Frequently Asked Questions

As a pet owner, what should I consider when choosing a wood floor?

Pets of all kinds can be a great joy in a home, but they can be hard on wood floors.  Large, heavy dogs in particular.  The nails from heavy animals have the potential to cause indentations in wood flooring, possibly even scratching the finish.  Of course even well-trained pets occasionally don’t make it to the potty in time.  The ammonia in pet urine can discolor floors if not cleaned up promptly. Also, if your pet’s hair contrasts with the floor color it could be more noticeable.

If you have pets in your home, consider a floor that is wire brushed or hand scraped, and has natural color variation and character. Solid products or engineered products with thicker veneers offer more resistance to indentation than products with thinner wear layers.   Avoid smooth textured and uniform, consistently colored floors as they show scratches and other blemishes much more easily. This will help mitigate the inevitable effects of your cats and dogs living indoors.

How do I select a flooring color & species when there are so many to choose from?

Compare your furnishings and wall paint colors with hardwoods’ natural colors and stains, distinctive grain patterns and visual effects such as knots and mineral streaks.  Also consider texture, grain pattern, and various widths.   

What is meant by "below grade", "on grade", or "above grade"?

Grading refers to where the soil, or ground, meets your house. Basements, even walkout basements, are always considered below grade since at least one wall is below ground level. Your home’s first floor sits at ground level (except for a walk-out basement) and is considered “on grade.” Any floors above ground level are “above grade.” It is very important you know the grade level of the floor(s) you want to install. Engineered flooring is designed to work at any grade level, and traditional ¾” solid flooring is only for “on grade” or “above grade.”

What's the difference between prefinished and unfinished flooring?

Prefinished: advantages are faster and easier installation, minimal disruption to your home, fast cleanup time and usually less expensive labor costs because sanding, staining and coating are performed in the factory. Also, you usually get an extended warranty with prefinished flooring, and finish that is very scratch resistant.

Unfinished: Advantages are availability of more wood species, widths and cuts that can be matched to existing wood floors. Also, unfinished flooring allows for custom onsite sanding, staining and coating with a protective sealant after installation to achieve a beautiful unique floor.

Are hardwood floors cost-effective?

Yes, hardwood floors can last for generations; real estate agents agree homes with wood floors sell faster and for higher prices.

Does wood flooring go well with most design elements?

Yes. Hardwood floors complement almost any décor. Interior designers agree that wood flooring blends well with most decorating styles, and rate natural materials as superior to man-made materials in beauty, prestige, style, maintenance, and durability.

Where can I install hardwood flooring?

Engineered wood flooring has the advantage of of being able to be installed above grade, at grade and even below grade (in a basement) or just over a concrete slab. However, traditional ¾” thick solid wood floor should only be installed at or above grade.  Solid wood flooring should not be installed over radiant heat systems, but our engineered floors are compatible with radiant heat if you follow our guidlines on installation and allowable widths and species.

Which installation method should I use?

There are three main ways to install wood flooring: glue down, nail down and floating. The method you choose should depend on where the floor is being installed, and over what type of subfloor.  Glue down application is ideal for concrete subfloors and nail down is best fit on conventional wood subfloors.  Floating installation, where only the tongue & grooves are glued together and nothing is attached to the subfloor, can be used on any subfloor if the conditions are adequate.  Refer to our ###a href="http://realwoodfloors.com/support/downloads/" target="_blank">Installation Guidlinesfor further details or contact us for more help.

What is a floating floor?

A prefinished floating floor isn’t directly attached to the subfloor. It has a foam underlayment on top of the subfloor to absorb sound and protect against moisture; the hardwood strips or planks are then laid on top. The flooring is glued together with tongue and groove glue and the entire floor “floats” above the subfloor. It’s easy to install on nearly any surface. The “cushy” feeling you may sometimes feel with floating floors can be reduced or eliminated by ensuring your subfloor is as flat as possible—using floor leveling products—and a quality underlayment.

Since wood flooring expands and contracts seasonally, be sure to always leave an expansion gap around the perimeter of the floor—following our installation instructions. (This gap is hidden by baseboard and base shoe and allows the floor to move without creating high spots or buckling).

What is "underlayment"?

Underlayment refers to the material placed between the subfloor and new flooring.

It serves many purposes depending on the quality of the material. The primary purpose is to provide a moisture barrier. Some underlayments can also provide an acoustical barrier to make the new floor quieter when walked on—especially in multi-level homes. Underlayment should be used with every floor, and always according to installation instructions.

Is hardwood flooring suitable for a kitchen, bathroom or workspace?

Yes. Wood flooring can handle heavy traffic and the occasional spill while retaining its luster and beauty. Our finishes are designed to more than hold their own against heavy residential and commercial foot traffic. We do suggest using mats in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room, and walk-off mats at all home entrances to protect against spills and tracking in dirt or other objects that could scratch the floor. If spills do occur, do not let them remain on your floor—just wipe up with a clean cloth or drymop.

Why doesn't my floor look the same as the sample in the showroom?

Although it should look similar, each hardwood tree differs from others and even wood from the same tree can show variance. Wood is a 100% organic material shaped by nature. No trees or boards are alike, and variation should be expected and appreciated as nature’s unique signature.

Why are there gaps between the boards in my floor?

Seasonal expansion and contraction of flooring boards is considered normal. There is generally more humidity during the summer months and your floor absorbs it causing the wood fibers to expand. Winter months are usually less humid and the flooring dries which can result in gaps between boards. While considered normal, you can minimize expansion and contraction by keeping the humidity in your home between 35 and 55% by using an air conditioner, humidifier or dehumidifier.

Why is the flooring beneath my area rugs and furniture lighter than the rest of the floor?

All wood flooring is more or less photosensitive, and some species are very sensitive to ultra-violet light.  This means the wood reacts to the light it's exposed to by slowly and slightly lightening, or remaining it's original tone if not exposed.  It’s important to prevent the sun’s rays from discoloring your floor by shielding it against direct sunlight. However, it’s normal for hardwood floors exposed to even indirect sunlight to darken or lighten after a while, so for consistency, rotate rugs and furniture to equal out the amount of sunlight exposure and variances will eventually fade away.

Can hardwood flooring improve indoor air quality?

Yes.  Unlike carpeting, bacteria, dust, dirt and allergens cannot cling to wood flooring; simply dustmop, sweep, or vacuum regularly and your wood floors stay pollutant free.

Does it harm the environment to harvest wood to manufacture wood flooring?

No. Trees are a natural, renewable resource that can be continually harvested and replanted without serious environmental impact.

Also consider:

Wood floors last generations making replacement a nonissue Wood floors use less water and energy to produce than other flooring options Average annual net growth for hardwoods is greater than average annual harvesting Indoor air quality is better with wood floors Trees are carbon neutral and produce oxygen while storing carbon during lifecycles At the end of its extended service life, wood flooring can be burned as fuel or recycled