Janka Rating (Hardness of Wood), Bamboo, Laminate, Hardwood and Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Janka Rating (Hardness of Wood), Bamboo, Laminate, Hardwood and Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Bamboo: The Grass is Green

Flooring professionals are always looking to source flooring to their commercial and residential clients that will stand as being both visually attractive as well as long-lasting.   Homeowners are looking for these benefits too, but many people are becoming more and more aware of the issues of renewability and the protection of the environment.   This awareness has caused many people to seek alternate sources of flooring materials that will still serve the needs of look and practicality, but with the added benefit of sustainability of natural resources.   One of the most popular choices for these reasons remains to be bamboo flooring.   Bamboo is noted for hardness, beauty, variety, and its greenќ friendly nature.   But, how exactly is it made, how many types are there, and just what makes it so renewable anyway?

Bamboo Is A Type of Grass

A common error some make about bamboo is that it is a type of hardwood.   Not to be confused with common associations of many species of grass, bamboo is actually a type of grass which matures into a material that can rival the hardness of maple!   Being well adapted to the environment in which bamboo commonly grows, each bamboo plant thrives in areas of fair to poor soil quality, and still remains to be one of the fastest growing plants in the world.   Controlled harvesting of the bamboo plant has very little impact on each individual stalk, which will continue to grow long after harvesting.   This is what makes bamboo such a renewable source of flooring material, and why it is often associated with environmentally minded choices for flooring.   The fact that it is such a uniquely attractive flooring option makes bamboo flooring an extremely beneficial choice for your own interior environment!

How Bamboo Flooring is Made

Once the bamboo has been harvested, the outer layer of green skinќ is removed and each stalk is cut into lengthwise strips or filletsќ. These curved fillets of bamboo are milled along their outer edges in order to flatten them.   The excess elements of this process will go into another type of bamboo flooring that is called strand-woven bamboo flooringќ more on that later. The flattened strips of bamboo are then kiln dried in order to remove the natural moisture in the bamboo, and are then boiled.   The bamboo fillets are now ready to be glued together to make a solid, dependable surface that is more than suitable for flooring.   The bamboo undergoes one final compression stage, which makes it that much more durable and ready to ship.   Tongue and groove elements are added in order to make an installation as easy as possible. It should be mentioned that the outcome of this manufacturing process is dependent on which kind of bamboo flooring is being made.   There are several types of bamboo flooring, both in terms of cut and of color, and some differences in how they are processed.

Horizontal or Vertical Bamboo Flooring

During the gluing process, the bamboo can either be bound with the narrow edges facing up, which results in a thin, channel pattern in the bamboo flooring, or so that the broader surface of the bamboo is bound facing upward, making for a surface that is more akin to traditional hardwood patterns.   These styles of bamboo flooring are known as vertical and horizontal bamboo flooring respectively.   There are visual benefits for each one, depending on your personal taste, but both remain to be decorative choices.   The horizontal style is striking for its knuckleќ or nodeќ patterns, that is, the pattern naturally occurring in the bamboo that are the equivalent of growth ringsќ in many hardwood species.   The vertical style is a unique surface that remains unmatched by any other natural flooring material, characterized by decorative, narrow channels caused by the binding of the bamboo strips.   Both of these styles are available in natural or carbonized colors.

Natural and Carbonized Bamboo Flooring

Along with choices in style you may wish to consider in bamboo flooring, there is also the question of color.   Bamboo flooring is available in two colors natural and carbonized.   The color is determined at the boiling process.   Natural bamboo appears in a creamy blonde color that is known to add a touch of brightness to an interior.   Carbonized bamboo is characterized by its smoky, caramel hue which is the result of a longer boiling process which causes the remaining starches in the bamboo to caramelize.   It should be noted that by the end of the respective boiling processes, the natural remains to be the slightly harder bamboo flooring. The carbonization process which defines carbonized bamboo reduces the bamboo’s hardness by about 30%.   It must also be noted that even though this is true, both colors of bamboo flooring can still be classified as being as hard as some hardwood species.

Strand-Woven Bamboo Flooring

In the continuing spirit of a greenќ flooring option, strand-woven bamboo flooring is the product of a process that leaves very little wasted.   The excess material left over from the filleting process which goes into making natural and carbonized bamboo flooring are intertwined, compressed, and bound.   The binding agent is a safe, UV resistant and scratch-resistant resin which also makes the bamboo even more resistant to moisture.   The process of compression results in a very hard, very durable type of bamboo flooring typified by grain patterns that are more like those of a hardwood floor.   The strand-woven bamboo is then cut into planks and is ready to be shipped no further compression is needed in this case, unlike regularly manufactured bamboo flooring.

Bamboo: A Renewable Resource Renews Your Interior!

One of the key elements that makes bamboo flooring so attractive is that it is an environmentally responsible choice.   As you have read, the harvesting of the individual bamboo plant does no harm to it, and it remains to be one of the fast-growing plants in the world.   Also, there is very little wastage of materials during the manufacturing process, making bamboo a truly renewable and sustainable source of flooring materials. Bamboo flooring can in turn renew any interior for attractiveness as well as practicality.   Bamboo flooring is unique in appearance, and is easy to clean.   As such, you will gain both the time it would take to maintain many other types of flooring, as well as the many compliments you’ll receive from visitors!

Consider the area you where you wish to install your choice in bamboo flooring make sure that it is not prone to excessive moisture. Bamboo is moisture resistant, but excessive moisture can damage your bamboo flooring

Consult the terms and conditions of your bamboo flooring purchase, including all warranty information, and read all installation instructions

Ensure that your subfloor is clean, dry and level before installing your bamboo flooring

Inspect all boxes of bamboo flooring for any damaged planks before commencing.

Allow your bamboo to acclimateќ in the area where the installation will take place.

Open all boxes and allow the bamboo to expand and contract accordingly to the interior.

Use of a tapping block will help to minimize any fracturing during installation.

Expect a 7-9% wastage factor, depending on your level of expertise when placing an order for bamboo flooring

Use dry or damp (not doused) mops, brooms and vacuums to keep your bamboo flooring clear of dirt and grit which have the potential to scratch the finish of your bamboo flooring

Use runners and mats at strategic points to guard against dirt and moisture from the outdoors, and be aware of spills and clear them up when they happen

Don’t

Overwet your bamboo floor this can lead to long term damage

Use detergent, steel wool or other abrasives to clean your bamboo flooring

Install your bamboo flooring in a bathroom, sauna or enclosed veranda.   These areas which are prone to high levels of moisture may void your warranty in some cases

Install your bamboo flooring in an area prone to intense sunlight.   Despite its UV protection, bamboo flooring is subject to fading when exposed

Walk on your bamboo flooring with athletic spikes or high heels

Picture Perfect: A Guide to Laminate Flooring Basics

Laminate flooring is becoming more and more popular today in North America and all over the world, although it started as a European innovation.   For households and offices which require a low maintenance flooring solution, laminate flooring has been known to be an effective choice for its attractiveness, durability, ease of installation, as well as for its reasonable price when compared to many other flooring options.   However, despite the fact that laminate flooring is popular, there are a great many misconceptions and mysteries surrounding it in terms of how laminate flooring is made and how it differs from solid hardwood.   This guide is meant to clear up these misconceptions and reveal some of these mysteries, as well as outline some of the major benefits of laminate flooring.   Armed with this knowledge, it is hoped that eBayers can go forward and buy their choice of laminate flooring with confidence!

What is laminate flooring?

One of the first mistakes people make is to confuse laminate flooring with solid hardwood flooring.   The two should never be thought of as similar, despite the obvious visual similarities that makes quality laminate flooring such an attractive choice.   Laminate flooring is not comprised of any real hardwood species at all.   In fact, the surface of a laminate floor is actually a highly rendered photograph, often of a hardwood species.   This top layer, or decorative layer, is sealed by a resin-based coating which gives the laminate flooring board its resistance to many forms of abrasion.   The two remaining layers of laminate flooring are the core layer and the backing layer.   The core layer is most often made of high-density or medium density fiber board, which serves as a means to absorb the stress of footfalls and other forms of impact.   The backing layer, otherwise known as the stabilizing layer, is the layer of the laminate flooring which binds all of the others together.   All in all, each layer of the laminate flooring board is designed for maximum structural strength, although not all laminate flooring lines are created equal.   For a more detailed breakdown of just how much stress each type of laminate flooring is meant for, you need to find out what the AC rating of the laminate flooring is.

What is an AC rating?

An AC rating is applied to every line of laminate flooring by an independent body known as EPLF, or European Producers of Laminate Flooring.   A series of tests are designed and carried out in order to test each line of laminate flooring for stress resistance. The tests range from resistance to burning, to scratching, to impact, and even tests for resistance against abrasion caused by castors and other furniture legs.   When the tests are concluded, those lines of laminate flooring are assigned an AC rating, which is the measurement of stress as applied to where the laminate flooring is to be installed.   Here is a general guide to the AC rating:

  • AC1 is suitable for lighter, more infrequent traffic, e.g. a bedroom.
  • AC2 is suitable for general residential use in living rooms and dining rooms.
  • AC3 is suitable for high traffic residential use and low traffic commercial use.
  • AC4 can be installed in higher traffic commercial areas such as boutiques, busier offices, and restaurants.
  • AC5 is more durable still and can withstand the traffic of heavier commercial areas such as department stores and public buildings.

All reputable manufacturers of laminate flooring adhere to these standards which are outlined by the industry for the benefit of consumers.   It is important for consumers to note the AC rating on the laminate flooring they are considering, particularly with the idea of foot traffic, moisture, and other stresses that the laminate flooring will need to endure firmly in mind.

Tongue and Groove and Locking Systems

One of the key characteristics of laminate flooring, and one that is kept in mind when it is manufactured, is how easy it is to install when compared to other types of flooring.   Of the many designs, some of the more efficient and mess-free laminate flooring lines are the gluelessќ variety.   With this variety, the laminate flooring is generally fitted together by means of what is called a tongue and grooveќ design, with interlocking elements that slide into place and are made secure as each row is laid down.   Unlike hardwood, no nails are required.   Some types of laminate feature more sophisticated locking systems, designed to be put down and taken up again where necessary. With some fairly limited skills in carpentry, laminate flooring can be installed by do-it-yourselfers in most cases. Choosing to install laminate flooring commonly cuts down on expenses, as it is rarely necessary to hire an installer, although many homeowners do for the sake of convenience.   For contractors, offering the option of laminate flooring to clients is often a time-saving option, as laminate flooring is more quickly installed than hardwood flooring, allowing them to take on more contracts.

Laminate flooring dos and don’ts

Generally speaking, laminate flooring is a low maintenance option that is easily installed, but there are a few things to keep in mind before purchasing laminate flooring as well as once they’ve been installed.   Here are a few pointers when looking to maintain a laminate floor.

    Do
  • Consider the area in which you intend to install your choice of flooring. Judge it for foot traffic and moisture levels in particular to be sure that your choice of flooring is appropriate.   This is where it is handy to check the AC rating of your chosen laminate floor
  • Choose a quality underlayment to protect against moisture coming from the subfloor
  • Read any installation instructions you have very carefully
  • Hire a professional if you are unsure how to proceed
  • Ensure that your subfloor is level, clean and dry
  • When installing, leave a 10mm gap around the perimeter of your installation area as well as any fixed objects in the center.   You will need to allow room for expansion as the laminate will respond to temperature changes over time.
  • Once the laminate flooring has been installed, be aware of any spills on your laminate floor and clear them up as soon as they happen
  • Use a dry mop or a vacuum cleaner to keep the laminate flooring clear of dust and dirt
  • Use protective pads on the feet of all furniture to reduce the risk of scratching the laminate flooring

Don’t

  • Install laminate flooring over carpet
  • Install laminate flooring in areas subject to excessive moisture
  • Continue with your installation if your first row is not straight.   The first row is the basis for the entire installation.
  • Use wax, polish, or abrasive cleansers on your laminate flooring.   This can ruin the finish and the overall look of the laminate
  • Try to seal, lacquer, finish or sand your laminate floor
  • Flood the floor when cleaning.   It is important to minimize moisture levels on the laminate floor.   If excessive moisture finds its way underneath the flooring, it can cause the boards to swell.

    Beyond Tradition: the Hardwood Flooring Advantage

    Hardwood flooring is looked upon by many as the flooring option that lends a sense of permanence to an interior.   Whether it’s a residential interior, or an office installation, hardwood flooring adds an air of class, as well as structural strength.   For these reasons, hardwood flooring remains to be a classic choice.   It is a flooring option that has the advantage of tradition behind it; many cultures and civilizations have used hardwood flooring, and have done so for centuries. But, there are reasons beyond those of tradition that make hardwood flooring a practical and decorative choice.

    One of the most attractive attributes of hardwood flooring is the range of options open to you in terms of finish, surface, stain, and species. All of these aspects play a very important role in determining the look of your flooring.   With all of these choices, hardwood flooring is known to make for a unique effect in each interior.   To this point, an advantage you will experience will most likely be all of the compliments you’ll get because of your hardwood flooring for years to come.

    Pre-finished and Unfinished

    Hardwood Flooring

    Hardwood flooring can be purchased in either prefinished or unfinished varieties and there are distinct advantages in both.   For pre-finished hardwood flooring, the obvious advantage is that of convenience. No sanding is required for these types of hardwood floors, and therefore more time is saved on preparation as well a mess; sanding a hardwood floor involves both.   Also, no time must be allowed for the finish on your hardwood flooring to dry, a period which can take a half a day to longer, depending on the kind of finish you use.

    As far as unfinished hardwood flooring goes, the most compelling advantage is that of a more uniform seal. This is the reason why many professionals offer unfinished hardwood flooring to clients; it is easier to make sure that all of the minute gaps between the hardwood flooring boards are sealed when finish is applied on the whole surface of the flooring, and not on a board-by-board basis.   This means extra protection against moisture, the hardwood floor’s most dangerous enemy. In this sense, all of the preparation and mess is worth the effort.

    Hardwood Flooring Surfaces and Stains

    The diversity of hardwood flooring extends not only to finish, but also in the range of surfaces and choices in stain available to the customer.   Some hardwood flooring is planed evenly at the mill, offering a smooth, refined surface that many consumers have come to admire in hardwood flooring.   But another variety of hardwood flooring that is becoming popular with flooring professionals and homeowners is that of the handscraped hardwood flooring. In this case, the hardwood plank is actually worked by hand to create a contoured, seasoned surface that gives the hardwood flooring a more rustic, lived-in appearance.

    The variations in hardwood flooring are further extended by the variety of stains available as well.   Some stains serve to bring out the natural range of color in a chosen species.   Others effectively change the color altogether, allowing a consumer to enjoy the benefits offered by one species, while enjoying the color of another.   Hardwood flooring is probably one of the more flexible choices with regard to appearance and personal taste.

    Hardwood Flooring: the Luxury of Choice

    Overall, hardwood flooring is not just an option which relies upon tradition, although hardwood flooring has been relied upon for centuries because it is such a durable material.   What hardwood flooring offers is the luxury of choice and an ease of integration into an interior design.   Along with the advantages of appearance, hardwood is and continues to be a choice in flooring that can add structural strength to a residence or office.

    Popular Species of Hardwood Flooring

    • Red and White Oak These species are naturally pale in color, with hints of pink running through the Red Oak. Both are known for their utility across all kinds of applications.   White Oak is known to be slightly harder than red oak, although red oak in turn is slightly easier to saw and nail.
    • American Cherry Used for cabinet making as well as flooring, American Cherry is known to be an attractive species that is very easy to work with. It is not as hard as either red or white oak, but offers a greater tonal range of color that darkens over time to become even more rich in tone, due to photosensitivity.
    • Hard Maple Harder still than oak, the uniform texture of maple as well as its naturally abrasion-resistant surface makes it an excellent choice for hardwood flooring.   Early North American settlers relied upon maple for its hardy nature, and it continues to be popular today.
    • Brazilian Cherry AKA Jatoba One of most notable features of this exotic species is its color a rich, reddish brown that eventually ages into a lustrous burgundy.   Another important as aspect of Jataba is how hard it is; it is harder than some species of mahogany.   So for look as well as durability, Brazilian Cherry excels.
  • Choose a species of hardwood which will stand up to the type of foot traffic you expect in the area you wish to have it installed.
  • Consult the terms and conditions of your purchase, including warranty information
  • Hire a professional installer if you have little or no experience in installing a hardwood floor.   Hiring a professional flooring contractor will spare you the costly mistakes that often characterize installations by the inexperienced.
  • In the case of an unfinished hardwood flooring option, consult with contractors or local retailers about which finish or stain is most appropriate for your choice of hardwood flooring.
  • Choose an appropriate moisture barrier to rest between subfloor and hardwood flooring in order to add another level of protection.
  • Expect color variations, as hardwood is a natural material.   This can be to your advantage in terms of design.   Open all boxes to view the tonal range in your particular batch and lay out the boards accordingly to suit your personal style.
  • Allow your hardwood flooring to acclimateќ before you install it.   This means opening the boxes of flooring to expose it to the temperature of the area where it is to be installed.   Being a natural material, hardwood flooring expands and contracts according to climate.
  • Use DRY mops and vacuums to keep your new hardwood flooring clear of dirt and dust
  • See to your pets clip their nails, buy water dishes with a wide base to avoid spills, use area rugs or runners in higher pet traffic areas, and look out for number oneќ (clean up those accidentsќ as soon as they happen!)

    Don’t

  • Install hardwood flooring in an area that will be subject to excessive moisture. This also means avoiding an installation below gradeќ (in a basement for instance) or in bathrooms.
  • Install hardwood flooring in an area that is not environmentally controlled all year long say, in a cottage or summer home that is not constantly maintained.
  • Use wax-based cleaners or harsh detergents that will dull the finish of the hardwood flooring
  • Use steel wool or any other abrasives to clean a hardwood floor
  • Use excessive water when cleaning a hardwood floor
  • Walk on your hardwood flooring with athletic spikes or high-heels
  • Install hardwood flooring over radiant heat.   For this, it is best to consider engineered hardwood flooring which is designed to allow for the temperature variations resulting from radiant heat
  • Leave damp rugs on the surface of hardwood flooring for an extended period.
  • The Best Of Both Worlds: The Engineered Flooring Advantage

    Engineered hardwood flooring is a product made up of a core of hardwood, plywood or HDF and a top layer of hardwood veneer that is glued on the top surface of the core and is available in almost any hardwood species. The product thus has the natural characteristics of the selected wood species as opposed to a photographic layer. The engineeredќ product has been designed to provide greater stability, particularly where moisture or heat pose problems for solid hardwood floors. The instability of solid hardwood is usually moisture or heat related. Under adverse conditions, solid hardwood floors can warp, cup, swell or split apart. Engineered hardwood flooring overcomes these problems by constructing a multiple-ply plank which counteracts twisting and remains flat and intact. This makes engineered hardwood flooring a better choice for installation over radiant heat sources, over concrete whether it’s below grade or above, and in rainy climates.

    There are many layers associated with an Engineered Floor; In addition to the top hardwood veneer, engineered wood flooring typically has three or more core layers. Of course, there is greater stability with more layers. The core layers may be plywood, high density fiberboard, or hardwood. For example, Vanier engineered flooring has five to seven hardwood core layers. The hardwood veneer, or top layer of hardwood (which can be chosen to be any species of wood desired), can typically be 0.6mm to 4.5mm or more in thickness. A quality hardwood veneer will provide many years of wear. For example, Vanier engineered hardwood flooring has a Select and Better 2mm hardwood veneer and comes with a 25-year finish warranty. The most common question asked about Engineered Floors is How many times can I refinish the floor?ќ The answer is: It depends upon the thickness of your hardwood layer but the fact is that 95% of hardwood surfaces are never refinished. With the high quality finishes that are offered and the extensive process that refinishing a floor entails, damaged areas are often removed professionally. If sanding is desired, typically, the professional sanding procedure removes 1/32 of an inch. Thus if your floor has a 2mm layer you can sand the floor 1-2 times.

    The average high quality Engineered Floor product will have a 3mm top wood floor layer. Remember¦ the National Wood Flooring Association found that on average, Americans who do regularly refinish their floor; tend to have refinished it approximately once every 10 years. So if you have a 3mm wear layer on your Engineered Floor, AND you are the type of individual who will want to refinish the floor once in a while then your floor will last you more than 30 years. The next question that begs to be asked is¦. How long do you plan to actually live in the home before you move to your next one?ќ

    Here is a list of things to consider when purchasing, installing and maintaining your engineered hardwood floor:

      Do
    • Consider the area where you will be installing your engineered hardwood floor in terms of moisture levels and foot traffic use this to help you to choose the species of flooring that is right for what you have in mind
    • Allow for a certain level of wastage per square foot when placing an order, depending on your level of expertise. You are the best judge of how much this will be, but a good range in general is 7-10% for non-professional installers
    • Read all installation instructions and warranty information very carefully
    • Consult any information about your radiant heating system in order to learn the best practice when using it under an engineered hardwood floor
    • Inspect your batch of engineered hardwood flooring for any defects before you begin an installation
    • Make sure that your sub floor is clean, dry and level before you install your engineered flooring
    • Use rugs and runners to protect high traffic areas and access points to the outdoors. This will minimize the amount of dirt and grit that can negatively effect the finish of your engineered hardwood flooring

    Don’t

  • Use wax-based cleaners, harsh detergents, abrasives, or steel wool to clean engineered hardwood flooring
  • Apply finish to an engineered hardwood floor that has already been finished at the factory
  • Over wet engineered hardwood when cleaning excessive moisture can still have a negative effect on your flooring, just as it would with solid hardwood
  • Wear spike-heels or athletic spikes on your engineered hardwood floors
  • Written by Rob Jones who writes articles for commercial contractors and DIYers on features, installation, and maintenance of building materials used in commercial and residential projects.

    Bamboo: The Grass is Green

    Flooring professionals are always looking to source flooring to their commercial and residential clients that will stand as being both visually attractive as well as long-lasting.   Homeowners are looking for these benefits too, but many people are becoming more and more aware of the issues of renewability and the protection of the environment.   This awareness has caused many people to seek alternate sources of flooring materials that will still serve the needs of look and practicality, but with the added benefit of sustainability of natural resources.   One of the most popular choices for these reasons remains to be bamboo flooring.   Bamboo is noted for hardness, beauty, variety, and its greenќ friendly nature.   But, how exactly is it made, how many types are there, and just what makes it so renewable anyway?

    Bamboo Is A Type of Grass

    A common error some make about bamboo is that it is a type of hardwood.   Not to be confused with common associations of many species of grass, bamboo is actually a type of grass which matures into a material that can rival the hardness of maple!   Being well adapted to the environment in which bamboo commonly grows, each bamboo plant thrives in areas of fair to poor soil quality, and still remains to be one of the fastest growing plants in the world.   Controlled harvesting of the bamboo plant has very little impact on each individual stalk, which will continue to grow long after harvesting.   This is what makes bamboo such a renewable source of flooring material, and why it is often associated with environmentally minded choices for flooring.   The fact that it is such a uniquely attractive flooring option makes bamboo flooring an extremely beneficial choice for your own interior environment!

    Janka Rating (Hardness of Wood), Bamboo, Laminate, Hardwood and Engineered Hardwood Flooring

    How Bamboo Flooring is Made

    Once the bamboo has been harvested, the outer layer of green skinќ is removed and each stalk is cut into lengthwise strips or filletsќ. These curved fillets of bamboo are milled along their outer edges in order to flatten them.   The excess elements of this process will go into another type of bamboo flooring that is called strand-woven bamboo flooringќ more on that later. The flattened strips of bamboo are then kiln dried in order to remove the natural moisture in the bamboo, and are then boiled.   The bamboo fillets are now ready to be glued together to make a solid, dependable surface that is more than suitable for flooring.   The bamboo undergoes one final compression stage, which makes it that much more durable and ready to ship.   Tongue and groove elements are added in order to make an installation as easy as possible. It should be mentioned that the outcome of this manufacturing process is dependent on which kind of bamboo flooring is being made.   There are several types of bamboo flooring, both in terms of cut and of color, and some differences in how they are processed.

    Horizontal or Vertical Bamboo Flooring

    During the gluing process, the bamboo can either be bound with the narrow edges facing up, which results in a thin, channel pattern in the bamboo flooring, or so that the broader surface of the bamboo is bound facing upward, making for a surface that is more akin to traditional hardwood patterns.   These styles of bamboo flooring are known as vertical and horizontal bamboo flooring respectively.   There are visual benefits for each one, depending on your personal taste, but both remain to be decorative choices.   The horizontal style is striking for its knuckleќ or nodeќ patterns, that is, the pattern naturally occurring in the bamboo that are the equivalent of growth ringsќ in many hardwood species.   The vertical style is a unique surface that remains unmatched by any other natural flooring material, characterized by decorative, narrow channels caused by the binding of the bamboo strips.   Both of these styles are available in natural or carbonized colors.

    Natural and Carbonized Bamboo Flooring

    Along with choices in style you may wish to consider in bamboo flooring, there is also the question of color.   Bamboo flooring is available in two colors natural and carbonized.   The color is determined at the boiling process.   Natural bamboo appears in a creamy blonde color that is known to add a touch of brightness to an interior.   Carbonized bamboo is characterized by its smoky, caramel hue which is the result of a longer boiling process which causes the remaining starches in the bamboo to caramelize.   It should be noted that by the end of the respective boiling processes, the natural remains to be the slightly harder bamboo flooring. The carbonization process which defines carbonized bamboo reduces the bamboo’s hardness by about 30%.   It must also be noted that even though this is true, both colors of bamboo flooring can still be classified as being as hard as some hardwood species.

    Strand-Woven Bamboo Flooring

    In the continuing spirit of a greenќ flooring option, strand-woven bamboo flooring is the product of a process that leaves very little wasted.   The excess material left over from the filleting process which goes into making natural and carbonized bamboo flooring are intertwined, compressed, and bound.   The binding agent is a safe, UV resistant and scratch-resistant resin which also makes the bamboo even more resistant to moisture.   The process of compression results in a very hard, very durable type of bamboo flooring typified by grain patterns that are more like those of a hardwood floor.   The strand-woven bamboo is then cut into planks and is ready to be shipped no further compression is needed in this case, unlike regularly manufactured bamboo flooring.

    Bamboo: A Renewable Resource Renews Your Interior!

    One of the key elements that makes bamboo flooring so attractive is that it is an environmentally responsible choice.   As you have read, the harvesting of the individual bamboo plant does no harm to it, and it remains to be one of the fast-growing plants in the world.   Also, there is very little wastage of materials during the manufacturing process, making bamboo a truly renewable and sustainable source of flooring materials. Bamboo flooring can in turn renew any interior for attractiveness as well as practicality.   Bamboo flooring is unique in appearance, and is easy to clean.   As such, you will gain both the time it would take to maintain many other types of flooring, as well as the many compliments you’ll receive from visitors!

    Consider the area you where you wish to install your choice in bamboo flooring make sure that it is not prone to excessive moisture. Bamboo is moisture resistant, but excessive moisture can damage your bamboo flooring

    Consult the terms and conditions of your bamboo flooring purchase, including all warranty information, and read all installation instructions

    Ensure that your subfloor is clean, dry and level before installing your bamboo flooring

    Inspect all boxes of bamboo flooring for any damaged planks before commencing.

    Allow your bamboo to acclimateќ in the area where the installation will take place.

    Open all boxes and allow the bamboo to expand and contract accordingly to the interior.

    Use of a tapping block will help to minimize any fracturing during installation.

    Expect a 7-9% wastage factor, depending on your level of expertise when placing an order for bamboo flooring

    Use dry or damp (not doused) mops, brooms and vacuums to keep your bamboo flooring clear of dirt and grit which have the potential to scratch the finish of your bamboo flooring

    Use runners and mats at strategic points to guard against dirt and moisture from the outdoors, and be aware of spills and clear them up when they happen

    Don’t

    Overwet your bamboo floor this can lead to long term damage

    Use detergent, steel wool or other abrasives to clean your bamboo flooring

    Install your bamboo flooring in a bathroom, sauna or enclosed veranda.   These areas which are prone to high levels of moisture may void your warranty in some cases

    Install your bamboo flooring in an area prone to intense sunlight.   Despite its UV protection, bamboo flooring is subject to fading when exposed

    Walk on your bamboo flooring with athletic spikes or high heels

    Picture Perfect: A Guide to Laminate Flooring Basics

    Laminate flooring is becoming more and more popular today in North America and all over the world, although it started as a European innovation.   For households and offices which require a low maintenance flooring solution, laminate flooring has been known to be an effective choice for its attractiveness, durability, ease of installation, as well as for its reasonable price when compared to many other flooring options.   However, despite the fact that laminate flooring is popular, there are a great many misconceptions and mysteries surrounding it in terms of how laminate flooring is made and how it differs from solid hardwood.   This guide is meant to clear up these misconceptions and reveal some of these mysteries, as well as outline some of the major benefits of laminate flooring.   Armed with this knowledge, it is hoped that eBayers can go forward and buy their choice of laminate flooring with confidence!

    What is laminate flooring?

    One of the first mistakes people make is to confuse laminate flooring with solid hardwood flooring.   The two should never be thought of as similar, despite the obvious visual similarities that makes quality laminate flooring such an attractive choice.   Laminate flooring is not comprised of any real hardwood species at all.   In fact, the surface of a laminate floor is actually a highly rendered photograph, often of a hardwood species.   This top layer, or decorative layer, is sealed by a resin-based coating which gives the laminate flooring board its resistance to many forms of abrasion.   The two remaining layers of laminate flooring are the core layer and the backing layer.   The core layer is most often made of high-density or medium density fiber board, which serves as a means to absorb the stress of footfalls and other forms of impact.   The backing layer, otherwise known as the stabilizing layer, is the layer of the laminate flooring which binds all of the others together.   All in all, each layer of the laminate flooring board is designed for maximum structural strength, although not all laminate flooring lines are created equal.   For a more detailed breakdown of just how much stress each type of laminate flooring is meant for, you need to find out what the AC rating of the laminate flooring is.

    What is an AC rating?

    An AC rating is applied to every line of laminate flooring by an independent body known as EPLF, or European Producers of Laminate Flooring.   A series of tests are designed and carried out in order to test each line of laminate flooring for stress resistance. The tests range from resistance to burning, to scratching, to impact, and even tests for resistance against abrasion caused by castors and other furniture legs.   When the tests are concluded, those lines of laminate flooring are assigned an AC rating, which is the measurement of stress as applied to where the laminate flooring is to be installed.   Here is a general guide to the AC rating:

    • AC1 is suitable for lighter, more infrequent traffic, e.g. a bedroom.
    • AC2 is suitable for general residential use in living rooms and dining rooms.
    • AC3 is suitable for high traffic residential use and low traffic commercial use.
    • AC4 can be installed in higher traffic commercial areas such as boutiques, busier offices, and restaurants.
    • AC5 is more durable still and can withstand the traffic of heavier commercial areas such as department stores and public buildings.

    All reputable manufacturers of laminate flooring adhere to these standards which are outlined by the industry for the benefit of consumers.   It is important for consumers to note the AC rating on the laminate flooring they are considering, particularly with the idea of foot traffic, moisture, and other stresses that the laminate flooring will need to endure firmly in mind.

    Tongue and Groove and Locking Systems

    One of the key characteristics of laminate flooring, and one that is kept in mind when it is manufactured, is how easy it is to install when compared to other types of flooring.   Of the many designs, some of the more efficient and mess-free laminate flooring lines are the gluelessќ variety.   With this variety, the laminate flooring is generally fitted together by means of what is called a tongue and grooveќ design, with interlocking elements that slide into place and are made secure as each row is laid down.   Unlike hardwood, no nails are required.   Some types of laminate feature more sophisticated locking systems, designed to be put down and taken up again where necessary. With some fairly limited skills in carpentry, laminate flooring can be installed by do-it-yourselfers in most cases. Choosing to install laminate flooring commonly cuts down on expenses, as it is rarely necessary to hire an installer, although many homeowners do for the sake of convenience.   For contractors, offering the option of laminate flooring to clients is often a time-saving option, as laminate flooring is more quickly installed than hardwood flooring, allowing them to take on more contracts.

    Laminate flooring dos and don’ts

    Generally speaking, laminate flooring is a low maintenance option that is easily installed, but there are a few things to keep in mind before purchasing laminate flooring as well as once they’ve been installed.   Here are a few pointers when looking to maintain a laminate floor.

      Do
    • Consider the area in which you intend to install your choice of flooring. Judge it for foot traffic and moisture levels in particular to be sure that your choice of flooring is appropriate.   This is where it is handy to check the AC rating of your chosen laminate floor
    • Choose a quality underlayment to protect against moisture coming from the subfloor
    • Read any installation instructions you have very carefully
    • Hire a professional if you are unsure how to proceed
    • Ensure that your subfloor is level, clean and dry
    • When installing, leave a 10mm gap around the perimeter of your installation area as well as any fixed objects in the center.   You will need to allow room for expansion as the laminate will respond to temperature changes over time.
    • Once the laminate flooring has been installed, be aware of any spills on your laminate floor and clear them up as soon as they happen
    • Use a dry mop or a vacuum cleaner to keep the laminate flooring clear of dust and dirt
    • Use protective pads on the feet of all furniture to reduce the risk of scratching the laminate flooring

    Don’t

  • Install laminate flooring over carpet
  • Install laminate flooring in areas subject to excessive moisture
  • Continue with your installation if your first row is not straight.   The first row is the basis for the entire installation.
  • Use wax, polish, or abrasive cleansers on your laminate flooring.   This can ruin the finish and the overall look of the laminate
  • Try to seal, lacquer, finish or sand your laminate floor
  • Flood the floor when cleaning.   It is important to minimize moisture levels on the laminate floor.   If excessive moisture finds its way underneath the flooring, it can cause the boards to swell.

    Beyond Tradition: the Hardwood Flooring Advantage

    Hardwood flooring is looked upon by many as the flooring option that lends a sense of permanence to an interior.   Whether it’s a residential interior, or an office installation, hardwood flooring adds an air of class, as well as structural strength.   For these reasons, hardwood flooring remains to be a classic choice.   It is a flooring option that has the advantage of tradition behind it; many cultures and civilizations have used hardwood flooring, and have done so for centuries. But, there are reasons beyond those of tradition that make hardwood flooring a practical and decorative choice.

    One of the most attractive attributes of hardwood flooring is the range of options open to you in terms of finish, surface, stain, and species. All of these aspects play a very important role in determining the look of your flooring.   With all of these choices, hardwood flooring is known to make for a unique effect in each interior.   To this point, an advantage you will experience will most likely be all of the compliments you’ll get because of your hardwood flooring for years to come.

    Pre-finished and Unfinished

    Hardwood Flooring

    Hardwood flooring can be purchased in either prefinished or unfinished varieties and there are distinct advantages in both.   For pre-finished hardwood flooring, the obvious advantage is that of convenience. No sanding is required for these types of hardwood floors, and therefore more time is saved on preparation as well a mess; sanding a hardwood floor involves both.   Also, no time must be allowed for the finish on your hardwood flooring to dry, a period which can take a half a day to longer, depending on the kind of finish you use.

    As far as unfinished hardwood flooring goes, the most compelling advantage is that of a more uniform seal. This is the reason why many professionals offer unfinished hardwood flooring to clients; it is easier to make sure that all of the minute gaps between the hardwood flooring boards are sealed when finish is applied on the whole surface of the flooring, and not on a board-by-board basis.   This means extra protection against moisture, the hardwood floor’s most dangerous enemy. In this sense, all of the preparation and mess is worth the effort.

    Hardwood Flooring Surfaces and Stains

    The diversity of hardwood flooring extends not only to finish, but also in the range of surfaces and choices in stain available to the customer.   Some hardwood flooring is planed evenly at the mill, offering a smooth, refined surface that many consumers have come to admire in hardwood flooring.   But another variety of hardwood flooring that is becoming popular with flooring professionals and homeowners is that of the handscraped hardwood flooring. In this case, the hardwood plank is actually worked by hand to create a contoured, seasoned surface that gives the hardwood flooring a more rustic, lived-in appearance.

    The variations in hardwood flooring are further extended by the variety of stains available as well.   Some stains serve to bring out the natural range of color in a chosen species.   Others effectively change the color altogether, allowing a consumer to enjoy the benefits offered by one species, while enjoying the color of another.   Hardwood flooring is probably one of the more flexible choices with regard to appearance and personal taste.

    Hardwood Flooring: the Luxury of Choice

    Overall, hardwood flooring is not just an option which relies upon tradition, although hardwood flooring has been relied upon for centuries because it is such a durable material.   What hardwood flooring offers is the luxury of choice and an ease of integration into an interior design.   Along with the advantages of appearance, hardwood is and continues to be a choice in flooring that can add structural strength to a residence or office.

    Popular Species of Hardwood Flooring

    • Red and White Oak These species are naturally pale in color, with hints of pink running through the Red Oak. Both are known for their utility across all kinds of applications.   White Oak is known to be slightly harder than red oak, although red oak in turn is slightly easier to saw and nail.
    • American Cherry Used for cabinet making as well as flooring, American Cherry is known to be an attractive species that is very easy to work with. It is not as hard as either red or white oak, but offers a greater tonal range of color that darkens over time to become even more rich in tone, due to photosensitivity.
    • Hard Maple Harder still than oak, the uniform texture of maple as well as its naturally abrasion-resistant surface makes it an excellent choice for hardwood flooring.   Early North American settlers relied upon maple for its hardy nature, and it continues to be popular today.
    • Brazilian Cherry AKA Jatoba One of most notable features of this exotic species is its color a rich, reddish brown that eventually ages into a lustrous burgundy.   Another important as aspect of Jataba is how hard it is; it is harder than some species of mahogany.   So for look as well as durability, Brazilian Cherry excels.
  • Choose a species of hardwood which will stand up to the type of foot traffic you expect in the area you wish to have it installed.
  • Consult the terms and conditions of your purchase, including warranty information
  • Hire a professional installer if you have little or no experience in installing a hardwood floor.   Hiring a professional flooring contractor will spare you the costly mistakes that often characterize installations by the inexperienced.
  • In the case of an unfinished hardwood flooring option, consult with contractors or local retailers about which finish or stain is most appropriate for your choice of hardwood flooring.
  • Choose an appropriate moisture barrier to rest between subfloor and hardwood flooring in order to add another level of protection.
  • Expect color variations, as hardwood is a natural material.   This can be to your advantage in terms of design.   Open all boxes to view the tonal range in your particular batch and lay out the boards accordingly to suit your personal style.
  • Allow your hardwood flooring to acclimateќ before you install it.   This means opening the boxes of flooring to expose it to the temperature of the area where it is to be installed.   Being a natural material, hardwood flooring expands and contracts according to climate.
  • Use DRY mops and vacuums to keep your new hardwood flooring clear of dirt and dust
  • See to your pets clip their nails, buy water dishes with a wide base to avoid spills, use area rugs or runners in higher pet traffic areas, and look out for number oneќ (clean up those accidentsќ as soon as they happen!)

    Don’t

  • Install hardwood flooring in an area that will be subject to excessive moisture. This also means avoiding an installation below gradeќ (in a basement for instance) or in bathrooms.
  • Install hardwood flooring in an area that is not environmentally controlled all year long say, in a cottage or summer home that is not constantly maintained.
  • Use wax-based cleaners or harsh detergents that will dull the finish of the hardwood flooring
  • Use steel wool or any other abrasives to clean a hardwood floor
  • Use excessive water when cleaning a hardwood floor
  • Walk on your hardwood flooring with athletic spikes or high-heels
  • Install hardwood flooring over radiant heat.   For this, it is best to consider engineered hardwood flooring which is designed to allow for the temperature variations resulting from radiant heat
  • Leave damp rugs on the surface of hardwood flooring for an extended period.
  • The Best Of Both Worlds: The Engineered Flooring Advantage

    Engineered hardwood flooring is a product made up of a core of hardwood, plywood or HDF and a top layer of hardwood veneer that is glued on the top surface of the core and is available in almost any hardwood species. The product thus has the natural characteristics of the selected wood species as opposed to a photographic layer. The engineeredќ product has been designed to provide greater stability, particularly where moisture or heat pose problems for solid hardwood floors. The instability of solid hardwood is usually moisture or heat related. Under adverse conditions, solid hardwood floors can warp, cup, swell or split apart. Engineered hardwood flooring overcomes these problems by constructing a multiple-ply plank which counteracts twisting and remains flat and intact. This makes engineered hardwood flooring a better choice for installation over radiant heat sources, over concrete whether it’s below grade or above, and in rainy climates.

    There are many layers associated with an Engineered Floor; In addition to the top hardwood veneer, engineered wood flooring typically has three or more core layers. Of course, there is greater stability with more layers. The core layers may be plywood, high density fiberboard, or hardwood. For example, Vanier engineered flooring has five to seven hardwood core layers. The hardwood veneer, or top layer of hardwood (which can be chosen to be any species of wood desired), can typically be 0.6mm to 4.5mm or more in thickness. A quality hardwood veneer will provide many years of wear. For example, Vanier engineered hardwood flooring has a Select and Better 2mm hardwood veneer and comes with a 25-year finish warranty. The most common question asked about Engineered Floors is How many times can I refinish the floor?ќ The answer is: It depends upon the thickness of your hardwood layer but the fact is that 95% of hardwood surfaces are never refinished. With the high quality finishes that are offered and the extensive process that refinishing a floor entails, damaged areas are often removed professionally. If sanding is desired, typically, the professional sanding procedure removes 1/32 of an inch. Thus if your floor has a 2mm layer you can sand the floor 1-2 times.

    The average high quality Engineered Floor product will have a 3mm top wood floor layer. Remember¦ the National Wood Flooring Association found that on average, Americans who do regularly refinish their floor; tend to have refinished it approximately once every 10 years. So if you have a 3mm wear layer on your Engineered Floor, AND you are the type of individual who will want to refinish the floor once in a while then your floor will last you more than 30 years. The next question that begs to be asked is¦. How long do you plan to actually live in the home before you move to your next one?ќ

    Here is a list of things to consider when purchasing, installing and maintaining your engineered hardwood floor:

      Do
    • Consider the area where you will be installing your engineered hardwood floor in terms of moisture levels and foot traffic use this to help you to choose the species of flooring that is right for what you have in mind
    • Allow for a certain level of wastage per square foot when placing an order, depending on your level of expertise. You are the best judge of how much this will be, but a good range in general is 7-10% for non-professional installers
    • Read all installation instructions and warranty information very carefully
    • Consult any information about your radiant heating system in order to learn the best practice when using it under an engineered hardwood floor
    • Inspect your batch of engineered hardwood flooring for any defects before you begin an installation
    • Make sure that your sub floor is clean, dry and level before you install your engineered flooring
    • Use rugs and runners to protect high traffic areas and access points to the outdoors. This will minimize the amount of dirt and grit that can negatively effect the finish of your engineered hardwood flooring

    Don’t

  • Use wax-based cleaners, harsh detergents, abrasives, or steel wool to clean engineered hardwood flooring
  • Apply finish to an engineered hardwood floor that has already been finished at the factory
  • Over wet engineered hardwood when cleaning excessive moisture can still have a negative effect on your flooring, just as it would with solid hardwood
  • Wear spike-heels or athletic spikes on your engineered hardwood floors
  • Written by Rob Jones who writes articles for commercial contractors and DIYers on features, installation, and maintenance of building materials used in commercial and residential projects.


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