Month: November 2021

Products to Avoid Using on Hardwood Floors

[Source: Unsplash]

Hardwood floors are a beautiful choice for flooring. Their durability and value retention are just a couple of the many reasons to use them. It’s good practice to clean once or twice a week to keep things nice and tidy. That said, care must be taken to not damage them when trying to do so. The use of the wrong product can  stain, scratch, weaken, or even destroy the boards over time. In this article, we will go over all the products you should avoid using, as well as talk about what you should be using instead.

Avoid Wet Mops

One of the worst things you can use on your floor is something you may be completely unaware of being a problem. Wood naturally absorbs water, especially when not given a good enough finish. By using a wet mop and bucket, much of the water you’re using on the surface to remove grime is going to get soaked up into the boards. This will cause the boards to swell, bend, and eventually even pop out of alignment altogether.

What to do instead

Start by vacuuming up the floor. Ditch the water entirely. Instead, use a dry microfiber mop head to sweep up the dirt, then follow it up with either a specially wetted microfiber mop head that uses proper wood floor cleaning solution. We recommend using the MacWoods hardwood floor cleaner as the cleaning solution for this case. If you don’t have the special mop or cleaning solution, the next best thing would be to lightly dampen a cloth with warm water before wiping down the floor. Excessive water can cause damage.

Don’t Use Steam to Clean

You should never use a steamer on your hardwood. This is a recipe for destruction, as just like with a wet mop, will eventually cause water damage and warp the boards. It’s actually even worse than a mop, as the water isn’t just passively sitting on top of the boards, but actively superheated and injected right between them. This will cause the wood to peel, flake, discolor, not to mention all the problems caused by just a wet mop alone.

What to use instead

As before, use a wood floor cleaning solution instead. If you’re steaming because you’re trying to clean a certain spot, just get down and use a rag with the solution. A little elbow grease often does the best job.

Vacuums Can Be Bad, Too

Vacuums are great for getting up all kinds of different dirt and debris. The problem isn’t the suction itself, but rather the beater bars as well as the hard plastic wheels on the back of the unit. Just like how you wouldn’t want to use a rolling office chair on hardwood without a rug, so too would you want to avoid using a vacuum without proper padding. 

What to use instead

A dustpan and broom will often work best here. You also can use a vacuum if you really want to, but If you’re going to use one, make sure that it has soft rubber wheels and that you turn off the beater bar before going over the wood. Use caution and you should be fine.

Using the Wrong Cleaning Solution

This is a situation where it may not even necessarily be your fault. There are a dearth of cleaning solutions that market themselves as safe to use on wood when they aren’t safe for that at all. Knowing what to use and what to avoid is vital for the longevity of the wood. The following is a list of the solutions that we don’t recommend you use.

Polishes

While this won’t necessarily damage your wood, it’s usually a bad idea to use it. While it will initially make the boards look brand new, it won’t last long. Eventually, it will lose the shine and leave an ugly and waxy floor. This now useless coating will need to be entirely sanded off before you can put any new coat on. Just steer clear if you can help it.

Ammonia

This is a solid NEVER for wood. Ammonia has tons of different uses all throughout the house, but hardwood floors are not one of them. The chemical will outright damage the wood by dissolving the very fibers in it, keeping it intact. 

Bleach

Speaking of bleach, this is another one for the “AVOID AT ALL COSTS” list. It can discolor the boards permanently, even when used in small amounts. There is no good use-case for this product on hardwood floors, you’re only setting yourself up for failure.

[Source: Unsplash]

Vinegar

Using vinegar and water as a homemade hardwood floor cleaning solution can have a negative effect on your hardwood floor. It’s important to remember that when you clean your hardwood floors, you aren’t actually cleaning the wood—you are cleaning the chemical finish on the wood. The finish is the protective layer of your hardwood floors.

Windex (And the Like)

It’s more useless than anything. Not only does this usually contain abrasive ingredients just like in ammonia that damage the floor, but it also won’t do much of anything beyond that. The cleaner simply isn’t designed to get anything off wood. If you want to use a spray, use the MacDonald Hardwoods Floor Cleaner. Take some of it and pour it into a spray bottle, then spray away. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe it off when done. This is much more effective, lets you tackle the problem the same way, and comes with none of the risks.

What Should I Use Instead?

MacDonald Hardwood Floor Cleaner, which you can pick up in our store, is a great option for cleaning hardwood floors. If you can’t get a hold of that, you can use a damp cloth (ideally, a microfiber cloth) with warm water to clean. 

Conclusion

Your wood floor is precious. It has a value that, when properly taken care of, can last full generations. As much as wood floors are usually known for being durable, there are still plenty of ways to successfully damage them, as outlined in this article. By avoiding the products listed here, you will be saving the value of your home, not to mention avoiding unnecessary repair costs.

Protecting Hardwood Floors From Furniture

[Source: Unsplash]

In the world of floor care, importance is often emphasized on protecting your hardwood floor from getting scratched and damaged by your furniture. All it takes is one careless drag of the chair across the floor to potentially leave a permanent mark on the wood. 

In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about good floor-friendly habits that will keep your hardwood looking as spotless as the day they were installed. Let’s get started. 

Take Off Your Shoes

This is already fairly common in many eastern countries. By taking off your shoes before stepping into a room in general, you’re preventing yourself from tracking in dirt and grime from outside. For hardwood floors specifically, the tracked-in moisture can seep into the floorboards and further damage them. Consider installing a shoe organizer of some kind so that you aren’t just leaving your shoes in a random corner.

Pick It Up

The simplest tip you can follow for keeping your floors unmarred involves simply being extra careful. Rather than dragging your couch across the floor when it comes time to redecorate, instead enlist somebody to help you carry the other end of it so that no part of the couch is touching the floor. You can’t leave marks if it never meets the floor in the first place!

Don’t Use Wheeled Furniture

The hard plastic wheels on your office chair, bench, or any such furnishing will quickly cause scratches if you’re just rolling around on it without protection. It’s just a terrible idea that you will regret as soon as you start doing it.

Buy an Area Rug

Area rugs are a good option if used strategically. By keeping your furniture on an area rug, you create a gap between the floor and legs of the furniture. In addition to protecting from scratches, it will also help keep dirt and other junk from getting spread all over the floor. Not to mention that a rug on top of a hardwood floor is always a pleasing visual. Don’t cover the entirety of your beautiful hardwood floor, only the places that have furniture on them. 

Redo the Finish Periodically

Over time, there is a small possibility that the finish can start to have small imperfections. When this happens, the floor in those spots becomes a little more susceptible to damage than it already was. When you start to see light scratches appear, that’s your cue that it’s time to get the finish redone. This will not only restore protection, but depending on the finish, it may even buff out many of the lighter scratches completely.

[Source: Unsplash]

Furniture Pads

Now the big one. If you’re not going to use a carpet, and often even if you do, you should also consider putting protectors on the bottom of the furniture legs to keep them from scratching the wood. If you’re really cheap, there’s always the old tennis ball trick when you put holes in them and then stick them on the ends of the legs, but there are much more elegant ways to do this than that.

Tap-On

A Tap-On protector is held on by a small tack or a hollowed-out nail. These are the most secure method of attaching pads. You will still need to be wary about breaking the pads however, as if the nail gets exposed, you will definitely get scratches in the floor.

Self-Adhesive

Self-Adhesive pads are the cheapest and easiest to find. All you need to do to attach them is peel off the paper or plastic cover and adhere it to the bottom of the legs. The downside to this convenience is that it won’t last nearly as long. Check on them periodically to ensure they’re still attached propyl and aren’t getting dirty.

Slip-On

These protectors work exactly like they sound. You just slide them right over the legs, like socks. Assuming they fit, they strike a good balance between durability and secureness.

There are also material types for the pads to consider.

Plastic

Plastic covers should generally be avoided if at all possible. They will wear down the finish on the hardwood over time and even create scratches – the very thing you’re trying to prevent.

Rubber

Rubber is a much better option, though not perfect. It’s best used on furniture like couches, anything that isn’t going to be moved too often. If you do use it on things like chairs, move them carefully, as you may leave scuff marks in the wood. On the up side, you will find it very difficult for it to slide around thanks to the rubber.

Felt

Felt pads are usually the best choice for hardwood. Their softness will prevent the finish on the wood from wearing out and there’s no real chance of any gouges being made. Just make sure you get pads that are decently thick, as ones that are too thin can wear down quickly and expose the legs back to the wood again.

Consider “Furniture Traffic”

 How often you’re moving your furniture around is a major factor in choosing what type of padding will be best for your situation. As you see, there is a wide array of different options for different use cases to consider. There are a few areas in particular where furniture traffic becomes the most important.

The dining room and kitchen space is one such location. Failing to choose the right pad for this will be the most disastrous as it’s typically where the most furniture movement is taking place. Self-Adhesive and Slip-On pads are going to wear down faster, so make sure you’re replacing them as needed.

The family room is another important place. Kids may be jumping about on the couch, as well as people simply throwing themselves onto it after a long day. These actions will shove around the furniture rather violently depending on their weight, so choosing a rubber pad may be the best option here. 

Conclusion

As you now understand, there are plenty of great ways to keep your hardwood floors safe no matter the occasion or situation. Homeowners have long since dealt with the frustration that comes from the interaction of floors and furniture, including scratches, dings, and everything in between. Most just deal with the problems as they come and don’t take steps to avoid them from happening again. A major bonus to take into consideration is that your property value can be lowered if damage can be detected. By following these tips, your floors will have no trouble lasting the test of time.

Hardwood Flooring In Kitchens – Our Suggestions

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Hardwood is one of the most attractive flooring materials you can get. No matter how you look at it, it will almost always add value to your house. In an ideal space, hardwood flooring can last anywhere from fifteen to thirty-five years, depending on how you maintain it. It is easily possible to do even better than that, as long as you invest some time and effort into periodic maintenance. 

There are many misconceptions that have formed over the years about the practicality of using hardwood flooring in a kitchen. In this article, we will be dispelling several of them and then go over our suggestions for what kinds of hardwood you may want to choose from.

Misconceptions

Many people feel that they are not allowed to install hardwood in their kitchen. It may seem as if this is a valid sentiment, but these fears are mostly unfounded. Let’s go over the misconceptions one by one.

They Can’t Handle Spills

While it’s true that wood isn’t great for constant spills, it is not anywhere near as bad as many believe. It’s one thing to have a spot that has dried out, that will definitely take more work, but generally speaking, you just need a broom or mop to get everything up. Even a large spill of something super sticky won’t require much more than standard cleaning supplies.

The bottom line is that unless you have a situation like a burst pipe, you won’t need to worry about it. Realistically, the worst-case scenario you’re likely to experience is needing a deep cleansing agent for something that permeated the wood.

They Can’t Handle Lots of Traffic

This myth is particularly ridiculous. It only makes sense in the mind of somebody who believes that there is exactly one type of wood in the whole world. If you use balsa wood as your flooring, it’s probably not going to last very long. The reality is that there are countless types of flooring geared for every situation you can think of, plus many different types of finishes to choose from that will further increase its durability. 

If the kitchen is one that is constantly in use, then all you need to do is choose wood that will stand up to that. There is no kitchen scenario, not even that of a restaurant kitchen, where foot traffic makes it impossible for any type of wood to be good for it.

They Stain Easily

Hardwood flooring isn’t much more stain-resistant than most other types of flooring. Very few materials can boast that they’re practically immune to stains, and just about none can say that they are fully protected. Just as is the case with spills, the best solution is to simply clean as soon as it happens. It holds up just fine as long as you aren’t purposefully leaving the mess around for extended periods of time. Use common sense and you won’t have any problems.

[Image source: Unsplash]

Our Suggestions

Solid Hardwood

Regular solid wood floors are a popular choice for kitchens. Like any wood, they trap in heat more, making it much more comfortable to walk barefoot on them. Not to mention that they give a sense of natural beauty to any kitchen, regardless of whether it’s a contemporary or traditional style. The soft sheen to a properly finished flooring will contrast wonderfully with the shiny surfaces and hard materials throughout the rest of the kitchen. 

Engineered Hardwood

Engineered wood resembles regular solid wood, and in fact, is mostly still made of it. However, it’s put together in such a way, with softwood bound together and the grain of each layer running in different directions, that the strength and resilience of the wood are greatly enhanced. The quality level of the wood can be determined by simply looking at the depth of the top layer. The thicker this layer is, the better it will be in every way.

This wood is perfect for a kitchen environment that expects to have frequent and large spills. The wood is designed to resist solid wood’s natural tendency to expand, contract, and even bend as moisture seeps into it, keeping its shape and saving you potentially thousands on potential repairs and replacements. We have a full article on all the great benefits of engineered wood here.

Reclaimed Hardwood

Reclaimed wood is another option. It can come from either pure solid wood or used engineered wood. In many cases, the wood that is used is salvaged from old torn-down buildings such as abandoned barns and farmhouses. For a kitchen environment, reclaimed engineered wood will be the best choice. 

With the proper finish applied to it, reclaimed engineered wood will give you both a strong flooring that’s highly resistant to wear and tear as well as giving a unique vintage look that is difficult to fake. It’s also good for the environment, as it means that you’re giving the wood a new lease on life as well as reducing by just a bit how many trees need to be cut down.

Laminate

If you’re desperate and in need of cheap flooring, laminate is an option. It is usually not recommended though for a good number of reasons. The first one being that it just doesn’t look or feel as good as real wood. All it really is are artificial materials compressed tightly together. There’s typically no real wood in it and is usually completely flat with a design printed on it. Naturally, it is the least durable of any flooring. 

Within just a few years of use, the design on it will wear down and start to come off. It’s pretty much impossible to repair cleanly due to the fact that you can’t replace the design on it once it’s gone. Laminate wood also cannot be reused easily due to it, again, being entirely artificial. Once it wears out, there’s not much to do with it besides throwing it all out.

All that bashing aside, there are still a few upsides. For one, you can have any design you want on it. It doesn’t have to look like real wood at all. You could have zebra stripes or a brick pattern on it if you wanted to. You may also find it the easiest to clean due to it usually being completely flat. It’s also very easy to install thanks to the way they’re designed, with many of them having grooves to easily lock together with others. If you’re looking for something that you can install yourself, it could be the easiest option.

If you want to know more, we wrote a full article on laminate flooring here.

Conclusion

As long as you keep a few things in mind like understanding the risks and limitations, hardwood flooring can be a solid option for your kitchen. There is no need to give up on using wood just because of some unfounded worries.

Hardwood Stairs – A “Rising” Option

hardwood stairs

[Image source: Unsplash]

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at installing a brand new set of hardwood stairs or just renovating stairs that already exist, there’s a lot of information out there to help you make the right decisions on what you need. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know on wooden stairs and everything that goes into it.

What Are Stair Treads?

In short, a tread is simply a long plank of some material with a rounded edge for a front. It is most commonly made from wood, but it could also be composed of metal, plastic, or other materials. Your treads don’t have to be made of the same materials as the risers. In fact, some believe there are stylistic reasons to purposefully mismatch materials to create a particular look. 

There are many different factors to take into consideration when deciding on what style and type of tread you want. For example, not all stair treads are meant to be installed after the initial construction of the staircase, with some only best used during the construction of the house itself. You will want to choose a style that matches the type of house it’s going into. You will quickly learn if you were too hasty in deciding.

For wood treads specifically, there are a few particular choices that are most popular. 

  • Red Oak is the easiest to get ahold of. It has a reddish-brown color to it and is considered strong and heavy. When you think of wood flooring, you’re probably thinking of this type.
  • Knotty Pine is another type of wood that is commonly seen in businesses and some homes. While aesthetically very pleasing, pine is not the strongest material and will require more maintenance over time to maintain good looks.
  • White Oak is one that has become popular in the past few decades. It has a similar strength to its red counterpart but boasts a more modern look with more straight and linear grain to it.

There are, naturally, many more types, but these should be enough to get you started. 

What Are Risers?

Stair risers are the vertical back piece of the steps. They’re the part where you’re stepping onto and putting most of your weight on. In most cases, a staircase in a home will have a riser for each step, but that’s not always true. Some staircases will have an open back and not use risers at all. The size of the stair riser matters a great deal in how safe the stairs are to climb. Risers that are too high can be very dangerous for the inattentive, like children and the elderly, not to mention people simply not looking. 

What Makes Hardwood Stairs Better Than Carpeting?

hardwood staircase

[Image source: Unsplash]

While it’s impossible to claim that hardwood is simply better in every situation, it is typically the better choice. This is because of several reasons. 

First, and most obvious, they tend to look better. They’ll stay that way too for far longer than the lifetime of carpeting. Over time, regardless of how careful you are, after about ten years it will begin to show signs of wear. Eventually, it will need to be torn up and replaced entirely, costing you thousands of dollars and nullifying any savings you would have made over the hardwood.

Speaking of savings, that’s another area that hardwood is better for. The upfront cost will almost always be more expensive than carpeting, but due to the resilience of wood, there’s a good chance that you will never need to replace it entirely within your lifetime. Instead, you may just need to sand it down and revarnish it or some other sort of maintenance. Your wallet will thank you for it.

If you do need to pull up the wood, it probably isn’t because the wood has gone bad. Often, it’s just because you want something different for a change. You can then sell the wood as used and get a good return on your investment. For more on the problems with carpeting over hardwood in general, we have a full article on the subject.

Common Mistakes

You’ve decided that you do want to have hardwood flooring (You won’t regret it!), but you might not be fully aware of a lot of the pitfalls people make when it comes to flooring.

It Will Take More Than One Day

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the work can be done in a single afternoon. Just because you have all the materials does not mean you have all the experience. Budget out at minimum a weekend to ensure that things not only get done on time but get done right the first time. As the old saying goes, “Measure twice, cut once.” The last thing you want to have happened is the need for redoing everything from scratch due to an avoidable mistake.

It Will Be More Expensive Up-Front, But Worth It

This was mentioned earlier, but it bears repeating. On paper, getting carpeting sounds like the better deal when it comes to price. The reality is that if it isn’t lasting as long, then it’s probably not holding up its value. We have a whole article on the subject here.

Getting the Finish Right Is Easy

With the ability to use MacDonald Hardwoods’ prefinished hardwood flooring, the job is easy. Normally, it can be a little difficult due to extra installation work. But with prefinished hardwood flooring, sanding and staining are done on the wood before it’s in your home. The materials you get are ready to go!

Consider NOT DIYing It

There is a temptation for many of us to try and save the cost of labor and do things ourselves. It’s admirable, but there are a lot of ways things can go wrong. If you are not completely sure of your abilities, you may end up in a situation where you spend more money fixing your mistakes than you would have spent just hiring an expert to do it right the first time.

Conclusion

In the end, you have to decide what will look best for your environment. When treated right, your flooring may even outlast you.  No matter what sort of wood you choose or what style you end up going with though, make sure that you won’t regret it a few years down the line. We at MacDonald Hardwoods are experts at helping YOU determine the perfect wood for your unique home. Reach out through email or give us a call and we will help you make the right decisions.

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