Brilliance Flooring Resources

Do Hardwoods Add Value?

Thinking about replacing/refinishing your floors? Is it worth the cost? According to Realtor.com, homeowners and renters across the United States prefer hardwood floors as their flooring of choice. 

But is it worth the cost? The national average cost to have your hardwoods refinished is $2-$4/sqft and with 1000sqft of hardwoods, that bill hurts. Here are some statistics that might help you decide on whether to leave the pee stained carpet or not:

1.) Sell Faster. Through a national homebuyers survey, Realtor.com concluded that 82% of homes sell faster and for more money. 

2.) Renters Want It. HGTV conducted a similar study and found that "54% of renters were willing to pay more for a home with hardwood flooring". The cost might be more upfront but if you are trying rent (and fill your space quickly), hardwood floors bring a "wow" factor that carpet just can't. 

3.) Carpet is cheaper...and lasts 15 years max. With the average cost to have carpet installed is $3-$5/sqft, carpet is the much less expensive option....upfront. Even the best carpet has a life expectancy of ~15years. That is with regular maintenance, no animals, and kids. With proper maintenance of hardwood floors, they can last more than a lifetime. 

Hardwood floors have been used since the 1600's and will continue to be used for the rest of time with its natural feel, easy of maintenance, and customizability. 

 

Top 3 Flooring Trends of 2017

Hardwood Color and Sheen trends for 2017:

 

1. Dark hardwood floors

Yes, dark is in! Dark floors continue to grow in popularity, especially among higher end homes. They give a contemporary and classic look. The 2 most popular stains are Antique Brown (darkest and most true brown) and jacobean (a very dark brown, but a tad warmer with a hint of golden tone). Graphite, a black tone stain, has seen a major rise over the past year.

Dark floors make a statement, and they are perfect for highlighting white kitchen cabinets (which are currently the most popular selection), white base trim, or lighter walls.

Dark floors can be a bit more challenging to clean and maintain as they tend to show dirt and scratches a bit more. On the other hand, dark can camouflage older floors’ imperfections (e.g. wood with pet or water stain, gaps in floors, etc.

2. Satin Sheen

About 95% of our customers end up deciding to go with a satin sheen for their floors. The best way to describe a satin sheen is that it still has a luster, shine, and beauty to it, but is not SHINY. The floor will look brand new still but will not look "wet".

One thing to think about with the sheen choice is the shinier the floor, the more imperfections you will see. Satin is a great balance of beauty and luster while not being too shiny for most

3. UV (Ultra-Violet) Finish

Years ago, oil modified polyurethane was the Cadillac of floor finish. It dried relatively quickly (24 hours), left a thick base to the protection of your floor, and gave an almost syrupy look. The question is: who still drives a Cadillac? 

Water-Based Polyurethane: Bona, the leader in the floor finish industry, has developed a product called Bona High Traffic HD. It is a two component mixture where if left for 24 hours after mixing, will be rock hard and unusable. It is water-based which means it has low VOCs (toxic fumes), little to no smell, and is walkable with light foot traffic in 3 hours! It has revolutionized the flooring industry.

UV Polyurethane: UV is widely used now throughout Europe and has begun to spread out West. While application of UV polyurethane is applied like other polyurethane, there is one striking difference; it is baked onto the floor with a high powered UV light machine, curing it INSTANTLY. You've seen pre-finished flooring at Home Depot and Lowes, those are UV baked on in a factory. Technology now allows for you to have that same incredibly durable finish product without the "plasticy" look of pre-finished floors.

What Type of Floor Do I Have?

wood flooring

Many times, we have arrived to an estimate only to discover the customer had either a laminate or engineered hardwood floor; both of which cannot be refinished. Here is a quick guide to discover what type of floor you have.

Laminate: The best way to describe laminate is that it is a high definition picture of hardwood floor and printed onto particle board. While some laminate looks beautiful, it is not real wood and cannot be refinished.

Engineered: Widely used in late 90's early 2000's construction, engineered hardwood floors are one of the greatest tricks to new home buyers. When you bought your house, you were told you have hardwoods throughout. And this is true with engineered floors, but not what you are thinking. Looking at the top picture, the upper layer of the flooring is actual hardwood but can be as thin as a 1/8". The problems that occur when trying to refinish engineered is that it is too thin and boards can be ruined instantly. Most professional flooring companies do not refinish engineered hardwoods due to this liability.

Solid Hardwood:  Solid hardwood can be resanded and stained anywhere from 2-6 times throughout its life. Floors from the late 1800's are still be resanded to this day. They are more durable, timeless, and easier to maintain. 

WHAT FLOOR TO I HAVE?

hardwood flooring

Go to an air vent in the floor and pull off the cover. Inspect the side of the wood. Is it solid all the way through? Do you see layers of wood (engineered). Or is it really thinand plastic-ey feeling (laminate).

A little prep work can save you a lot of time with future estimates and take away the surprise when you hear "we can't refinish these floors".

Maintaining Your Hardwood Floors

Clean hardwood floros

Hardwood Floors: Basic Care

Speed up the cleaning process by first dusting the floor with a mop that has been treated with a dusting agent to pick up dust, dirt, and pet hair that might scratch the floor surface. For weekly or biweekly cleaning, vacuum with a floor-brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner or an electric broom. Do not use a vacuum with a beater bar attachment, which can scratch a wood floor's finish. For quick dusting, use disposable electrostatic cloths, available at grocery and discount stores. Save money by using both sides of the disposable cloths.

Hardwood Floors: Deeper Cleaning

Dirt, oil, and grime build up over time and aren't completely removed by a weekly dust mopping. For occasional deep cleaning (consider doing the cleaning in the spring or just before the winter holidays), use a wood-cleaning product diluted according to the label instructions. Saturate a sponge or rag mop in the water, then wring it almost dry so it feels only slightly damp to the touch. Damp-mop the floor, being careful to prevent standing water on the floor. Rinse with a clean mop dampened in clear water, but only if the cleaning product requires it. Wipe up excess liquid because standing water can damage wood surfaces. If the weather is humid, operate a ceiling fan or the air-conditioner to speed up drying.

Hardwood Floors: Removing Marks

Consider your floor's finish before trying to remove a mark. If the stain is on the surface, your floor probably has a hard finish, such as urethane. If the stain has penetrated through to the wood, the floor probably has a soft oiled finish -- common in older homes whose floors have not been refinished and resealed. Wipe surface stains from a hard finish with a soft, clean cloth. Never use sandpaper, steel wool, or harsh chemicals on such a surface because they can permanently damage the finish.

The following remedies are for hardwood floors with soft oiled finishes. If needed, end each treatment by staining the wood, then waxing and buffing the spot to match the rest of the floor.

  • Dark spots and pet stains: Rub the spot with No. 000 steel wool and floor wax. If the area is still dark, apply bleach or vinegar and allow it to soak into the wood for about an hour. Rinse with a damp cloth.
  • Heel marks: Use fine steel wool to rub in floor wax.
  • Oil-base stains: Rub the area with a soft cloth and dishwashing detergent to break down the grease. Rinse with clear water. If one or more applications don't work, repeat the procedure. Keep children and pets out of the room until you're done. Let the spot dry, then smooth the raised grain with fine sandpaper.
  • Water marks or white stains: Rub the spot with No. 000 steel wool and floor wax. If the stain goes deeper, lightly sand the floor and clean with fine steel wool and odorless mineral spirits.

9 Benefits to Having Hardwood Floors

 

1. Straight-forward installation for those with experience

Quality hardwood floors are specifically milled to ensure a uniform and stable fit. The choice between finished and unfinished floors is an important factor in this, of course.

2. Easy to clean

Hardwood floors are very easy to clean as they do not accumulate a lot of dirt, dust, and debris. A weekly cleaning procedure involves vacuuming, moping and keeping the floor dry. That’s it!

3. High quality look

Along with an elegant, high-end aesthetic, hardwood floors offer the warmth, beauty, and value of wood, which never goes out of style. Hardwood floors are also said to enable a look of spaciousness wherever they are installed.

4. Strength and durability

High quality hardwood floors that are kiln-dried, manufactured, installed, and finished to certain standards can last for generations. Able to stand up to active workspaces and heavy foot traffic, quality hardwood floors are tough, hard-wearing, and have long term durability.

5. A great long-term investment

Choosing hardwood floors increases the value of your property. It is a great long-term investment and can actually become a strong resale argument, exceeding the initial installation cost of the floors. It also enables a faster sale and brings higher prices at the time of resale.

6. Variety

Hardwood floors offer a wide range of appearances. There are many colors, styles, stains, and species available. In addition, you can choose between pre-finished and unfinished hardwood floors. No matter how diverse and unique your needs are, there are many hardwood flooring options available.

7. Better acoustics

A properly installed hardwood floor never gives you hollow sounds or vibrations.

8. Healthy indoor air quality

These floors are a healthy choice for interior environments. It has no fibers, grout lines, or embossing that can trap dust, pollen, particles, animal dander, and allergens that occur with carpets. They are the best choice of flooring with allergy sufferers and contribute to healthier indoor air quality.

9. Ageless quality

When other floors will begin to look tired and worn, your hardwood floors will still look beautiful. And your hardwood floors become more valuable as time goes by. Also keep in mind that unlike carpeting and vinyl, hardwood floors can be refinished rather than replaced when the finish needs an update.

Choosing Your Floor: Engineered or Solid?

If you are considering having hardwood floors installed in your home, you’re going to have to decide whether you want solid wood planks or engineered wood planks.

Both qualify as hardwood flooring, but they’re surprisingly different from each other.

Solid Hardwood Planks

Solid wood planks are milled from a single piece of hardwood and covered with a thin, clear protective layer that often consists of aluminum oxide, ceramic or an acrylic substance.

Typically three quarters of an inch, the thickness of solid wood planking enables it to be sanded and refinished many times throughout the life of the floor.

Because the plank is a solid piece of wood, it will expand and contract in accordance with the home’s relative humidity. To prevent warping, the home’s interior relative humidity needs to remain between 45% and 65% all year round.

Solid wood flooring is available in a wide array of wood species—including oak, maple, and black walnut as well as regional-specific choices like pecan, mesquite and others. The market also sometimes offers exotic species of hardwood from Brazil, Africa and elsewhere.

Solid wood flooring is permanently nailed to the subfloor. Because of the expansion and contraction issues, installers will normally leave a gap between the wall and the floor to accommodate swelling.

This type of flooring should only be installed in parts of the home above grade and only over plywood, wood or oriented strand board (OSB) subfloors.

Engineered Hardwood Planks

Hardwood planks classified as “engineered” feature multiple layers (typically three to five) bonded together under extreme heat and pressure.

The layers typically include a top veneer of hardwood backed by less expensive layers of plywood—although some manufacturers use substrates made from recycled wood fibers mixed with stone dust for improved durability and stability.

Because of the way engineered hardwood is processed, it is not as affected by humidity as solid wood planks are. Therefore, the product is often the preferred choice for kitchens and bathrooms or in areas where the humidity level can vary—like in a basement or a part of the house below grade, as long as a moisture barrier is placed between the subfloor and the hardwood planks.

They are also better suited for installing over in-floor heating systems.

Engineered wood planks now are being created with a tongue and groove installation method, much like laminate flooring. This enables them to be installed in a floating floor format without nails or glue.

Engineered hardwood floors are suitable for installation on all levels of the home and over plywood, wood, OSB and concrete subfloors.

Which Wood Flooring Should I Choose?

Ultimately, your hardwood choice is going to be determined by where you are planning to install the product and what you’re looking for in terms of design aesthetic.

If you’re installing hardwood flooring in a lower level of your home or in an area where moisture or high (or low) humidity might be an issue, then you’re going to want to stick with engineered hardwood.

On the other hand, if you are installing the new floor on an above-grade level and you want a traditional hardwood floor, then you can go ahead with solid hardwood.

Both types offer a beautiful finish and will increase the value of your home—as long as they are installed correctly and maintained properly over the duration of your ownership.

How To Clean Your Hardwood Floors: Secrets From the Pros

Hardwood Floors: Preventive Maintenance

Cut hardwood-floor cleaning time with smart preventive maintenance. Position mats both outside and inside exterior doors to lessen tracked-in dirt. In snowy or rainy weather, include a boot removal area to avoid damage from water and de-icers.

Prevent marks by using floor protectors under furniture and by using rugs in play areas to ensure children's toys don't scratch the floor.

Hardwood Floors: Basic Care

Speed up the cleaning process by first dusting the floor with a mop that has been treated with a dusting agent to pick up dust, dirt, and pet hair that might scratch the floor surface. For weekly or biweekly cleaning, vacuum with a floor-brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner or an electric broom. Do not use a vacuum with a beater bar attachment, which can scratch a wood floor's finish. For quick dusting, use disposable electrostatic cloths, available at grocery and discount stores. Save money by using both sides of the disposable cloths.

Hardwood Floors: Deeper Cleaning

Dirt, oil, and grime build up over time and aren't completely removed by a weekly dust mopping. For occasional deep cleaning (consider doing the cleaning in the spring or just before the winter holidays), use a wood-cleaning product diluted according to the label instructions. Saturate a sponge or rag mop in the water, then wring it almost dry so it feels only slightly damp to the touch. Damp-mop the floor, being careful to prevent standing water on the floor. Rinse with a clean mop dampened in clear water, but only if the cleaning product requires it. Wipe up excess liquid because standing water can damage wood surfaces. If the weather is humid, operate a ceiling fan or the air-conditioner to speed up drying.

Hardwood Floors: Removing Marks

Consider your floor's finish before trying to remove a mark. If the stain is on the surface, your floor probably has a hard finish, such as urethane. If the stain has penetrated through to the wood, the floor probably has a soft oiled finish -- common in older homes whose floors have not been refinished and resealed. Wipe surface stains from a hard finish with a soft, clean cloth. Never use sandpaper, steel wool, or harsh chemicals on such a surface because they can permanently damage the finish.

The following remedies are for hardwood floors with soft oiled finishes. If needed, end each treatment by staining the wood, then waxing and buffing the spot to match the rest of the floor.

  • Dark spots and pet stains: Rub the spot with No. 000 steel wool and floor wax. If the area is still dark, apply bleach or vinegar and allow it to soak into the wood for about an hour. Rinse with a damp cloth.
  • Heel marks: Use fine steel wool to rub in floor wax.
  • Oil-base stains: Rub the area with a soft cloth and dishwashing detergent to break down the grease. Rinse with clear water. If one or more applications don't work, repeat the procedure. Keep children and pets out of the room until you're done. Let the spot dry, then smooth the raised grain with fine sandpaper.
  • Water marks or white stains: Rub the spot with No. 000 steel wool and floor wax. If the stain goes deeper, lightly sand the floor and clean with fine steel wool and odorless mineral spirits.

Having Your Stairs Refinshed?

Hardwood Stairs

One of the most labor-intensive, detailed parts of having your hardwood floors refinished is the process of having your stairs refinished. 

They seem pretty easy...but they're not.

The skilled refinisher has to balance a 40lb machine spinning at high speeds while trying not to damage the surrounding walls. After going through three grits, hand scraping corners, and finally palm sanded with a fine grit sandpaper, they are now ready for the stain process.

With all this process in mind, here are some things to keep in mind when you are getting your stairs refinished.

1.) Nicks and Bumps Happen: Whisking a 40lb, high powered machine that doesn't fit fully on a stair tread isn't easy to do. Even the most trained professional refinisher has a difficult time prevented bumps and nicks. Plan on having the risers and/or the side walls touched up with paint

2.) Risers are near impossible to refinish: The part you walk on is called "treads" while the vertical part you tend to kick with your toes while walking up the stairs are called "risers". While refinishing stair treads is very common, most flooring companies do not offer to refinish the stair risers. The reason is that everything is vertical. Drips in the finish occur more (due to gravity) and the actual sanding is extremely difficult. Painting risers is very common due the brilliant contrast it creates with easy maintenance. 

3.) Consider High Traffic Polyurethane: Stairs are one of the most walked on parts of any house. Consider spending a little more to get high traffic finish to protect from wear and tear.

Mind the Gap!

hardwood floor refinishing

Wood Floor Expansion

One of the number one issues our customer's have with their hardwood floors during the summer is waves in their hardwood floors. It looks like this:

brilliancefloor.com

During the summer months when humidity is at its peak, moisture is absorbed into the wood, causing the wood floors to expand outward. If there wasn't a proper expansion gap left along the walls, the wood floors will expand outwards until it no longer can, leaving it only to expand upward, causing ripples in the floors. Minor rippling can occur but will normally go back down in the winter months when the air is more dry. 

If major rippling occurs, you have two options:

1.) Remove the base boards, cut the bottom of the base board off, and reinstall, allowing the wood floors to expand underneath the baseboards.

2.) Remove the boards that run parallel to the wall ("long wall"), cut them down a 1/4" and reinstall.

Many times this will solve the expansion problem but will still leave rippling. The only step you can take to get rid of the waves is to sand and refinish the floor back to level. 

So make sure to mind the gap along the "long walls" when you or a professional is installing your new hardwoods.

How Long Will My Hardwood Floors Last?

How long will my new hardwood floors last?

This is a question we receive quite often from our clients. There are many factors that we take into account when answering this question. The main question we ask is:

What is your life style? 

  • How many people will be walking on the floor consistently? 
  • Do you have kids?
  • Do you have any pets? How heavy are they?
  • Do you have people over at your house often?
  • What type of finish is your top coat? Prefinished? Oil-Based Poly? Water-Based Poly?
  • How many coats of finish do you have?

These are just some of the factors that must be taken into consideration. Below is a general  timeline of some general lifestyles.

  • If you are two adult professionals who do not entertain a lot of guests, the coatings should last between 10 to 15 years in the main traffic areas.

  • If you are two adult professionals who do entertain a lot of guests, the coatings should last between 6 to 8 years.

  • If you are a family of two adultstwo children, and a couple of pets, the coatings will last between 4 to 7 years.

Does this mean you have to refinish your floors every 4-7? Yes and No. No you dont have to have a Full Refinish every 4-7 years BUT we highly recommend getting your floors "Re-Coated" every 4-7. This process is fast, odorless, walkable in 3-5 hours, and well over half the cost of a full refinish. What a new coat of polyurethane does is it adds another layer of protection to your floors, extending the life of the floors usually for another 3-5 years.

Doing this every 4-6 years will prevent you from ever having to fully refinishing your floors again. Don't wait until it is too late and "wear" begins to show.

How to Maintain and Care for Your Hardwood Floors

Do you remember the commercials back in the day with the lady with a giant gap in her teeth telling you to use the their "Pine Fresh" products on all your floors?

Please don't listen to her.

A regular practice up until the late 1990's for cleaning your floors was the good ole fashion string mop, yellow bucket, hot water, and Pine Sol. Yes, your floors smelled like a lemon forrest and there was even a shine for 3 or 4 days, but this technique has proven to be the absolute wrong way of cleaning your hardwood floors.

Here are are three steps for cleaning and maintaining your hardwood floors:

  1. Sweep, dust mop, or vacuum regularly. A microfiber dust head comes with many hardwood floor cleaning mop kits (like Bona Kemi)
  2. Only Use mop kits designed for hardwood floors. This is important as there are many hardwood floor cleaners out there. We always recommend Bona Kemi or Armstrong Cleaner to our clients as they do not leave a haze to the floors. DO NOT use any wax based cleaners. They will cloud your floors and even prevent from your hardwood floors from being "recoated" in the future!
  3. Have your floors Professionally cleaned once per year.  Dirt, dust, and water can seep into the pores of the wood. Cleaning with a mop or vacuuming can't even get this out. Just like carpet, it is important to have your floors professionally cleaned at least once per year.

Proper maintenance will prevent your floors from ever having to be refinished!

4 Reasons Why You Should Paint After Refinishing Your Floors

One of the number one questions we receive from our customers is "should we paint before or after we have our floors refinished"?

Great question!

Refinishing hardwood floors is a major undertaking when it comes to construction projects. Our technicians have to maneuver 180lbs+ machines in tight areas, leaning against walls is sometimes required for awkward positions, and dust is a real thing. 

Here are 4 reasons quick why you should paint after we refinish your floors:

  1. Bumps/Nicks: Our edgers bump against base boards. While 95% of the time the shoe molding will cover these nicks, sometimes the base boards will get bumped. A little paint will cover these marks no problem.
  2. Staining: We do everything we can to prevent stain from getting on the base boards. We tape door jams, keep stain under the height of the shoe molding, and take our time with precision. Sometimes, it will get higher than the shoe, requiring some paint
  3. Sweaty Bodies: Our technicians are maneuvering heavy 180lbs+ drum machines. They are hand scraping corners in closets. It is hard to prevent bumping up against a wall due to the complexity of refinishing. Painting after solves this problem.
  4. Shoe Molding/Quarter Round: When we remove and replace shoe molding, the base boards have to be re-caulked and painted. Why do this before refinishing your floors?

While it is completely your decision to choose when to paint or not too, we hope this helps in your decision making.