Why do I see so many oak floors?
Why are most floors made of boards which are 2 1/4” wide?
Can I install wood flooring over a concrete floor?
Can I install wood flooring over an in-floor radiant heat system?
Should I consider prefinished floors for my project?
What about laminate floors?
Should I expect shrinkage cracks in my wood floors?
What type of subfloor is best for hardwood installation?
Will my new wood floor be perfectly level?
What should I know about different grades of flooring?
What type of finish is best?
What can I do to prevent sun-fading of my floors?
How should I care for my floors?
What is involved in maintenance-coating my floors?
What if my floors need sanding and refinishing?
How dusty is the sanding process?
How can I get a quote on wood floor work?

Why do I see so many oak floors?
Oak has several characteristics which make it a very good choice for a floor. It is price-competitive, durable, and is one of the few woods which accepts stain well, so you have more color choices available. There are also many pre-milled trim pieces available in oak which can be incorporated in your project to blend with the floor. Oak is readily available in various millings and grades, and a like product will be available if you need to repair the floor or add more wood at a later date.
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Why are most floors made of boards which are 2 1/4” wide?
2 1/4" is the standard, traditional milling for oak (and most other species) of flooring. Departing from the 2 1/4” width generally results in decreased availability and higher pricing. The wider the board, the wider the shrinkage cracks between boards, and this explains why there is not much use of wide plank flooring in our dry climate. Narrower boards, such as 1 1/2”, are often recommended for certain applications such as over radiant heat systems to minimize shrinkage.
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Can I install wood flooring over a concrete floor?
The type of wood flooring you select depends on the type of substrate (concrete or a conventional wood-framed subfloor), and the location (on, above, or below grade). Solid wood flooring is not recommended for installation over a concrete slab on or below grade unless special construction techniques were used before the house was built to alleviate potential problems with ground moisture — even then, problems can still arise, as there is no totally foolproof way to install a vapor barrier and subfloor system over concrete to permit the use of solid wood flooring. Instead, engineered flooring is recommended for such applications. It is constructed of multiple layers of wood veneer glued together, then milled into individual boards or panels. It may be installed as a direct glue-down application over concrete, or as a floating system over a thin layer of foam underlayment. Due to the thin wood veneer wear layer, these
products are not designed for sanding and finishing on-site and come only as prefinished products.

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Can I install wood flooring over an in-floor radiant heat system?
Yes, as long as the subsystem is properly designed and constructed, and you are aware that you will experience more chance for shrinkage cracks between boards due to the surface heat. Depending on the type of radiant heat system selected, there are other factors to consider, such as chances for greater movement of boards due to increased spacing between fasteners, or longer construction time to allow gypcrete to cure before the flooring is installed if you select the gypcrete-and-screed system. We have found the system whereby the heat tubes are suspended beneath a conventional plywood subfloor to provide the best substrate for hardwood flooring, since it provides even support and adequate nailing. If you are considering wood flooring over radiant heat, please contact us during the planning process for the home so that we may discuss alternatives with you and provide specifications for the design and layout of the
system.

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Should I consider prefinished floors for my project?
Prefinished flooring is generally marketed to the homeowner or do-it-yourselfer who wants to install their own floor, and comprises a small percentage of the professional wood floor contractor market. It takes the most difficult and touchiest part of the job out of the picture, and eliminates the need for specialized equipment and expertise associated with site-sanding and finishing of a wood floor. ADVANTAGES: no sanding dust; no drying times for stains and finishes; and longer finish durability due to use of aluminum oxide finishes which can only be applied in a factory environment. DISADVANTAGES: uneven appearance since boards are not sanded level to one another following installation; greater visibility of cracks between boards since floors are not filled; limited options as to repair of a damaged area; harder to keep clean since most prefinished floors have a bevel-edge, which forms a v-shaped groove between boards;
floors cannot be maintenance-coated periodically to restore sheen without voiding manufacturer’s wear-through warranty on finis
h.
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What about laminate floors?
Laminate floors are constructed with a layer of a synthetic material embossed with a “picture” of wood grain over a base of fiberboard material. These products may look like hardwood at first glance, but actually compete more with the vinyl floor covering market. Since they are not true wood, we have chosen not to install or service this type of product.
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Should I expect shrinkage cracks in my wood floors?
To quote the National Oak Floor Manufacturer’s Association, “Properly made and properly installed oak floors should be expected to have ‘hairline cracks’ between boards in dry months in most areas of North America.” To expect a totally crack-free floor is unreasonable, and is the biggest source of complaints from uninformed consumers. Shrinkage is a big concern in the arid climate of the Rocky Mountain Front Range, and can be minimized (but never totally eliminated) by the following: use of material which has acclimated to the dry air; avoiding the use of wide plank flooring; avoiding the use of species of wood which are more prone to shrinkage, such as maple and pine, among others; keeping the house at constant temperature and humidity levels (approx. 30 to 35%) through use of a humidifier; and use of proper subfloor materials and installation techniques.
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What type of subfloor is best for hardwood installation?
Exterior grade plywood provides the best subfloor for modern construction because of its superior nail- or staple-holding power. In older construction, 1×6 or 1×8 boards of #1 or #2 common pine laid at a 45 degree angle to joists is also a good subfloor. While OSB, or oriented strand board, is frequently used in today’s new construction, it is acceptable only if it meets certain industry specifications and has never been exposed to moisture saturation during the building process (the wet/dry cycle can impair the nail-holding power of OSB).
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Will my new wood floor be perfectly level?
Since wood flooring follows the general contour of the subfloor, your floor will only be as level as what is underneath it. The general industry specifications are that the floor be flat to within 1/8” in 6’, or 3/16” in 10’. Please note that this specification refers to planarity, or flatness, not how level the floor is. Don’t expect to place a marble on the floor and not have it roll. If you are concerned about flatness or level of your floors, you may need to have your builder or a general contractor check and repair your subfloor prior to wood flooring installation. Also, do not count on the sanding process to level a floor, since a very small amount of wood is typically removed during the sanding process.
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What should I know about different grades of flooring?
Besides the species of wood, you may choose from various grades of flooring. The grade is a designation describing only the cosmetics of the wood — all grades exhibit the same strength and longevity throughout the species. The lower grades have a higher concentration of character marks such as knots, worm holes, mineral streaks, and light and dark contrast, for a more rustic look. As you move up in grade, the concentration of character marks decreases and the overall appearance and coloration becomes more uniform. See nwfa.org for a detailed explanation of grading standards.
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What type of finish is best?
This is a question that there is no universally-agreed upon answer to. We prefer the traditional oil-base polyurethane finish, which is a very durable product. It has an amber coloration that intensifies the underlying coloration of the wood, and gradually darkens over time (but may fade in areas of direct sunlight). It has a noticeable odor following application, and generally needs to dry overnight before foot traffic or re-coating. Waterborne finishes are becoming more popular, but are generally not as durable as oil-base finishes (there are some commercial grade waterborne finishes that are very durable, equaling or exceeding the oil base products). Waterborne finishes are more expensive than oil base, have less odor, dry more quickly (typically dry to foot traffic in 4 to 6 hours), and impart a very light color, nearly a bleached look, to the floors. Newest generation prefinished products usually have an aluminum
oxide finish, which is the most durable finish available. This type of finish is not available for site-finished floors, since it must be applied in a controlled environment and subjected to ultraviolet-ray curing immediately afterward. (When you evaluate the extended wear-through warranties for these products, some as long as 25 years, keep in mind that the manufacturer warrants only that the finish will not wear through to the wood during normal abrasion from foot traffic; you will still experience dents, scratches, dog’s claw marks, erosion from chair rollers, dulling of the finish in high traffic areas, etc., all of which are not covered under warranty).

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What can I do to prevent sun-fading of my floors?
Discoloration of the finish (and in cases of intense, direct sunlight of the wood itself—certain species such as cherry are notorious for this) is normal and unavoidable. Oil base polyurethane finishes are most susceptible to this phenomenon, which is called photochemical-reactivity. While waterborne finishes are often advertised as non-fading, this is not true (although they discolor less than oil base finishes). Use of blinds or drapes to block direct sunlight will help, as will use of newer window products which reduce UV transmission. While most discoloration is caused by sunlight, finishes will also amber and discolor with age. Moving area rugs and furniture on a regular basis will help to minimize the stark contrast between areas with sunlight exposure and those areas which have been shielded from light.
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How should I care for my floors?
Assuming that you have a urethane finish (either oil-base or waterbase), keep the floors clean and free of dirt, grit and sand by sweeping or dust-mopping on a regular basis. If you vacuum your floors, make sure that you use an attachment designed for hard floor surfaces, and that this attachment does not have any rough surfaces which could mar the finish. You will periodically need to lightly damp-mop your floors to remove food spills, muddy footprints, etc. When you do so, AVOID USE OF ANY PRODUCT CONTAINING WAX, OIL OR ACRYLIC. Any oil soap, spray dusting aid, or other floor care product containing wax, oil or acrylic can leave a residue on your floors which can impair adhesion of future coats of finish. Use of mats at exterior doors, area rugs or runners in high traffic areas, and felt glides on furniture legs will also prolong the finish. An additional coat of finish, referred to as a maintenance coat, is required
to replenish the finish that will wear off from normal abrasion from foot traffic. There is no universal interval between maintenance coats, since the amount of foot traffic and how clean you are able to keep your floors will determine the finish life.

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What is involved in maintenance-coating my floors?
We need a bare floor to work with, so the homeowner is responsible for removal and replacement of furniture. (If desired, appliances may remain in place and we will coat around them). We then “screen”, or lightly abrade the floor, using a buffer and abrasive screen, to roughen the top surface of the existing finish so that the new coat will adhere. This process will also remove fine surface scratches and scuffs, but will not remove anything deeper, such as deep scratches, dents, gouges, sun fading, or wear stains. Nor is there any way (short of a complete sanding to bare wood) to remove any wax, oil or acrylic buildup from use of improper cleaning products. The floor is then swept and vacuumed to remove any dust, then a single finish coat is applied. The floor should be allowed to dry overnight without foot traffic, and a few days longer before furniture and area rugs are replaced.
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What if my floors need sanding and refinishing?
If your floors have gone too long between maintenance coats such that wear stains have appeared, or if you have blemishes in the hardwood which are too deep to remove by screening, or if you have used an improper cleaning product, you will need to have your floors sanded to bare wood and refinished. In most cases, this is a 3- 4 day process (in most cases) , since there are three applications of product on your floor (one coat of seal or stain on the bare wood, then 2 full-strength coats of urethane finish). The floors are rough-sanded to bare wood, then trowel-filled, then fine-sanded, then stained (if a darkened finish is desired) or sealed (if a natural-color finish is desired) on the first day. On days 2 and 3, the floors are prepped and a full-strength coat of finish is applied on each day. Drying times are generally 8 hours on day 1, and 12 to 24 hours (usually overnight) on days 2 and 3. As with maintenance coats, the homeowner is
responsible for removal and replacement of furniture.

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How dusty is the sanding process?
Regardless of what you may hear, sanding of wood floors is an inherently dusty procedure. Even the best dust-containment systems on the market will generate some fine dust, and to expect otherwise is to set yourself up for disappointment. We will hang or drape plastic where possible to contain dust in the immediate work area, but face limitations in areas with vaulted ceilings or open lofts. Our machines utilize built-in vacuums and dust bags which capture the majority of the dust, but cannot get it all. We recommend that you remove wall hangings and window coverings if possible prior to sanding. The best way to avoid the sanding mess is to keep up with maintenance coats on your floors to avoid having to sand and refinish them.
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How can I get a quote on wood floor work?
Please call (719) 547-1110 and discuss your proposed project with one of our staff professionals. We recommend that you schedule an appointment for a free estimate so that we can get an accurate measurement, and evaluate the site conditions in your home.  While we can offer very general ballpark prices by phone, we strongly recommend an on-site bid to avoid unseen problems and allow us to get all the information we need to do the job right.