1. What are the differences between Laminate, Engineered and Solid floors?
Laminate. A laminate hardwood floor has an image of a hardwood floor on a plastic material fixed on to a compressed board. It is not a real wood floor and can never be sanded and refinished. Most laminates are 1/4″ thick. They are not glued or nailed directly to the subfloor, they are glued to each other, and installed over a Styrofoam material. This installation method is called “floating”. These are inexpensive imitations of real hardwood floors.
Engineered. An engineered hardwood floor has a layer of real hardwood glued to multiple layers of plywood substrates. The thickness of the top layer of real hardwood will dictate the number of times these floors can be sanded and refinished. While the majority of these floors come prefinished, there are some manufacturers that sell unfinished engineered flooring. Some engineered floors can be sanded as many times as a traditional 3/4″ solid hardwood floor. These floors can be floated, glued or nailed directly to the subfloor.
Solid. Solid hardwood floors are real hardwood floors. They come as thin as 5/16″ but the majority are 3/4″ thick. If sanded correctly, they can be sanded 8-12 times before needing to be replaced. They come prefinished or unfinished, and are installed by being nailed or stapled to a wood subfloor.
2. What are the differences between Prefinished and Unfinished floors?
Prefinished wood has been stained and finished at the manufacturer.
Advantages of prefinished floors
Quicker completion since there is no sanding or staining/finishing
Cleaner installation since there will be no dust from sanding
Little odor since polyurethane and stains are done at the manufacturer
Can be finished in as little as one day, depending on the job size
Disadvantages of prefinished floors
Most have beveled or microbeveled edges which catch dust, dirt and debris creating maintenance problems
Limited number of colors from which to choose
Warranties are general and vague and most do not consider gloss reduction as surface wear
Finishes rarely hold up to homeowners expectations
Unfinished wood floors are still the most common found in homes today. Most unfinished hardwood floors can be sanded 8-10 times in their lifetime and can be stained in varying shades each time they’re sanded.
Advantages of unfinished wood floors
Can be sanded multiple times
Can be stained many different colors and shades
Floors are sanded smooth with no bevels to simplify maintenance
Easy to repair or to add additional flooring
Can install medallions, borders and/or inlays
Can apply water-based polyurethanes that are up to three times stronger than traditional oil-based polyurethanes
Disadvantages of unfinished floors are:
Most sanding procedures produce some dust when not utilizing the Atomic Dust Containment System by Bona
It takes a minimum of two days to complete your floor work
With quick drying stains and polyurethanes you can walk on your floors after 2-3 hours, light traffic only, no shoes
We carry an extensive line of prefinished flooring including. Feel free to visit some of our manufacturers’ web sites (external links): Kahrs, BR111, Mirage, Somerset, Bruce, and Robbins.
3. I want to sand and refinish my hardwood floors. Once I removed my carpet, I noticed several pet stains or plant/water stains. Can they be sanded out or repaired?
A. For the most part, deep stains will never sand out of the floor. Generally speaking, the darker the stain, the deeper it is in the wood. The only solution is to replace the wood that has been damaged. Once you remove several boards of hardwood from an older floor and replace them with new wood, it may not perfectly match the existing floor. If a bad stain is in a small area, it may be possible to remove a few planks of the original floor from a closet or another hidden area to replace the damaged wood. The best solution for multiple major pet stains is to replace the entire floor.
4. What will screening my floor accomplish over sanding and refinishing?
A. Screening the floor will only remove light marks caused by normal wear and tear. Once the floor is screened (lightly sanded), it will be coated with usually one coat of finish. It usually takes only a day to screen and recoat a hardwood floor. Screening will not remove deeper scratches and indentations. Also, screening will not help a floor that has been worn down to the stain. In these cases, the floor should be completely sanded and refinished.
5. What can I do to prepare for the day my floors are going to be sanded?
A. This will depend largely on the size and type of job, but here are a few steps to take for most of them:
Take your pets to a friend’s house or keep them locked in an area of the house away from the floors being worked on. A pet can cause quite a bit of damage if allowed to walk on a floor that’s just been coated. Also, materials used coat hardwood floors may be deadly if consumed by a pet and loud noise from the floor sanders could permanently damage your pets hearing.
If you remove carpet or tile from the floor yourself, be careful not to damage the wood. Knife marks on a hardwood floor might be impossible to sand out. Be especially careful of removing tile as some older tile may contain asbestos and should be removed by a professional.
Move all furniture from the room. If the room is opened to another room/area of the house, put up large plastic tarps to keep as much of the dust out as possible.
Keep the temperature warm in the winter / cool in the summer. Do not turn off air conditioning or heating systems.
6. How long do I have to wait before I can walk on my new hardwood floors?
A. For prefinished floors, you can walk on them as soon as they’re installed. For site finished floors, you can walk on them as quick as 2-3 hours from finishing. Wait 2 days before moving the furniture back on the floors and wait a week before putting down an area rug.
7. How difficult is it to install a special floor pattern or to add an inlay or medallion?
A. It is not difficult to install borders or medallions in your hardwood floor, but there is a substantial amount of extra time and planning associated with them. You will need to allow for extra time when having these things done.
8. What is the best way to expedite the drying process?
A. Leave the air conditioning or heat on 70 degrees and turn on fans after finish is applied. If possible, set the fans up so they move the air away from the new floors.
9. Is the choice of hardwood important?
A. Yes. You need to choose a hardwood floor that meets your needs. As one example, a soft yellow pine floor would not be appropriate for a family of five with two big dogs and a cat, where all the neighborhood children play. It would not stand up to the heavy traffic.
10. What rooms can I put hardwood in and what rooms should I avoid?
A. Hardwood can be installed in every room of the house except full baths where water from bathtubs and excessive humidity become factors.