The Blue Tones Flooring

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Monthly Archive: April 2015

How to Evaluate and Care for Hard Wood Floors

Hardwood floors can create a feeling of warmth and elegance in a home or business. However, hardwood floors can also be a nightmare for your cleaning company to keep looking good. Knowing what to do and when to do it will help you to keep hardwood floors in prime condition.

Before beginning a maintenance program on a hardwood floor it’s a good idea to ask questions about the background of the floor (finish used, when it was last sanded, etc.). If that information isn’t available, then you’ll need to assess the floor to determine the condition of the floor. Some basic observations of the wood and the finish will help to determine what type of cleaning or refinishing is needed.

Begin by evaluating the condition of the wood. If the floor has extensive damage, warped boards and a lot of wear, the entire floor may need to be replaced. But that is the worst case scenario. Inspect the entire floor, including the edges, and look for differences in the level of the floor. Following are categories you can assign to the floor:

A. Overall very good condition. The hardwood floor looks good or may even be new. The floor may just need a good cleaning to get its luster back.

B. Slight scuffed. The floor is in fairly good condition, however, has a few scuffs and scratches, especially in high traffic areas.

C. Heavy wear. The floor has quite a few scratches, scrapes and dents and looks worn in places. It may even have a few expansion cracks.

D. Warped appearance. The boards in the floor have some minor warping, uneven boards, and many scratches and scrapes.

Next decide the condition of the finish. The condition of the finish may be related to the condition of the wood. For instance if there are deep cuts, scratches or chips in the finish they may go through the finish and into the wood itself. Look at the finish decide what categories are applicable:

A. The floor has a finish, but it looks dirty. The floor most likely just needs a good cleaning to get back that glossy luster.

B. The finish has light scratches, dings and chips and is worn (or is dull) in heavy traffic areas.

C. The finish is chipped in many places. Although the floor definitely has a finish, there are light scrapes, scratches and dings throughout the finish.

D. Finish is worn. There is little or no finish on the floor. The finish may appear to have deep gouges from dragging furniture across it.

E. No finish. The finish is gone or chipped and has a poor appearance.

If the wood and the finish are in good or reasonably good condition, a good cleaning and starting up a routine maintenance program is the next step. If the wood (category C, D or E) or finish (C, D or E) is in bad shape, you may need to do more research or consult a professional on the best way to proceed.

Properly maintaining hardwood floors is important to keep them looking good and extend their lifespan. It is extremely important to remove all the dirt, dropped food, grit and other debris that can end up on and ground into hardwood floors. Dirt that is not removed quickly can be “camouflaged” in the pattern or color of the wood making it not only difficult to see, but easy to ignore. There are several tools that you can use to remove dirt:

1. Brooms- make sure to use a broom that has “exploded” ends that can sweep up dust and fine grit.

2. Vacuums – Any type except an upright vacuum with a beater bar and brushes. These can cause damage to the floor.

3. Dust mop. Dust mopping and vacuuming are the most effective methods of removing debris from floors. If using a dust mop, buy a high quality mop with an eighteen inch head. Treat the mop with a dust mop treatment so it grabs the dirt and doesn’t just push it around.

Sweeping, vacuuming or dust mopping regularly is great for getting rid of the dirt, but you will still need to clean the floor. The best method to use is to mop the floor. Use a neutral cleaner (pH of 7) that is for use on hardwood floors and follow the product’s directions. Following are a few tips that will help to protect any hardwood floors that you care for:

Good matting is the best way to keep damaging soil and grit from getting onto and ground into the floor. Mats on the outside entryway will help to remove some soils. Make sure any mat(s) used inside (and on the floor) is a good quality rug that does not have a rubber coating. Plasticizers used on some rugs can “migrate” or move from the rug and into the finish of the wood floor.

High heels can cause permanent damage to hardwood floors. The spikes on heels can create dimples in hardwood floors. In a business it may not be possible to keep high heels off the hardwood floors, but if you are cleaning a residential floor, you can let the homeowner know of the problems associated with high heels.

Dragging furniture across the floor. This can cause scratches and dents in the floor. Anytime furniture needs to be moved it should be lifted and carried. Furniture legs need to be in good shape. A loose leg on a chair can dig into the floor’s finish anytime someone sits down in the chair.

Spills (food, cleaners, alcohol, oils) can damage the finish and the wood. Clean up spills as soon as possible.

Bright sunlight can bleach, darken or dry out wood. It may be necessary to cover windows with drapes or blinds to keep the ultraviolet rays off the wood.

Harsh cleaners can damage a floor’s finish. When cleaning floors use a neutral cleaner that is designed for use on wood floors. A beautiful looking hardwood floor will get noticed. Keeping the floors properly maintenance will keep the floor looking lustrous, your customers happy, and your cash flowing!

Hardwood Floor Care Will Keep Your Hardwood Looking Fantastic

Hardwood is still the homeowner’s favorite choice of flooring and caring for it takes minimal effort. Unlike laminate or engineered wood, hardwood can be refinished many times, and will add years of beauty and warmth to your home, as well as increase its value and speed its resale. Ongoing floor care is needed to keep your hardwood looking its best, however, and there are four major aspects of hardwood floor care:

1. Hardwood floor cleaning

2. Hardwood floor repair

3. Hardwood floor refinishing

4. Hardwood floor protection

Clean Your Hardwood Regularly

Knowing how to clean hardwood floors is important because the bane of hardwood is dirt and grit, which will scratch and mark the floor if not removed promptly. As well, dust is seen more easily on wood floors than it is on linoleum or on carpet, especially in the sunlight and especially if the floor has a dark stain. Hardwood floor care, therefore, means sweeping and dusting regularly – once a week, at least, and after any event that leaves dirt and grit behind. Regular household dusting and cleaning products will cause damage, however, and you must use only products specifically designed for hardwood. Vacuuming is preferable to sweeping because it allows the dirt and dust to be pulled from between the boards, but use a vacuum with a bare floor attachment, not a beater bar, which can damage the wood.

When a more in-depth cleaning is required, use a cleaning method appropriate to the finish on your floor. If your floor has a glossy finish, it means that polyurethane, or a water-based urethane, or a similar finish has been used to form a protective barrier over the hardwood. If it has a matte finish, it means that the floor is protected with a penetrating seal of oil and/or wax. On neither of these finishes is water an acceptable cleaning agent, but both of them can accept a surface, damp-mop cleaning, which means the mop is not wet but only damp to the touch. You are cleaning only the surface and not using enough water to penetrate even the oiled-and-waxed hardwood. When using a damp mop on oil and waxed hardwood, you can add a little neutral ph hardwood floor cleaner to the water before dipping the mop into it. A floor with a protective glossy barrier can accept a generic hardwood floor cleaner providing it doesn’t contain any wax or oil.

The don’ts are every bit as important as the do’s in hardwood floor care;

1. Don’t use ammonia, regular floor cleaners, household cleaners, or dusting products on hardwood.

2. Never use wax on a floor with a urethane or other glossy finish.

3. Never wash hardwood; use only a slightly damp mop.

Repair Any Damage to Your Floors as Soon as Possible

In most cases, when your oil and waxed hardwood floors have suffered surface damage, you have to remove the finish with a wax or oil stripper before dealing with the damage. After completing the repair, you then re-wax or re-oil the area. Surface damage occurs less often on hardwood protected by polyurethane or a similar type of sealer, and when it does, the damage is not as obvious. When repairing floors with such finishes, strip the finish from the entire board or boards where the damage has occurred. Make your repairs and then apply a finishing product to those boards that is consistent with the rest of the floor.

1. Water marks: Remove the protective finish, rub the marks with fine grade steel wool. Repeat if necessary, clean, and then refinish.

2. Burn marks: Lightly sand the area, use a damp cloth to pick up the grit, and then refinish as desired.

3. Scratches and gouges: Conceal shallow scratches with matching wood putty or a putty stick. After the area is dry, sand and refinish.

Refinishing Your Worn Hardwood Floors Will Recapture Their Original Beauty and Value

In a home with shabby hardwood floors, the biggest improvement you can make is to refinish the floors. Begin by making any necessary repairs, and then removing all the furniture and drapes and sealing the vents and registers in the room so that you won’t spread dust throughout the house. Sanding floors is easiest to do with a drum sander and an edging machine for the sides and corners of the room. You can rent these machines, and it is a good idea to rent a buffer or floor polisher at the same time. Plan to make three passes with your sanding equipment, using increasingly finer sandpaper each time. Vacuum carefully and pick up every bit of fine dust and grit with tacking cloths. All dust and dirt must be removed. You can now apply a stain if you wish or you can leave the natural color and design of the wood – such as the popular oak, maple, or cherry – to be displayed.

Polish and clean the dust and dirt from the floor again, and then apply your sealer – a polyurethane or a water-based urethane that provides a protective barrier, or oil and wax, which penetrates the wood and protects from within. Carefully read all the information accompanying each product, follow the safety advice, and apply as many coats of stain or sealer as suggested by the manufacturer of the products you are using.

Hardwood Floor Care Means Providing Ongoing Floor Protection

As well as regular cleaning, and repairing and refinishing when necessary, there are a number of protective measures you can take to preserve the beauty of your hardwood:

1. Use area rugs and mats in high traffic areas and sites of frequent spills (e.g., in front of the stove, sink, and refrigerator). Move these rugs frequently so that these areas of the floor remain the same color as the exposed floor. As well, it is best to choose cotton mats as they do not trap water under them as rubber or vinyl might.

2. Keep high-heeled shoes in good repair and avoid using stiletto heels.

3. Keep nails trimmed on pets.

4. Clean up spills immediately with a paper towel or dry cloth. A damp cloth can be used for sticky spills, but dry the spot immediately afterwards with another towel or cloth.

5. Lift rather than drag furniture when moving it and use felt contacts under furniture legs to prevent scratches and gouges.

6. Use sheers or blinds to protect your floors from the discoloration caused by direct sun rays.

With proper care and maintenance, your hardwood floors will retain their beauty and enhance any décor that you choose. When your floors become worn, or if they become damaged, they can be restored to their former glory with a little time, effort, and money. Use the Internet to check out quality products, read the information on how to use them, compare prices, and place your orders. We can help with all your hardwood floor care needs – everything from discount hardwood flooring to hardwood cleaners – and all items can be purchased online and delivered to your door. Let us help you keep your hardwood floors looking their best.

Hot Tips on Radiant-Heated Floors

postYou’re remodeling the bathroom and have dreams of adding some spa like comforts. A garden tub with pulsating jets, luxurious tile and comfortable fixtures come to mind. And maybe even a heated floor. Lots of people are considering radiant-heated floors because of that extra level of spa-like comfort. Before you make a decision about a heated floor, you should know some of the pros and cons of these types of heating systems. Here’s a brief run down on the main types of systems and the pros and cons for using this type of heating system. Of course, your local HVAC professional will have more detailed information.

Heating Floor Systems: Which to Choose?

There are two main types of radiant-heated floors. The first is electric, which provides heat through electrically heated coils. The second is hydronic, which provides heat through water-filled tubes. The tubes can be heated in a variety of ways using solar power, oil, gas or kerosene. Not sure which to choose? Ask your local HVAC professional for their advice.

The Upside of Electric Radiant-Heated Floors

If you are adding heated floors to the bathrooms or to the whole house, there are some definite positives to radiant-heated flooring. The first of course is comfort. There is nothing like waking up on a cold morning and putting your feet on warm hardwood floors. Radiant-heated floors also take up no extra space. Because this type of flooring is installed underneath the floors, it is completely out of sight except for the thermostat. Usage cost is a pro as well. Users of radiant-heated flooring report about a 15 percent to 30 percent increase in their heating bills, depending on the size flooring they have installed. Contact your local HVAC professional to get a more localized estimate. Durability is also a great factor with radiant heated floors. Protected by two solid layers, these systems were designed to last. And on the plus side, the installation time is fairly short. Allergy sufferers benefit from these systems too! They provide cozy warmth without blowing around a lot of dust.

The Downside of Electric Radiant-Heated Floors

There are a few down sides to adding an electric heated floor. One is the heated floor system can’t be retrofitted under your existing floors. Your local HVAC specialist will have to take up the old floor, install the heated system and replace the flooring. Look to spend about $15 to $20 per square foot. Also, you may need new wiring from the main electric circuit panel in order to adequately power your heating system. And lastly, radiant flooring doesn’t heat up as quickly as a space heater. You may have to wait for an hour before your floors are warm.

The Upside of Hydronic Radiant-Heated Floors

You’ll find the same positives as you did with the electric system in addition to some fuel-cost savings. Whether you go with solar or oil, these electric alternatives will save you money. Ask your HVAC specialist which system he recommends and why.

The Downside of a Hydronic Heated Floor

Add the same cons as the electric counterpart plus one more. While electric systems are durable, with a hydronic heated floor, you have the chance of experiencing water damage. With a significant leak there could be damage to your floors, your furniture and your home. Contact your local HVAC professional for his suggestions on radiant-heated floors.

You’re remodeling the bathroom and have dreams of adding some spa like comforts. A garden tub with pulsating jets, luxurious tile and comfortable fixtures come to mind. And maybe even a heated floor. Lots of people are considering radiant-heated floors because of that extra level of spa-like comfort. Before you make a decision about a heated floor, you should know some of the pros and cons of these types of heating systems. Here’s a brief run down on the main types of systems and the pros and cons for using this type of heating system. Of course, your local HVAC professional will have more detailed information.

Heating Floor Systems: Which to Choose?

There are two main types of radiant-heated floors. The first is electric, which provides heat through electrically heated coils. The second is hydronic, which provides heat through water-filled tubes. The tubes can be heated in a variety of ways using solar power, oil, gas or kerosene. Not sure which to choose? Ask your local HVAC professional for their advice.

The Upside of Electric Radiant-Heated Floors

If you are adding heated floors to the bathrooms or to the whole house, there are some definite positives to radiant-heated flooring. The first of course is comfort. There is nothing like waking up on a cold morning and putting your feet on warm hardwood floors. Radiant-heated floors also take up no extra space. Because this type of flooring is installed underneath the floors, it is completely out of sight except for the thermostat. Usage cost is a pro as well. Users of radiant-heated flooring report about a 15 percent to 30 percent increase in their heating bills, depending on the size flooring they have installed. Contact your local HVAC professional to get a more localized estimate. Durability is also a great factor with radiant heated floors. Protected by two solid layers, these systems were designed to last. And on the plus side, the installation time is fairly short. Allergy sufferers benefit from these systems too! They provide cozy warmth without blowing around a lot of dust.

The Downside of Electric Radiant-Heated Floors

There are a few down sides to adding an electric heated floor. One is the heated floor system can’t be retrofitted under your existing floors. Your local HVAC specialist will have to take up the old floor, install the heated system and replace the flooring. Look to spend about $15 to $20 per square foot. Also, you may need new wiring from the main electric circuit panel in order to adequately power your heating system. And lastly, radiant flooring doesn’t heat up as quickly as a space heater. You may have to wait for an hour before your floors are warm.

The Upside of Hydronic Radiant-Heated Floors

You’ll find the same positives as you did with the electric system in addition to some fuel-cost savings. Whether you go with solar or oil, these electric alternatives will save you money. Ask your HVAC specialist which system he recommends and why.

The Downside of a Hydronic Heated Floor

Add the same cons as the electric counterpart plus one more. While electric systems are durable, with a hydronic heated floor, you have the chance of experiencing water damage. With a significant leak there could be damage to your floors, your furniture and your home. Contact your local HVAC professional for his suggestions on radiant-heated floors.

You’re remodeling the bathroom and have dreams of adding some spa like comforts. A garden tub with pulsating jets, luxurious tile and comfortable fixtures come to mind. And maybe even a heated floor. Lots of people are considering radiant-heated floors because of that extra level of spa-like comfort. Before you make a decision about a heated floor, you should know some of the pros and cons of these types of heating systems. Here’s a brief run down on the main types of systems and the pros and cons for using this type of heating system. Of course, your local HVAC professional will have more detailed information.

Heating Floor Systems: Which to Choose?

There are two main types of radiant-heated floors. The first is electric, which provides heat through electrically heated coils. The second is hydronic, which provides heat through water-filled tubes. The tubes can be heated in a variety of ways using solar power, oil, gas or kerosene. Not sure which to choose? Ask your local HVAC professional for their advice.

The Upside of Electric Radiant-Heated Floors

If you are adding heated floors to the bathrooms or to the whole house, there are some definite positives to radiant-heated flooring. The first of course is comfort. There is nothing like waking up on a cold morning and putting your feet on warm hardwood floors. Radiant-heated floors also take up no extra space. Because this type of flooring is installed underneath the floors, it is completely out of sight except for the thermostat. Usage cost is a pro as well. Users of radiant-heated flooring report about a 15 percent to 30 percent increase in their heating bills, depending on the size flooring they have installed. Contact your local HVAC professional to get a more localized estimate. Durability is also a great factor with radiant heated floors. Protected by two solid layers, these systems were designed to last. And on the plus side, the installation time is fairly short. Allergy sufferers benefit from these systems too! They provide cozy warmth without blowing around a lot of dust.

The Downside of Electric Radiant-Heated Floors

There are a few down sides to adding an electric heated floor. One is the heated floor system can’t be retrofitted under your existing floors. Your local HVAC specialist will have to take up the old floor, install the heated system and replace the flooring. Look to spend about $15 to $20 per square foot. Also, you may need new wiring from the main electric circuit panel in order to adequately power your heating system. And lastly, radiant flooring doesn’t heat up as quickly as a space heater. You may have to wait for an hour before your floors are warm.

The Upside of Hydronic Radiant-Heated Floors

You’ll find the same positives as you did with the electric system in addition to some fuel-cost savings. Whether you go with solar or oil, these electric alternatives will save you money. Ask your HVAC specialist which system he recommends and why.

The Downside of a Hydronic Heated Floor

Add the same cons as the electric counterpart plus one more. While electric systems are durable, with a hydronic heated floor, you have the chance of experiencing water damage. With a significant leak there could be damage to your floors, your furniture and your home. Contact your local HVAC professional for his suggestions on radiant-heated floors.