How to Choose the Best Finish for Your Wood Flooring
Wood flooring can create a huge visual impact in your home. It can make a space feel warm, open, even luxurious. It can also help reduce allergens in the home. However, choosing a finish for your wood floor is crucial to maintain its appearance and to protect the wood from scratches. There are many different types of finish, so how do you know which one is right for you?
First, you need to know if your wood floor has already been treated. Some finishes cannot be applied on top of certain products, so it's important to know what has already been used on the wood. This is also useful information when you are choosing cleaning products for your floor. If you are purchasing a new floor, the manufacturer should provide information about any treatments or finishes that are added during production. If you have a home with an existing wood floor, ask the previous owner. If that's not an option, there are tests you can perform to tell you what finishes may have been used.
Types of Finishes
- Polyurethane is the most popular finish for wood floors. It is available in both water-based and oil-based formulas. Oil-based polys are best for high-traffic areas, are more affordable, and have an amber glow many people admire. However, their strong fumes and longer drying time may be a concern. Water-based polys dry with a clear finish, have less fumes, and are more environmentally friendly. However, they are nearly twice as expensive, and the faster drying time means you must work quickly.
- Wax was one of the most commonly used finishes before polyurethane became available in the 1970s. It is less durable than a poly and requires regular upkeep. However, if you are looking for an eco-friendly finish for your wood flooring, wax may be your best solution. It is applied by hand in small areas at a time and is available in both a paste and a liquid. Polyurethanes cannot be applied on top of a wax finish.
- Shellac is another finish that used to be very popular. It is also not very durable, but it is easy to work with and inexpensive. However, a floor that has been finished with shellac can not be refinished with poly or other modern products. It can only be redone with another shellac or with wax.
- An acid-cured, or Swedish, finish is extremely durable. It dries in as little as two hours, but it can take up to 60 days to be fully cured. It is an expensive option and requires a professional to apply.
- Oil finishes are easy to apply yourself, but they are not as durable as polys. They are made from tung oil, which is non-toxic. Oil finishes should be reapplied every two or three years.
With this knowledge, you should be able to decide which finish is right for you and your wood flooring. The right finish will give your home a look that you and your family will enjoy for years to come. Visit the Speedwell Design Center showroom to see our huge flooring selection and to talk to our design experts.
Current Trends in Custom Draperies
Keep it Clean and SimpleIn days past, it was common to see draperies with thick material, heavily patterned or designed, and fringed with ornamentation like jabots. While this style may still work for certain rooms—for example, richly carpeted parlors or rooms with ornate and dark wallpaper—the modern trend is towards crisp, light fabrics and simple, clean lines. Custom draperies incorporating airy fabrics like a white gossamer blend offer a wonderful accent without the potential to stifle. Depending on the room, a dark smoke or chocolate sheer can have a dimming effect that cloaks the walls in a sunset-like hue.
Look for a Natural FitAnother hot trend today is the use of natural materials like bamboo for screens. In a room with hardwood floors—especially lighter-colored wood like ash, hickory or oak—a natural wood near the light source creates continuity and warmth. Other organic materials like matchstick offer similar advantages. Woven organic textures diffuse light into the home and offer slivers of the outdoors without ceding too much privacy. When natural custom draperies are used to cover glass doorways, it can create a blurring effect, making the transition to outdoors seem effortless.
Know Your OptionsBecause custom drapes can be tailored to your specifications, the multitude of choices can be a little overwhelming. Below is a list of classic options so you know what you're looking for ahead of time. - Panels: This popular style features panels of material on either side of a window that can be drawn together to block light. - Swags and Cascades: These curved swaths of fabric cover the top of a window and sometimes drape pleats down the sides. - Valences: This short curtain covers just the top portion of the window, frequently offering a decorative cover for where blinds are attached to the window frame. - Cornices: This option serves a similar purpose to valences, but the fabric is pulled taut and frequently shaped by a hard board. Of course, the best trend to follow is your own personal taste, and matching the custom draperies to the room will always help. Keeping these trends in mind will help a designer make a room in touch with the latest fashions.
Top Tips to Keep Hardwood Flooring Scratch-Free
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This adage is commonly used by doctors, but it also applies to the health of hardwood flooring. With a few proactive measures, homeowners can avoid potentially costly damages. Keep hardwood flooring smooth and shiny with these easy scratch prevention tips.
Lay Down an Area RugIn larger rooms, such as a living or family room, lay down an area rug. The rug protects the hardwood flooring, plus as a decorative element, it will add a finished, polished look to the room. Place coffee tables on the area rug so that there is no need to worry about the legs causing any scratches.
Keep It CleanVacuum regularly, and follow up by cleaning with a microfiber pad. Avoid buying cleaning products that contain wax or oily soaps, as these can dull the top coating, causing resurfacing problems. Moisture can cause curling or warping in the boards, so clean up any spills quickly to prevent permanent damage.
PolishThe frequency a homeowner polishes a hardwood floor depends on the wear and traffic of the area, but most homeowners will need to polish their hardwood every two to four months. The process restores the floor’s existing finish by filling in tiny scratches and evening the appearance. Polishes are available in high gloss and low gloss finishes, but make sure to buy a product that has a fast dry time and no waxy build-up.
Take Off ShoesShoes with points, like stilettos, or hard heels can be very dangerous for floors because they do not evenly distribute weight. The best solution is to ask guests to remove shoes, as this also minimizes the amount of dirt tracked into the house.
Install Rubber Chair Legs or Fabric PadsThe simple action of pulling a dining room chair out to sit down for a meal is enough to leave a noticeable mark on the floor. This damage can be avoided by installing rubber chair legs. Fabric pads offer protection as well, and they can be easily cut to create a perfect fit.
Keep Pet Nails TrimmedSome dogs bolt to the door every time the doorbell rings, or jump with excitement when their owner comes home after work. While these joyous greetings are the best thing to come home to, sharp dog and cat nails can leave marks on precious hardwood flooring. A regular trip to the groomers for a nail trimming is the best way to eliminate scratches caused by furry friends.
Always Use Moving DiscsRearranging furniture is an excellent way to liven things up in a home. Unfortunately, pushing and pulling furniture items that are too heavy to pick up often causes trail marks that can be hard to fix. Instead, slide a set of moving discs, commonly referred to as furniture slides, underneath each furniture leg. This will protect both the furniture and hardwood flooring.
Place a Welcome Mat Outside the Front DoorDirt and small stones attach themselves to the bottom of a person's shoes. Neglecting to take a few seconds to wipe the soles off before entering a home could lead to hardwood floor damage. Placing a welcome mat outside the front door is all it takes to prevent this damage. Even after taking precautionary measures, it is possible to end up with a minor scratch or two. If this occurs, pick up a hardwood care kit from a local home improvement store to make repairs.
Carpet, Wood, or Tile: Which Floor Is Right for Your Home?
A home's flooring is an integral part of its atmosphere and ambiance. Materials, colors, textures, and surfaces create a unique feel in every room. Hardwood, tile, and carpet are three of the most popular options, and each one comes with a different price tag and offers distinct advantages.
Hardwood FlooringHardwood is a classic look that adds natural warmth to any living space. Depending on the desired aesthetic and budget, hardwood floors are available in solid, engineered, vinyl plank, laminate, and hand scraped options. The material of the subfloor, whether concrete, plywood, or particle board, will also impact the hardwood material choice. Additionally, the species of the wood is very important for the end project. Natural maple lends itself to a more modern feel, and hickory, with a mix of light and dark pieces, is more traditional. There is also birch, cherry, cork, pine, and other exotic choices. While it is typically more expensive than carpet, hardwood can last hundreds of years if it is properly treated and maintained. It is also easy to clean and doesn't hold allergens.
Tile FlooringTile has more color and style options than almost any other flooring option. Stone and ceramic are the most popular materials, but glass, concrete, porcelain, slate, tumbled stone, metal, and even cork tiles are available. Tile is extremely durable and easy to clean; however, it is probably not a suitable option for every room in the home because it is very heat resistant, meaning it takes a long time to warm up throughout the day. While this may not be a problem in the kitchen or the bathroom, it is a surefire way to bring popsicle toes into the bedroom. Many designers also find that it is a very stylish and functional choice for foyers, sunrooms, and laundry rooms.
CarpetsCarpets are soft and gentle and are ideal for homes and especially rooms with children. It's worth investing in a quality product, as bargain carpet can fray or wear thin within a few years while a high-end product can last up to 15 years. The most popular carpet materials are nylon, olefin, wool, and synthetic. SmartStrand® Synthetics carpeting, backed by a lifetime warranty, offers enhanced durability and stain protection. Custom rugs and stair runners are available in very versatile designs and are popular elements. To achieve durability, warmth, and softness, rugs can be put over tile or wood floors. A buyer should weigh all the pros, cons, and costs before selecting a flooring material. The right flooring will personalize a space, setting the tone for the rest of the house.
Choosing a Finish for your Wood Floor
Polyurethane is the most popular finish for floors. Confused on which finish is best for YOUR wood floor or project, water-based or oil based polyurethane? They are both durable, good looking, tough enough to handle constant traffic and are resistant to almost everything. Though there are differences. As for durability, some experts maintain that oil-based polyurethane is still the standard for performance, especially for high-traffic areas. That said you can't go wrong with either.
The water-based polyurethane has less fumes, low odor, DRYS FASTER and has a clear finish [as far as repainting color of stain]. You can recoat them in two hours. Also cleaning your tools is easier; just use water! Start your project early in the morning and you'll be able to sleep in that room at night. However, because water-based dries quickly, you must work fast to maintain a "wet edge" during application or you'll end up with visible lap marks where wet polyurethane was applied over dried or partially dried finish. And you can't go back and work waterborne polyurethane, even when it's wet, or you'll leave marks in the finish.
The oil-based polyurethane has a stronger finish and is more SCRATCH RESISTANT. Great if you have dogs or cats walking on your floors! Oil-based polyurethanes will leave an amber glow, but require FEWER COATS. Though the five-hour wait between coats and twelve-hour [or preferably twenty-four hour] wait after the last coast will make the room unusable for a few days... and you'll have to deal with a strong odor. Although oil-based poly emits noxious fumes, it can be worked when wet; That means you can go back and correct mistakes — a crucial advantage for the beginner!
Both the water and oil-based polyurethanes offer good protection; the biggest difference will be in the appearance of the finish. Do you love the natural look of maple? Then apply a water-based polyurethane. Although the water-based poly appears milky in the can, they go on clear and remain clear. Water-based poly will accent the character of your wood without giving it the amber tint of an oil-based poly. That said... some woods, such as oak, the amber tint of an oil-based poly is desirable. Though for a red-oak floor or a stained floor, use either type of finish.
Although you may be leaning toward the water-based, they do COST TWICE as much as oil-based polys. Also they won't give wood the rich glow that oil-based polys will give; Some people consider the water-based cold looking.
Most water-based polys contain only 30 to 35 percent solids, compared with the 45 to 50 percent solids in oil-based products. Since these solids create the protective finish, you need to apply four coats of water-based, as opposed to two or three of oil-based poly. And if you go with water-based polyurethane you may need to apply additional coats every two years or so.
There's debate over which finish is harder, but some experts maintain that hardness isn't necessarily a good attribute of a floor finish. You want a finish that will flex along with the floor. And a super-hard finish shows scratches more readily. You'll prolong the protective life of any finish by eliminating its number 1 enemies, dirt and grit. Sweep or vacuum the floor often to protect to finish and put rugs in high-traffic areas. Call our showroom at 973-538-9090 in Morristown, New Jersey, today to select rugs for your floors!
If you're doing your project yourself, before applying any finish, vacuum twice and use a tack rag on the entire floor. Or to MAKE LIFE EASIER, have Speedwell Design Center in Northern New Jersey install and finish your wood floors!
Hypoallergenic Benefits of Hardwood Flooring
Many people suffer from allergies (dust, mold, mildew, bacteria, dust mites, etc). Allergy sufferers usually take lots of medications to minimize the symptoms, but usually don't address the problem.
The solution could be using products in our daily lives that are hypoallergenic. Start correcting the problem of allergies.
Babies love to crawl around and put things in their mouths. Since babies spend a lot of time on the floor, you should look into flooring options that will minimize exposure to harmful germs, mold, mildew and bacteria. Choosing hypoallergenic options, such as natural hardwood flooring, could diminish the risk of harmful exposure to your little ones.Health Conscious
Designers and architects agree that natural hardwood flooring is a great choice for a health-conscious, beautiful home. Hardwood flooring is being installed in more bedrooms. Wood flooring maintenance products have evolved to make it fast and easy to clean a hardwood floor. Hardwood flooring is the hypoallergenic solution for a bedroom, a room where we spend approximately one third of our time each day.
We also spend a third of our time at work. More and more commercial businesses are installing hardwood flooring. Wood floors in your commercial space or offices will lessen the chance of coming into contact with germs, bacteria and other allergens in the workplace. Changing to wood floors in the business environment can result in a positive and significant impact on productivity, thus lowering the cost of doing business.An Ounce of Prevention
In Sweden and many parts of the world it is part of the culture to remove your shoes before entering a home. They feel it is a way of keeping their floors cleaner, longer-lasing and more hypoallergenic. Today's finishes are considerably more scuff resistant than the hardwood finishes used in the past, but the hypoallergenic issues remain the same.Maintenance Tips
Cleaning your hardwood floors has never been easier. One-step, easy to apply natural floors cleaners are readily available at grocery, box stores and home improvement stores, as well as retail floor covering showrooms, such as Speedwell Design Center on 108 Ridgedale Avenue in Morristown, New Jersey. For those who suffer from allergies, it is best to clean your floors on a regular basis. Another tip is to have wipe-off mats at every entry door to clean off the bottom of your shoes before walking info the room from outdoors. If you're not going to remove your shoes before stepping inside, this practice of cleaning off the bottom of your shoes is the next best preventative measure.
Being aware of how to resolve the problem of allergies makes more sense than just treating the symptoms.
Stop into Speedwell Design Center today and one of our Professional Designers will help you select the best hardwood floors for your home of office! Call 973-538-9090 today.
Click Here to view some samples of wood flooring options at Speedwell Design Center in Morristown, NJ. Of course, there MANY more options in our showroom at 108 Ridgedale Avenue in Morristown.