Friday, March 29, 2013

How Should I Clean My Prefinished Hardwood Floors?

Afzelia Prefinished Hardwood Flooring
A lot of homeowners with newly-installed hardwood floors have the same question: How can I clean my new prefinished hardwood flooring without damaging the wood or the finish? Well, luckily for homeowners, cleaning prefinished hardwood floors is a lot easier than some people imagine it to be. The following are three simples steps you can take to make sure your new prefinished floors look great for years to come.

This is the easiest and most commonly overlooked way to keep your prefinished floors looking great. Dirt, dust, and debris can build up on hardwood flooring and leave unsightly scratches and scrapes. Sweeping or vacuuming on a regular basis may be a pain, but it's the best way to protect your new floor's finish. Sidenote: If you're going to vacuum, make sure your vacuum has rubber wheels, otherwise it might cause more scratches than it prevents.

Clean Spills Immediately
Standing water (or any other liquid, really) is one of the biggest threats prefinished hardwood flooring can face. If not properly dealt with, a spill can seep through the floor's finish, damaging it and discoloring the wood. Making sure you clean up spills as soon as they happen will help preserve your floors' finish and avoid stains and discolorations.

Use Appropriate Cleaner
Sometimes sweeping just won't cut it. We get that. If you must mop or scrub, make sure you use an appropriate cleaner. We like DuraSeal's Hardwood Floor Cleaner - it was specifically made for use on prefinished floors, including floors with polyurethane and waterbased finishes. Using such a cleaner on occasion can help get rid of dirt, grime, and other times of built up without leaving a cloudy soap residue. Make sure to check with your hardwood manufacturer before using, though - they may have product suggestions of their own.

Here's a great video demonstrating some of the ways you can keep your floors clean and looking like new:

Do you have problems keeping your prefinished hardwood floors looking like new? Leave us a comment and tell us your story!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Top 5 Reasons People Love Prefinished Hardwood Flooring

Prefinished flooring is one of the most popular types of hardwood flooring products in the country today, and for good reason. Or should we say reasons? The following are the top five reasons people can't seem to get enough of prefinished hardwood flooring. Enjoy!

1. It's easier to install.
Unlike unfinished flooring, prefinished hardwood flooring is a breeze to install. It is sanded and finished by the manufacturer, so all the contractor needs to do is nail or glue it down. Done and done! This quick turn-around can save you a lot of money on installation costs, as well as save you from having an installation team in your home for days on end.

2. There's no waiting period.
Unfinished flooring not only requires on-site sanding and finishing, it also requires you to wait for the new finish to dry. (And don't even get us started on the smell!) With prefinished hardwood, the floor is ready to be walked on as soon as it is installed, which in many cases is only a single day.

3. The finish is more durable.
The prefinished hardwood flooring from Fantastic Floor is usually treated with up to 8 coats of an aluminum oxide finish. This durable, long-lasting finishing technique means your floors will be able to stand up to day-to-day traffic for longer than boards treated with just a few coats of finish.

4. The finish is more consistent.
Because of the streamlined way it is produced, manufacturer-finished hardwood is often much more consistent in appearance than on-site finished floors. This isn't necessarily true for the color or grain pattern of the wood, mind you - that is based on the grade of the material - but it is true for the finish. When you hire a contractor to finish your floors on-site you run the risk of ending up with an uneven finish job, especially if there's more than one contractor working on the project.

5. It comes with a 25-year warranty. 
All the solid prefinished flooring available at Fantastic Floor is guaranteed with a 25-year finish warranty. This means that when you purchase prefinished flooring from us and install it according to our installation and maintenance standards, we guarantee that the finish will not wear through or separate from the wood for a full 25 years. We also guarantee that the finish will be free of manufacturing defects and flaws in the application of the polyurethane aluminum oxide finish. Visit the Prefinished Hardwood Flooring Warranty page on for more information.

What are your top reasons for loving prefinished hardwood flooring? Leave us a comment and let us know. We'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Moisture Barriers: What They Are and Why You Need Them

If you're planning on having new hardwood flooring installed and you've done your homework, you probably know that most installation jobs require some sort of moisture barrier between the new boards and the existing subfloor. But what are moisture barriers, exactly? And why are they so important? Good questions. Check out the info below to find out all you need to know about moisture barriers!

What are moisture barriers?
Moisture barriers, also called vapor barriers or vapor retarders, are layers of material that help prevent moisture-related problems in your floors by protecting the wood from ground moisture and condensation. They also help reduce the amount of noise floors make and prevent damaging wood-on-wood contact.

Why do I need moisture barriers?
Ground moisture and condensation are a few of the biggest threats to hardwood floors. Dramatic changes in humidity and ground moisture can cause wood boards to shrink and expand more than they should, which can lead to gapping, warping, and buckling. Moisture barriers help prevent the wood from absorbing excess moisture, preserving their stability and helping reduce the amounts of moisture-related problems.

What kind of moisture barriers are out there?
There are three main types of moisture barriers: impermeable, semi-permeable, and permeable. These different levels of permeability allow you to install wood floors over different types of subfloors. Wood subfloors, for instance, do better with an impermeable barrier with a permeability rating greater than 0.7; anything less can cause moisture to be trapped below or on the subfloor. Concrete subfloors, on the other hand, require a very high level of impermeability; usually .15 perms or lower. This allows for little to no moisture movement.

Does the installation method change the type of moisture barrier I'll need?
Yes, insomuch as different installation methods are required for different types of subfloors. Moisture barriers offer protection in one of three ways:
The first kind of protection is for nail down install jobs. This involves placing a layer of 6 mil poly sheeting plastic over the dirt in the crawl spaces beneath the subfloor, then placing a 15-pound felt paper between the subfloor and the hardwood.
The second kind of protection is for glue down installations and usually requires using a trowel-applied moisture barrier (such as Bostik) since plastic barriers can prevent the glue on the floors from sticking to the subfloor.
The third kind of protection is for floating floor installations and also involves a 6 mil poly sheeting plastic barrier under the boards. Unlike nail down installations, however, plastic barriers shouldn't be used if the floating floors are covering wood subfloors as they prevent the subfloor from breathing.

What if the floor is above grade? Do I still need a moisture barrier?
Yes. For above grade floors, a 15-pound felt paper works wonders. This moisture barrier should be laid between the hardwood and the wood subfloor; this is the best way to reduce the amount of moisture that can get to the new flooring.

Confused? Don't worry. It's not your job to understand all the technicalities of moisture barriers and hardwood flooring installation. However, knowing the basics about this important flooring component can help you better understand the installation process in general and allow you to make sure your flooring installer is doing the job right. Visit to learn more about moisture barriers and solid hardwood flooring installation, or give us a call at 1-888-448-9663.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fantastic Floor Presents: African Cedar

Welcome back to your favorite hardwood species spotlight series, Fantastic Floor Presents! In the last installment we took a look at the ever-popular Cumaru. This week we're shining our spotlight on another lesser known (but equally beautiful) hardwood species: African Cedar!

African Cedar hardwood flooring from Fantastic Floor is slightly heavier and harder than American Cedar and features white sapwood and a yellowish-brown heartwood that darkens to a warm red upon exposure. The African Cedar tree is fast-growing and the largest cedar species in Africa, reaching as high as 100 to 120 feet when fully grown. The grain pattern of African Cedar is usually straight, though some trees have spiral grain, which can make for a visually interesting and attractive figure on quartersawn surfaces.

African Cedar is not only beautiful, it is also rivals similar domestic species in durability. It has a Janka hardness equal to American Cherry and a density similar to Western Red Cedar. The wood is relatively easy to work with while still being able to stand up to day-to-day foot traffic and outdoor elements. African Cedar is not only used for indoor flooring, it is also often used to build fences, as a home siding material, as roof shingles, and even in pencils.

Want to learn more about this beautiful hardwood species? Visit the African Cedar hardwood flooring page on the Fantastic Floor website, or give us a call at 1-888-448-9663. We can't wait to help you pick the perfect floor!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Is DIY Hardwood Flooring Installation a Good Idea?

Installing hardwood flooring yourself can be a very satisfying, money-saving venture. But if done wrong, it can also be a nightmare and end up costing you more than you ever would have paid a professional. Many people think of attempting a DIY flooring installation project without considering the pros and cons of the project. What are the risks of installing hardwood floors yourself? What are the benefits? If you are thinking about starting such a project you should definitely consider the following arguments for and against it:

Here are a few of the main reasons you might want to install your new hardwood flooring yourself:

Hiring a contractor to install your new hardwood floors can end up costing you a pretty penny, especially if you have a lot of space to cover. If you have the know-how and the time, installing floors yourself can save you a lot of money in contractor fees.

When you choose to install hardwood flooring yourself you get to decide how much work will go into the project every day. Most contractors will work a respectable eight-hour day, but if you want your floors installed quickly that might not be enough time. If you do the installation yourself you can work all day and all night if you like, which can help get the project done faster.

Let's face it - no matter how polite they are, having a group of contractors in your house all day can be pretty annoying. When you install hardwood floors yourself you don't have to worry about a crew coming in and disrupting your day-to-day.

As it turns out, the cons of DIY hardwood flooring installation are the same as the pros, but for different reasons. Here are a few of the main reasons you would want to call a professional to handle your installation:

While a successful DIY installation can save you a lot of money, a failed attempt can end up costing you a lot more. If you can't finish your installation, or you do it incorrectly, you will have not only have to pay a contractor for a new install job, but also to fix any mistakes you made. Also, if you make a mistake in the DIY installation you might be setting yourself up for a costly repair or replacement project in the not-too-distant future.

Just like cost, a botched DIY installation job can take a lot more time than a professional install. If you don't have a lot of experience with installing floors you may find yourself working on the project much longer than you had anticipated.

DIY projects can be just as inconvenient to the busy or inexperienced homeowner as hiring a contractor. In fact, finding time in your busy work and social life can be sometimes much harder than just paying a professional to do the work while you're at work or out running errands.

Do you have any experience with DIY flooring installation projects? Was it a good or bad experience? Leave us a comment and tell us your story!