Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions: Can Engineered Wood Floor Be Refinished?

A. Some of the better quality engineered wood floors have a 3mm or thicker real wood top layer and can be sanded and refinished one or more times. The sanding and refinishing of an engineered wood floor is best done by an experienced hardwood flooring refinisher. If you have heat vents in your floor you can remove a heat cover to get a side view of your wood floor. This will help you check to see how thick you finish layer is.
Always consult with the manufacturer to see if they recommend sanding and refinishing of your engineered wood floor.

Bamboo Hardwood Flooring
Not all engineered flooring varieties can be refinished. Check with the flooring manufacturer to find out if your flooring can be refinished.

Friday, June 24, 2011

It's Almost Here...

In case you haven't heard, our Ipe hardwood flooring is going to be on TV! That's right - the good folks over at DIY Network asked for some of our Ipe to use in their hit new show, Bath Crashers, and we were more than happy to oblige. The episode airs on Saturday, July 2nd, and we couldn't be happier.

To celebrate our Ipe's rise to stardom we're throwing a Bath Crashers Blowout Sale on Ipe throughout the entire month of July! We have Ipe flooring starting at $3.99/SF and a friendly, knowledgeable sales staff ready to answer all your flooring questions.

Visit our website to learn more about Ipe hardwood flooring, and don't forget to tune in to Bath Crashers next Saturday!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions: Prefinished VS Unfinished

Q: What's the difference between prefinished hardwood flooring and unfinished hardwood flooring?

A. Prefinished hardwood flooring is end- and edge-matched with a small micro-beveled edge and has up to 8 coats of finish, including several coats which contain aluminum oxide. The aluminum oxide in the finish is what gives the factory finish its hardness. Prefinished flooring typically has a 25 year finish warranty.
Unfinished flooring is also end- and edge-matched with a tongue and groove pattern but features a square upper edge rather than a microbevel. Unfinished flooring must be sanded and finished on site, after installation. After sanding and finishing, a site-finished floor will be completely flat. One can use either an oil-based or water-based finish when installing unfinished flooring. Oil-based products typically have a darker initial appearance and show more depth of grain;. Water-based finishes are safer for the environment and have been improved recently to offer similar durability as oil-based finishes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

White Line Syndrome - Hardwood Conspiracy or Common Finish Problem?

HardwoodFloorsMag.com, the official magazine of the National Wood Flooring Association, put up a really interesting article recently titled "What is Really Causing White Line Syndrome?"

Now, unless you're a hardwood flooring contractor, you probably aren't familiar with the term. White line syndrome, or WLS, is the term used to describe white lines that show up between boards in a wood floor. As the article explains, many contractors are seeing more instances of WLS and are placing the blame on finish manufacturers:

"[White line syndrome] seems to be so much more prevalent in recent years, particularly about the last five years. Some contractors who have never had issues with white lines before report suddenly having to redo floors, even though they’re doing everything the exact same way—with the same products they always have used.
This has all led to suspicions directed at the finish manufacturers: They’re changing product, using cheaper ingredients, messing up the finishes to comply with VOC laws, etc., etc. Contractors feel they are being thrown under the proverbial bus."

White line syndrome can occur when finish starts to peel away from the board edge.

As the article points out, however, the answer may not be as easy as blaming the finish manufacturers. Trends in consumer preferences and installation techniques also play a role:

"Trends in recent years toward exotic floors, dark floors and plank floors all make WLS more visible. A white line between boards may not even be noticeable on a maple floor, but it will be front and center on a walnut, padauk or dark-stained floor. Plank flooring expands and contracts more than strip, stretching the finish more, and many exotic species are also known for their volatile expansion and contraction on the job site.
Today’s more urgent job sites also may play into WLS. In the olden days, wood floors were installed and sat on a job site for a while before they were sanded and finished. Today, jobs tend to be more rushed than ever, and the wood may still be settling in—in particular, shrinking—while the finish is still flexible and drying.
Finally, customers’ expectations are ever-increasing. As they become more demanding, fewer imperfections are seen as normal, making life more difficult for everyone."

Like most hardwood flooring problems, the chances of experiencing white line syndrome drop dramatically when the floors are properly installed and maintained. Visit the Maintenance Links and Resources page on the Fantastic Floor site for more information.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ipe Flooring: Your Best Bet for Bathrooms

As we mentioned last week, Fantastic Floor donated some of our beautiful and durable Ipe hardwood flooring to the DIY Network’s latest hit show, Bath Crashers. For those of you not familiar with the show, here is a brief synopsis taken from DIYNetwork.com:
Produced similarly to the popular House Crashers and Yard Crashers series, crasher Matt Muenster ambushes homeowners while they're home improvement shopping. When he identifies the ultimate bathroom challenge, he follows the lucky homeowner home and totally overhauls a bathroom in need of repair.
We know what you’re thinking: Hardwood flooring in the bathroom? That’s right. Certain species of wood, like Ipe, make great flooring choices for the bathroom. What makes Ipe so great? Glad you asked. Here are just a few of the reasons Ipe hardwood flooring is the perfect choice for any bathroom remodeling project.

Ipe hardwood flooring isn't just for the dining room anymore. More and more homeowners are enjoying exotic Ipe in their bathrooms as well!

Ipe is one of the most durable hardwoods available. Its dense cell structure acts as a natural deterrent against water damage and mold. Combine that with a high-quality sealant and you’ve got a bathroom floor that’s ready for the day-to-day wear of an active family.

The same dense cell structure that makes Ipe water-resistant also makes it fire-resistant. In fact, Ipe flooring has a Class A fire rating – the same class of fire-retardant material as steel. Is it unlikely that your bathroom is going to catch fire? Perhaps. But if you use a curling iron or hair dryer often, a Class A fire rating isn’t the worst feature to have in a bathroom floor.

Because of its natural resilience to insects, decay and mold, Ipe flooring has a very long lifespan. This can even be extended with proper care and a high-quality sealant. If you’re looking for a bathroom floor that will last for generations, Ipe is a good choice for you.

Easy to clean
Much like a tile or linoleum floor, Ipe hardwood is very easy to clean. Simply use a high-quality wood cleaner and mop as you would any other type of floor. Remember to mop up any standing water, though – leaving puddles on your floor can cause stains and discoloration.

Probably the biggest reason people choose Ipe flooring for their bathrooms is the appearance. Ipe hardwood flooring is one of the most eye-catching wood varieties available today. It features dark shades of black and brown, dark striping, and white or yellow sapwood. The grain pattern runs from straight to very irregular, and the texture is usually fine to medium.

Learn more about Ipe hardwood flooring on our website, and don’t forget to tune in to Bath Crashers on Saturday, July 2, on the DIY Network.

Friday, June 17, 2011

NWFA Announces 2012 Convention Details

2012 may seem like a ways off yet, but it's never too early to start planning for the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) Convention.

Yesterday, the NWFA announced the dates and location for the 2012 Convention. Here are the details:

When: April 10 - 13, 2012
Where: Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center, Orlando, FL

The annual NWFA convention is a chance for industry professionals and hardwood flooring enthusiasts to network with other professionals, learn about new products, and promote their own businesses.

"We are committed to hosting a show that offers real and tangible value to our members and industry,” NWFA CEO Michael Martin said in a press release. “Our board of directors surveyed our exhibitors and past attendees after this year’s event, and we learned that late Spring is the perfect time to hold this meeting. Our exhibitors tend to roll out new products in the first quarter of the year and want to showcase them at this event."

This year's convention will feature a rockin' party on Tuesday night, trade show hours Wednesday and Thursday, and many educational and networking opportunities throughout the week.

"It’s a huge plus to have everyone under one roof for all events at the Gaylord facility, which increases our networking opportunities," Martin said.

For more information about the convention, contact the NWFA at 800-422-4556 (USA & Canada), 636-519-9663 (local and international), or visit them online at www.nwfa.org.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Solid Flooring Installation – Part 3: Moisture Testing

Welcome back to the Fantastic Floor exclusive blog series, Solid Flooring Installation. Last week we made sure your new hardwood flooring was properly acclimated to the environment in which it will be installed. This week we’re digging deeper – literally – and discussing moisture testing.

We discussed moisture testing briefly earlier in the series as part of the acclimation process, but it is important enough to touch on again. Installers must know the moisture content of not only the flooring, but also the subfloor and the concrete slab below it, if there is one. Installation cannot occur if the moisture content isn’t just right. The following are basic tips for checking the moisture content of the sub-floor.

Remember: Hardwood flooring installation should be left to professionals or very experienced DIY-ers. If you have little to no experience with the process, call a professional.

1. Have the Right Equipment
Having the right moisture meter is a very important part of moisture testing. Working with an improperly-calibrated meter, or not using one at all, is a very irresponsible flooring installation practice. The two main types of moisture meters are probe and pinless.
Probe meters are an older style of moisture testing, but they are still a fast and effective testing technique. These meters measure the electrical resistance across opposed sets of pins that have been pushed into the wood. The lower the resistance, the higher the moisture content.
Pinless meters, also called “non-destructive” meters, use electro-magnetic waves to measure the density of the area below the instrument. While many professionals prefer pinless meters because they don’t leave any pin holes, the machines do require a smooth surface and a flat measuring area.

2. Test the Right Area
Getting an accurate reading for the sub-floor moisture level means testing the right area and testing in the right intervals. As a general rule of thumb, test approximately 2 locations for every hundred feet and then take the mean average of all the readings. The acceptable moisture level for most areas of the country is 12% or less. Make note of any areas with unusually high moisture content – this could be a sign of some sort of leak or water damage.

3. Check the Concrete, Too
Testing moisture levels in wood sub-floors is relatively easy, but that is not the only part of the room that needs testing. Concrete slabs below the sub-floor can also cause problems if they don’t have the correct moisture content. Acceptable moisture content for concrete slabs during solid hardwood flooring installation is 60% or less, or, less than 5.0 on a concrete moisture counter.

That’s it for this week’s installment of Solid Flooring Installation. Tune in next week when we dive into the exciting world of vapor barriers. See you then!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our Ipe Flooring Is Going To Be A Star!

Exciting news, dear reader!

The always entertaining DIY Network asked for some of our beautiful Ipe hardwood flooring to use in their exciting home remodeling show, Bath Crashers, and we were more than happy to oblige!

Bath Crashers is a reality show on the DIY Network in which professional contractor Matt Muenster ambushes homeowners while they’re home improvement shopping and transforms their hum-drum bathrooms into stunning, functional, and modern living spaces.

The episode airs the first week of July, and to celebrate our worldwide television debut we've come up with a sale that's just as exciting: It's our Bath Crashers Blowout!

• Ipe flooring starting at just $3.99/square foot!
• Rush delivery on every order!
• Tremendously tax free, no matter where you live!
• Running from July 1st to July 31st – all month long!

Stay tuned for the latest news on our Bath Crashers Blowout. Learn more about Ipe flooring on our website, or give us a call today at 1-888-448-9663.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Not to Toot Our Own Horn, But...

We love our customers. That's a FACT. It makes sense, then, that we're always excited to hear how our hardwood flooring products have helped them build or remodel the home of their dreams.

Here is one of our more recent customer reviews:

"I have attached some photos of the finished floor for you. It looks better in person than the photos. Thanks for your help with the flooring. I will be looking for flooring in our addition in about 2 to 3 months.
Thanks, Allan"

No, thank YOU, Allan! We always appreciate a nice word (and a repeat customer, of course!). We look forward to helping you with your next flooring project!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Get the Facts: Sustainable Forestry in North America

Welcome back, dear readers! As you probably know, Fantastic Floor is dedicated to only working with hardwood flooring suppliers that our certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, observe local and international timber harvesting laws, and keep up-to-date on the latest sustainable forestry trends. That’s why we’re always interested whenever new information about sustainable forestry comes forth.

Today, the Wood Products Council, a cooperative of major wood associations and research organizations in North America, released a document titled Sustainable Forestry in North America. This eight-page document provides interesting new statistics regarding modern day forestry practices in North America and how they relate to the environment.

sustainable forestry
Photo courtesy of www.woodworks.org.

It’s true – many of the species of wood we carry are exotic, meaning they are imported from overseas logging operations. But we do carry an extensive line of domestic hardwoods as well, such as oak, fir, and ash. For those interested in learning more about the timber harvesting practices that go into obtaining these fine hardwood species, read the full report here or take a look at the following excerpts:

Wood is the only building material that has third-party certification programs in place to demonstrate that products being sold have come from a sustainably managed resource. North America has more certified forests than any other jurisdiction.
Up until the early 20th century, settlers coming to North America cleared an average of 2.1 acres of forest per person to survive and grow food. The establishment of industrial agriculture and other changes in land use have mitigated forest clearing in North America since that time, and forest acreage has been stable for over a century. The rate of deforestation in the U.S. and Canada has been virtually zero for many decades. The U.S. reported an annual increase in forest area of 0.12 percent in the 1990s and 0.05 percent from 2000 to 2005, while Canada reported no change.
Providing it comes from a sustainably managed resource, wood has many attributes that make it an inherently ‘green’ building material. Life cycle assessment (LCA) studies show that wood requires less energy across its life cycle than other structural building products, and is better for the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, air and water pollution, and other impact indicators.

Visit our website for more information on Fantastic Floor’s environmental practices.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Solid Flooring Installation – Part 2: Proper Acclimation Techniques

Welcome back to our exclusive blog series, Solid Flooring Installation. This week we’ll be taking a look at an important part of the installation process: acclimation. Hardwood flooring acclimation is a process that helps prevent boards from bending, warping, and buckling in their new home. This post will walk you through the basics of properly acclimating your hardwood floor.

Remember: Hardwood flooring installation should be left to professionals or very experienced DIY-ers. If you have little to no experience with the process, call a professional.

1. Check Moisture Contents – Boards and Sub-Floors
Moisture content is key when acclimating hardwood flooring. If the board moisture content and the sub-floors aren’t within a specific range of each other your boards won’t acclimate properly. That range of moisture content varies depending on the size of the boards, but it tends to stay within a 2%-4% range. If you are attempting to install your own hardwood floors and don’t know the proper moisture content for the type of boards you’re using, chances are you shouldn’t be installing your own flooring at all.

2. Rack the Boards
Remove your new flooring from the box and rack it in the room in which it will be installed. This lets the wood properly adjust to the room’s humidity and temperature – a critical part of the acclimation process.

Timborana Hardwood Flooring
Appropriately acclimated hardwood flooring will last much longer than flooring that is hastily installed.

3. Maintain Appropriate Temperatures
Keeping your new flooring at an appropriate temperature during the acclimation process is crucial. The wood should be warm, but not at a temperature significantly higher than the normal temperature of the room. Maintaining appropriate temperatures will make the acclimation process much more effective and will lead to a more stable floor.

4. Wait
For some, this step in the acclimation process can be the hardest of them all. It’s not unusual to want to install your new hardwood floors as soon as they arrive, but proper acclimation takes at least one to two weeks. The waiting period is all dependent on the boards’ moisture content, but most species don’t take less than seven days.

Neglecting to acclimate your new hardwood flooring can lead to buckling, bending, warping, and other major floor problems. Repairing or replacing a hardwood floor can get very expensive. If you aren’t installing your floors yourself, make sure the installation company you hired observes these basic acclimation techniques.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

And the (Green) Winner Is...

At Fantastic Floor, we take environmental practices very seriously. After all, we only have one Earth, right? That's why we're happy to congratulate this year's National Wood Flooring Association's Environmental Craftsmanship Award winner, the Woodwright Hardwood Floor Company of Dallas, TX.

bamboo hardwood flooring
A fast-growing species like bamboo is a great environmentally friendly hardwood flooring option.

Every year, NWFA bestows the Environmental Craftsmanship Award on one professionally installed hardwood floor that "most exhibits creative and responsible environmental stewardship in its method of installation, raw material sources and/or contribution to human well being in the indoor build environment."

All wood floor installations are eligible for the award, but NWFA looks specifically for ones that meet and exceed criteria based on the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED format and help raise awareness about the flooring industry's roll in protecting the environment.

This year's winner, Woodwright Wood, is a great example of the sustainable hardwood flooring industry. Woodwright uses resourced, recycled, and regional hardwood species, as well as fast-growing species like bamboo.

For more information on the NWFA Environmental Craftsmanship Award, or to enter next year's contest, visit the NWFA contest page.