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What To Do When Your Hardwood Flooring Starts To Squeak

Hardwood flooring is beautiful, but can be prone to squeaking.Hardwood flooring is prone to squeaking over time as the house ages and settles and the floorboards dry out. In some cases, parents don’t mind having a squeaky floorboard or two as a way to keep track of their children and whether they’re sneaking in or out past curfew, but after a while the boards rubbing together will simply become unbearable and you will want to address it before it negatively impacts the structural integrity of your floor.

While any flooring material can settle, dry out and squeak, it is hardwood flooring that appears to be the most common culprit. Fixing a hardwood flooring squeak is something that a home improvement professional can do for you or you may be able to pick up a hammer and some supplies and do it yourself. If the squeak is under a carpeted area it is a bit more intensive to address it but it can be done.

Locating a squeaking board above a crawlspace area or basement makes fixing it even easier. Have a family member or friend walk across the problem area so you can exactly pinpoint the source of the rubbing wood so you can know where to tighten it up to stop the squeak. A slim piece of wood inserted between the squeaking boards will address it and you can simply tap the wood into place between the boards, being careful to not insert it too far because you run the risk of causing a bulge in the flooring above. This is one of the simplest squeak fixes.

If you discover the squeak is under a floor that is carpeted it is a bit more labor intensive but it certainly can be done either by a do it yourselfer or by hiring a flooring professional. Purchase a kit from a hardware store to help you address squeaks under a carpet. The kit will come with breakaway screws and instructions on their use. You will basically locate the squeak, screw the screw into place and then break the head off the screw so that no one steps on it.

In some cases, it is simply easier to hire a flooring professional to come and take care of all of the squeaks your home may be experiencing and it is easier to do it all at once than to do it piecemeal. If you find it is more of an annoying noise than a problem that might damage the hardwood flooring itself.

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Things To Avoid When Installing Flooring

Wood flooring is beautiful, but can be tricky to install alone.

Installing wood flooring is a challenge. Only the most experienced among us can complete such a job without help. But even those of us who have average skills can make a go at it, provided we follow instructions to the letter, get a bit of outside help, have all the proper tools, and avoid the pitfalls. There are just a handful of common mistakes, but they are whoppers, and can very quickly ruin an otherwise fantastic flooring job. Wood flooring adds so much to any space that everyone who owns a home should try to learn the basics of installing a solid, hardwood floor in at least one room or entryway.

If you decide to take the plunge and install some wood flooring, the very first thing you must do is inspect the sub floor. Depending what kind of shape it is in, you will have either a long road ahead, or a short, simple path. If the sub flooring is uneven, to the extent that it shows more than 3/16 of an inch variance throughout a six-foot length, then you officially have an uneven floor that must be fixed. There are two ways to approach this dilemma. One, you could just use a handful of screws and tighten the plywood. If that works, all the better. If the problem is more serious, then you might have to plane the joists and use some plywood filler to even things up.

Next, you need to acclimate the wood before installing it. Be sure to leave it in open air in the room where it will be installed for at least one week. Never store hardwood in a moist area like an attic or basement. There will be some natural expansion during winter and summer months, so don’t worry about that. However, if you do not acclimate the wood, that expansion and shrinkage will be too much to cover up with molding and trim.

Make sure the first board goes down straight, otherwise you could end up with a bad chain reaction of uneven boards. Do not use an exterior wall as a guide because walls are notorious for not being exactly square. Check instead of assuming so that your flooring will end up being straight.

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How to Refinish Wood Flooring

Do you have dull wood flooring that’s starting to show every scratch and streak? It might be time to refinish that floor, especially during this holiday season! Though you want your home to impress, however, refinishing hardwood flooring isn’t for the faint of heart. Patience, the right technique, and the correct tools are needed to make sure the job comes out looking top notch, and even then the task can be long. If you have no experience in home remodeling or home repair tasks, you may want to skip this job and find a professional. For those who are ready for the task though, here is the process to follow in order to have new-looking floors again.

  1. First you need to remove all of the furniture and rugs from the room. Walk slowly around the room and make certain there are no nails or slivers of wood that are sticking up. If there are you will want to remove them and pound the nails back in. You may need to rent a floor sander to help sand off the finish and get the floor ready.
  2. When you’re using the floor sander, make sure you’re constantly in motion as standing too long in one part of the room will remove the finish in an uneven pattern. Orbital sanders are the best choice for floor refinishing. Use the sander in the direction the wood grain is on your floor. Push the sander in straight even strokes and avoid sanding across the grain.
  3. Once you’ve sanded the floor, vacuum up the sanding dust and then go over the floors again with a light grain sandpaper to get the floors to a beautiful, smooth finish. After the floor has been sanded and the finish has been removed you are ready to begin staining the floor. Staining the floor can be done in a natural finish or in a color that you’d like to use to give your floor a face lift. Stain a corner of the floor with the colors you’re considering so you can see which one you will like best once the floor’s finished. Don’t stain the floor unless you can open the windows. Apply the stain with a brush for a heavier color or with a rag if you want a lighter stain. Regardless of the method, use long strokes and go with the grain for even coverage.
  4. After the floor has been stained you will want to apply a polyurethane finish to bring out the shine. Stir the finish as shaking will cause bubbles to form and these could be passed along to the finished flooring. The finish should be applied with a brush – again in long even strokes. Allow it to dry for at least three hours, longer if it’s a humid day. A second coat should be added and then allowed to dry for up to three days before you begin moving your furniture back into the room.

While refinishing means a lot of work, the end result is almost always worth it. Have gleaming, new-looking flooring just in time for the holidays, and with this process you’ll even be able to brag about doing it yourself!

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Eco-Friendly Flooring

We keep going on about eco-friendly flooring because, well, how could you not? Here’s a great look at both bamboo and cork, with advantages side by side. Take a look!

 

Eco-Friendly Flooring | Hardwood Floors from FloorsASAP.com on Vimeo.

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Consider Cork Flooring

Cork flooring is a great alternative choice to hardwood flooring. There are many benefits to installing cork flooring in your home. Cork flooring is attractive, a smart “green” choice for the environmentally concerned, and used as a subfloor or main floor it can withstand the traffic for years to come.

Eco-Friendly

A choice of environmental lovers, cork flooring is produced from the bark of the harvested Cork Tree.  The Cork Tree is the only tree able to regenerate after it is harvested, unlike the hardwood other wood floors are made of. Every nine to ten years, the bark can be re-harvested without damage to the tree.

Diverse Uses

Cork flooring is beautiful and eco-friendly!
Cork can be used as a subfloor or main floor. This type of flooring will not mold, rot or mildew if properly sealed. Cork is impermeable to both gases and liquids in its natural state and toxic gases are not released on combustion, making it fire resistant. And, as a natural insulator, cork is resistant to temperatures, so walking barefoot around the house is comfortable not matter the weather.

Health Benefits

Many chronic sufferers of back pain, knee pain and other joint pain, sing praises of cork flooring. Cork has a bounce to it that is noticed on sore joints as one walks across the floor. The pains felt in walking on ceramic tile, will not be felt while walking on cork flooring. Cork also has memory, meaning it will return to its previous form after a heavy object asserts pressure.

Maintaining your cork flooring is as simple as hardwood, and because it does not collect dust, cork flooring is considered hypo-allergenic. In addition to this, cork is anti-microbial, which makes it an obvious choice for bathrooms, kitchens and children’s play areas. Naturally, cork is an insect repellent, as well.

Though professional installation is always recommended, cork is quite simple to install and a great choice for almost any room. So be sure you consider cork next time you are remodeling your floors, and know that while it may be a new choice on the market, it is often a smart one!

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Steps to Remove Dye from Hardwood Flooring

Have you dripped dye on your hardwood or vinyl flooring? Then you know how hard – sometimes impossible – it can be to remove! One of the worst parts of dripping hair dye onto a floor is that, depending on the color, until it processes you might not realize you’ve dripped any to begin with.

wood flooring by Timber Floors Pty Ltd

Image by Timber Floors Pty Ltd via Flickr

There are several cleaning solutions you can try to remove dyes like this. Alcohol  will dilute the dye and remove the stain a layer at a time while fingernail polish can also help and will break down the dye and remove the stain. You can also try to clean and strip the color off the floor, but this will remove the floor’s finish as well which will mean you have to refinish the floor once the stain has been removed. Before going this route, however, here are some steps to try to remove that

pesky stain.

  1. Wipe the spill up immediately, dabbing at it with paper towels. Resist the urge to rub the spill as it will only spread it around and make the stain larger.
  2. Following the blotting, pour some rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol on the stain and wipe with a clean, white cloth. If you use a cloth with any kind of color, that color will transfer to the floor making the stain worse.  Repeat the process of adding alcohol to the white cloth and blotting the stained area, using a clean section of the cloth each time.
  3. If you’re going to use fingernail polish remover to remove the stain, again use a clean, white cloth and pour some polish remover onto it and dab. Do not rub as you won’t want to spread the stain.
  4. The most labor intensive way to remove a stain is to remove the floor varnish with a stripper and a cleaner. Put some of the floor stripper onto a clean, white scrubbing pad – not a cloth. Wipe the area in circles to remove both the stain and the floor varnish. Bear in mind that once the stain has been removed you will have to refinish and varnish that section of flooring. This method could also leave sections of your floor that look newer than others so you really have to consider this process before you do it.

With any stain, your best bet is to treat it immediately. Once the stain has a chance to set and dry, it becomes more challenging – and sometimes – impossible to remove and may require the use of a professional to help get it out.

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Tile Flooring Options

Tile flooring can be elegant in any roomChances are that if you’re looking for tile flooring or tile anything, you’re looking at ceramic. While ceramic comes in many different colors and shades, the type of tile you choose will depend on the size of the area you hope to tile. Factoring in your budget and overall goals for look, choosing the wrong tile can put you over budget or ruin your vision. So here are some general tips when it comes to choosing the type of tile you want to put in.

Kitchens

A 12 × 12 inch tile, in any texture or color, is usually the top choice in the majority of kitchens as it is also easy to install. In most cases, a tile smaller than 8 × 8 is not recommended for this area. Generally, 13 × 13 is the largest recommended tile for the average kitchen, however, if you have a kitchen with vast floor space you may want a tile as big as 18 × 18.

Also be sure to consider a textured tile in the kitchen, particularly if you are concerned about people slipping and falling on wet flooring. While textured tile is a less slippery when wet, you can also consider slate, brick pavers, quarry tile or limestone for non-slip kitchen flooring.

Bathrooms

Think texture for these rooms, particularly as smooth tile means slick floors. Popular size choices for bathroom tiles are 12 × 12 and 8 × 8, and like with the kitchen, the bigger the bathroom, the bigger the tile you will want to choose. A 4 × 4 tile is not recommended for the bathroom floor, as the bathroom is a high traffic area and the smaller tile will have more grout joints. These grout joints are hard to clean and will become quite dirty after a couple of years. A feeling of luxury is always achieved when a stone tile that harmonizes with a shower or Jacuzzi tile is used on the flooring.

Backsplashes

The 4 × 4 tile is recommended when tiling a kitchen or bathroom backsplash. The options seem endless in this realm. Hand-painted tiles can add to a theme, color mixing and the many color options allow a homeowner to really put a custom look together for their rooms. You and your installer can get creative with the design, or simply choose a tile with a design already in tact.

Tile always makes for a great investment in any room or walkway because tile flooring will last longer than any other type of flooring material. For this reason, it is not surprising that home values are increased with tile installation. Also not surprising is how many homeowners tile their high traffic areas such as, hallways, foyers and frequently used rooms.

So when choosing tile, be sure to choose a size that works with the room! The options are endless.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Hardwood Flooring

Wood flooring can add elegance to any room.Let’s face it, hardwood floors are a classic look that never goes out of style. Available in more styles and colors than ever before, hardwood flooring is still a popular choice among homeowners. Like any flooring, however, hardwood floors have some advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the pros and cons you will want to keep in mind when making a decision on installing wood floors for your home.

Advantages

Beautiful and versatile, hardwood flooring add a warmth to any room regardless of natural or artificial lighting. Able to complement any décor or furniture style, hardwood floors can increase your home’s value and raise the resale value when it comes time to put your home on the market.

When it comes to hardwood flooring maintenance, care is fairly easy. Clean the floors with products made specifically for hardwood for those deep cleans, and for everyday care, sweep with a dust mop. One big advantage for many when it comes to wood floors is the fact that hardwood doesn’t trap or capture dust and pet dander like carpet does, making it a great flooring choice for families that suffer from allergies.

Disadvantages

Wood flooring type doesn’t do well in rooms that are high in moisture, such as bathrooms. Care will have to be taken to wipe up spills of any kind immediately. Also, in high traffic areas, area rugs will need to be used to keep the floor from being scratched by pet nails unnecessarily.

Maintenance will take a bit longer than other types of flooring if you want to shine or refinish the flooring for guests or special occasions. And while there are several great, inexpensive hardwood options out there, the price for real wood can be high for those on a tight budget.

Talk to a flooring expert before you decide on what flooring to go with. Get recommendations on types and styles of hardwood. Chances are, once you really begin to look, you will fall in love with one style or another and realize just why the advantages out weigh the disadvantages when it comes to hardwood flooring.

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Differences Between Hardwood Flooring Types

Hardwood flooring might be exactly what you're looking for!Did you know that hardwood flooring comes in three different types? Which one is right for you will depend on budget, installation method desired, where the flooring will go, as well as personal preference, and most of all, the vision that you have for the room!

Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood intensifies the structural strength of the floor with its longer plank lengths and can last for years. While the tongue and groove mechanism in this type of flooring takes longer to install, solid hardwood is thicker and makes dealing with sub floor disproportions easier affair than with thinner flooring choices.

One distinct advantage is that solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished as many as seven separate times, making repairs cheaper than other choices. This flooring is moisture sensitive, however, and is not a good choice for areas such as bathrooms.

Engineered Hardwood

Engineered hardwood floors are constructed of many glued layers of thin plywood with soft plywood or hardwood at the core and a thicker hardwood veneer on the outer surface. These features give this floor a life expectancy of thirty to one hundred years and while more expensive than solid hardwood choices it holds up better in moist areas.

Installation is simple, often using just a staple gun, leading to engineered hardwood a great choice for do-it-yourselfers. Some types of this floor choice can be sanded and repaired after damage, but generally one is looking at replacing damaged sections.

Laminate

Plastic laminate floors are made up of a photograph of wood on a fiberboard core. The photograph is sealed with a high strength coating of plastic and put together over a layer of foam. While laminate will have a more patterned, tiled look to it, this flooring is often the best choice for busy rooms due to its durability with foot traffic.

Glued, or simply held down by its own weight, laminate is the least expensive and easiest to install of the wood floor options. Damage, however, can only be fixed by replacing flooring.

With many people hoping to up the resale value of their home by installing hardwood flooring, a choice of hardwood can be both economically as well as aesthetically pleasing.

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Using Area Rugs to Protect Hardwood Flooring From Pets

Clip kitty's nails to reduce scratches on the flooring!If you have pets in your home, you know they can wreak havoc on hardwood floors. Chances are your pet – whether dog or cat – likes to lie on the hardwood floors as they are cooler than the carpeted areas. When this happens though and when your pet is dashing around the house its nails are bound to scratch up the hardwoods a bit.

Fluffy and Fido certainly don’t care whether your hardwood floors sustain any damage but you most certainly do. Chances are you invested a large sum of money and spent quite a bit of time choosing the perfect hardwood floors for your home and you need to protect your investment. Here are a few ideas for how to keep your hardwood floors protected from your pets and save you from having to repair the scratches in the floors.

As mentioned, area rugs are an option when it comes to not only protecting the floors but they can be used as a way to enhance the beauty of the floors and the decor of the house itself. When you go shopping for area rugs, you’ll find there are almost as many options for shapes, styles and designs as there were when you were making decisions on the kind of hardwood floors to install.

When it comes to the pets themselves, make certain their nails are clipped because those nails can cause scratches in the wood. If your pet is prone to dashing around the house, they can easily dig into the surface of the hardwood floors. Another thing to consider is if you have a new pet and hardwood floors, if the puppy has an “accident” on the hardwoods, it can easily become damaged. Even if you opt to not put down area rugs for the long term, you may want to consider it during the house training phase. If the hardwood floors are in the area of the pet food dish, make certain spills are cleaned up as soon as possible and you might want to consider putting the pet food dishes on a tray to help protect the floors.

The idea of covering your hardwood floors may not be the top choice, but it might be necessary to protect them from the damage your pet can cause. Keep in mind that there are area rugs that not only enhance the beauty and decor of the room in which they are placed, but they can also enhance the beauty of the floors themselves. Look for area rugs that cover the higher traffic areas but leave the rest of the hardwood floors available for your viewing pleasure!

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