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Q: Are cracks in wood floors normal?

A: Because wood is a natural product it will react to changes in its environment. Wood flooring is kiln dried from approximately 30% moisture content to between 6-12% at the
time of manufacturing. This evens your floor to the standard normal relative humidity level of between 35-55% that normally should be present in your home.

The most common causes of separations are Mother Nature and dryness. The loss of moisture results in the most frequent reason for shrinkage of individual pieces and cracks.
Most cracks are seasonal - they appear in dry months, or the cold season -when heating is required, and close during humid periods. This type of movement is considered normal.

Engineered floors are designed to compensate for dimensional changes within the construction itself, and do not move as much as solid floors.

In a solid 2 1/4" wide strip oak floor, dry time cracks may be the width of a dime's thickness (1/16"). Wider boards will have wider cracks and the reverse is true. Cupping might
occur as humidity increases.

Q: How do I avoid cracks in my floor?

A: Engineered wood flooring is usually several times more dimensionally stable to cracking and cupping than a solid floor. The engineered construction itself --a cross lamination
of plies-- counteracts dimensional movements. Particularly stable is an engineered floor installed with a floating method, which causes movement --or floating-- as a whole if
temperature and humidity change.

The cure is to minimize changes by adding moisture to the air space during dry periods, and to reduce humidity in the summer. A constant Relative Humidity (RH) of 50%
(minimum 35%, maximum 55%) works in concert with the manufacture of wood floors to provide stability in the floor. You must either live with some cracks, have stable humidity,
or chose an engineered floating floor - it's your choice.

We recommend you purchase a small hygrometer that will tell you what the RH is daily. It is especially important during the hot humid summer months to run either an air
conditioner or a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air. Remember that maintaining this 35-55% RH year around is not only beneficial for your flooring; it is also
good for your own health and comfort.
Q: A solid wood floor can be refinished more times than an engineered floor, right?

A: Most of the UV cured urethanes that are used today are so durable that it should take many years before you should have to refinish your wood floor. There is a misunderstood
belief that 3/4" solid oak floors can be refinished over and over again. This is absolutely not true. A solid wood floor cannot be re-sanded once you get down to the tongue, which
means only the top 1/8", or so, is sandable. The top ply on most engineered wood floors is 1/8" also, so both solid or engineered wood flooring can be re-sanded 2 to 3 times.
The point here is when buying a wood floor do not buy it based on how many times you think it can be re-sanded.
Q: Which should I use, solid wood floor or engineered wood floor?

A: Each have their specific uses and is dictated by your lifestyle and specific needs:

Solid wood flooring can be used on grade and above grade, but not below grade. Solid wood should be in a moisture controlled environment. Solid wood strip or plank is nail down
only and requires a wood subfloor. Solid wood parquet can be glued to a variety of subfloor materials.

Engineered can be used on grade, above and below grade. Engineered wood is more dimensionally stable so it can be installed in areas where solid wood is not compatible due
to moisture. Engineered strip, plank and parquet are glue down applications over various subfloor materials. Some engineered strip and plank can be nailed down which requires
a wood subfloor. Engineered includes floating floors where tongue and grove are glued together, but the floor is not anchored to the subfloor. This is a good choice for going over
existing vinyl flooring.
Floor Care
Q: How do I care for my wood floor?

A: Thanks to new finishes and floor manufacturing advances, today's wood flooring is quite simple to maintain and care for.
Weekly - Vacuum or sweep your floor. Small stones and gritty dirt will scratch the floor quickly. (Always keep mats or rugs at doorway exteriors and interiors.)
Monthly - Clean the floor with a manufacturer's recommended cleaner on a dampened sponge, and follow up with a dry terry cloth towel.
Yearly or when needed - Re-coat the floor with a surface finish when cleaning no longer restores shine and/or when floors have been heavily used.
General Maintenance - Wipe spills immediately with a damp cloth or paper towel.

Q: How do I clean my wood floor?

A: If the finish manufacturer is known, follow the manufacturer's recommended cleaning procedures and products. However, if the manufacturer is not known:

For surface finishes, including urethanes: Keep grit off the floor, dust mop or vacuum regularly and keep doormats clean. Wipe up spills promptly with a dry cloth. Use a slightly
dampened cloth for sticky spills.
For general cleaning, there are good generic wood floor cleaners. Alternatively, use a mild solution of white vinegar and warm water (1/4 cup of vinegar to 1 quart of warm water),
and with a spray bottle, spray a small amount on a mop or cloth and go over a small area with the mop or cloth. Buff dry. Continue until the entire floor has been cleaned.
When luster does not return to traffic areas, the floor may require re-coating. Consult us or your installer.

Do not wax a surface finish. Wax will, in most cases, be slippery. If you wax a surface finish, the floor cannot merely be re-coated to rejuvenate it, it will have to continue to be waxed
as a maintenance procedure.

Acrylic impregnated floors require a spray and buff system as recommended by the manufacturer.

For waxed floors: Keep grit off the floor, dust mop or vacuum regularly and keep doormats clean. Wipe up spills promptly with a dry cloth or dry paper towel, use a slightly dampened
cloth for sticky spills and buff with a dry cloth to restore luster. When the floor looks dull, buff first to see if luster will be restored before waxing. When areas of heavy use no longer
respond to buffing, wax only those areas and buff all the floor to an even luster.
When the whole floor needs attention, clean the floor with a solvent based wood floor cleaner and then wax. Your floor should only need to be completely re-waxed once or twice
a year depending on traffic.

Q: What can damage a wood floor?

A: Grit and dirt - Grit and dirt will eventually cause scratches and dents, which shortens the lifetime of the floor. Always use door mats and vacuum/sweep on a weekly basis.
Water and wet mopping - Any excessive water causes wood grain to raise and the wood to expand, crack, splinter and possibly, in extreme cases, to discolor or mildew.
Oil Soaps and Ammonia Cleaners - There are many over the counter oil soap based or silicone, wax, or ammonia based cleaning products that will damage and dull the finish of
your wood floor. The best suggestion is to only use the manufacturers recommended cleaning products on your wood flooring.
Furniture and High Heel Shoes - Any furniture that rests directly on top of a wood floor should have felt protectors, or furniture coasters, under all its feet. Purchasing chair glides is
a very cheap insurance policy for your wood flooring. For extremely heavy objects such as a piano, use rubber cups. High heels or shoes with any sharp exposed nail or stone will
exert up to 8,000 lbs per square inch of pressure on a floor. That's enough to damage any type of floor covering.
Sunlight - Exposure to the sun and its UV rays can cause wood floors to fade, change color, or experience surface checking, and even cause color changes in its protective
polyurethane finish. To avoid these problems we recommend using draperies or shades to help block out the sun's harmful rays.
Spills - Spills in general must be wiped up immediately to prevent stains. Most new finishes, however, prevent spills from affecting the wood if they are wiped properly.
Q: How should my wood floor be installed?

A: Nail Down - Solid Strip floors or Plank floors can only be nailed (or stapled) down, and only on or above grade on a wooden subfloor. This has traditionally been the most common
installation method.
Glue Down - Engineered wood floors and parquets can be glued down. Manufacturer recommended mastic or adhesive is spread on with a trowel to adhere the wood flooring to the
subfloor. Engineered floors can be installed on all levels, and on concrete. This is the most expensive installation method on average.

Floating - Some engineered floors and all Longstrip/Longplank floors can be floated. This is a very fast, easy and clean installation method. Floating floors are not mechanically
fastened to the subfloor: instead, each plank is glued together with wood glue applied in the tongue and groove. A thin foam-pad is placed between the wood flooring and the
subfloor to protect against moisture, reduce noise transmission, "soften" the floor, and to increase the "R" value. This is the easiest and most versatile installation method.

Q: How should the job-site be prepared?

A: The surface of the subfloor must be level within 1/8" in an 8 feet radius. The subfloor must be clean and thoroughly dry.

For wood subfloors on grade or below grade, use a 15 lb. or higher asphalt felt or rosin paper to retard moisture and to help alleviate subfloor variations. The wood subfloor must
have 10% or less moisture content (MC). Concrete subfloors must have been installed and cured at least 30 days, and the concrete dry-weight must be 2% or less.
For floating installation, a moisture barrier must be used, such as a 6 mil polyethylene ("poly-film"), which overlaps 5" and is taped together with duct tape.

For glue-down installation, it is imperative that the subfloor is clean, level and dry. Fill low areas with leveling compounds; sand or plane high areas. Foreign substances may
cause mastic to fail. Room temperature and humidity should be near living condition several days before installation.

Q: How should subfloors be prepared?

A: Installation instructions follows each delivered product. The following guidelines are general in nature:

In general, basements and crawl spaces must be dry and well ventilated. In joist construction with no basement, outside cross ventilation through vents or other openings in the
foundation walls must be provided with no dead air areas. A surface cover of 6 mil polyethylene film is essential as a vapor retarder in crawl space construction.

The building should be closed in with outside windows and doors in place. All concrete, masonry, sheetrock and framing members, etc. should be thoroughly dry before flooring is
delivered to the job site. In warm months the building must be well ventilated; during winter months heating should be maintained near occupancy levels at least five days before
the flooring is delivered and until sanding and finishing are complete.

Because materials used to provide energy efficient structures trap moisture in a residence, it may be necessary to delay delivery and installation of flooring to allow the excessive
moisture trapped during construction to evaporate. The average moisture content of framing members and subflooring should be below 10% before delivery of the flooring. Moisture
contents above 10-12% can cause moisture related problems.

When job site conditions are satisfactory, have the flooring delivered and boxes placed into small lots and stored in the rooms where it will be installed. For solid flooring open or
remove packaging for acclimation and allow 4 to 5 days or more, for the flooring to become acclimated to job site conditions. Engineered flooring should not be acclimatized nor
opened until the time of installation.

From the time flooring is delivered and until occupancy, temperature and humidity should be maintained at or near occupancy levels. After occupancy, continue to control the
environment. Extended times (more than 1 month) without HVAC controls can promote elevated moisture conditions which can adversely affect flooring.

Q: How can squeaks be minimized?

A: Thorough job-site and subfloor preparation, properly followed installation instructions, and constant temperature and humidity minimize the risk that squeaks will occur. In
addition, one can use a foam underlayment which provides cushion and protects from squeaking caused by friction. Foam underlayments are recommended for all floating floors
(but not for radiant-heated floors).

Q: Can wood floors be used in a bathroom or will the moisture be a problem? Are engineered floors better?

A: Wood and moisture is always a problem. Therefore wood floors are seldom used in bathrooms (especially not with bath and shower).
Engineered floors are much more stable to expansion and contraction that results from high and low humidity (winter-summer) than solid floors. However, they are as sensible to
direct water-contact (spills etc) as solid wood floors. Moreover, a flooded engineered floor can potentially de-laminate when the glue is exposed to water. High-quality engineered
floors range from $4-$10 (and more) depending on pattern (strip-plank) and species.

Laminate floors (Pergo, Formica etc.) are proven much better in bathrooms as the high-density fiberboard construction doesn't damage as severely if a flooding accident occurs.
(it would swell 5-10% which causes heaving and buckling, but chances are it'll settle back somewhat, not totally ruined.) Laminates are a "fake" wood floor; it's a [paper] photo of a
wood pattern fused to the HDF board and then coated with a very hard, scratch resistant plastic. Some people don't like laminates. Laminate floors range from $2-6 depending on
quality and construction, thickness, whether it has the click-system or conventional tongue and groove (glue).

Now, there's a brand new flooring category being developed: veneer flooring. It's like laminate flooring (the HDF board construction and a really hard plastic coating) but it has a
real wood veneer. The veneer is very thin, but it's sawn or sliced, not peeled (which looks tacky). In other words, a veneer floor looks exactly like a pure wood floor but has the
advantages of a laminate (thin, floating, stable, more moisture resistant, very wear resistant). However, unlike a wood floor it can not be sanded/refinished or repaired. It's floated
and cannot be nailed down. Veneer flooring ranges from $5-10. Most come with a "glue-less" tongue and groove design, i.e. you snap the boards together.

We sell all categories, and for a bathroom setting we really only recommend laminate or veneer flooring, and with caution!
Q: How should an unfinished floor be treated?

A: There are many different wood floor finishes. The earlier finishes used were wax, lacquer, varnish and "shellac". Although these old methods of stain and coat are still used,
they are becoming rarer today because of lower durability and higher maintenance compared to oil-modified urethanes and water-based finishes. Nevertheless, these finishes
still have their place. For example, oiled and waxed finishes are durable and more repairable than urethane based finishes, and therefore often used in commercial applications.
They need more maintenance and have a fairly low luster. Shellac gives antique flooring a beautiful rich patina and is used both as a sealer coat under certain finishes or as a finish
by itself.

Oil modified Urethanes (Polyurethane): -A clear, tough and durable finish that is applied as a wear layer. The application is relatively easy. A common method is to apply three
coats allowing each coat to dry overnight with light sanding and vacuuming between coats. The coating has a thick looking appearance and gives the wood an amber color tone.
It has great moisture resistance and is also one of the most scratch-resistant finishes available. It can be hard to touch up or re-coat. Oil-based urethanes have a tendency to
darken and or yellow with age.

Water based finishes: This blend of synthetic resins, plasticizers and other film-forming ingredients (water based) produces an extremely durable surface that is moisture resistant.
Different gloss levels are available, most have a clear finish and are frequently used over white and pastel colored stains. Their drying time is much faster than oil-based urethanes
(one to two hours), there is little odor, and clean up is with soap and water. Their application can be difficult due to its quick drying time.

Moisture cured Urethane: Moisture cured urethane is one of the hardest finishes available, but It is also extremely difficult to apply and it has a very unpleasant (toxic) odor.
A respirator is a must when applying. Moisture cured urethane dries by pulling moisture from the air, while most other finishes dry through evaporation of the solvents leaving the
resins on the floor.

Q: What are the advantages of a pre-finished floor?

A: Factory pre-finished wood floors have grown tremendously. Today's pre-finished flooring comes with very durable finishes such as oil-modified urethanes and water-based
finishes (see above), using several coats of ultraviolet (UV) cured urethane for added protection.

UV cured urethanes can only be properly cured in the presence of UV light, which would be extremely difficult to duplicate on a job site finish, not to mention how many days it
would take. These UV cured urethanes create a tough, scratch resistant wear layer and help prevent moisture from penetrating the wood's surface. This means that these floors
won't watermark like the old waxed hardwood floors, and the UV cure urethanes do make it easier to maintain the like new appearance than, for example, the old waxed wood floors.

Choosing pre-finished largely boils down to installation, durability and maintenance issues. Instead of taking several days to install and finish a wood floor, a pre-finished wood floor
is generally done in one day, hence resulting in substantial time and cost savings. Most do-it-yourselfers can install a pre-finished floor. Because of a high quality and consistent
factory application, a pre-finished floor often has a more durable wear layer and lower maintenance than a site finished floor.
Kim's Marble Inc.
513 W. Garfield Ave.    Glendale, CA 91204
Email: contact@kimsmarble.com / Call (818)265-9900 / Fax (818)265-9896
Showroom Hours : Mon-Fri 7:30-4:30     Sat. by appoinment only PST time

Copyright © 2010 Kim's Marble Inc. All Rights Reserved. Web designed by Ebizcare.com
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