Lifelong Beauty

Filed in Construction by on April 29, 2014

Hickory Flooring Photo Source: Shaw Floors

Hickory Flooring
Photo Source: Shaw Floors

If visions of wielding a floor sander or meticulously staining boards are keeping you from adding hardwood flooring to your home, you might think again. Today’s hardwood floors are designed for beauty and longevity, without all of the extra work. In fact, with proper installation and maintenance, you should never need to break out your sandpaper.

New hardwood flooring typically comes prefinished, ready to install and enjoy. With a wide variety of wood species, finishes, board widths and installation options, you can find the floor that’s right for your home and lifestyle.

Choosing the Right Floor

Popular woods include hickory, maple, cherry and walnut. Some people though prefer more exotic wood or even traditional oak. Bamboo and cork and popular on do-it-yourself TV shows, but they don’t hold up well in our climate, says Ryan Weber, salesperson at Carpet World, Fargo.

Though some woods are harder than others, it’s important to know that all wood floors will scratch and dent with use. Thankfully, that scratching and denting is in style right now. Rather than perfectly smoothly sanding the floors and topping with a high-gloss finish, most people are opting for a more distressed look. Hand-scraped, rustic or wire-brushed looks give you the beauty and comfort of an already used floor. “It hides more, so that if you drop something on your floor, the damage won’t show as easily,” Weber says.

Antique Hardwood Floors Photo Source: Ron Holstrom Antique Floors

Antique Hardwood Floors
Photo Source: Ron Holstrom Antique Floors

Homeowners can take the distressed look to another level through the use of repurposed or reclaimed flooring. Ron Holstrom of Fergus Falls, owner of Ron Holstrom Antique Floors, installs a wide variety of flooring previously used in old barns, factories and other large buildings. The floors tend to be more stable than new hardwood and can even be used with radiant heat, he says. They also bring a unique look to the home. “They have a lot of beauty,” Holstrom says. “They come with nail holes, cracks, knots  and stains. when you put a floor like that in, you have to be of the mindset that if you sand the floor, you will ruin it.”

Wider floor boards are also becoming more popular. The 2 1/4 -inch board are being replaced with 5-inch or wider. Even varied widths, such as 4-, 6- and 8-inches are being used, says Brian Dunford, sales manager at Floor to Ceiling Carpet One, Fargo. “The flooring comes packaged that way and you can get some really neat looks when it’s installed,” he adds.

Finally, be sure to consider the finish – urethane or oil. Most new wood floors have a “baked on” finish of several layers of urethane to protect the floor. “These finishes are applied in a controlled factory setting with automated machines,” describes Rich Seland, president and CEO of Seland’s Abbey Flooring Center, Fergus Falls. “They are cured with ultra-violet lighting, which contributes to a harder finish than a sand-on-site finish.”

Oil finishes are more natural, but also more expensive. A special oil is worked into the floor to protect it and may need annual application. You can easily touch up scratches, dents or worn areas with a little more oil. Holstrom uses oil on his floors. “Finishes are no big deal,” he says. “Just oil that floor.”


New hardwood flooring comes in two varieties: Solid floors are just that, solid wood usual 3/4-inch thick. Engineered floors are made by layering thin pieces of wood and are usually 3/8-inch to 1/2-inch thick.

American Walnut Flooring Photo Source: Mannington Residential

American Walnut Flooring
Photo Source: Mannington Residential

Solid hardwood floors must be installed by nailing or stapling to the subfloor. Engineered floors can be installed in three ways: nailed/stapled, glued or floated above the subfloor in a click-together method commonly used with laminate flooring. While all three can be do-it-yourself projects (by very carefully following the manufacture’s directions) the click-together board will be the easiest.

“it’s not the hardest thing to put in. It’s easier than carpet,” says Jana Bye, president of Fargo Linoleum, Fargo. “You just need to have the right tools for each type of installation.”

Chances are, if you’ve spent good money for quality wood flooring, you’ll probably want to turn to the professionals for installation anyway. Seland highly recommends it. “Wood flooring professionals are similar to plumbers and electricians,” he says. “It takes a substantial amount of time to learn the trade and wood floor apprenticing can take up to five years.”

Dunford recommends nailing or stapling, as gluing can create problems if the subfloor has any flax and click-together floors can create a hollow sound. “It’s a little more expensive but worth it,” he says.

Maintaining Your Floor

Humidity is the biggest concern with wood floor maintenance, as the boards absorb or give off moisture depending on their environment. “The key is to keep the humidity in the home between 35 and 55 percent year round,” Seland says. “The use of a humidifier in the winter and a dehumidifier in the summer helps.”

Maple Floors Photo Source: Shaw Floors

Maple Floors
Photo Source: Shaw Floors

Also be careful with floor cleaners. “Don’t use a bucket and a mop,” Weber says. “That dries them out.” Instead, use the floor cleaner recommended by the manufacturer. Typically it comes ni a spray bottle you can spray on a microfiber mop and then gently clean the floor. “Never use Murphy’s Oil on a prefinished wood floor,” Dunford says. “It leaves a film all over it.” Holstrom also recommends a microfiber mop and very little product for the antique floors. “They’re very easy to care for,” he says.

Here are a few other tips for caring for your floor: Sweep or vacuum a wood floor often. Protect if from harsh sun rays by shutting the blinds during the brightest part of the day. Rearranging furniture and rugs regularly for even coloring (most floors darken during the first six months). Use felt pads or sliders under furniture legs. Never drag anything across the floor.

Finally, put down the mop, sit back and enjoy your new floor.

“Hardwood flooring is both beautiful and durable,” Seland says. “It’s a lifetime investment that increases both the value and aesthetics of your home.”

by Amanda Peterson, a writer from Moorhead. 

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