With hardwood flooring, you are evoking aesthetics that reflect charm, richness and class. Well-worth the effort, time and money, hardwood floors last a lifetime and increase in character as it ages. You can expect to have these hardwood floors with your home for decades to come, so it may be a good idea to choose more durable materials that can withstand wear-and-tear, scratches and damage. Here, we will take an in-depth look at hardwood flooring and provide tips to choosing, maintaining, and installing your hardwood floors.
It sounds like a good thing, but excessive air ventilation in the winter can dry out your hardwood flooring in Toronto. Temperature, moisture and airflow affect wood because it is a natural material. When you allow the cold winter air indoors, the relative humidity can drop significantly. More ventilation when the air is dry means pulling moisture from your floorboards. They will shrink and shift slightly when this happens, leading to visible gaps. Modern building codes advise home ventilation rates near ⅓ ACH. The average home will have a ventilation rate between 1 or 2 ACH, but older buildings can have rates as high as 10 ACH, with windows being major sources of air leaks. Home weatherization around doors and windows will help prevent unwanted drafts.
You can add moisture to your home’s air in the winter months to help keep your floorboards happy. After reducing the ventilation rates, add moisture with a humidifier. Typical devices can add up to 6 pints of water into your air every hour. Indoor temperatures year-round should be maintained in the range of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit when possible. The air humidity is ideal at 50-70%. Talk to your hardwood manufacturer or dealer for tips regarding your specific product. It’s normal to expect some seasonal shifting, and expert installers will account for a little wiggle room, rather than risk bowing of the boards when exposed to heat and moisture. Choosing professionals with experience helps ensure that just the right amount of expansion is accounted for and you won’t have unsightly gaps.
Moisture is the single most influential factor in the lifespan of your hardwood flooring in Toronto, and high levels of humidity will affect your comfort level at home as well. The professional who handles your installation can provide a recommended humidity range for your home to protect the floors you’ve chosen, and you can invest in an air conditioner or dehumidifier to control the moisture level in the air.
Most people know that too much time in the sun can result in sunburns and long-term damage to our skin, but many people fail to think about the impact of regular exposure to UV rays on their floors! Summer is a wonderful time to soak up the sun outdoors, but consider keeping your curtains drawn or angling horizontal blinds upwards to deflect sunlight and prevent floors from fading or bleaching over time. Specialized windows in your home can protect the investment you’ve made in choosing hardwood by blocking some UV rays, and they help you save on energy costs as well!
Acclimatize your hardwood before installing
If you’re installing new Hardwood flooring in Toronto, allowing the materials to rest in the new space for a few days before install is ideal. When wood is shipped across province or country, the conditions it was packed in may be different than in your home. Whether your environment is warmer and more humid, or dry and cold, the planks should rest in open boxes or spread in the new space for at least a few days. This acclimatization allows them to contract or expand a little and your installation will be more predictable and consistent because of it. We’ll be happy to provide a tour and answer any questions you have when you visit Chestnut Flooring. Call and talk to our experts today.
How long will acclimation take?
The time your flooring material needs to adjust depends on a few factors. Your geographic area, current season, and the subflooring moisture content affect ultimate results. You’ll want to use a moisture meter before installing wood floors to compare moisture of the boards to the subfloor. If the numbers are within 2 % for plank flooring, and 4% for two ¼ inch flooring, you can proceed with the installation. Your hardwood flooring manufacturer will also have specific guidelines to provide you with. On average, acclimation can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.
Hardwood flooring is broken down into two categories: domestic and exotic
Domestic hardwoods are native to North America. Their acquisition is easier and less costly than foreign materials. These include as Oak and Maple.
Domestic hardwoods are typically lighter and not as bold. They maintain an organic and wholesome appearance and are useful as a warm, classic foundation to make other features of your home stand out, rather than drawing all of the attention.
Exotic hardwoods, on the other hand, are found in areas around the world other than North America. These woods can include Cypress or Brazilian Cherrywood. The colours that exotic woods boast are bold, bright and stunning. Their wood grain is often unusual and captures interest. These styles draw the attention of the room to themselves and star as design and décor features.
Engineered hardwood vs solid hardwood
Solid hardwood flooring in Toronto is made from solid planks of wood and is usually about ¾ of an inch in thickness. This traditional and elegant option is ideal flooring due to how long it last and the opportunity to sand and refinish the surface at a later time.
Engineered wood , on the other hand, is comprised of compact layers, containing wood and strong resins. A solid wood veneer is placed on the top of the planks to provide a high-end, real wood appearance. This wood floor material is ideal for living spaces that are shared with children and pets due to its resilient nature and, more specifically, its resistance to water damage. Just like solid hardwood, should damage occur onengineered planks, many varieties have a thick enough surface layer that it can be refinished at least once. This ensures longevity from your investment. Because engineered floors are typically priced lower, they represent cost savings over time.
Prefinished hardwood vs. unfinished hardwood
Prefinished wooden floors receive their protective top coating in the factory while they are being manufactured. The wood undergoes the surface treatment long before it arrives in your home. Once installed, prefinished flooring is ready for use right away and doesn’t require a wait time like unfinished wood floors. This option is perfect for families who have busy timetables and find themselves always on the move. It takes a little of the guesswork and DIY labour out of your flooring installation process as well. Unlike prefinished wooden flooring, unfinished wood planks arrive in your home raw and ready for your preferred treatment. Once installed, the stains, protectants and sealant of your choice can be applied. During the drying process, the floor should be off-limits until completely dry. This option is more appealing for those who don’t mind leaving the area for a time; giving their beautiful new finish an opportunity to dry and strengthen. There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to prefinished or unfinished wood; there’sonly what is right for you.
Hardness: When trying to find a durable hardwood, hardness is a key characteristic
There are certain wood species that produce highly-resistant flooring, such as red oak. Softer wood species like pine, will have a tendency to show scratches. Hardwood floorings are scored against a hardness scale that can inform you of how durable and hard the material is.
The finish on your Vaughan hardwood flooring will add colour, luster and more importantly, protection to the surface. Most hardwood are now purchased as pre-finished by manufacturers, which increases its durability. The most common type of finish for hardwood floors is urethane. Depending on the type of your hardwood, solid hardwood can be repeatedly refinished while engineered hardwood is limited. However, pre-finished engineered hardwood floors are quite durable and there is no need for frequent refinishing.
Hardwood floors come in a wide variety of plank sizes
There are narrow strips (less than three inches), wider planks (more than three inches), and parquet squares as options. Strips are considered to be the traditional choice and it gives the illusion of more space while wooden planks provide a more rustic vibe. Parquet squares, with their distinctive geometric styles, are typically reserved for more formal spaces.
Fixed-length floorboards vs. random length floorboards
Fixed length flooring is standard for many wood floor products including some hardwood and engineered flooring. With fixed-length, the boards are generally offered in 2-3 standard lengths. As the product suggests, the final result is that you end up with uniformity, lacking any random patterning. This can appear so predictable and uniform that it’s not desirable for designers. Random length flooring is a little bit like a box of chocolates—you never know what you’re going to get, and that’s part of the fun. Experimenting with random length floor produces a more attractive, creative appearance, and for hardwood flooring customers, this is often important. Whether engineered or solid hardwood, the goal is to create a space that reflects one’s personality and character
Almost all the key characteristics of hardwood rely on the type of wood species it originates from, including durability, grain pattern and colour. Species of wood that are commonly used for Vaughan hardwood flooring are oak, maple and cherry. These are very popular choices because of their hardness. More exotic and rare wood species such as mahogany are admired for their aesthetics but are less durable.
There is a variety of different textures to choose from when looking at hardwood. For instance, you can get hardwood floors that are shiny and new, or hardwood floors that have a timeless character and antiqueness to them. Many people prefer distressed and hand-scraped hardwood flooring because it can effectively disguise heavy use over the years, while giving a timework appeal to the room.
Consider on-site finishing
Hardwood flooring in Toronto increases home value without a doubt, but the difference between on- and off-site finishing can further elevate your investment. Site finished wood, installed then finished in your home, tends to look better. That’s because pre-finished wood often has edge issues where the unstained wood colour underneath can be seen, or micro-bevelled edges will create small gaps in the seams to collect dust. It’s difficult to spot these drawbacks in the store, but once installed, you’ll have a less clean finish. An added bonus for site-finishing is that you can customize, test and even change your mind about the finish once you see the wood in the light of your home.
Hardwood flooring for pets
The type of flooring which is most natural for your pet’s feet and quickest to clean up will likely appeal to you if you have fur-people in your home. If you’re mindful of paws with sharp nails scratching the floor’s surface, you’ll want to select woods on the harder end of the scale. Oak, rather than pine, is more likely to resist gouges and scuffs. Also, choose a floor type that’s finished withoil-based polymer finish, instead of water poly. You may even want an extra coat of protection after installation to safeguard against nicks and moisture from accidents. Because dark floors tend to show dust, hair and scratches more readily, you’ll do well to choose a light tone and avoid shiny finishes. Pale planks with a matte finish will hide all manner of hair and dirt so you can relax and enjoy your space.
Maintenance of hardwood flooring
After installing real, solid wood floors in your kitchen, you’ll want to protect them and lock in their beauty for decades to come. Maintenance may not be as complicated as you think. Start with ensuring that you wipe up any liquid spills immediately. Allowing water to pool on the floor means it can soak in and jeopardize the seams and structure. When you mop, only a damp mop should be used so that no excess moisture can wick down into the wood. If your floors are well-sealed, moisture should bead on the surface. Most days, sweeping and spot cleaning with a damp cloth provide all the cleansing you need. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions if you develop a stuck on or stained problem.
The longer the length, the easier to maintain
In Toronto, hardwood flooring owners have discovered that the more joints a plank length has, the greater potential for dirt, dust and moisture to accumulate. Over time, this will cause the joints to become discoloured and detract from the elegance and flow of the hardwood floor. In these cases, repairs are complicated and often call for a total flooring replacement. When longer lengths are used, this problem can almost be eliminated.
Keeping your room warm with hardwood floors
Install a hygrometer
Also known as a humidity sensor, this device looks just like a temperature gauge or thermometer, but it measures the relative humidity in a room. When running a heater or fireplace, you should always keep track of your relative humidity level. If air moisture gets near or below 30 percent, turn off the heat. You don’t want your wood to warp from the effects of high temperatures and dryness.
Close all doors and windows
This is the most natural way of controlling the heat in a room, and it is cost effective as well. When you leave a space, close the door and the windows. The old saying, “ we’re not paying to heat the outside,’ applies here. Not only can you reduce heating costs, but you’ll decrease the drying effects of constant heating on your floorboards. Holding on to the natural warmth in your home is easier when space is sealed off and well-insulated.
Let the sunlight in during the day
What better way to stay warm and cozy than to capitalize on mother nature’s natural heat source. Not only does it keep you warm, but there’s also nothing more beautiful than the sun cascading over a hardwood floor, adding to the natural richness that this material provides.
Leave sand at the beach
Unlike some synthetic flooring materials, hardwood is susceptible to being scratched and damaged, particularly if the finish has been compromised. Sweeping regularly is a good practice all year round, but during the summer it’s more likely that you’ll have grit and sand tracked into the house, which can cause scratches or gouges if they are ground in.
Use a microfibre mop or soft-bristle broom to gently sweep up sand and other debris after coming home from the beach or park. Mats can also protect your floors by trapping dirt and sand, and you can shake them outside while the weather is warm.
Different types of wood and finishes may require different care for mopping, so be sure that you consult with a flooring professional if you have any doubt about what products or techniques to use when cleaning your hardwood flooring in Toronto.
Hardwood Flooring Leftovers
Popular décor trend
A popular décor trend is accent walls in Toronto. Hardwood flooring leftovers can be used to create an eye-catching focal point in a room by attaching the planks to some or all of a wall. This is not your grandma’s wood panelling! Modern hardwood options come in so many shades and textures they can be used to create a chic backdrop or more rustic feel.
If you do not have enough excess wood to panel an entire wall, you can join several planks as the backdrop for a painting. Follow your style by creating a whimsical design or using stencils and bold colours for something edgier.
For those who crave beauty but aren’t looking to paint a masterpiece, consider fitting leftover planks together as a custom wooden frame for a photograph you love or an art piece you already own.
Enhancing your home
Hardwood flooring in Toronto brings natural warmth and a sense of comfort. You can enhance that homey style by using leftover planks to create a table or cabinet. If you have the tools and the woodworking skills to build something from scratch, then it’s just a matter of coming up with the design, but even amateur DIY’ers can cut and fit extra hardwood pieces to cover an existing table. If you have a kitchen island or credenza that could use a facelift, why not cover the sides with the extra flooring? You can play around with the plank orientation to see if you like it horizontal, vertical or on a diagonal.
One project that’s relatively easy is crafting a mat for a sheltered outdoor entrance. To put this together, you’ll want to use pieces cut to the same length. Use a drill to place four ¼-inch holes evenly down the side of each plank. Attach the pieces by knotting four pieces of rope and threading them through the holes in each board, tying a half hitch before adding each plank, and after adding the final section, so they stay joined. Another simple use for leftover hardwood planks is to attach braces and transform them into shelves. You can fix pieces together into squares or other shapes to create simple wooden box shelves. Depending on the width of your pieces, the depth of the shelves will vary. Regardless, they will provide unique functional décor.