Prefinished Hardwood Flooring Tips

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What types of hardwood finishes are available?

Types of Hardwood Finishes Available

There are many types of hardwood finishes available to homeowners. Some of the hardwood finishes available include oil modified urethane, moisture cured urethane, water based urethane, penetrating sealers, paste wax, varnish, lacquer and shellac. Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages so homeowners are encouraged to research each option to determine which is ideal for their home. For example, oil-based urethanes are easy to apply and are capable of producing a durable surface which is moisture-resistant and generally require approximately eight hours to dry. Water-based urethanes produce a surface which is similar in terms of durability and moisture resistance, but requires only two to three hours of drying time. Moisture-cured urethanes are much more difficult to apply and have a strong odor. The drying time with these finishes will vary depending on the relative humidity. With so many hardwood finishes to choose from, it is a good idea to research all of the options and, if necessary, consult a flooring professional for recommendations.

How do I install prefinished hardwood floors?

Installing Prefinished Hardwood Floors

Installing prefinished hardwood floors is very similar to the process of installing unfinished hardwood floors. The process of installing the floorboards themselves are not different.

To install hardwood floors, whether they are prefinished or unfinished, it is necessary to ensure a clean and level sub-floor. Once this has been established, the installation can begin according to the manufacturer's instructions. This may include gluing or nailing down the floorboards and connecting the floorboards by using glue, the tongue-in-groove system or a combination of the two. The main difference in the installation process comes at the end of the installation. Prefinished hardwood floors are considered complete and ready to be walked on almost immediately after installation. However, after unfinished hardwood floors have been installed them must be sanded, stained and allowed to cure. The curing process for unfinished hardwood floors may be as long as 10 days.

What are prefinished hardwood floors?

Understanding Prefinished Hardwood Floors

Prefinished hardwood floors are essentially hardwood floors which are finished by the manufacturer in the factory. The alternative to this is to have the floors finished onsite after the installation process by sanding the wood down and applying the finish. The advantage to prefinishing the hardwood floors is the homeowner does not have the dust particles associated with sanding and the smell of the finishing chemicals lingering in the air after the installation process. Additionally, the prefinished floors can be nailed down and walked on almost immediately after the installation process.

What should I consider before installing prefinished hardwood flooring?

Before You Install Prefinished Hardwood Flooring

There are a number of factors to consider before installing prefinished hardwood flooring. Prefinished flooring offers advantages over onsite finished flooring, such as the ability to walk on the floors soon after installation and the absence of sanding and harsh chemicals in the home. However, homeowners who have already selected prefinished hardwood floors still have a wide number of options available to them.

Color is just one of the options homeowners will have to make. The number of color options available for prefinished floors is considerably less than the number of options available for onsite finished floors. However, there are still a wide variety of options from which to choose. This decision is largely based on personal preference and requesting floor samples will help the homeowner to make this decision. The type of finish is another decision which must be made. Homeowners should select a finish which will be durable under their living conditions. Factors such as average temperature, humidity levels and the presence of children or pets should be factors in the decision.

How do I care for my prefinished wood flooring?

Caring for Prefinished Wood Flooring

Caring for prefinished wood flooring is relatively simple and will help to ensure the life of the hardwood floors. Regularly dry mopping or vacuuming prefinished hardwood floors will help to remove dust and dirt which can scratch hardwood floors. Periodic cleanings with cleansers designed specifically for use on hardwood floors will also help to maintain the appearance of hardwood floors. However, care should be taken to only use cleansers which are formulated for use on hardwood floors. Before using any product, a spot test is recommended to ensure the product does not damage the finish of the flooring. Other tips for maintaining prefinished wood flooring include cleaning up spills immediately and not allowing water to stand on the floors. Spills of any type can lead to staining so they should be cleaned up immediately. Water can also stain hardwood floors, but it can also result in warping. Therefore, water should not be allowed to stand on hardwood floors for any length of time.

How do I select prefinished hardwood flooring?

Selecting Prefinished Hardwood Flooring

Selecting prefinished hardwood flooring can be one of the fun aspects of home renovation. There are a number of different finishes to choose from and homeowners must make this important decision based on appearance, durability and budget. The primary purpose of finishing hardwood floors is to increase durability so homeowners can be confident the majority of prefinished hardwood floors are a good choice in terms of durability. However, homeowners who live in a particularly hot or humid climate may want to pay particular attention to the durability aspect of the finishes. Appearance and budget also factor into the equation when selecting prefinished hardwood floors. Homeowners who are unsure about the appearance of hardwood floors should consider requesting samples for a number of different finishes. These samples can be placed on the floor in the home to assist in the decision-making process. Finally, the homeowner must consider budget when making decisions about prefinished hardwood floors and take care to select a finishing option which is not only durable and attractive, but also affordable.

Why is wood finishing necessary?

Understanding Wood Finishing

The key to understanding wood finishing is knowing why it is so important to finish the surface of hardwood floors. Wood finishing is not just a matter of making the hardwood floors appear more attractive. Although many homeowners spend a great deal of time selecting a hardwood finish which is aesthetically-appealing, this is not the primary purpose of having wood floors finished. Durability is the primary reason that wood floors should be finished. Finished hardwood floors are more durable, more resistant to scratches and easier to maintain.

How do I select a finished hardwood floor?

Selecting a Finished Hardwood Floor

Selecting a finished hardwood floor is largely a matter of personal preference. Some of the factors to consider when selecting a finish for hardwood floors include appearance, durability and lifestyle. These are important considerations which will help to reduce the number of options available. In making this decision it is important to select a finish which is appealing, but will also be durable considering the climate and lifestyle of the homeowner. With prefinished hardwood floors there may be fewer color options available to the homeowner while homeowners who opt for hardwood floors which are finished onsite will have more color options. However, these homeowners will have to contend with the dust from the sanding process, as well as the chemicals from the finishing process which can linger in the air.

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Carma Spence-Pothitt