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IHC Hardwood Floor Education, Prevention, and Maintenance

  Types and Styles

The species of the wood is determined by the species of tree the wood is derived from.  It identifies the grain pattern.

The style can be defined as factory finished, unfinished, solid, engineered, strip, plank, or parquet.

The color of your floor can be determined by either the species of wood or the stain you choose.  For example, using a natural finish, oak and maple will have a much lighter look, mahogany and cherry will have hues of red, and walnut will be much darker.  Or choose the desired stain color to match the other wood in your home.

The appearance of the wood determines its grade.  Every grade is similar in strength, yet grants you different looks. 

-          Clear – is free of defects, though may have minor imperfections.

-          Select – is similar to clear, although it has characteristics of knots and color variations.

-          Common – (No.1 and No.2) has more natural characteristics, such as variations  

            in color or in knots.

-          First – has natural color variations and limited character marks.

-          Second – is variegated in appearance related to the respective species.

-          Third – is rustic in appearance allowing all wood characteristics of the species.

Board width is crucial in how a floor will look in your home. Maybe you'll prefer the narrow strip flooring, or perhaps the expanse of wider planks.

Medallions create a focal point in your home. They can enhance an existing architectural focal point, such as a dramatic stairway or high ceilings, or help create one. Select a design in balance, proportion and scale to fit your space.

Border inlays are used to define a space within a larger room, or connect transition rooms through your home. If you have an open floor plan, use perimeter inlays to define specific areas; i.e. to define a dining area without walls, or to create a sitting area in an open family room.

Hand-distressing wood floors offer a unique look and antiqued appearance that appeals to many homeowners. Hand-scraping, which is labor-intensive and time-consuming, is the most-common distressing technique. Using tools such as chisels, planes, wire brushes, awls, ice picks and grinders, the installer will work with the wood to achieve a worn and distressed look. The end result will be a new floor that looks beautifully antiqued.


The angle at which a board is cut determines how the finished product looks. Wood flooring is either plainsawn, quartersawn or riftsawn.

Plainsawn is the most common cut. The board contains more variation than the other two cuts because grain patterns resulting from the growth rings are more obvious.

Quartersawn produces less board feet per log than plainsawing and is therefore more expensive. Quartersawn wood twists and cups less and wears more evenly.

Riftsawn is similar to quartersawing, but the cut is made at a slightly different angle.


Ease of Maintenance

Maintenance of today’s wood floors is easy! New technology in stains and finishes call for regular cleaning that takes little more than sweeping and/or vacuuming, with occasional use of a professional wood floor cleaning product. This will ensure that you use the proper cleaner for your type of flooring and finish.



Wood floors are ecologically friendly. Since it is a natural resource, wood is both renewable and recyclable. Many of yesteryear’s old wood ships , warehouses, barns, and other structures often find a second life in wood flooring. And, because wood does not collect dust and other allergens, many leading health associations agree that wood floors are the perfect choice for a healthy home.


Wood Floor Finishes

Surface Finishes

Lasting beauty requires minimal care with today's wood floor finishes. These finishes are usually urethanes and remain on the surface of the wood and form a protective coating. Surface finishes are popular today because they are durable, water-resistant and require minimal maintenance. Various gloss levels are available.

Types of Surface Finishes

Oil-modified urethane is easy to apply. It is a solvent-base polyurethane that dries in about eight hours. This type of finish ambers.

Moisture-cured urethane is solvent-base polyurethane that is more durable and more moisture resistant than other surface finishes. Moisture-cure urethane comes in non-yellowing and in ambering types and is generally available in satin or gloss. These finishes are extremely difficult to apply, have a strong odor and are best left to the professional.

Water-based urethane finishes are clear and non-yellowing. They have a milder odor and dry in about two to three hours.

Penetrating Stain and Wax - This finish soaks into the pores of the wood and hardens to form a protective penetrating seal. The wax gives a low-gloss satin sheen. It is generally maintained with solvent-based (never water-based) waxes, buffing pastes or cleaning liquids (specifically made for wax-finished wood floors and an additional thin application of wax as needed.


Preventive Maintenance

There are other steps you can take to minimize maintenance and maintain the beauty of your wood floors as well.

.        Do not use sheet vinyl or tile floor care products on wood floors. Self-polishing acrylic waxes cause wood to become slippery and appear dull quickly.

.        Use throw rugs both inside and outside doorways to help prevent grit, dirt and other debris from being tracked onto your wood floors. This will prevent scratching.

.        Do not wet-mop a wood floor. Standing water can dull the finish, damage the wood and leave a discoloring residue.

.        Wipe up spills immediately with a slightly dampened towel.

.        Do not over-wax a wood floor. If the floor dulls, try buffing instead. Avoid wax buildup under furniture and other light traffic areas by applying wax in these spots every other waxing session.

.        Put soft plastic or fabric-faced glides under the legs of furniture to prevent scuffing and scratching.

.        Avoid walking on your wood floors with cleats, sports shoes and high heels. A 125-pound woman walking in high heels has an impact of 2,000 pounds per square inch. An exposed heel nail can exert up to 8,000 pounds per square inch. This kind of impact can dent any floor surface.

.        When moving heavy furniture, do not slide it on wood flooring. It is best to pick up the furniture completely to protect the wood flooring.

.        For wood flooring in the kitchen, place an area rug in front of the kitchen sink.

.        Use a humidifier throughout the winter months to keep wood movement and shrinkage to a minimum.









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