3 Tips for Maintaining Your Hardwood Flooring

15 08 2012

Hardwood Flooring can be one of the biggest investments you, as a homeowner, will have to make for your home. Whether you’re thinking of purchasing new hardwood flooring, or you are looking for advice on how to maintain your home’s current flooring, check out these 3 tips:

1. PROTECT YOUR FLOOR FROM EXCESSIVE MOISTURE

Hardwood or bamboo flooring and moisture are like water and vinegar: they don’t mix. Hardwood is porous and when exposed to excessive water, such as flooding or spills, the flooring will absorb the water and cause the floor board to swell, which can lead to buckling or warping. Be sure to clean up spills immediately and only install your flooring where there is proper moisture control for hardwood flooring.

2. ADD ACCENT RUGS

Accent rugs can not only spruce up your space, but they do a great job at protecting your floor. Use  accent rugs for high traffic areas in your home such as the doorway or the area near kitchen sink. When people first enter a home, they have a tendency to wipe their feet and can trek in dirt, grit, sand or other abrasive elements from outdoors. Over time, these things will most definitely scratch up the surface of your floor. Throw an accent rug in front of the door, and you’ll save yourself the headache later.

3. USE FURNITURE PADS

Use floor protecting felt pads underneath your furniture ends. Place the pads underneath the legs of your chairs, tables, couches, or any other piece of furniture with sharp edges that come into contact with your floor. The pads come in varying sizes and adhere to the bottom of your furniture surface. No excuses here- You can get a whole set of varying sizes on Amazon for less than the cost of a cup of coffee!





Have a Big Dog? 3 Reasons Why You Should Consider Strand Woven Bamboo

5 06 2012

Is Fido making your flooring decision for you?  We love our pets, they’re part of our family, but don’t let them make the final decision when it comes to choosing your floor.  You’re the human, so go, be a good boy and go buy those new floors you always wanted!  Now sit, good human…

Okay, seriously.  Here is a little known fact.  One of the best flooring options for your home with large dogs is bamboo.  Strand woven bamboo to be exact.  It’s becoming more and more popular among homeowners with large dogs, and here’s why:

REASON #1- It’s Hard

Even harder than some of the more expensive exotic hardwoods like santos mahogany flooring.  Therefore, it is durable when put to the test of your 150 pound dog’s nails.  Although it can be scratched, it will withstand a lot of punishment before doing so because of its density.

REASON #2- It’s Inexpensive

Considering its durability and look is comparable to high end exotic hardwoods, and the many options offered, strand woven bamboo flooring is relatively inexpensive.  You can get quality strand woven flooring product for under $5 per sq. ft. Whereas Exotic hardwoods can costs upward of $6-$9 per sq. ft.

REASON #3- Variety

Strand woven bamboo comes in many different color varieties and plank sizes.  Not only can it be carbonized, but it can also be stained to match virtually any color. From deep reds, to sand-colored tones, to deep browns & more- the possibilities for bamboo are endless. Don’t be fooled thinking it only comes in the natural and carbonized color varieties.

Don’t fall into the trap of buying some cheap laminate because you are afraid your dog(s) are going to destroy any nicer option.  Of course there are a few options out there that are durable enough to withstand large dogs, but strand woven bamboo is a wonderful choice.  It’s unique, fun, relatively inexpensive, and environmentally-friendly.  Be sure to consider it as an option for your next floor.





Thinking Outside the Box Store: Exotic Hardwoods

8 05 2012

What is the most important thing to you when choosing a floor?  Most people say the look.  You want a stylish and unique-looking floor in your home.  You don’t want to settle for the same floor as the guy next door and who can blame you?  A floor sets the tone of a room and there are few better choices than an exotic hardwood floor.  With exotics you can stay trendy while maintaining that classic hardwood feel.  And in terms of wood species, there is an endless selection.

What Makes Exotic Hardwood Different?

Durability and appearance are the most important factors of exotic hardwood.  They tend to be harder on the Janka scale and more unique looking than a domestic hardwood option.  Exotic also means that the wood was harvested abroad unlike a domestic product that originates here in America.

What’s Hot in Exotic Hardwood?

There are literally hundreds of different types of exotic hardwoods and some are trendier than others.  Here are a few that have become popular over the past few years:

Asian Kempas Flooring

Asian Kempas Flooring

Asian Kempas

Kempas wood comes from very humid locations, like in or around rain forests.  It’s most prominently found in Indonesia but can also come from Thailand and Singapore.  The main reason Kempas flooring has become popular is its durability.  It is a hard wood and can withstand varying weather conditions, ideal for places where weather patterns change frequently.  Its look varies from light brown to an almost cherry color that is very sleek and rich.

Tigerwood Flooring

Tigerwood Flooring

Tigerwood

Tigerwood is grown in a few different countries in South America and in certain areas of Mexico as well.  The color varies pretty heavily with Tigerwood.  The key characteristic being that the stripes resemble a tiger.  The color can go from a reddish brown to a more yellow with darker stripes.  It is also extremely durable and scratch resistant making solid tigerwood flooring an ideal fit for high traffic areas.

Santos Mahogany

Santos Mahogany

Santos Mahogany

Santos Mahogany is best known for its density, hardness, and stability.  Santos Mahogany is harder than traditional mahogany making it a better option in regards to flooring.  Mahogany is found throughout South America wherever there are rain forests and tropical climates.  Mahogany is also very durable due to its density.  It is a very strong wood and can be a problem when making cuts.  Santos Mahogany flooring will surely give any space a truly classy touch.

Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba)

Brazilian Cherry

Brazilian Cherry

The Jatoba tree is indigenous to South America and areas around the Caribbean.  It ranges in color from red to salmon.  Brazilian Cherry flooring remains the most popular of all the exotic wood options, especially in the Northeast.  The main reason for its popularity is the unique red shine of the wood.  It gives any room a very classy feel.  Most people feel it is a nice medium between fancy and practical and remains a very popular choice in modern American homes.

Even after choosing the species of wood you want in your home, there are still other options to choose such as whether your space requires an engineered exotic hardwood or a solid hardwood.  Be sure to ask your flooring retailer or installer questions about what works best for your space.  As always, working with a qualified professional, such as those who have NWFA certification, will make the process much easier and more enjoyable.





2012 NWFA Expo- We Came, We Saw, We Conquered

25 04 2012
Day 1 NWFA Expo Orlando, Florida

Day 1 NWFA Expo Orlando, Florida

The NWFA held its annual wood flooring conference this year in Orlando, Florida at the Gaylord Palms Resort.  It was our first foray into the trade show scene as Grass Roots Flooring co-founders, and we must admit the wood flooring industry can organize one heck of an expo!  Below is a breakdown of how Jen and I made the most of our time during the 3 day event:

Prior to the Expo:

Prior to day 1 of the expo, we had a little fun and took a trip to the famous Universal Studios in Orlando (It can’t be all work and no play!). We were able to spend the day in the fantasy worlds of Hogwarts, Jurrasic Park, and Marvel Comic books, to name a few. The day ended with delicious cucumber margaritas at—where else—Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter-- Hogwarts!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter-- Hogwarts!

Day 1- Down to Business….and A Party Of Course

After that it was down to business.  Throughout the week, the NWFA offered classes across a number of tracks including marketing, and technical knowledge. Members had their choice of which classes to attend on each day.

The first day of the expo was pretty lax. I attended a blogging course, while Jen learned about “Wood Floor Acclimation Do’s and Don’ts”. We both enjoyed our respective sessions and left with many useful tidbits of information about bamboo and exotic hardwood flooring, as well as ideas to improve Grass Roots Flooring as a company.  After class, it was time for the opening party!

The party was great, awesome food, good music, and a nice networking atmosphere.  We made invaluable connections with industry veterans who were extremely gracious and forth-coming with information about industry best practices, challenges.  We realized that night how incredibly important it is to get out there and meet as many knowledgeable people in your industry as early on as possible.  The value in any trade show or expo is in the relationships you create. Even those who may not directly work with you as a customer, supplier, etc, can share their knowledge and/or connect you to other individuals that may be of use to your business in the future.

NWFA Expo Opening Cocktail Reception

NWFA Expo Opening Cocktail Reception

Day 2- Branding & Keynote: The Harley Way

The second day started bright and early with an inspirational key note presentation by Ken Schmidt (former VP of Communications for Harley-Davidson.) He was a tremendous speaker and had the crowd engaged for the entire hour and a half.  He provided NWFA members with invaluable pointers about brand building and making your business stand out among the rest.

Ryan & Ken Schmidt, Former VP of Communications at Harley-Davidson

Ryan & Ken Schmidt, Former VP of Communications at Harley-Davidson

After the keynote, we were onto more classes. I attended a class hosted by Ken where he spoke about differentiation in more detail; while, Jen learned more about the dangers of moisture and wood flooring in a class hosted by NWFA certified professionals.

In the afternoon we got our first taste of the actual trade show.  We spent our time walking around to the different booths, meeting industry vendors from all over the world. We made some key connections that will allow us to broaden our product offering to our customers. Overall, a huge success.

Day 3- Classes, Awards Luncheon & More..

The third and final day started early with an Industry Issues Forum at 8am.  In the afternoon, there were some additional educational sessions where we learned more about the industry from different perspectives (marketing, installation, refinishing, etc).

The much anticipated Awards Luncheon began at noon with HGTV’s Carter Oosterhouse as the Keynote speaker. Awards were given to NWFA members for ambassadorship in the industry and outstanding leadership in community service, to name a few. In addition, the coveted NWFA Wood Floor of the Year Award was awarded to an installation company from the Bronx, NY. Being from NY ourselves, we were proud that a fellow-New Yorker took home the top accolade! After the luncheon HGTV star Carter Oosterhouse took pictures with NWFA members and we were able to have a detailed conversation with him. He was down to earth and a genuinely nice guy.

Jen & Ryan, Grass Roots Flooring Co-founders, with Carter Oosterhouse

Jen & Ryan, Grass Roots Flooring Co-founders, with Carter Oosterhouse

To end it all there was a closing party (we told you wood floor guys sure know how to get down!).  The festivities ended with a Harley-Davidson giveaway.  That’s right! The NWFA and 3M decided to give away a gorgeous motorcycle.  One lucky guy walked away with the grand prize (well…actually…. drove away but you get the point.)

A Great Expo

The NWFA Expo could not have been a better experience for Grass Roots Flooring.  We went to the expo with a solid plan of action, and succeeded in creating valuable connections with people of all different facets of the industry.  We eagerly anticipate next year’s event in Dallas and will continue to participate in similar events that can help Grass Roots Flooring bring our customers the best flooring products and services on the internet.





6 Common Misconceptions of Bamboo Flooring

3 04 2012

Choosing the right flooring can be one of the biggest decisions we have to make when it comes to our homes.  Flooring isn’t something we can change every few years, like we would décor. (Well we could change it, but who has the time or the money!) Rather, flooring is a permanent extension of your home’s style, so you want to make sure you choose the right option from the onset. While Bamboo is one of the most stylish and versatile flooring options on the market today, there are quite a few misconceptions out there about this intriguing plant which I’ll clear up with this post. (Hint:  It’s much more than just panda food!)

It’s Softer Than Wood!

This is perhaps the number one misconception about bamboo and it couldn’t be more wrong.  The Janka Scale is the most widely used barometer to measure hardwood hardness ratings.  According to the Janka Scale, most types of bamboo are more durable than oak flooring, making bamboo more scratch and dent-resistant.  In fact, some bamboo variations (such as Strand Woven Bamboo) rank higher than many exotic wood flooring options, such as Brazilian Maple and Royal Mahogany.

It’s Not Going to Last!

Any floor will deteriorate if you don’t take the necessary steps to keep it protected. When properly maintained according to the manufacturers specifications, Bamboo can last for more than 100 years. In short, it’s just as durable as any other wood flooring product out there.

It’s Too Expensive!

It’s actually the exact opposite! Bamboo is traditionally cheaper than wood because of its renewability.  While the lifecycle of a fully grown bamboo is 4-5 years; wood can take over 100 years to fully mature depending on the species.  Therefore, you’ll often see top quality bamboo flooring at lower prices than similarly durable domestic and exotic hardwoods.

It Only Comes in Certain Colors!

You’ve guessed it… false!  Bamboo has grown in popularity over the years and most manufacturers have stayed with the times, producing bamboo variations in many different color tones.  Bamboo is offered in just about any shade in which wood is offered these days. In addition, if you are a do-it-yourselfer you can select an unfinished product and stain it any color you desire.  Be creative and start a new trend!

It’s Hard to Cut and Makes a Mess!

For some reason this has been a rumor about bamboo for a long time.  Bamboo is much easier to manage than wood and doesn’t leave as much sawdust.  Bamboo is cleaner to work with than wood and easier to cut.  Therefore, if your floor design involves making complicated cuts, consider going with bamboo flooring rather than traditional products.

It’s Cooler to Have Wood!

Is it cool to have the same floors as your grandma?  I think not! Some of today’s biggest celebrities have bamboo flooring including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. (And I’m sure they have the best architects, designers, and contractors money can buy!)

Choosing flooring for your home is a big decision, so make sure you understand the truth about your flooring before you make a decision.  Hopefully this post was able to dispel some of the common misconceptions out there about bamboo flooring.  After all, if 3 out of 3 Pandas choose bamboo over wood, why wouldn’t you?





Is Wood Flooring Completely Renewable and Eco-Friendly?

30 03 2012

When we think “environment-friendly” or “renewable” we usually don’t think of hardwood.  A common belief is that the only eco-friendly alternative to flooring is bamboo; but that is not truly the case.  Hardwood can also be a completely renewable flooring option, as long as the right precautionary measures are taken, and responsible harvesting practices are used.

HARVESTING

For every 100 trees harvested for wood floors 166 are planted.  There are more trees in North America today than there were in the 1950’s.  Standing hardwood has increased 90% to nearly 328 billion cubic feet.  In addition, there are organizations in North America that ensure responsible forestry is practiced; and these stringent policies practiced have begun to spread worldwide.

MANUFACTURING

Even from a manufacturing perspective, wood can be eco-friendly.  The manufacturing process, itself, is relatively clean.  There are no emissions of methane or other harmful gases. While there is a minimal carbon dioxide emission, since wood produces oxygen, it is considered carbon neutral.

One way to get the maximum out of the wood that is harvested is through producing engineered hardwood flooring.  Engineering consists of using multiple plies of wood underneath a finished veneer of solid wood; this will conserve the precious wood and help get the maximum usage out of the harvested wood.

LONGEVITY

It’s very hard to beat the lasting ability of wood floors.  Wood can potentially last hundreds of years and has never gone out-of-style.  In addition,Wood flooring can usually be restored, even if it was covered for years and years.  Not to mention, after use, it can be used for combustible bio-fuel or returned to the soil through composting.

Overall, it’s hard to find a material more useful than wood.  Not only do trees ensure that we breathe oxygen, but they can also keep our homes stylish and unique.  Next time you’re in the market for flooring, consider the environment friendly option of wood.

 





Don’t Be Fooled: The First Question You MUST Ask Your Flooring Retailer

26 03 2012

Ever wonder why certain retailers can offer the same wood flooring at extremely discounted prices?  The answer lies in the wood grading.  Even though the species (e.g. Brazilian Cherry) may be the same the grade of wood can vary significantly hence the difference in pricing.  Don’t be fooled by the price alone, in every case, you get what you pay for. The good news is all of America and most of North America follows the same grading system when it comes to wood and it’s relatively simple to understand so make sure that the first question you ask is about the grade of the wood.

CLEAR GRADE 

This is the highest grade of wood.  Clear grade can be characterized by the uniformity of the wood.  When you inspect clear grade wood you will not see unsightly knots and messy specs about the face of the wood.  Clear grade wood flooring is “highly selected” this means the pieces that are too light or too dark are thrown away and down-graded.

SELECT GRADE

This is the second highest grade wood.  Select grade wood generally has more of a range in color and grain.  No real defects are found in select grade wood and the range of color and grain is never anything major but slightly more noticeable than clear grade.

NATURAL GRADE (A.K.A. No 1 Common)

Natural grade wood has a wide range of color and grain.  Unlike the higher grades there is a propensity for some defects in the wood such as knots, splits, worm holes, and mineral streaks.

RUSTIC GRADE (A.K.A. No 2 Common)

This is one of the lowest grades of wood and makes for an extremely natural looking piece of wood.  All of the natural colors and grains are shown clearly in this grade.  Defects in the wood are also very common including big knots and mineral streaks.

Keep in mind that there are different grades of wood when you are looking for a new wood floor.  Many people see a difference in price for what seems to be the same product but if you know what to look for you will better understand the price differences.  Also, beware of false claims made by companies claiming to have the top grade wood, ask for samples and don’t be afraid to ask questions!