boards need to be attached to the individual stair surface), Overlap Stair Nose pieces are typically only used at the top of the staircase, where it would be transitioning from a floating floor down to the first step.

moldingostairnose

Overlap Stair Nose pieces are installed a lot like Flush Stair Nose pieces. Glue the Overlap Stair Nose to the subfloor using construction adhesive, making sure to leave enough room for the required expansion gap. In addition, using two 8 penny face nails, nail down the Overlap Stair Nose approximately 3 IN. in from each end as well as in the center of the Overlap Stair Nose piece. If the stairs are extra long, make sure to face nail two 8 penny finish nails at approximately every 20 IN. of the molding. It’s important, with Overlap Stair Nose pieces, that you remember to attach the molding to the subfloor and not to the floating floor you’re overlapping.

Stair Treads & Stair Risers

For those who want a fast and easy option for tackling stairs, there are Stair Treads. A Stair Tread is basically a whole piece of finished stair which you simply glue and nail down and then you’re done. Stair Treads negate the need for Stair Nose pieces and individual floor boards, saving a lot of install time. Also available, are Stair Risers, which are the vertical part of the stair. Most hardwood flooring and laminate flooring manufacturers don’t produce Stair Treads to match their products. However, there are independent companies which specialize in Stair Treads and Risers and offer them in a variety of sizes, styles and stain colors. These companies can even closely match a floor if a sample is sent to them.

Air Vent Grilles

Most hardwood and laminate flooring manufacturers don’t produce their own prefinished Air Vent Grilles, but, like the Stair Tread and Stair Risers, there are companies out there that will provide you with a custom size and style Air Vent Grill to match your new flooring. Specifics these Air Vent companies will need to know will be the actual size of your vent, what kind of frame you’re looking for, whether you want a damper on the grill, wood species and/or stain.

Other Molding Types

Metal Reducer transitioning from hardwood to carpet

Metal Reducer transitioning from hardwood to carpet

The above molding descriptions describe some of the most popular molding and transition options. Sometimes, though, specific manufacturers will have moldings available that are exclusive to their collections. For example, QuickStep Laminate Flooring offers a 5 in 1 Multifunctional Molding. This molding, which is very specific to QuickStep, comes with a cutting tool and allows the installer to cut the molding to form one of five moldings: T-Molding, Hard Surface Reducer, Carpet Reducer, Square Nose Reducer or Flush Stair Nose. Many laminate manufacturers make their own version of this Multifunctional Molding. Versatile moldings like this are beneficial for consumers who at the time of placing an order are unsure of which specific molding they will need, but want to make sure they have something there to use when it’s time to finish the install.

Sometimes, during an installation, a homeowner will find that none of the generic moldings will suit his or her specific need. In this case, custom moldings can be made to fit any situation by an independent carpenter in your area. Additionally, moldings don’t need to necessarily match your particular flooring. As mentioned previously, many homeowners like to stain their Quarter Round and/or Wall Base to match the rest of the trim in that room. Along those same lines, metal or rubber or stone moldings are often seen in commercial settings and even in some residences.

You may also be interested in:

All About Floating Wood Floors, All About Solid Hardwood Flooring, All About Engineered Wood Flooring, How to Measure a Room for Installing a New Hardwood Floor

 

Water vs. Wood

By Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

Some of the top reasons homeowners experience problems with hardwood flooring involve water. Whether it’s attacking the surface of the hardwood or coming up through the subfloor, water and wood never mix — and the results are sometimes devastating.

It’s important to take preventative measures both before and after your new hardwood flooring has been installed.

Firstly, consider what type of subfloor you have. Your subfloor type will determine what kind of flooring you can actually install. For example, if you have a below grade (basement level) concrete subfloor, your best option for a real hardwood floor would be an engineered construction. With a plywood subfloor on or above grade (ground level or up), you can typically install either solid or engineered hardwood flooring. It’s always important to check with the specific manufacturer of the flooring you’re interested in to make sure they recommend installing over whatever subfloor type you have.

Over either type of subfloor, on any level of the home, you’re going to want to use some sort of underlayment to protect the new hardwood flooring from any moisture travelling up through the subfloor. On a plywood subfloor, for nail or staple down installations, we always recommend using a 15lb. black felt paper underlayment for protection. If you’re floating over a plywood subfloor, you would just need to use a recommended underlayment — no extra plastic moisture barrier is necessary.

Concrete subfloors are a bit trickier. Firstly, you need to check the moisture content of the concrete prior to installation. Most manufacturers recommend concrete moisture to be 4% or lower throughout the year. Because there’s still a bit of moisture coming up through the concrete subfloor, it’s important to use an engineered hardwood construction. The way an engineered board is built, it’s structurally more stable when confronted with moisture and humidity changes. To protect the engineered flooring from being exposed to direct moisture travelling up through the subfloor, you need to use a moisture barrier no matter which installation you use.

6milplastic

6mil Plastic Moisture Barrier

The most recommended method of installation over concrete subflooring is a floating application. This involves the use of an underlayment as a cushion between the subfloor and the new engineered hardwood flooring. Most underlayments these days have moisture barriers already attached, which is perfect for installation over concrete slabs. In basements, we actually recommend adding a second layer of 6mil plastic prior to installation of the engineered as extra protection against moisture transfer. This extra protection will help prevent any trouble down the road.

Engineered flooring can also typically be glued down directly to the concrete subfloor. It is recommended to apply a moisture barrier in a liquid form (MVP) and let it dry before using the hardwood flooring adhesive to glue down the engineered flooring.

EdgeCuppingFailure to take proper precautions when installing hardwood flooring could lead to cupping, buckling or warping of boards. To the left is an example of cupping boards. You can see the edges of the boards rounding up slightly. This isn’t normal for hardwood flooring and if the proper moisture tests weren’t done or if the recommended underlayments weren’t used to protect against moisture transfer, the warranty would not cover this defect.

After installation of new hardwood flooring, solid or engineered, proper care will ensure your flooring will stay beautiful longer. Any spills should be cleaned up right away and any leaky appliances should be fixed as soon as possible or moved away from hardwood flooring. Standing water and continued exposure to water can permanently damage hardwood flooring, as water and wood never mix. Proper cleaning of hardwood flooring is important, too. Never use a soap and water combination, but, rather, only use approved cleaning solutions and your hardwood flooring will stay beautiful for years and years.

waterdamagedboardsTo the right is an example of hardwood flooring that had been exposed to water coming in from a leaky roof.

This is a common problem with hardwood floors where wet towels are often left or in places where leaks go unnoticed. You’ll notice black edges, discoloration and severe gapping. There is no way to fix this type of damage, short of replacing the entire section of the floor, and it’s definitely not something covered by any warranty.

Popular on store shelves right now are steam cleaners, vowing to be safe and effective cleaning tools for any hard surface, including real hardwood flooring. Consumers believe this marketing, use steam cleaners on their hardwood flooring and ultimately are disappointed with the results. With these steam cleaners, you’re forcing extra moisture, heated, into the pores of the real wood. Over time, this steam will start to affect the finish and the hardwood flooring’s structural integrity.

You may also be interested in:

How to Clean Your Hardwood Floors, How to Clean Your Laminate Floor, Pets and Your Hardwood Flooring

 

The Evolution of Muskoka Flooring

By Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

Black Walnut Classic Natural from Muskoka Hardwood Flooring

Black Walnut Classic Natural from Muskoka Hardwood Flooring

There are major changes happening in the hardwood flooring industry right now. The poor economy, coupled with diversifying consumer tastes, has left hardwood flooring manufacturers scrambling to create cost effective product lines which meet the stylistic demands within the current marketplace.

Perhaps one of the most drastic updates we’ve seen this year comes from the Canadian hardwood brand Muskoka. Back in 2011, Muskoka’s assets were sold to Boa Franc. We were anxiously waiting to see what changes the new parent company would bring with the acquisition and in March of this year we witnessed a complete overhaul of their hardwood flooring product line.

First we saw the Clear Grade go, with the plants transitioning to a Select & Better Grade as their clearest offering. Muskoka then discontinued many of their highly popular stain colors and introduced a whole new spectrum of darker colors and tones, as that’s where the current customer trends seem to be leaning towards. They also streamlined their solid line, completely getting rid of the soft American Cherry and downsizing their exotic offering to only the most popular species: Brazilian Cherry and Tigerwood. An engineered line is still available, although it only includes a 3-1/4 IN. wide plank and in a Red Oak or Maple wood species. Solid Sawn and Handscraped Collections complete Muskoka’s product line, offering incredibly thick wear layers — 5mm and 4.2mm, respectively.  Best of all, even with these changes, Muskoka has still managed to keep product pricing relatively competitive.

Aside from new product in their portfolio, Muskoka has also improved the technological aspects of the brand. A completely new website (www.muskokaflooring.com) offers a copious amount of information: product specifications, board construction illustrations, installation & warranty information, environmental concerns, high resolution product pictures and roomscene photographs. Additionally, Muskoka dove into the social media world earlier this year, using sites such as Pinterest and Facebook to connect directly with the end consumer. Rounding out their social media buzz is a new blog, which shows to have a promising start.

muskokasite

Boasting 110 years of bringing hardwood flooring to homes in North America, one has to question the effects which such an extensive product line shake up carries. However, customers seem satisfied with the new colors and board sized available and are still very much aware of Muskoka’s premium quality. So, it’s out with the old and in with the new. Hopefully these new updates will allow Muskoka to be more accommodating and competitive within the hardwood flooring industry.

This was a serious overhaul for this long-established hardwood flooring manufacturer and, as of right now, it looks like Muskoka is headed in a positive direction. Click here to visit the Muskoka page on Hosking Hardwood Flooring.

 

Adding Exotic Hardwood Flooring to Your Home

By Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

Exotic Hardwood Flooring has certainly made a splash in the market lately, becoming a highly sought after trend for homes across the United States as a more exciting option than traditional oak flooring. Known for deep, rich natural coloring and superior hardness, exotic wood species are a way to add a unique touch to your home.

Brazilian Cherry flooring from IndusParquet

Brazilian Cherry flooring from IndusParquet

Some of the more popular exotic wood species include Brazilian Cherry and Santos Mahogany, but there really is a huge selection of exotic species across the spectrum — from light Amendoim to dark Brazilian Walnut and every tone in between.

There are a few things you need to keep in mind if you plan on adding an exotic hardwood floor to your home. Firstly, what you see isn’t necessarily what you get. Exotic hardwood flooring is prone to getting darker and richer in color with exposure to light. It’s important when looking at samples of exotic hardwood flooring from a flooring store to remember that these samples probably have been out of the box for quite awhile and are currently either in the process of maturation or even fully matured. When you open up a fresh box of exotic wood, you’re going to find that the exotic wood boards could be slightly or significantly lighter than what you’re expecting. It’s common for homeowners to panic at seeing these lighter boards, but rest assured, exotic woods do change color and take on richer tones over time with a complete maturation time frame of approximately 6 months.

Secondly, it’s important to keep in mind that exotic wood species typically feature a wide variation of color. For example, with a Brazilian Cherry floor, you could find colors ranging from pale blondes to deep reds and everything in between. It’s always a good idea when looking at samples of exotic hardwoods to look at larger display boards or at least a few samples of different boards (not just one swatch). Brazilian Cherry seems to be one of the most extreme of the exotic wood species when it comes to color variation, but with any of the exotic wood species it’s still a good idea to plan out your room prior to installation. Open up 4 or 5 cartons of the material and actually place boards out mixing from different cartons, making sure to create a balanced appearance across the entire room. Homeowners love the mosaic of colors that exotic woods tend to create once installed and it easily becomes a focal point of any room.

Brazilian Teak from IndusParquet

Brazilian Teak from IndusParquet

Additionally, exotic wood species are typically a lot harder than their domestic counterparts. This doesn’t mean that exotic hardwood flooring needs less care. It’s incredibly important to take good care of exotic hardwood flooring, just as you would any other flooring in your home. Exotic hardwoods can still scratch and dent if you drop something heavy enough on it. Because exotic wood species are harder, the dent might not be as deep — but it will still be there. Take care to regularly sweep or vacuum up dust, dirt and other particles from your hardwood. Clean exotic hardwood flooring with approved hardwood flooring cleaners, such as Bona Kemi, to ensure a beautiful shine. Use chair glides on furniture and mats at doors leading to outside. These steps will ensure a long, beautiful life for your exotic hardwood flooring.

Manufacturers, taking note of this surge in demand for exotics, have made it easier than ever to find exotic wood species in all sorts of flooring constructions: solid, engineered, handscraped, click lock, laminate, vinyl, etc. This makes it convenient for you to add the beauty of exotic wood to virtually any room of your home. For more information on specific exotic wood species, check out our article: Choosing a Hardwood Flooring Wood Species.

article_indusparquet

Also important when you’re considering an exotic hardwood purchase is the brand. Raw material for exotic hardwood floors typically come from Brazil, although some are found in Peru and other South American countries. To ensure that your exotic hardwood has come from a forest harvested in a environmentally favorable way, it’s best to choose well known brands in the industry: IndusParquet, Nature, and Scandian are all great companies to start your search at. These manufacturers work primarily with exotic wood species and hold main offices and mills in South America. Because these brands typically manufacture right in Brazil, they generally get first dibs on the best raw materials and are able to produce flooring quickly and efficiently. Finished products are then shipped via container to ports in the U.S. (most often in Miami) for distribution throughout the United States. This leads to one of the downsides of exotic hardwood flooring: popular products may involve longer lead times than domestic wood products, simply because they sell out quick and it takes more time to get product across the water and through customs.

Overall, exotic woods are a simple way to add warmth and beauty to your home, creating natural mosaics that will last for years and years.

 

Who Can You Trust: Review Fraud

By Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

article_reviewsThe internet has made finding reviews on goods and services easier than ever. Online reviews are a great way for potential consumers to find more hands on information about a specific future purchase as well as for seasoned consumers to voice their opinions on their experiences.

But, what happens when a company takes a review site (ConsumerSearch, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Epinions, etc.) and shapes results into more favorable outcomes for their own benefit? This is a common practice (however unethical) in marketing strategies and can trip up consumers looking for legitimate company/product experiences.

There are a couple different ways in which companies can force a specific outcome on these review sites. Primarily, a company can search out competitors and post inaccurate reviews against them. As mentioned before, this is unethical, but it takes a dig at the competition and puts the acting company/product in a better light. Secondly, there are specialized marketing companies canvassing the market now which promote the fact that they can get companies more positive online reviews and/or get negative reviews removed. These marketing companies pump out these falsified reviews, deceiving consumers who are simply looking for honest information.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know whether a consumer review you read online is valid or not and because of this, many online reviews now need to be taken with a grain of salt.

 

The Plight of Laminate Flooring

By Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

Over the years, laminate flooring has gotten a bad rap.

Laminate flooring was originally created as a more durable and less expensive substitution for real hardwood flooring. Invented in 1977 by a company named Pergo, early laminate flooring selections were very limited in realistic aesthetics, appearing quite cheap and fake. This bad reputation has stuck in some consumers’ minds, ultimately dissuading them from even considering laminate flooring as an option in the home.

What is laminate flooring?

Laminate Flooring Construction

Laminate Flooring Construction

Basically, laminate flooring is created by fusing together a base layer [1], a core [2], an image of real hardwood flooring (or stone/tile) [3], and a top layer of melamine resin [4]. Early laminate flooring images were very primitive, crude replicas of real hardwood flooring planks. Textures on laminate planks were unheard of in these earliest laminate collections, making the boards even less realistic. But, all fake appearances aside, laminate flooring made its mark on the flooring industry because of ease of installation, durability and extreme low cost.

As popularity of laminate flooring among homeowners grew and grew, other manufacturers took notice and started developing their own collections of laminate flooring. Pretty soon, research and development took laminate flooring from glued installation to click lock floating installation, making installation even simpler.

As technology advanced, so did the possibilities with laminate floor design — especially the simulated images of real hardwood flooring. Manufacturers of laminate flooring are now able to produce amazingly realistic and fashion forward selections, incorporating new gloss sheens, textures, plank styles and more underlayment options.

Armstrong Grand Illusions

Armstrong Grand Illusions

Sheens

Typically laminate flooring has a very matte/satin sheen, but recently introduced laminates from Bruce and Armstrong (Grand Illusions Melbourne Acacia shown to the left) showcase strong gloss sheens, for those looking for a very elegant, polished look.

Textures

When thinking of laminate flooring, the image of a flat and plastic looking plank usually comes to mind. With technological advances in the laminate flooring industry, though, manufacturers now can add a variety of surface textures to planks, creating not only an appearance of hardwood flooring, but also a feel of authentic hardwood or tile. It’s amazing how often laminate tiles are mistaken for real porcelain or stone. Laminate flooring has definitely come a long way in satisfying our appetite for realism.

Plank Styles

Early laminate flooring planks were strictly 3-strip styles with square edges & ends and a very repetitive image pattern. Present day laminate collections offer 1-strip and 2-strip in addition to the 3-strip styles, along with an option for micro-beveled edges & ends. Additionally, manufacturers have increased unique images for colors in their collections, so repetition within the floor is much less than with the earlier laminate collections.

Underlayments

It’s not just the laminate planks that have evolved over the years. Laminate installation accessories have also become more and more advanced. Originally just a thin foam pad used for cushion during floating installations, underlayments now feature attached moisture vapor barriers and sound deadening properties. Felt underlayments have come to the forefront of the laminate industry and some laminate collections (like Shaw Radiant Luster) even feature pre-attached underlayments on each plank, making laminate flooring installation that much easier.

Why choose laminate flooring over carpet, vinyl or other flooring types?

Because the process of manufacturing laminate flooring is relatively easy, as compared to that of other flooring types, laminate floor brands are quick to update their collections with the newest trends in terms of colors, textures and wood species. Therefore, laminate flooring makes it easy to get very specific looks, styling your home exactly how you like it — whether that be a very traditional direction or a more unique, exotic direction. With laminate flooring, there really is something for everyone.

Alloc Commercial Laminate

Alloc Commercial Laminate

Durability is a huge factor in homeowners choosing laminate over other flooring types. Most of the top brands offering laminate flooring in today’s market guarantee their products with a lifetime warranty in residential settings. Laminate flooring is so durable that most brands also offer a commercial setting warranty, with high traffic patterns in mind. Laminate flooring is known to work well in offices, restaurants and even dance studios. To the left, you can see Alloc durability at work inside a car dealership.

So, it’s time to stop holding laminate flooring’s humble beginnings against it and start considering all the beauty, durability and affordability laminate flooring has to offer.

 

The Basement Dilemma

By Crystal Hosking, Hosking Hardwood Flooring

The finished basement seems a staple in homes today, offering more living space without a costly house expansion. But what are the design options in flooring for turning a basement into a livable area for your family?

basement_optionsReal Hardwood Flooring

A surprise to some, real hardwood flooring is a great option for applications in finished basements. Most homeowners think of real hardwood flooring as nailed down 3/4 IN. thick solid hardwood planks. Unfortunately, these solid hardwood floors can’t be installed over concrete and no manufacturer is going to uphold a warranty for solid wood installed below grade (anything below the 1st floor of the home). So, what real wood flooring CAN be put in a basement?

This is where engineered flooring comes in. Most consumers think of engineered flooring as being fake flooring. All too often, engineered flooring is mistaken for laminate flooring — when, in reality, they couldn’t be more different. Engineered flooring is simply modified real wood flooring, and it was created specifically to be put in situations where solid hardwood flooring could never go. Additionally, engineered flooring will add the same amount of value to your home as its solid counterpart.

Engineered wood flooring is made completely of real wood. The top layer (wear layer) is made of the featured wood species and is fused to a core of cross layered plywood. These cross layers take on more of the stress when real wood takes in moisture and expels moisture (expansion and contraction). In basements, expansion and contraction is magnified because of the higher moisture levels and engineered flooring is the only real wood flooring that is stable enough to survive these conditions. You can find more technical specifics on the construction of engineered flooring here.

Engineered flooring ranges in thicknesses from 1/4 IN. to 3/4 IN. (the same thickness as typical solid planks). The thicker the wear layer (top layer) of engineered flooring, the more times you can sand and refinish the flooring in the future, if ever needed.

Engineered flooring ranges in thicknesses from 1/4 IN. to 3/4 IN. (the same thickness as typical solid planks). The thicker the wear layer (top layer) of engineered flooring, the more times you can sand and refinish the flooring in the future, if ever needed.

Engineered flooring can be confusing to homeowners, when they are first introduced to it, because there are a few different types. There are your typical engineered floors with standard tongue and grooves (as shown to the right) and then there are also click lock floating engineered floors, featuring click locking edges and ends which snap together for a glueless floating installation. Standard tongue and groove engineered floors usually can be floated, but you would need to glue the seams of the planks together. Find more information on floating engineered flooring here.

In addition to floating, engineered flooring can also be directly glued to concrete floors in basements. Direct glue down installations are a little more tedious and messy, whereas floating (especially click lock floating) is a lot quicker. One of the most sought after benefits of click lock floating engineered flooring is that the planks are incredibly easy to replace. This is especially helpful in basements, where a surprise water leak from outside or from washing machines can seep onto hardwood flooring and cause damage. With click locking engineered planks, it’s very simple to take up the damaged planks and replace with new ones, without disturbing the rest of the floor.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring in basements is a great option if you’re looking for a hard surface flooring option at a cheap cost. Significantly less expensive than real hardwood flooring and, with all the technological advances in the industry, laminate flooring is looking better and more realistic than ever.

Most all of the laminate options on the market today feature amazing click locking systems, allowing for glueless floating installations which are quite literally a snap! Simply roll out an approved underlayment, click the laminate planks together and then get to enjoying your new basement floor. Standard size rooms can be installed in a few hours and homeowners can save lots of money by simply doing the install themselves — it really is that easy.

Laminate flooring is perfect for basements because it has all the beauty of real hardwood flooring, but holds up to moisture exposure and water leakage significantly better than hardwood flooring. Laminate planks can also be replaced very easily if any of the boards end up getting damaged.

Vinyl comes in a variety of styles, including wood patterns and tile patterns.

Vinyl comes in a variety of styles, including wood patterns and tile patterns.

Vinyl Tiles & Cork Flooring

Other viable flooring options for a finished basement are: Vinyl Tiles and Cork.These flooring options are perfect if you’re turning your basement into a playroom for children or a home gym. Both vinyl tiles and cork floors offer a more slip resistant surface, more cushion underfoot and both stand up to moisture well. Vinyl tiles and cork planks are typically installed via glue down applications. Additionally, cork flooring is naturally hypoallergenic and resists mold, mildew and bacteria growth — especially beneficial in basement settings.

Ultimately, basement flooring doesn’t need to be boring and you’re not stuck with just carpet or painted concrete options. The only limit for the design of your finished basement is your own imagination.

 
 
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