Category Archives: Care and Maintenance

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.


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.

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.