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Friday, January 22, 2010

What is "Racking" a Hardwood Floor

“Racking”… Some might think this term refers to some medieval torture device.  Some of my old Army buddies might think I am going to sleep… Racking is also something we use in the hardwood flooring world when we are installing a new floor.

After preparing your sub-floor and rolling out a moisture membrane, an installer will completely lay out the floor that will be installed in the room.  By “laying” out, I mean completely cover the sub-floor with the flooring material that will be nailed down.  Racking is a very important step in the installation process because you get a chance to see how the final floor covering will look after it is nailed in.  This helps a great deal because if there are boards or areas that don’t look quite like you want them to… replace them.  A heck of a lot easier to do before you nail it down.

 After racking out all of the floor covering, go ahead and start making your cuts at the walls.  Something else that makes nailing and actually installing go a lot faster.  No waiting for your cut person to run outside, cut it and bring it back.  Efficiency!  The key to making money in any business.

I have had other contractors tell me that racking takes too much time.  Granted… it does take a little time, but it is so necessary to view the final floor covering before you nail it all down.  For me… It is worth the extra time and honestly, the more you rack floors, the faster you get at it.  Thus, actually saving time.

It’s that simple.  Racking a hardwood floor is not rocket science, but a very necessary and important step in the installation process.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tips To Going "Green": Household Cleaners

A simple sponge and the following safe items can take care of most of your household cleaning needs.

-Baking soda

-Lemon juice

Instead of using your normal store bought cleaning chemicals. Try these cleaning tips next time.  These tips are ultimately safer and better for the environment… And you!

1)      For Unclogging Drains:  Pour a quarter cup of baking soda down the clogged drain, followed by a half cup of vinegar. Close the drain until fizzing stops, and then flush with boiling water.
2)      For Glass Cleaner:  Mix white vinegar and water at a 1/1 ratio.
3)      For Carpet Freshener:  Use baking soda or cornstarch.
4)      For Mold & Mildew Remediation:  Mix white vinegar and lemon juice at a 1/1 ratio then add ¼ cup of salt.

If you have to use a store bought chemical for cleaning purposes… Remember, use as little as possible and always dispose of chemicals at an approved Haz. Mat. disposal location.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Support the Haiti Disaster Relief Effort

Please take a moment to consider... Imagine this being the "Support the U.S. Disaster Relief Effort." 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What is Hardwood Floor De-lamination?

Most often associated with engineered hardwood flooring systems, de-lamination is one of the most common repair issues that my company fields. 90% of the time de-lamination is associated with ply constructed materials; however, occasionally some of the softer species (Douglas Fir, Pine) will develop this issue along the spring grain of the floor boards.

Engineered hardwood flooring systems are constructed from a number of “layers” of, typically, Birch, backer with a single layer of hardwood adhered to the top of the board. De-lamination is caused by exposure to excessive moisture which causes the real wood top layer of veneer on the engineered board to swell and separate from the under layer of the ply system (see photos).

Generally, if the source of the excessive moisture is located and repaired, de-lamination is contained to a relatively small area. Unlike cupping, de-lamination is almost always caused by topical moisture introduction. This is good because de-lamination damage can usually be fixed by just replacing the de-laminated boards. Cupping, on the other hand, will require moisture abatement and, possibly, refinishing.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tips To "Going Green"

Although this is a hardwood flooring blog, I think it is important for all of us to start thinking “greener.” Periodically, I will be posting tips on “thinking green,” regardless if the post is directly related to hardwood flooring or not. Some of these posts will be from other blogs and articles and some will be from me. I have taken a personal interest in a “greener” movement and hope that other late comers, like me, will take an interest in a “greener” way of thinking as well. This is the only planet in the galaxy that we know of, that can sustain our lives. Although I don’t have any of my own, I am doing this for your children and grand-children. Please consider a “greener” lifestyle! It really does take little effort to make a huge impact!

Tip of the Day:

How many times do we go out of town and leave all of the electronics plugged in? We are all guilty of it! Next time you go on a two or three day get away… Unplug those non essential electronics. TVs, DVD players, printers, microwave… You get the idea. More importantly, when you aren’t charging your cell phone, MP3 player or Bluetooth device; unplug the charger from the outlet. Even though electronics are not performing their designed function, they still pull energy when they are plugged in.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hardwood “vs.” Laminate

This seems to be one of those things that haunt me on a daily basis. Is laminate better than hardwood? Well… I guess it depends on the look you are going for and your expectations. Is laminate hardwood? No… It’s not. It’s laminate, or a picture of hardwood on a composite backer. It does not perform the same as hardwood and in many instances can be a much larger problem to maintain than hardwood flooring.

Repairing a hardwood floor, although time consuming and difficult, can be addressed on a board by board basis most of the time. Laminate products that require a repair usually have to be torn up to the point of the repair area. In other words, if a laminate floor system needs to be repaired near the wall where the floor was started, guess what… Chances are the entire floor system will have to be torn up to get to it.

Water damage is a big concern when dealing with laminate, as laminate products have a tendency to swell a great deal when moisture is introduced. Typically, a laminate system will swell to the point that the match ends will separate or break when water is introduced. Even with a relatively small amount of moisture. I’m not saying that all laminate is bad… Only that you must be sure that a laminate system is what you want!

Laminate systems CAN NOT be sanded! What you have after install is what you get. Therefore, most laminate systems will only last about a ¼ of the life of a real hardwood floor, assuming proper maintenance. Be sure it is what you want! Here again, realistic expectations of performance are the key to choosing a laminate floor system.

Keep in mind that if you are flipping a house or renovating it for the market, that a laminate system IS NOT hardwood floor. Therefore, you can not promote hardwood floors to aid in the selling process. As hardwood floors will raise the value of your property, there is a developing trend that laminate floors are becoming a deterrent to some prospective buyers.

My only real advice to hardwood or laminate is… If you want a hardwood floor… Buy a hardwood floor… If you want a laminate floor… Buy a laminate floor… Do some research and make an educated decision before you commit. Remember, you get what you pay for! Oh yeah… There are also some really good engineered products out there… But I will leave those to another post.

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