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Five Expert Tips For Maintaining Your Hardwood Investment

Maintenance After Installation Series: Focus on Hardwood

There are many decisions to make before embarking on your hardwood installation project. Working with a provider who understands the varied intricacies involved is important, as well as seeing the chosen product pre-installation, to ensure it satisfies the needs of both the designer and end user.

Following are a few expert tips to consider before beginning. These considerations will also affect long-term maintenance and protect your hardwood installation investment over the life expectancy of your floor:

1. Determining the Location for Hardwood Installation

Before the hardwood is chosen there are several things to determine, including where the installation taking place. Hardwood, while aesthetically pleasing, would not be recommended in the main entrance of an office building. Seasonal precipitation and chemicals could damage the appearance and life expectancy. It further requires more maintenance over time in terms of dents, cracks, scratches and scuffs due to high volume of traffic.

The office environment where the hardwood is being installed is also key as it must offer no lower than 35% relative humidity. This is harder to maintain during the winter season, but most newer buildings (within the last 10 years) offer humidification pumps to accommodate and maintain relative humidity.

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2. Choose the Right Product for Your Hardwood Installation Project

Most commercial hardwood installations are prefinished which means that the product chosen is stained, urethaned and ready for install. This engineered hardwood represents most of the commercial product sold today, however raw wood installations that are sanded, stained and urethaned on site, are generally required when there are special widths or design elements that cannot be met by prefinished requirements.

Below is picture of how most engineered hardwood looks today. You can see the actual thickness of the hardwood and how it is laminated with plywood underneath to give stability and backing to secure to the subfloor. Most hardwood is produced this way as there are many layers of pressed wood to give stability, plus a thick wood veneer on the surface for several sandings, to be followed by a choice of a variety of sealants.

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Engineered Hardwood Sample

3. Choose the Right Finish for Your Hardwood Installation

The next consideration is the actual finish. There are 3 types of hardwood finishes. lacquer, water-based urethane and oil or hard wax oil finished. “The majority of the market is lacquer or varathane hardwood,” says says Graham Linton, General Manager of Interior Care.

“The water-based urethane finishes have no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) so are low in odour. They also have a hardener component that cures. This means less downtime as it can be walked on after four hours,” says Linton.  “This allows average sized jobs to be complete and ready for use in one day.”

Interior Care is a member of Darwin Fisher’s trusted partner program. Interior Care offers a comprehensive client maintenance package. Established in 1964, the firm is owned and operated by the Linton family. Servicing all types of flooring finishes, including hardwood, this firm is now in its third generation. It is one of the largest privately-owned specialty flooring maintenance service businesses in Canada. Staff maintain over 700 corporate offices in Southern Ontario.

4. How the Hardwood Installation Finish Affects Maintenance

“Varathane hardwood can be maintained with specialty cleaning products or with a damp mopping – never over wet,” says Linton.  “Hardwood installs that have an oil finished product make scratches less visible and can be oiled out. With urethane or lacquer, it’s difficult to impossible to fix scratches without a refinish.”

Linton goes onto explain that if the scratches are deeper than the actual finish, isolating the repair is difficult. He recommends a refresh of the hardwood finish every 8-10 years depending on the wear and tear of the floor. This is a process called ‘buff and coat’  whereby a contractor surface screens (light sanding) the top layers of the hardwood and applies a new coat of finish which can be varathane or longer wearing urethane.

“The newer trendier hardwood finished floors are oil finished,” says Linton. “This is in contrast to the hard varathane or urethane finishes that show scratches and need full finishing to correct.” Oil or hard wax oil finishes can be oiled and touched up for isolated scratches. The long term issue is this type of hardwood finish, over and up to two years tends to dry out in our four season climate and requires nourishing through periodic re-oiling.

 5. Daily Maintenance of Your Hardwood Installation to Preserve Investment

“For daily maintenance for these specialty oil finishes there is a product to clean and refresh called ‘soap conditioner.’ This is a regular wet cleaning procedure and is simply part of your weekly upkeep of the hardwood,” says Linton.

Another very simple maintenance solution is to ensure the glides on the bottom of the legs of the furniture are replaced or covered with felt – this prevents surface scratching. Felt glides should be changed frequently as they will wear with use.

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Photo credit: Unsplash

Following these expert tips will not only ensure a successful hardwood installation project, but return on investment over the life of your flooring. Backed by a simple but effective maintenance care program, your hardwood will maintain a quality appearance despite the wear and tear of regular office traffic.

For a free consultation on your next flooring installation please contact info@darwinfisher.comFor other articles on our maintenance after installation series, please click here. 

For more information regarding Interior Care, please click here.