Frequently Asked Questions About Hardwood Floors

Can I install a solid wood floor over a concrete slab?

It is not recommended to install solid wood flooring over a concrete slab. Although this is the general rule, there have been successful installations of solid wood flooring installed over dry, concrete slabs. This entails several additional steps. A plastic barrier is set over the slab and taped at all seams. Then some sort of moisture-resistant wood subfloor (marine plywood) is built on top of the plastic film. Then the flooring is nailed to the wood subfloor. If you decide to take the chance be sure to consult with the manufacturer as to their recommendations. Be aware, you may be voiding your warranty.

There is a new synthetic underlayment product on the market (called Sika AcouBond) that may allow for installing solid wood flooring over a dry slab. Check with the manufacturer of the wood floor to see if they will warranty this type of installation and what their recommended installation procedures are for this type of installation.

What wood floor can I install over a concrete slab?

With the improvements in hardwood floors most engineered and longstrip engineered plank floors can be used over a concrete slab. Manufacturers do not recommend using solid hardwood flooring over a concrete slab. Engineered planks and strip wood floors can be glued directly to a clean, dry, well-cured concrete slab. Some engineered wood floors can be glued at the tongue and grooves and then allowed to be floated over a special padding that is laid over the concrete slab. Longstrip engineered planks can be floated over the slab with a padding underneath. There are some new “hybrid” engineered floors that can be floated over a concrete slab and come with a click (glueless) tongue and groove locking system.

Note: New concrete slabs need to be fully cured for a least 60 days. All wood planks should be acclimated for 24-48 hours prior to installation. Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s recommended installation procedures.

Can we install a hardwood floor over an existing vinyl floor?

Yes and no. Is the vinyl flooring is tightly secured to the subfloor? Does the vinyl flooring have a thick cushion attached? If the vinyl floor is thin and well secured to the subfloor you may be able to float a wood floor over it. In some situations you may be able nail/staple a wood floor over it also. If the wood subfloor is sound you may be able to nail a solid wood floor over the top. Be sure to get the manufacturer’s installation procedures for going over an existing vinyl floor and be sure to check if this type installation is warranted by the manufacturer.

What to I do to remove scratches in my wood floor?

This really depends on the type of wood floor you have, the finish you have and how deep the scratches are in the top layer. For small minor scratches in a urethane finish you should be able to order a touch-up kit from the store you purchased the flooring from. Be sure to use the manufacturer’s recommended finish products and test first by applying a small amount in an out of the way area. For deep scratches you will probably have to have a professional do a screen and recoat. This is where they use special sanding screens to lightly abrade the floor’s finish to help the new urethane bond better to the existing finish. With some wood floors you may be able to just replace the damaged boards. It is best to leave the sand and recoat, or board replacement to a professional flooring installer, or refinisher.

Although many homeowners have pets, hardwood flooring is not designed for the abuse a dog or cat can cause on a floor. Urine may permanently discolor the finish of the wood floor and large dogs’ claws will probably leave scratches in the finish. The type of wood floor you buy, the color and the finish will also be factor in how much punishment the floor’s finish can withstand before showing scratches and excessive wear.Can I install a hardwood floor if I have pets?

Can an engineered wood floor be refinished?

Some of the better quality engineered wood floors have a 1/8″ thick finish layer and can be sanded and refinished 1 or maybe 2 times. The sanding and refinishing of an engineered wood floor is best done by an experienced hardwood flooring refinisher. If you have heat vents in your floor you can remove a heat cover to get a side view of your wood floor. This will help you check to see how thick you finish layer is. Always consult with the manufacturer to see if the recommend sanding and refinishing of the engineered wood floors.

Can I use throw rugs on my hardwood floor?

Before using any throw rugs on your wood floor you should know the type of finish you have on the floor. All rugs should be non-staining, meaning the colored dyes will not bleed. Generally in the presence of moisture, some dyes used in rugs may bleed through onto your floor and discolor the wood floors surface. Also, be sure the rug does not have a rough backing material that may scratch the surface of the floor. Clean dirt and debris from under the rug regularly. To prevent possible shading of the wood underneath the rug, move the rug occasionally.

How do we stop a solid hardwood floor from gapping?

Gapping in solid wood floors cannot be stopped completely. Wood expands and contracts with changes in humidity. Using a humidifier during the heating months may help reduce the amount of gapping in solid wood floors. Also, some wood species may gap expand and contract less than others. Engineered wood floors are much more dimensionally stable than solid wood floors and will show little or no gaps between planks.

What should I use under furniture legs?

Most flooring stores carry the recommended felt pads for using under chair legs and other furniture. The felt pads come in various sizes. Some pads just stick on the bottom of the legs and others need to be nailed on. Never hit the pads directly with a hammer. Follow the directions provided with the pads. Check and clean the pads often to prevent debris, dirt and small particles from being trapped in the pad, which may cause scratches in the wood floor’s finish.

What Wood Material Should I Choose For My Floor?

Choosing hardwood flooring for your home can be a valuable investment. Multiple surveys estimate that hardwood flooring can add as much as $7,000-10,000 to a home’s resale value. And a study conducted by the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) revealed that 99 percent of U.S. real estate agents asserted that homes with hardwood flooring are easier to sell; 90 percent said that homes with hardwood flooring sell for more money – up to 10 percent more in fact.

In order to get the most out of your valuable investment in American Hardwood, here are the flooring options you need to know about before you buy:

Solid Wood Floors:
Solid hardwood flooring comes in three basic types: strip, plank and parquet.

  • Strip flooring accounts of the majority of hardwood installations. It is installed by nailing the wood to the subfloor.
  • Plank floor boards are at least three inches wide, and can be screwed or nailed to the subfloor.
  • Parquet flooring comes in 6”x6” blocks, but specialty patterns can be made much larger. Parquet floors often create a dramatic geometric look.

One tip to keep in mind is that solid hardwood flooring expands and contracts due to changes in your home’s humidity. Installers can compensate for this by leaving an expansion gap between the floor and the wall.

Engineered Wood
Engineered wood is made of multiple layers of different grades or styles of wood that are stacked and glued together under high heat and pressure. This type of flooring is less likely to be affected by changes in humidity.

Wood Laminates
Wood laminates consist of a plywood base topped with a layer of veneer. The veneer coating on wood laminate floors can be sanded and refinished up to three times in most cases.

After selecting the type of hardwood flooring, the next step is choosing a finish that will enhance the wood’s beauty and protect the floor from every day wear, dirt and moisture. The finish will also give hardwood a rich color and luster to match your home’s look and feel.  You have a few hardwood finishing options to choose from:

Surface Finishes
These are the most popular choice of stains, and involve applying a stain to achieve color followed by a top coat to add a layer of protection. Surface finishes are durable and easy to maintain.

  • Oil-based urethane is the most commonly used floor finish. It is available in different sheens, and is generally applied in multiple coats and also ambers with age.
  • Water-based urethane provides a clear finish and produces fewer odors, quicker dry time and easier clean-up.
  • Moisture-cured urethane is a solvent based solution mostly used in commercial applications. It is more durable and moisture-resistant than other options.
  • Conversion varnishes are a professionals-only application product that is often used in commercial spaces.

Penetrating Stains and Finishes
These finishes penetrate the wood to form a protective seal. The stains soak in to provide the color, and a wax coating provides a low-gloss satin sheen. These finishes require special care, as certain products (water-based products) should not be used on the floors.

Sheen Options
Choice of sheen is a personal preference but it’s helpful to keep in mind that high-gloss finishes show scuffs and scratches more easily than low-gloss or satin finishes. High-gloss finishes also reflect more light and are typically used in commercial settings, while satin finishes are usually favored for more traditional applications.

Extra-Durable Finishes
One of the latest trends in hardwood finishes are products designed to extend the life of the floor and make them extra-durable. Some manufacturers state that these finishes are ten times more durable than other finishes, and can last for up to 25 years.  Swedish finishes and acrylic finishes are the most popular types of extra-durable products.