Frequently Asked Questions on Flooring & Related Topics
If you are considering a hardwood floor installation in your home, or refinishing your existing hardwood, please take a moment to read over the answers to our frequently asked questions. If you have additional questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact us directly.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions from our Calgary flooring customers:
For liability reasons, customers are solely responsible for moving all furniture and valuables from work areas before the installation or refinishing begins.
2. Do I have to move out of my home during the installation, sanding, and finishing of my hardwood floors?
As long as the layout of your home provides you with an area in which you can live comfortably for the duration of the job, the only day that we require an empty home is on the day of the final coat. Even then, the home must only be vacated for approximately six hours. This limits the air flow from open doors and windows and prevents dust from settling on the final coat. Our new Clarke American Sanders dust containment system ensures virtually no dust throughout your home, allowing your stay during the renovation process to be as comfortable as possible.
3. When is it best to install a hardwood floor?
In our opinion, especially in Calgary, it is best to install a hardwood floor during the driest time of the year, usually winter. If a floor is installed during the warmer, more humid, time of the year, gaps are more likely to occur as the wood shrinks during the winter.
4. What do I need to consider if I want to stain my floor?
First of all, the type of wood needs to be considered. For example, maple does not take stain in the same way as oak. When stained, the grain in a maple floor can have a busy pattern. Oak will take a stain with a more consistent colouring.
Secondly, the grade of the wood needs to be considered. For instance, a select or clear grade of oak will take a stain, especially a dark stain, much better than a #1 or #2 common grade of oak. With a dark stain, a process called water-popping is used. In this case, the floor is dampened first. With a lower grade of wood, the application of water may result in cracks and the appearance of wafered boards. Occasionally, even a high grade wood can crack.
5. What is the difference between oil-based and water-based finish?
Oil-based finishes, although used for many years, are becoming a thing of the past as a result of its toxicity levels. (In some jurisdictions, oil-based finishes are actually illegal.) Due to the fact that it is very high in VOCs (volatile organic compounds), it can present health risks to both the contractor and the homeowner. Consequently, Artwood Floors no longer recommends or uses oil-based finishes. Oil-based finishes have an amber tone and also change colour with time and exposure to the sun, giving the floor an orange look. Although it is widely believed that oil-based finishes are stronger, factory tests suggest that newer, water-based finishes are harder and more durable than oil-based finishes.
Water-based finishes are much less toxic than oil-based finishes and some are non-ambering. For those who prefer the amber look of an oil-based finish, but want to avoid the fumes created by an oil-based finish, an amberized sealer may be the answer. Since water-based finishes tend to raise the grain of hardwood, especially oak, the finished product can give the illusion of a somewhat thinner coat. This can be remedied with the application of a fourth coat of finish, although this is not always necessary. It is important to note, though, that there is a limit to the number of coats a floor can take before having to be re-sanded in the future. Therefore, a fourth coat now means one less coat later.
6. How does Arboritec® commercial finish compare to the finish commonly applied in residential homes?
Arboritec® finish is a ceramic-fortified commercial finish, which is considered the flagship of the wood floor waterborne finishes. Their nano technology provides greater durability and is designed for commercial, as well as demanding residential floors. Low in VOCs, Arboritec® finishes are environmentally friendly and therefore better suited for families with allergies and sensitivities. Like other water-based finishes, they are also fast drying and fast curing. As a result, downtime is minimized for the contractor, allowing the homeowner quicker access to their floors. In addition, Arboritec® is clear and colourless, highlighting the true colour of both natural and stained floors.
7. How much time does it take for the floor to dry and cure?
The drying time for water-based finishes is quite a bit shorter than for oil-based finishes. Once the coats are applied, the customer can walk on the floor in socks within hours of the floor being finished. Curing does take longer though and, as a result, homeowners must take precautions when moving furniture back onto the floors. Appliances, such as refrigerators, should be moved using sliders. We recommend that area rugs be left off a finished floor for about one month.
8. What can I expect from the finished product upon completion of the job as well as in the future?
According to the NWFA standards, a finished hardwood floor is to be critiqued from a standing position, with a 5% flaw ratio being considered acceptable. The degree of perfection is relative when a floor is finished on-site (versus a factory produced pre-finished floor).
When a water-based finish is applied, grain-raise should be expected. Although, grain raise is reduced somewhat as the humidity exits the wood throughout the curing process. On a natural floor, the grain raise is greatly reduced through the polishing process, which takes place prior to the final coat.
Additionally, certain woods, such as Brazilian cherry, do darken over time.
Due to the nature of Calgary's changing weather patterns, hardwood floors will shrink and expand with the changing seasons unless an excellent humidity replacement system, such as a humidifier, is used within the home.
9. How do you repair squeaks in an existing hardwood floor?
Although no method is absolutely foolproof, there are two possible methods for repairing squeaks. If you have access to the floor from below, as in a basement with an unfinished ceiling or drop ceiling, the floor can be screwed from below to pull the boards down tight to the sub-floor. If this is not a possibility, a method called glue injection can be used. This is a more costly alternative and may not be 100% effective. In this case, a small hole is drilled and glue is injected into the board.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us!
For more information or a free estimate, please contact Artwood Floors today! With Artwood Floors, you can enjoy the benefits of our Clarke American Sanders dust containment system on every refinishing job — and, at no extra cost!