Mailbag: It's always better to ask than guess - so ask away
When we look back at the hardwood flooring industry and the changes that continue to "surface" in the overall performance for each and every hardwood flooring installation, only one word can describe it: "incredible." The introduction of urethane vs. wax finishing, cleats vs. cut nail, the use of pneumatic tools and radial arm saws in lieu of claw hammers and hand saws have all advanced the level of sophistication seen in the installation and finishing of today's "modern" wood flooring products.
Whether the flooring is considered engineered or solid, requires job site finishing or has been prefinished by the manufacturer, the hardwood flooring industry continues to adapt to the consumers' changing needs through the advancement of technology. But progress, of course, can also bring ciaos. In my opinion, the changes that are occurring in the industry are good. Unfortunately, communicating the changes has become more of a "technical" task-perhaps more so then the product improvement itself. Manufacturers include installation specifications in each and every carton of hardwood flooring. Do we take the time to read them? I wonder. What was once considered appropriate just may be seen as passé today. The interpretation of a spec sheet can also vary from reader to reader. Some concoct their own incorrect procedures which may become detrimental to the final outcome of the installation.
The lack of communication is a matter of choice. Our industry has also become quite sophisticated in this area as well. Besides the obvious: postal mail, toll-free "help lines" and the shows seen on TV networks such as HGTV; the internet provides our manufacturers with the capability of staying in close touch with the flooring dealers/contractors and potential end users/consumers. Industry associations are excellent, but there are still people that are unaware of them. In today's fast pace world, fewer and fewer people take the time to write a conventional letter and patiently wait for a response.
As it happens, the invitation extended along side this column to contact me via e-mail continues to bring me inquires from dealers, contractors and even homeowners that have access to this publication. The questions vary and can be both challenging and entertaining. Unlike the experience the dealer and or contractor may encounter with the irate homeowner, mine is purely a fact finding mission with a layman's approach for understanding the potential solutions to the problem. I have always felt that good solid common sense mixed with a touch of technical know-how creates a harmonious atmosphere and an answer that hopefully is easier to digest.
With this in mind I am sharing a few of these e-mails in the hope that they may be of some benefit in your own personal endeavors. Besides, let's not forget we are all in this industry together. Searching for answers now and listening to a response is preferable to finding a solution to a post installation problem. In short it may spare you from "poor" results on the job site-and in your wallet.
Randy, I need your help. I have a customer who wants rubber wood floor installed, sanded and finished. I have never worked with this type of material before and need some information ASAP. Anything you can send me I would appreciate it. -Norm
Norm, While I am not familiar with the wood derived from a rubber tree, but like other types of wood, everything depends upon the density and impact. If considered a softwood species, and it most likely is, minimal sanding would be appropriate to avoid unnecessary scratches during the process.
First, establish the correct grit of paper to remove the overwood with the first cut. I would try a 60 grit in an inconspicuous area to start. If the overwood is removed and the area appears to be flat from board to board, advance to a 100 grit. You could get by with just 2 cuts vs. the traditional 3 cut process. You might want to clean it up with a 150 grit screen on your buffer to blend the edger sanding with the sander. You made no comment about stain but I wouldn't if I were you. If the wood is relatively soft, splotching could occur. Finish the floor natural with a non-ambering urethane unless the customer desires that final effect. Bounce me back an answer when you complete the project. Good Luck.
My dealer tells me that the prefinished hardwood flooring that I have selected has a 25-year wear warranty. What can I expect? We are a family of four and one very lovable German Shepard. Thanks-Lauren
Lauren, today's prefinished hardwood flooring boasts some of the finest finishes available in the marketplace. They are extremely durable but not indestructible.
Concrete will scratch if you drag a nail across with minimal pressure. With regards to the warranty, the finish will not simply "walk off" the surface to "bare" wood for 25 years (with or with out a loveable dog). Traffic and maintenance will ultimately determine if and when the flooring will require a recoat or if scratched deep enough, and in "numerous" locations, a resanding.
My husband and I live in Chicago. We are in the process of opening a dance studio and would like to install bamboo hardwood flooring. We understand that we are required to "float" the installation over an appropriate underlayment. We love the look, we just would like your impute on bamboo. Thanks-Carol
Carol, you didn't tell me if the floor was for ballet or ballroom. Shin splints are common problems for professional dancers. A floating system could provide that extra "cushion" and also a welcome installation for sound transmission especially if there is another tenant below. The finish on the floor should also be non-slip to avoid any mishaps. Maintain the bamboo flooring with products conducive to those criteria.
Whether you are a dealer/contractor, designer/architect or most important, the homeowner, ask questions and find answers when in doubt. Wood or Wood Knot knows that the only dumb question is the one you failed to ask.