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High Elevation, Dry Climate. Is Hardwood Flooring for Me?

“ Our elevation is about 7200 ft. We have pretty dry air and significant climate changes. How would solid hickory perform under those conditions? Would the tung oil or some type of finish have any impact on the relative humidity or moisture content? I was told by a buddy of mine to avoid this type of floor at this location (tahoe). You are the expert. What is your opinion? Thx- John ”



Hi John,

There are certain hardwoods that perform better than others, especially for the more trying climates. Vertical grain hardwoods (like quarter-sawn hardwoods) are also more stable than flat sawn hardwoods. Many people have had problems with engineered flooring products in high altitudes and very dry climates, with what is called “dry cupping.”Often, the plywood portion of the flooring product is too dissimilar to the top veneer layer. “Dry Cupping” is the process where the top layer of hardwood contracts faster than the plywood substrate.  The result is tension between the top layer of hardwood and the plywood sub straight. It can show up as cupping, bowing and delaminating of the top layer.

There are a considerable number of happy customers in the Tahoe area with solid hickory flooring installed in them. Those that have had problems can usually be traced back to one of three things: 1. Lack of proper acclimation at the time of installation, 2. A lack of heat in the dry winter months, 3. A lack of humidity control in the home – especially in winter. In-line humidifiers that are part of the homes heating and cooling system are affordable today. They not only greatly reduce excessive movement of your wood (excessive shrinking, expanding, cupping or checking) by keeping a more stable humidity level in your home – they also provide a much more healthy living environment for humans – less sickness and better skin. Having said that, if someone was still concerned about the stability of their wood floor, then hickory would not be my first choice. Hickory is very hard and moderately stable. The most dimensionally stable hardwoods are Walnut and Cherry. Pine is also a very stable wood, but it is soft. If you can embrace the dents, pine would be a good option too. Utilizing quarter sawn hardwoods is another way to improve the stability of your wood floor for difficult applications. The vertical grained structure of quarter sawn woods provides for less expansion and contraction than flat sawn woods and a vertical grain presentation increases the hardness of the wood surface. Currently, we have a sale on Cherry at just $3.69/sf. I believe we also have the best prices on solid walnut in the nation, at just $4.99 sq/ft! In fact, right now we also have a limited quantity of incredible savings on quarter-sawn walnut at just a 10% up-charge. Normally, you would expect to pay a 25% or more up-charge for quarter sawn products.

As for your question about Waterlox Tung Oil for a high altitude application – it would be my first choice.


Room Updates: Moulding

When spring arrives we all get the natural urge to throw open the windows, dust off our rooms and update! Even if your budget doesn’t allow for a full remodel, you can completely change the complexion of any room by adding custom moldings.
What many people think of when they think molding is heavy, decorative crown molding, but there are a huge variety of wooden accents to update, or completely change, the look and feel of any room. Some basics on molding: The main terms you need when considering molding have to do with the profile of the molding. The profile is the side-view at the end. Some of the basic profiles Western WidePlank is offering are Eased Edges, S4S, Craftsman, Halland, 2 Crown Profiles, Quarter Round, Nosings and many more. All of these shapes have to do with how the shadow is thrown on the wall or ceiling from the molding. The Cyma and Ogee are actually combinations of the Cavetto and Ovolo. A much thinner filet molding can be placed above or below a basic molding to create an additional design detail. There are also flat moldings (often referred to in the building industry as just “woodwork”).
If you look up all the specific varieties of molding online it can be mind-boggling. Rather than feel overwhelmed, our advice to you is to simply look at what’s offered compared to your needs, and choose the molding that both attracts your senses and is practical for your intended use. For instance, a large crown molding would be far too big for a chair rail, but would be perfect across a high ceiling to create a more structured, classical look. Depending on your flooring, a baseboard may be a good choice as well, and create a wonderfully finished look regardless if it’s over carpet or hardwood.
Of course, we’re big fans of letting your wood’s natural beauty shine through with a light stain and varnish, but depending on the design, a painted molding can make a previously causal room take on a decidedly formal air.

Caring for Your New Wide Plank Wood Floor

A wide plank hardwood floor is a significant investment, whether in your home or your business, and once you have completed the installation process, there are some things you can do to ensure the long life and sustain the beauty of your flooring, without going through a lot of trouble and expense.
To begin with, refer to your flooring care guide to ensure that you receive the full benefit of the product and to most beneficially extend the life of your new hardwood floor for years to come.  Then, there are preventative maintenance measures you can take, in providing just the right care for your flooring:
  • First, sweep and vacuum your hardwood flooring regularly and often.  And in high traffic areas, use area rugs, and at doorways use walk-off mats, as small particles of debris and dirt can be ground into the wood in areas where there is a lot of unprotected coming and going.
  • When you are performing routine cleaning, all you need, believe it or not, is a damp mop, from which all the excess water has been squeezed out.
  • From time to time, you may need to perform a little heavier cleaning, in which case you would use a cleaner that is suitable for the type of coating or finish you have on your floors, and mist it onto a sponge or sponge mop.  You can purchase hardwood floor cleaner at most of your local hardware stores.
  • And because there’s nothing like preventative maintenance, don’t rely upon the wisdom and carefulness of everyone who enters to protect your floor the way you would.  Install felt floor protectors under all furniture and appliances that are not already on top of area rugs.  This will go a long way in the prevention of scratches and dents.
  • If you have rolling furniture, there are soft rubber casters you can purchase to go on the legs/feet, as the typical casters used on rubber furniture will not prevent scratches and divots from occurring.

Thinking of Switching to Wood Floors?

  • If you are leaning toward the move to wood flooring for your home or business, you should consider installing a beautifully classic wide plank floor for unparalleled beauty, durability and versatility.  Wide plank flooring has been in use for hundreds of years, with the earliest settlers first using the plentiful pines of the Northeast to create solid, durable floors that only improved over time, with use and age.  Even today, many of the colonial homes that are still in existence throughout the region still have their original wide plank flooring.

    There are different types of wood and different finishes to give you the floor of your dreams, regardless of whether you want to recreate the classic ambiance and craftsmanship of the colonial days, or your taste leads you to create a more modern, fashion-forward style.  There is wide plank flooring that will complement any decor and lifestyle.  You can choose between different grades for the exact look you hope to achieve, from a clear, streamlined knot-free appearance to the more natural grades that provide a more time-honored knotty look that has a little more character and depth of old world design.

    Traditional Flooring Ambiance

    Pines, Cherry, Walnut and oaks are the best for achieving your more traditional looks like Georgian, colonial or country styled homes.  They tend to be more rustic and natural looking, with a more knotty appearance, and they feature warmer tones with grains that are more pronounced.

    Contemporary and Fashionable Flooring

    Maples, Hickory and Birch are all proven woods to help create a modern, transitional or contemporary look.  They tend to reveal less of the grains, which appear tighter, and these woods generally look lighter in color and hue.  They work well to achieve a cleaner line to augment that of contemporary lines in the home.

    There are a variety of treatments and installations that will further create the exact look you hope to achieve, and once you transition to wide plank flooring, you’ll be glad you ditched the carpet, for a fresh, clean new beginning of living well.

How to Care for Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are beautiful, and they can increase the value of your home. They are much easier to clean than carpet also. You don’t have to spend hours vacuuming, and if something spills, you just wipe it up and don’t have to worry about a stain or lingering odors.
However, hardwood floors do require a bit of special care to ensure that you don’t strip the floors of their stain, dull them or scratch them. Here are a few tips for how you can care for your hardwood floors to keep them looking beautiful for many years to come:
Sweep Often
One of the easiest ways to keep your hardwood floors clean and to prevent scratching is to keep them free of debris. You can do this by sweeping often – every day if necessary. If you have a vacuum cleaner that is designed for bare floors, it is preferable since it can get dirt from between the cracks in the boards. However, using a regular vacuum will just scratch the floors.
Clean with a Damp Cloth
Mopping your hardwood floors can subject them to water damage. Even if you think you aren’t putting a lot of water on the floor, you are more than likely putting on more than it can handle. Instead, use a damp cloth to clean the floor. A Bona Mop or similar tool can be useful for cleaning large areas at one time.
Hang Blinds
Certain hardwood species and select finishes can dull over time when they are exposed to sunlight. You don’t have to make your house a mausoleum, but you should hang blinds or curtains that you can close when the sun gets too bright. Blinds are a good option since the direction can be changed to divert sunlight up instead of closing off the room to any sunlight at all.

Choosing the Right Sealer/Finish for your Floor

Few floor types truly compete with hardwood floors, which are prized for their beauty and practicality. To keep your hardwood floors looking their best, take time to seal and finish them. However, first determine which sealer and finish are right for your particular floors. The following are the main types of sealer and finish.
Shellac is among the older finish types, and it is still used by some woodworkers for its high gloss and versatility. Varnish, as with shellac, is another type of finish that was used on floors prior to the 1960s. Lacquer, meanwhile, is fast-drying. It is generally applied with a sprayer rather than with a cloth or brush. Lacquer dries so quickly that it locks out dust and other contaminants. Polyurethanes offer the highest possible gloss and a durable finish. Wax, which is even older than shellac and varnish, soaks into the pores of wood before hardening. Used with a stain, it allows you to create the color of floor you prefer. Finally, there are wood floor oils that serve as penetrating sealers. Tung oil is the most popular of these, as it is easy to apply, self leveling, and time tested. We reccomend Waterlox Tung Oil.
Once it has the proper finish, your hardwood floor is likely to look beautiful for years. Whether you are preparing to restore an old hardwood floor or preparing to seal and finish a brand new one, make sure it is treated with care for the best possible look and protection.

Should I Choose Plank Flooring or Strip?

Solid hardwood flooring is available in two main forms: plank flooring and strip flooring. Strip flooring is a more modern traditional form of wooden flooring, and plank floors are a more modern take on an old world design. The kind of wood you should choose for your home depends on the size of the room you are decorating, your budget and how you want the room to look.
Strip flooring is made up of narrow strips of hardwood that are laid side by side. Strip floors tend to look plain and uniform, and they lack the charm of other kinds of wood. In contrast, plank flooring uses much wider wooden boards, which show off the natural appearance of the wood. Western WidePlank offers texture sanded planks of wood. These planks have been treated to bring out the natural grain of the wood, offering a natural, earthy appearance.
If you are investing in traditional wooden flooring, it makes sense to choose a flooring style that shows off the quality of the wood. Thin strips simply do not work as well for that purpose as broader planks. Wide planks are more visually appealing, easier to lay and generally more hard-wearing than thinner strips. They look good bare, and they look even better when treated with an appropriately colored wood stain.
No matter what kind of wood flooring you choose, take good care of it. Wood is highly susceptible to damage from dampness and excess water, so treat your flooring with a water-resistant finish. Hardwood planks are durable, and it is easier to replace individual wide planks on the floor should damage occur rather than individual strip flooring.

5 Tips on Desinging/Redesigning Your Home Flooring

Flooring is one of the most important features of your house, and probably the least planned for and longest lasting material to be installed. No one can deny the importance of choosing the right flooring when it comes to designing or revamping your house.
Choosing the right flooring is of crucial importance in completing the theme and ambiance of a room and to help you in that task, here are a couple of tips you can take note of:
Collect several inspirational pegs: You can easily find tons of photos of model rooms all over the Internet, from which you can draw inspiration for what you can do with your own house. These images also cater to helping you come up with the overall theme of each room as well.
Consider your floor plan: Also take note of the setup, size, and overall floor plan.
Order samples and visit our virtual showroom: This is like viewing your inspirational pegs in real life. Check out our images of what a full sized room might look like in your desired flooring.
Choose the material and color: Once you have narrowed down your choices based on the samples you have, it’s now time to finalize your flooring material of choice and the most suitable color. If you want something more elegant, maybe choose a rich Walnut; something more rustic and vintage-inspired, go for a Rustic Hickory. If it’s something low-maintenance, or something more environmentally friendly, Western WidePlank Hardwood Flooring is the right answer.
Find the right installer: Once you’re all set, it’s time to choose the best  installer to do the job… and do it right. It’s about giving you the best price for labor, as well as having the reputation of being reliable and easy to work with.

Choosing Hardwood Flooring To Suit Your Decor

The addition of quality hardwood flooring to your home decor makes a remarkable contribution to the value and enjoyment of your living space. Since installing quality wide plank hardwood flooring is an investment in your home, make sure that you first consider the overall style statement that you want your home to make.
Flooring has the power to dramatically change the appearance of your living space, which makes taking a close look at flooring samples such an important first step. Be sure to choose samples that are large enough to truly gauge their impact on each room.
Wide plank hardwood flooring with a close, smooth grain conveys a more contemporary feel to your rooms. Some hardwoods with smooth graining add a sense of elegance and sophistication to your space. On the other hand, wide plank hardwood flooring that is more loosely or roughly grained conveys a more casual living atmosphere. This effect ranges from casual yet sophisticated to cabin casual.
The color and shading of your hardwood floors also greatly impacts your home’s finished look. A light floor surface reflects more light back into your room, which gives an airier, more open feel to the space. More darkly shaded hardwood floors give your rooms a more substantial impact.
Hardwood flooring is an excellent choice to add to the overall ambiance of your home. However, it is important to consider what your decorating goals are before making a final decision on the wide plank hardwood that you want. Choose a variety of wide plank hardwood samples to judge how different types of hardwood impact your home decor.

Flooring Essentials: A History of the Lowly Nail

The use of nails dates back to at least Ancient Egypt, with bronze nails dating 3400 BC. There are a number of Biblical references to nails, including a story in Judges, where a wife drove a nail into her husband’s temple while he was asleep, and of course, nails were used for the crucifixion of Christ. Until 1800, all nails were hand made or forged, and were made by someone known as a nailor, or nailer. Slitters were the workmen whose job was to cut up iron bars to just the right size for nailers to take and further shape and make heads and points. Manual slitters were eventually replaced in the late 16th century by slitting mills, which saved a lot of time and effort.

Making a wrought-iron nails meant that iron ore had to be heated with carbon and then shaped into square rods. From there, a blacksmith would heat the rod in a forge, and when the iron was hot enough, he would taper the end of the bar while being careful to keep the cross section square. The blacksmith would then cut off the tapered part, inserting it into a nail-heading tool that had a square hole. The top of the tapered iron would stick out just enough so that it could be hammered out and downward, and thus would create a square nail head.

During the time of the American Revolution, England was the leading manufacturer of nails, worldwide. The American colonies had difficulty obtaining nails mainly due to the fact that they were expensive. They were forced to come up with their own nail-making setups in their own homes, with the family members all working on making nails nights and during bad weather…for their own use and for bartering purposes.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “In our private pursuits it is a great advantage that every honest employment is deemed honorable. I am myself a nail maker.” Some stories show the growth of the nail making trade in the Thirteen Colonies being held back by the Iron Act, which prohibited new slitting mills in America, but it is thought that the Act was never actually enforced. Wrought iron nails continued to be produced into the 19th century, but with the advent of softer nails for easier manufacturing and use, the wrought iron nails were reserved for purposes where the softer nails just would not suffice.

When used with today’s flooring, the inclusion of wrought head nails lends a look of authentic history to any floor, as an antique process that, while no longer the mainstay, brings back a vestige of the past in an artistic manner.