You can’t believe everything you hear, which is why you should do some research and separate fact from fiction. Many myths surround engineered hardwood flooring near Phoenix, but myths aren’t necessarily factual. If you’re considering this type of flooring for your home , you should find out what’s true and what isn’t before you decide. You might have heard that it doesn’t look convincing, has minimal applications, or sacrifices durability for affordability. Continue reading and stomp out these myths about engineered wood flooring.
Myth: Engineered wood flooring looks fake.
Engineered hardwood floors are not the same as solid hardwood floors, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not made of real wood. The difference between engineered and solid hardwood is that solid hardwood flooring is real natural wood all the way through. Engineered hardwood is a convenient alternative that uses a natural hardwood veneer on top of a different type of wooden core. This means that the uppermost layer of the floor—which is what you will see—will be made of the hardwood of your choice. Since you will see natural hardwood whether the flooring is solid or a veneer, it will not look fake either way.
Myth: You can’t use it everywhere.
There are certain spaces that lend themselves to engineered wood, but this type of flooring can be installed anywhere you want. Engineered hardwood may be more appropriate for certain situations than many of its alternatives. This flooring option resists humidity, and it remains stable when the seasons change. This type of flooring is an incredibly versatile choice, and it can be installed either above grade or below.
Myth: It’s not durable.
While it’s true that engineered hardwood flooring is the affordable option, that doesn’t mean it sacrifices durability. Wooden floors are designed to last for a substantial amount of time, which is one of the primary reasons people go for this kind of material. You can also finish and refinish your floors, which can help them last for several decades. With the right maintenance, you can enjoy your investment for a generation or more.
One of the advantages of wood as a flooring option is that it can be renewed to look new again. There are times, however, when this can be a challenge. One example is when there is a single board, or several, that cannot be touched up or repaired. In these cases, the damaged boards must be replaced. This article will focus on nail down or glue down board replacements. Floating floor board replacements will be covered in a future issue.
Board replacement is a valuable service you can provide for your customers. It
is a specialized skill that will increase your marketability.
The most important consideration for board replacements is locating a replacement piece of flooring. It must be the same species, width, length, thickness, profile, color, finish and cut as the original flooring material. For factory finished or engineered flooring, make sure to identify and locate replacement material prior to cutting into the floor.
Once the material is secured, you must ensure the replacement product has been properly acclimated to the environment. The acclimation process will vary depending on the product and the job site.
As part of the acclimation process, take moisture readings of the existing flooring and the new flooring. These two readings should be no more than 2 percent different from each other.
Before you make any cuts, make sure that you are aware of radiant heat systems that may be installed below the flooring. For easy identification, you can tape off the board that is to be replaced. To protect the unaffected flooring, apply 3-6 runs of tape along the edges of the base plate of the circular saw and set the depth to the thickness of the flooring.
The first cut you make should be parallel with the length of the board about 1/2” from the edge, end to end.
Your second cut should be about 1/2” from the edge on the opposite side of the board.
The third cut you make should be across the center of the board at an angle. To make extraction of the material easier, make a fourth angled cut that is parallel to the third cut. You should have split the ends of the two parallel cuts where the circular blade left uncut material.
You should be able to remove the center piece of the cut board easily. Use a sharp wood chisel to remove any remaining pieces of board, being careful not to damage any adjoining boards.
Remove any remaining fasteners and adhesive from the subfloor. When possible, try to leave the original underlayment material intact. If removal is necessary, replace it with a similar material to maintain the vapor retarding membrane. Clean all debris from the replacement area.
Measure the replacement area and cut the replacement flooring to length, removing the tongue on the butt-end of the board. Cut off the bottom groove side of the replacement board on the butt-end, as well as along the run of the board.
You may need to chamfer, or back-bevel, the underside of the board where the groove was removed to allow the piece to fit into the opening without damaging adjoining boards or adjust the thickness of the board with factory finished or previously sanded floors. Dry-fit the piece and make adjustments as necessary.
Apply a quick-setting adhesive, such as epoxy or carpenter’s wood glue, to the tongues of the adjoining boards. For glue down floors, replace the glue on the subfloor as was previously existing, same trowel notch and spread rate. Carefully insert the new board into place, using a wood block and mallet if necessary. Clean the entire area surrounding the repaired board and ensure the repair is complete.
Board replacement is a valuable service that is especially desirable when working on historical floors. Whether the board replacement is happening on a nailed floor, a glued floor, or a floated floor, the process may be similar and will be a specialized skill that will enhance your business.
You can learn more about board replacement techniques from the NWFA’s Installation Guidelines, by attending NWFA training events, and by engaging with NWFA University. For more information, contact the NWFA at 800-422-4556 or visit NWFA.org .
In my first blog, I talked about starting your documentation and moisture testing procedures. In this edition, I will talk about moisture testing and documentation from delivery of product to installation.
Now I have already delivered my material to a stable job site and it is acclimating, all I have to do is wait. Experience has given me a good idea about how long a particular species will take before it is ready for installation based on its original moisture content and where it needs to be for installation in the environment.
I will usually check the product one week before installation. This gives me a buffer and helps me accommodate a product that is not acclimating very quickly. When at the job site, again I check the environment with a thermo-hygrometer and document the readings. It is not uncommon for me to use a jobsite monitoring device or data logger (Meter #4). This is a tool that stays on-site and can remotely send job site conditions to my email. This is especially helpful on new construction sites when the general contractor is telling you that the air has been on and in reality, it is 95 °F in the house.
Once the wood is acclimated, we are ready for demo of the existing flooring. Once this is completed, I will walk the entire project looking for any signs of old water damage or moisture. On a wood subfloor, I will also randomly check the subfloor with a wood moisture meter, or if concrete I will use a concrete moisture meter (Meter #5). This concrete meter only gives me a qualitative number! Meaning that it does not give me any actual values, but it will help me determine whether to install or not. This test does give me the ability to check the moisture content of areas known to be dry because of relative humidity tests, which is a quantitative test, against areas of possible past or present moisture damage. If I have a high reading from the concrete moisture meter, then I need to evaluate whether a relative humidity test needs to be done to confirm the accurate moisture content.
Now that I am installing, I need to determine if I am going to be installing any wood flooring monitoring devices/data loggers (Meter #6). This is a device that is installed in the floor and will remain in the floor. It will give us accurate moisture content of the floor and in some cases the subfloor. These can be pricy, and some of my customers love them, but honestly, most don’t think it is worth the money. There are some floors where I just don’t give the customer a choice. It is peace of mind for me! After all, these are my floors.
I will continue to monitor the job site conditions throughout the installation. If the conditions fall out of acceptable ranges, then the homeowner/builder will get an email. In the email, I will document the readings and reiterate the necessity for this floor to remain in its “happy place.”
Now that the floor is installed, we will let the floor settle for a week or two and come back for our sand and finish and our final part.
If you want an ideal interior design, you can’t just focus on a couple of aspects of your space. You will need to look at the space as a whole, which means you shouldn’t just rely on your wood floors in Phoenix to get your point across. Wood walls can add to your look and tie your design together, especially when it comes to traditional or cabin styled homes. Read ahead and pick up a few tips on creating a focal point with wood for your walls.
Wood is not just for your floors. If you love the look of your wooden flooring, then you might want to consider wooden walls as well. This type of interior design tends to work particularly well in ranches and log cabins, but it is versatile enough to fit well in a range of situations. You don’t need to cover every wall in wood, but wooden walls come with a natural beauty that you might not be able to get by any other means. Wood walls can also serve as a focal point for your guests to admire, and they can be placed in just about any room in the house.
This will be a three-part series on how I use moisture meters on every project to ensure successful installations and sand and finishes. It will also show you how to properly document all of the data collected, in case of any floor failures. When I say document, don’t just write it on a loose piece of flooring. Write it down, take photos of it, and build a spread sheet that you can use for future use.
The first time I set foot on a project, I start gathering data to help me with the process. Not only do I need to document the accurate square footage, linear footages for trim and transition, height of adjacent flooring, and how many vents I will need to order, but I will start taking moisture readings to ensure the success of my project.
At the time of the first home visit, I take readings of the temperature and relative humidity (RH) using a Thermo-Hygrometer (meter #1). I also ask the homeowners questions like, “Is this about the temperature at which you maintain the home year-round?” This is where I start to separate myself from my competition. This info sometimes confuses the homeowners, and they ask questions about the different moisture meters. You will hear things like, “The other guys didn’t do any testing, is this important?” I explain that I am not the other guys, then I educate my customer on why and how. These are my floors, and I want them to perform in your home. I find that all of this testing and time spent sets their minds at ease and builds their confidence in me and my expertise.
Now I have all the information I need to provide the homeowner with a quote. I include the environmental conditions on the estimate for the homeowner, but mainly as additional documentation. I also have started to compile my job site data for use with acclimation later in the project.
When it is time to deliver the material for acclimation, which is always before installation, I have a history to compare the current conditions using the Thermo-Hygrometer. These numbers should be very close to the original readings taken during the estimate. If they are different, then I figure out what changed. Sometimes, it is the seasons or maybe the painters just finished. This is when I take additional readings of the subfloor. In Arizona, it is predominantly concrete subfloors, and so I either set a Calcium Chloride or a Relative Humidity test. I use almost exclusively Relative Humidity Tests (meter #2). This testing method provides the ability to recheck the moisture content in a relatively short time period as many times as are needed throughout the job. This test tells me what moisture mitigation system I need to use.
If I am working over a joisted wood subfloor I will take readings in the subfloor, and when accessible, I test the joists with a wood moisture meter (meter #3). I also use the wood moisture meter to determine the moisture content of my wood flooring. All of these numbers are documented and kept with the original file. I email homeowners the moisture readings. It sounds difficult, but I find that educating the customer from the very beginning makes for happy customers.
In the next blog, I will discuss moisture testing and how to confirm the product and the job site are both acclimated and in their “happy place.”