Lowest Environmental Impact
Wood flooring is the most abundantly renewable flooring material available. The U.S. Forest Service states that the annual net growth for hardwoods is greater than the average annual removal rate. This means that trees are growing faster than they are being used today.
In addition, wood remains the largest carbon sink on land for CO2 emissions, as well as one of the major sources of oxygen, comprising the air we breathe. Wood floors also use less water and energy to produce and can be burned as fuel or recycled at the end of its life cycle, making it an extremely sustainable product. They not only bring beauty and value to a home, but they last hundreds of years and are easier to maintain that most other flooring options.
Discover why hardwood floors are the most sustainable flooring option for your home.
One popular and very sustainable trend in flooring today is reclaiming wood from old barns, factories, warehouses, landfills or even river bottoms to use for wood flooring. This type of wood is extremely unique and possesses a certain history that makes it charming and somewhat enchanting with variations in character, color and mineral variations.
Not only is the irregularity of the wood attractive, but it is much more dimensionally stable than new hardwood flooring. The lifespan of the reclaimed wood has exposed it to air for many years and makes it less susceptible to changes in humidity that could cause swelling or shrinking.
So, reduce your impact on the environment, protect your family from poor indoor air quality and enjoy your beautiful hardwood floors!
Source: National Wood Flooring Association. Retrieved from http://www.woodfloors.org/Green.aspx
Prefinished v. Site Finished
Site-finished floors are wood floors that are sanded and finished after installed in a home. These floors are left up to the homeowner’s imagination with an extensive pallet of stain colors and finishes to choose from. The sanding process can help eliminate any imperfections throughout the floor, giving you a cleaner, more uniform look.
Today’s advances in technology can allow for a quick, clean and healthy finishing process. Having your floors sanded on site does mean having to stay off your floors for the duration of the sanding and finishing process. In the past this was a long and messy process with extensive clean up. With today’s advances in technology, there are dust containment vacuums and low VOC finishes allowing for a quick, clean and healthy process.
Pre-finished floors have the finish applied in a factory using a UV curing process. They come in a wide variety of species, colors, thicknesses, widths and character grades but can be limited on the ability to be sanded due to the thinner wear layers. Once installed, pre-finished flooring is ready to be used and there is no sanding, dust or fumes from the finishing process.
Staining a floor allows you, the homeowner, to custom pick a color that best fits your style whether it’s a traditional, contemporary or a look of elegance. There are a wide variety of stain colors; most of them are blendable, giving you an endless color palette to choose from for your very own custom look. When picking a stain for your house, consider that once you stain the entire floor there will be a drastic change in the overall feel of the room. This can happen when going from light to dark or vice versa. Do you want to match the base and trim work, or do you want the contrast? Do you want the coziness of a dark stain color or a bigger and brighter feel of a lighter stain? Will a white stained floor be easy to clean over time? These are all questions to ask yourself and your contractor before deciding on a specific color. It is an industry standard that staining certain species like Maple and Pine is not a recommended practice. This is due to the inconsistent grain patterns that both species have which can lead to blotchy, uneven color absorption.
Oil-based finishes have been around over 50 years and, in this time before water-based systems, they were the common hardwood floor finishes when it came to clarity and durability. Oil-based polyurethanes have an amber color to them because of the type of resin used to make them, which can add a deeper, richer look to the floor. This may be a desired look, but keep in mind that the finish will continue to amber and darken over the lifetime of the floor. This process cannot be stopped or reversed without sanding your floors and starting over. Although oil-based polyurethanes have an amber color to them, they still became known as the “natural” or “traditional” look for hardwood floors.
Newer technology and wood-sealing research have led to the availability of Water-based systems. Water-based systems are considered the most “natural” look for a hardwood floor because they tend to be clear, colorless and do not change color over time. Nowadays there are options within the water-based systems where you can get a more traditional oil polyurethane look by using sealers and finishes with amber color additives. These products can give you a fresh oil poly look without the ongoing color change.
Oil and water based systems can be compatible dependent on the manufacturer’s recommendations. In most cases this is the combination of oil based sealers beneath water based finishes but not the other way around.
There are three main classifications of gloss on the market: high-gloss, semi-gloss and matte. When selecting gloss, consider the effects of light. A very bright finish reflects the most light. That means bright finishes also highlight scuffs, scratches, scrapes and other marks. Matte or satin finishes absorb more light and reflect a more subdued radiance. Since marks are less noticeable, their life is longer-lasting. Their sedate sheen also makes them more aesthetically malleable.
Satin sheens are becoming more and more popular in today’s home interiors.
A satin sheen is a softer, flatter shine that falls on the lower end of the scale somewhere in between a semi-gloss and a matte. Satin sheens have become quite a bit more popular nowadays due to the ability to hide long term effects of wear. They also work great in higher traffic residential homes and for commercial uses.
High-gloss finishes are the highest of all sheen levels. They are visually a clear window into the beauty of your hardwood floors. While high-gloss finishes have the brightest of all shines, they can also show imperfections underneath and on top of the polyurethane coating like surface scratches and everyday wear and tear. High-gloss finishes are most frequently used on basketball courts to display the clearest image of the team’s logo.
A semi-gloss sheen is stuck right dab in the middle of the shine spectrum between satin and high gloss. Semi-gloss is a great middle marker for those who want the shine but also want the ability to disguise some of the natural abuse a hardwood floor goes through.
Matte sheens, just like paint for your walls, come with very little shine at all. Matte sheens are the extreme opposite of high-gloss sheen. Matte sheens have a very opaque look to them and, when used over a natural unstained wood floor, can give you the illusion of raw wood but with the protection of a durable polyurethane finish. Matte sheens will also work very well in high traffic residential homes and for commercial applications.
What is a “natural” looking floor? It’s any hardwood floor that is finished with a system that won’t alter or disguise the natural beauty of the wood. This is typically done with water or oil based systems and can sometimes be a combination of both. Waxes and penetrating oils were once commonly used for a natural look, but they lacked the durability and required extra periodic maintenance.