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The Most Popular Species of Hardwood Floors

When installed by expert professionals, a hardwood floor adds finesse to the space it graces. Among popular domestic hardwoods, a few species stand above other timbers, favored for their durability, decorative grain patterns, and complementary colors. Here are hardwoods adored by US homeowners, along with the flooring features for which they’re prized.

Oak

Do you have children or pets? If so, consider oak flooring, graciously withstanding romps and stomps and resisting scratches. Similar to the flavor of fine wine, the color of oak becomes richer with time. The character of reclaimed oak testifies to this benefit. Another strength of oak is that it stains evenly, showcasing a wide variety of tints, from clean white to chocolate brown. The swirly grain patterns are classy, whether you like the uniformity of prime grade or the knotty “beauty marks” of character grade.

You can also choose from two species of oak, named for the color of their barks. Each wood has distinct advantages. White oak flooring is honey brown, while red has a pinkish hue. Red oak has a stronger grain than white, so it hides scratches and dents a bit better.

On the other hand, the tiger-striped grain of white oak is smoother and more consistent than red. On the Janka Hardness Scale, which rates durability, white oak supersedes red. But, whether you take a shine to red or white oak, both types are affordably priced.

Maple

If you prefer simplistic yet elegant decor, maple is an ideal option. The grain pattern is smooth and low-key, although occasional flecks and mineral streaks add visual interest. Light in color, the wood has a bright, clean, and expansive ambiance. Maple wood is super-strong, ranking higher than oak on the Janka Scale. Its range of hues includes blonde, light cream, and beige, often with a reddish tint. Since the wood isn’t very porous, staining is challenging, best done professionally. Many homeowners choose to let the natural beauty of maple prevail, protected with a clear sealant finish.

Over time, maple acquires a faint yellow tone. A coating of strong polyurethane prevents scratches from otherwise showing. Rubber soles can leave heel marks, remedied with an eraser and buffing. Since maple is so durable, denting is rare.

Like many hardwoods, maple reacts to fluctuating humidity, with temporary swelling and shrinking, and sometimes, warping or cracks. Wood shifting can be avoided by choosing engineered flooring. Despite its glamorous aura, maple is reasonably priced, approximating the cost of oak.

Ash

Possessing a light hue, this hardwood is airy like maple, but with a standout grain. When sourced from sapwood, ash can be creamy white or golden brown. Made of heartwood, the color is typically light tan. Ash is notable for its straight grain pattern and slightly springy feel. Similar to oak flooring, ash can handle heavy traffic. Additionally, being shock-resistant, ash is perfect in kitchens and family rooms, where objects are frequently dropped. Since water is highly visible on its surface, accidental slips and slides are less likely. Plus, the elastic nature of ash suits areas subject to radiant heat and high humidity.

Like oak, ash absorbs stains well. However, its natural color is so pleasing, you may wish to preserve it, with a protective, clear finish.

Pine

Do you favor a rustic look? If so, you’ll love pine flooring, with its abundant knots, pinholes, and prominent grain. Occupying the low end of the Janka Scale, pine is technically a “softwood.” Though this term gives a cushy image, the wood isn’t actually soft, just impressionable, reflecting household activity over time. Still, many homeowners find that a few dents and dings make their rooms more welcoming. Plus, the patina that emerges with use gives the flooring a homey glow. While yielding to impact, pine flooring is durable and long-lasting, especially when finished with polyurethane sealant. You can also opt for heart pine, stronger than southern yellow pine. Or, use pine flooring in areas where traffic is moderate, such as a home office.

With a vast color palette, pine is available in white blonde, honey gold, deep brown, and reddish mahogany. The wood stains beautifully and resists humidity. Another advantage of pine is that it’s highly economical.

Solid Footing

At Classic Floor Designs, our stateside clients include the White House, US Mint Building, and Four Seasons Hotel. Our work has earned awards from the National Flooring Association and the Washington Building Congress. Overseas, we’ve installed flooring for ambassador homes in Belgium, Germany, and France.Among choice hardwood flooring options, oak, maple, ash, and pine are homeowner top picks. However, these are just a few of the high-performance woods from our broad selection. To launch the fulfillment of YOUR vision, call us for a free consultation at (202) 872-9860.

With 40+ years in custom flooring, you can stand on our solid reputation – for years to come.

Laundry Room Ideas Recommended by Houzz

Laundry rooms have been coming into their own in recent years, with more thought and design savvy being put into this workhorse space than ever. From farmhouse style to patterned tile, here are the top 10 trending features of the year so far, as measured by the number of people saving photos of them to their Houzz ideabooks. Are any of these in your own collection?

[houzz=https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/65636773/list/top-10-trending-laundry-room-ideas-on-houzz w=620]

 

Tell us: What’s on your dream laundry room wish list?

Tips for Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Hardwood flooring enhances the appearance of any room in your home, but these rugged surfaces represent a big investment. Like any investment, you want to be sure that you get the highest returns possible. When it comes to flooring, proper cleaning of hardwood determines your ability to enjoy their beauty for many years without worrying about damage or repairs.

Here at Classic Floor Designs, we recommend a regular cleaning regimen to maintain the original appearance of your hardwood floors. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about what products to use, what methods to avoid and how often to clean. We hope that these tips will help clear up any confusion and guide you in preserving the floors you love.

Know Your Floor Type
There are two types of wood flooring: solid and engineered. Both offer the beautiful appearance that makes hardwood so attractive, but the materials differ slightly when it comes to routine cleaning and long-term care.

Solid floors are made from single pieces of hardwood that are generally about three-quarters of an inch thick. Most come finished with a protective coating that creates a reflective “high gloss” look. Solid wood is available in many common and exotic varieties that can be sanded and refinished up to ten times over the life of the floor.

Engineered flooring is pieced together from three to five layers of high- or medium-density fiberboard with a thin hardwood veneer on top. Because of the minimal amount of hardwood used, these floors can only undergo one to two rounds of refinishing. However, they tend to be more durable than solid floors when it comes to handling high foot traffic and varying levels of humidity.

Invest in Mats and Rugs
Preventative maintenance cuts down on the amount of dirt and grime that comes in contact with your floors. Place a heavy-duty mat outside your front door for people to wipe their shoes on, and position another mat just inside the threshold. Have visitors and family members remove their shoes before stepping inside. Use a boot or shoe tray to keep footwear organized and away from the wood surface.

Area rugs are perfect for high-traffic spots or rooms where kids spend a lot of time. Rugs keep messes off the floor and are generally easier to clean than the wood itself. Use rugs with backings to reduce the risk of slipping, but make sure that the backing material is something that won’t damage the floor.

Grab a Broom
Quick cleaning on a daily, bi-weekly or weekly basis can be done using a soft-bristled broom and a dustpan. This removes superficial dirt before it becomes ingrained in the floor surface. Small brooms and handheld vacuums are useful for cleaning in corners. To get rid of even more dust and debris, try a sweeper that uses electrostatic dust cloths. Pay special attention to areas where dirt is most likely to build up, such as the kitchen, the front hallway and the bathroom.

Take Care With the Vacuum Cleaner
Opinions differ on how often you should vacuum hardwood floors. For high-traffic areas, daily vacuuming may be necessary to remove deeper dirt. In other rooms, bi-weekly or weekly vacuuming should suffice.

One thing that everyone agrees on is to never use a beater bar. The harsh bristles can damage the finish and leave it looking dull. Instead, use the hardwood floor setting or a floor brush attachment to lift away dirt. Electric brooms are also gentle enough to use for frequent cleaning. Don’t be tempted by the “deeper clean” that floor buffers claim to offer. The abrasive pads can ruin the surface of the wood.

Be Smart About Deep Cleaning
Even with preventative maintenance and routine cleaning, wood flooring still winds up with grime, oil and stubborn dirt on its surface. That’s why it’s important to clean the floor more aggressively once or twice a year. However, you have to use the correct kind of cleaning products and tools. Your goal should be to leave no standing water at all and avoid harsh substances that can scratch or dull the finish.

The best cleaning solutions are mild and include mixtures of dish soap and water; a solution of water, olive oil and lemon juice; hot water and borax; and lukewarm black tea. Apply your chosen cleaner using a damp mop by dipping the mop into the solution and wringing it out until it’s almost dry. Finish off by buffing the floor with a towel. Alternatively, you can place the cleaner in a spray bottle and mist the floor as you go.

Never use any of the following cleaning methods or solutions on a wood floor:

• Wet mopping
• Steam cleaning
• Vinegar solutions
• Ammonia-based cleaners
• Furniture polish
• Wax- or oil-based cleaners

All of these can cause damage or result in slick floors that pose a hazard to you and your family.

Spot Cleaning
Diligence in regular cleaning will prevent the most serious messes, but it’s impossible to completely avoid scuffs, marks and spots. If you discover any blemishes on your wood floor, sprinkle the area with baking soda and clean it with a damp sponge. The dirt should lift right off.

Drips, spills, sticky streaks and food that can dry onto the floor should be cleaned up immediately. If you miss something and find an unidentifiable substance stuck to the wood, use a cleaner formulated to remove tough dirt and wipe with a gentle cloth. Deep stains and spots may require sanding and refinishing to remove.

Following these tips may seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth the effort when it comes to maintaining your hardwood floors. As you begin to incorporate each step into your regular cleaning regimen, you’ll see the true beauty of the wood begin to shine through. All it takes to continue enjoying that beauty is to devote a little extra time each day to proper floor care. In our opinion, it’s time well spent.

 

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/38906013@N05/3577027339/”>Revolution Mills</a> via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a> <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/help/general/#147″>cc</a>

Household Color to Go with Hardwood

Unless you’re going with a completely eclectic design, decorating your interior living space is all about adhering to a theme (and indeed, eclectic designs can be considered a theme in of themselves). Many times, a theme has a lot to do with color: the floors, the paintings, the furniture, and so on. So with that in mind, what are the best color options to match your hardwood flooring with your walls? In this article, we will talk about the easiest and best ways to make your living space really mesh between the walls and floors.

The great thing about wood, other than its elegance and its ease of maintenance, is that there is a wide abundance of colors to choose from. There is no such thing as a “standard” color of wood floor: you can pick from a wide variety of tree species, undertones, and stains. Indeed, there are so many options that it can even be overwhelming when trying to match a floor to a wall, but that’s what we’re here for!

The simplest thing you can do to coordinate color between the floor and wall is to pick a neutral tone of paint for the walls. Virtually any color of wood pairs nicely with a neutral wall (white is a very popular option). Even mixed wood floors will do well when put against a neutral background, allowing you a bit of creative freedom when it comes to installation. If you’re worried about the space not having enough personality, throw in some colorful furniture and/or rugs to make it vibrant.

For some people, however, neutral colors are boring. So many people have white or similarly-colored walls, so perhaps you want to break the mold and do something off-kilter. Perhaps you should consider choosing a wall shade comparable to your floorboards. If your wood has golden or reddish undertones going for it, paint your walls a warm color as a complement. Orange flooring pairs nicely with rust-colored or terracotta walls, and rich, red woods look gorgeous next to a wine or burgundy paint. Pair gray or ashen woods with cool colors like blue or green.

Now, what if you want to take it one step farther and go for an off-the-wall, bold look? That’s simple, as well: play up the contrast. Find out what shade of wood you have, look opposite the color wheel, and bam, there’s the color of your walls. As an example, if your wood has a warm color like orange or gold, paint the walls a cool blue or gray. Both surfaces end up popping when you go with such a paint scheme, so don’t be afraid to experiment!

What colors do you like on your walls?

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Changing the Color of Your Hardwood Floors

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Have you ever taken a look at your hardwood floors and wished that you could change their color? Or perhaps you’re looking into buying a house, but you want the hardwood to be darker or lighter than the current floor is? Good news: you may not have known, but when you refinish a hardwood floor, you can absolutely change the color of it! It doesn’t matter if you’re going light to dark, dark to light, or anywhere in between: if you can sand and refinish your floors, you can change the color of them.

The process for sanding and refinishing is simpler than you might think. This first step is to purchase or rent a sanding machine and sand down the floor that you are refinishing. Do about three sandings, moving from coarse grit down to your finest grit for best results. This should give your hardwood a smooth surface that will readily accept any stain that you add. Your floor should look basically like brand-new hardwood once you’re done.

With that step out of the way, now it’s time to choose your stain. There are many, many different options ranging all different colors, so try picking out a couple of choices and testing them on your own floors first. This is an essential step because every floor is different and may take different colors differently than another. You may be hesitant to stain over a large area if you’re just testing it out, but we can assure you that this will give you the best visuals and is well worth the time spent.

The last step is to add two to three coats of polyurethane. This coating will take about 24 hours per layer to dry, assuming you’re using an oil base (water based polyurethane dries faster but isn’t as durable). Make sure that after every coat application, you buff the floors in order to smooth them out and help the polyurethane last longer. 90-95% of people select a satin finish for their hardwood, but don’t let that stop you from checking out some of the other choices: you can look at matte, gloss, and semi-gloss, as well!

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Kitchen Flooring Ideas

kitchen flooring

When it comes to laying down flooring in your kitchen, your first instincts may be to prioritize design and color. However, make sure that you aren’t overlooking other important qualities such as durability and ease of care! Here are some of our favorite ideas for long-lasting, aesthetically pleasing kitchen flooring:

  • With new advances in wood manufacturing and sealants, wood still reigns supreme in the household. Hardwoods are easy to clean, hard to permanently damage, and bring a sense of tradition and warmth to any household.
  • Cork flooring. This option is slowly becoming more and more popular in the American household, and it’s easy to see why. It feels great underfoot due to its slight cushioning, it is easy to clean, and can be purchased in a wide variety of patterns and colors. Simply seal it to prevent water damage and your kitchen it ready to go.
  • Natural stone. It doesn’t get more durable than this timeless flooring choice: stone is very resilient and isn’t going to need replacing every time you drop a dish on it nor a full cleaning if you spill food or liquid upon it. Similar to hardwood, stone gives any space a older, antique look that so many people find appealing. The only cons are its cost and the fact that you’ll need a strong subfloor to be able to handle its weight.
  • Bamboo. This choice gives you all of the benefits of a traditional hardwood floor with the added bonus of being environmentally friendly, as it comes from a highly renewable source. It is naturally water-resistant and durable, making it a prime choice for any kitchen.
  • Vinyl. There isn’t much to not like about this flooring option: it’s budget-friendly, one of the easiest floors to maintain, and is soft to the foot. You may consider this option if you’re not looking to break the bank, you cook a lot, or if you simply want a floor that doesn’t require much more cleanup than a simple sweeping and mopping at the end of the day.

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