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Wood Flooring Benefits & Expectations

by anitahoward 31. May 2016 08:04

 

Ask any wood flooring inspector about his or her experience analyzing wood flooring failures, and many will tell you that a good number of them are not due to manufacturing issues or installation errors.  Surprisingly, many happen at the point of sale, with the flooring retailer selling the wrong product for the job.

 

Fortunately, this issue is easily preventable with a little training and knowledge about how wood flooring will perform in different environments.  Preparing sales teams with the proper understanding of how wood flooring products differ can help them educate customers and create realistic expectations about the long-term performance of their floors.

 

Grading is one such issue.  Wood flooring is graded according to its appearance, which includes things like grain, texture, mineral deposits, and knots.  When customers understand that wood is a product of nature, and that no two pieces of wood flooring will be identical, even two pieces from the same tree, they will have more realistic expectations about using wood as a flooring material. 

 

Likewise, it is important to dispel the myths about wood flooring being bad for the environment.  Wood is the only flooring material that is entirely sustainable because trees are a natural resource that can be regrown.  Wood grows in a factory called a forest using a renewable source of energy called the sun.  Manufacturing wood into flooring also uses less water and energy than manufacturing other flooring materials, which makes wood an environmentally friendly flooring option.  Wood also is carbon neutral.  During their growth cycle, trees produce oxygen.  What most people don’t realize, however, is that during its service life, wood also sequesters carbon.  So whatever its end use – as flooring, cabinets, even picture frames – wood continues to sequester carbon during its entire service life.

 

Helping consumers understand the many environmental benefits of wood flooring can lead them to choosing more wood for their flooring projects, while helping them to understand grade and performance issues can help establish realistic expectations that will result in happy customers and increased sales.

 

These and other issues will be presented at the IWF Wood Flooring Symposium on Tuesday, August 23 from 1:30pm – 4:40pm by the National Wood Flooring Association’s VP of Education & Certification, Brett Miller.  The NWFA also provides a number of workshops in addition to detailed guidelines about issues relating to wood floors.  For more information, contact the NWFA at 800.422.4556 (USA and Canada), 636.519.9663 (international), or at www.nwfa.org.

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Evironmental Effects of Moisture on Wood Flooring

by anitahoward 13. May 2016 14:40

If there is one topic that seems to capture the attention of wood flooring professionals everywhere, it is moisture.  Too much and wood floors can cup or even buckle.  Too little and wood floors can gap or even split.  The key to optimum long-term performance is to maintain moisture in just the right balance, which involves a variety of steps before, during and after the installation takes place.

 

Wood is a hygroscopic material, which means that it gains or loses moisture in response to its environment.  In wet, humid conditions, wood will gain moisture and expand.  In dry, non-humid conditions, wood will lose moisture and shrink.  This is a natural reaction of wood and is completely normal.  The problem occurs when there is too much moisture, or too little.

 

Before wood floors arrive at the jobsite, all wet trades should be completed.  This includes foundations, drywall, paint, masonry work, and any other construction or remodeling activity that will introduce moisture to the environment.  Once these tasks are completed, and the HVAC is installed and running, the wood should be delivered to the job site and allowed to acclimate to the environment.  This can take several days depending on the species and type of wood being used, as well as the geographic location of the job site.

 

During installation, both the wood and the subfloor should be tested for moisture content.  Installation should not begin until moisture readings are within the ranges acceptable for the area.

 

After installation, most moisture issues can be avoided by maintaining a stable living environment.  This generally is accomplished by maintaining the temperature of the structure between 60 - 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity of the structure between 30 - 50%.

 

Proper maintenance can be an issue as well.  Water and steam mops should be avoided since both can introduce more moisture to the flooring.  Over time, this can dull the finish, and even damage the wood.

 

Sometimes, despite all these precautions, moisture still can wreak havoc on a wood floor.  Faulty dishwashers, overflowing sinks, leaky pipes, malfunctioning ice makers, careless homeowners – all these problems can introduce moisture to wood floors, causing significant damage if ignored and untreated.  Once this happens, the moisture source must be found and eliminated.

 

Moisture and other environmental issues related to wood floors will be presented at the IWF Wood Flooring Symposium on Tuesday, August 23 from 8am – noon by the National Wood Flooring Association’s VP of Education & Certification, Brett Miller.  The NWFA also provides a number of workshops in addition to detailed guidelines about moisture issues relating to wood floors.  For more information, contact the NWFA at 800.422.4556 (USA and Canada), 636.519.9663 (international), or at www.nwfa.org.

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