Seven Tips For Stress-Free Flooring Installation

You’ve chosen plank flooring and love the look of a site-finished floor. If you’re building a new home or an addition, staying off the floor while it is being finished may not be an issue.  But if you’re upgrading an existing floor while simultaneously living in the house, you’ll need to prepare for the installation and finishing.   We’ve asked flooring installers to provide a few tips for making it through the process unscathed.  Your reward: a floor with architectural integrity and a finish that will look more beautiful with time, not less.

1. Make Room.

You will need to empty all of the furnishings and wall hangings from the room being worked on and you may also need to clear part of an adjacent room for the duration of the installation. The room being worked on has to be empty for the contractors to do their work, and an adjoining room may be pressed into service as a storage area.

2. Plan Ahead.

It is advisable to store plank flooring in or near the room where it will be installed for one to two weeks prior so the wood can adjust to the indoor climate.  You can’t rush nature. Make sure you stack the planks in layers separated by sticks of wood so they get maximum air circulation. Be patient. Remember that 1-2 weeks of hosting these bundles of wood is worth it because the acclimation process will prevent gaps from forming in the floor.

3. Choose Stains and Finishes.

While you’re patiently waiting for the wood to acclimate, compare surface and penetrating finishes and decide which type is best for you. One of the many advantages of job-site finished flooring is the range of choices you have for stains and finishes.

Some folks prefer a surface finish such as oil-based polyurethane for the amber glow it imparts to the wood, while others prefer water based polys because they remain clear, dry faster, and have less odor.

DIYers may be drawn to penetrating finishes that are forgiving for the novice, such as tung or polymerized tung oil.

The floor’s location in your home and your tolerance for wear should also influence the choice of finish as surface finishes offer greater protection from scratches and stains than penetrating ones.

Will the finish go on the raw wood or will you be staining the wood first? Either way, you should test the product(s) on samples of the wood to make sure you’re happy with the outcome. Your contractor can give you some cut-offs to use as samples. Consider how the floor will look with your existing wall color, trim, furniture, or the other floors in your house.

4. Prepare Yourself.

“It helps to prepare yourself psychologically for the transition,” says carpenter Phil Nowlan of Putnam, Connecticut.  Accept that there will be a temporary inconvenience, like 2-3 guys in your home each morning when you may be trying to get the kids ready for school. Plan accordingly.

5. Take a Break.

Depending on the scope of the job and how much the work may disrupt your routine, you might consider staying someplace else for a few nights during the finishing process. Once the finish is applied, you will need to stay off the floor until is has dried.  Dry time varies depending on the type of finish used. Most floors receive 3 coats.

How long it takes for the smell to diminish also depends on the type of finish chosen, with water-based finishes emitting far less odor than oil-based ones. Keep in mind, says Nowlan, that the smell will also vary depending on the square footage of your floor–a big room will be smellier during the finishing process than a small one.  Phil Delaney of Floorworks in Woodstock, Connecticut, advises that if 50 percent or more of your home is being worked on, you may want to stay someplace else during the finishing stage of the project. At the very least you may need to eat out a few times or stay away for the day during the application of finish coats.

How long will it take? “If it takes two days to put in a prefinished floor, an unfinished floor takes five days: two days of installation, three days of finishing time,” says Delaney. The pricing is very similar though. “Pricing is by the square foot, not the hour.  I charge $3/sf to install prefinished material that costs around $6-$7/sf. For a floor finished on-site, I’ll charge $4.25/sf for the install, and they’re paying $4-$5/sf for the material.  The labor costs more, but the material usually costs less.”

6. Schedule Smart.

It is not always feasible, particularly for families, to stay away from the home during the finishing process. In these cases Delaney advises a low-VOC finish and schedules the work around the family.  “If I am done sanding the floor in the afternoon, I won’t put the finish on until the following morning, that way they don’t have to smell the finish all night. I’ll put it on the following morning after they’ve gone out for the day, and when they come back to the home at 5 o’clock they have their house back.”

7.  Keep Your Perspective.

You may endure a few days of inconvenience, but the pay-off is that you get higher quality floors that will last a lifetime, and an incomparable finish.  Keep in mind that modern sanders with dust containment systems have significantly reduced the amount of dust generated during the sanding process. “I always tell people that this is not your grandfather’s 1970s desert sandstorm floor sanding experience.  It is a very manageable amount of mess when you have the right equipment,” says installer Phil Delaney. “To me, the short-term inconvenience is definitely worth it for the look of the job-site finished floor. When you’re dealing with large plank flooring, it’s material that speaks for itself, full of character and quality.  People interested in authenticity should be looking at plank flooring.”

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10 Reasons To Choose A Wood Floor

Why wide plank wood floors are a good choice for your kitchen
Wide plank flooring made from locally grown natural character grade White Oak on the kitchen floor in this timber frame home.

Top Ten Benefits of Wood Floors – And Why You Should Choose Them

1. Wood is the most abundant renewable flooring material available.

Trees create wood by harnessing solar power. Trees are a renewable resource and sustainable forest management makes it possible to harvest wood over and over again without any negative impact on the environment. Average annual net growth for hardwoods is greater than average annual removals, and hardwood growing stock in the United States has increased by 119 percent since the 1950s.  Wood is a natural, renewable, sustainable, and environmentally-preferred building resource. (Sources: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service; Woodisgreen.com; National Wood Flooring Association: woodfloors.org)

2. Wood floors improve indoor air quality.

Indoor air quality is better with real wood floors than with vinyl, carpet, or other flooring choices. Wood floors do not harbor animal dander, pollen, dust, and mold compared to other floor coverings. (Sources: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Wood Flooring Association: woodfloors.org)

3. Wood floors are long lasting.

Wood floors last hundreds of years and don’t need to be replaced as often as other flooring options.  (National Association of Home Builders)

4. Houses with real wood floors sell faster than those without them.

In a national survey of realtors, 90 percent said houses with wood floors sell faster and for more money than those without them. (National Wood Flooring Association: woodfloors.org)

5. Wood floors save natural resources.

They use far less water and energy to produce than other flooring options. Every wood substitute requires far more energy to produce than wood. (University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Life Cycle Analysis)

6. You can address climate change by using more wood, not less.

Wood is a carbon neutral material that produces oxygen during its growth cycle and stores carbon during its service life.  The growth of wood in renewable forests works to sequester and remove carbon from the atmosphere. (Consortium for Research on Renewable Industrial Materials www.corrim.org)

7. Choosing wood floors protect forests.

The use of wood creates demand in the marketplace, giving people incentive to plant more trees and maintain forested areas. Want to protect forestland right here in the United States? Buy local/native wood products. You will help conserve the landscape you enjoy by giving local forest owners incentive to keep their tree farms. (shoplocalsaveland.com)

8. Wood outgreens bamboo.

Trees take longer to regenerate than bamboo, which is often touted as an environmentally friendly flooring because it is rapidly renewable; however, longer regeneration time is a benefit because forests with trees of different ages promote biodiversity. In contrast, bamboo is grown in monoculture plantations which do not make as large a contribution to wildlife habitat, air, water, or soil quality. (Idahoforests.org)

9. Wood earns LEED points.

Wood is recognized by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program for improved indoor air quality, material use, location proximity, and sustainably sourced materials. (U.S. Green Building Council)

10. Natural materials  enhance your home environment.

Your home should be a beautiful, healthy sanctuary.  Wood is a beautiful, durable, healthy choice for both the world’s environment and your home’s environment.  Bringing natural materials like wood into your home is also a great way to enhance your well-being and your indoor air quality. (Source: United States Consumer Product Safety Information)

We hope this information is helpful to you as a homeowner or builder/designer.  We love hearing from you, so let us know if you need a catalog or complimentary wood samples. And don’t hesitate to contact Hull Forest Products with your wood flooring questions.  Call 1-800-928-9602 to speak with a flooring representative, or email us today.

Browse wood floors by species.

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Quarter, Rift, or Plain Sawn Wide Plank Floors?

Have you ever wondered about the difference between quarter, rift and plain sawn floors? Well, here’s a primer for your reference. The way a log is cut by the saw will determine the orientation of the grain in the wood. This post discusses the difference between 1.) plain sawn floors – the default way of sawing in the modern world and 2.) quarter and rift sawing.

Plain Sawn Floors

Plain sawn Red Oak flooring with cathedral grain pattern.
Figure 1: Plain sawn Red Oak showing cathedral grain.

The most obvious difference between plain sawn and quarter and rift sawn flooring is appearance. Most flooring today is plain sawn. In plain sawing, character markings and figure patterns resulting from the annual rings are brought out more fully, including the characteristic cathedral graining that is so prominent in woods like Oak (see figure 1). Plain sawn floors also tend to be available in wider widths than quarter and rift sawn floors.

The face appearance of a floor plank is determined by the way the wood grain is exposed by the saw. All logs consist of concentric annual growth rings of wood, beginning in the center and moving outwards. In plain sawing, a log is moved back and forth on a saw carriage and rotated with each successive slice until it is cut from the outside inwards. With plain sawn lumber, the growth rings, visible at the butt end sof the boards, will typically range from parallel with the surface of the board to a 30 degree angle or more from the surface of the board.

Quarter and Rift Sawn Floors

Red Oak quarter and rift sawn showing medullary fleck.
Figure 2: Red Oak quarter and rift sawn, revealing medullary rays.

Quarter sawn floors are a relative rarity today and as such they have cachet among homeowners looking for the unique.

Quarter sawing slices perpendicular to the wood’s annual growth rings, resulting in a straight grain appearance that also exposes the medullary rays, producing a unique figure or fleck that is highly sought after for furniture and cabinet making (see figure 2). Those familiar with the Arts and Craft and “Mission Oak” style of the early twentieth century will recognize this fleck.

In quarter sawing, the log is first quartered and then the quarters are cut again into slices. This method produces both quarter sawn and rift sawn boards. The center boards (true quartersawn) will have growth rings positioned at 60-90 degrees to the board’s surface. This is best viewed from the butt ends of the boards. As the cuts are made from the quarters, they become more rift sawn (growth rings at 30-60 degrees from the surface). When flooring companies refer to quarter sawn wood, they are usually referring to a specialty wood flooring cut that is a combination of quarter and rift sawn.

The straight grain of quarter and rift sawn wood is very consistent, making it desirable among furniture makers. Because quarter sawn lumber takes more time to produce and produces less yield (there is no boxed heart left over to market as pallet lumber), it costs more than plain sawn. There is also demand for quarter sawn lumber among furniture and cabinet makers, boat builders, instrument makers, and others.

In Figures 3 and 4 we have room photos to more clearly illustrate how the appearance differs in plainsawn and quarter/rift sawn wood floors.  Note how the grain in the floor shown in Figure 3, below, appears quite straight, with some waves of fleck.

Figure 3: View of quarter and rift sawn Red Oak floor.

 

The overall look of a quarter and rift sawn Oak floor is entirely different from that of a plainsawn Oak floor, which has the typical cathedral or flame-shaped peaks that are very prominent and broad in the grain.

In Figure 4 we have an example of plainsawn Red Oak in a room setting.  Here you can really see the beautiful flame-like peaks in the broad grain, which is what most of us think of when we consider Oak. Both floors are made from the same species and grade of wood.  The only difference is in the angle of the saw cut and the color of the stain and/or  finish chosen for the floors.

View of plainsawn Red Oak grain.
Figure 4: Plainsawn Red Oak grain, with the peaks in the grain quite prominent.

If you need to see the differences up close and would like to order samples of our flooring, we are happy to assist.  Call 1-800-928-9602 or email us today.

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Why It’s Good to Use Wood

The Myers Pond Forest, managed by Hull Forestlands in Union, CT
Formally managed for timber production, the Hull woodlands provide critical wildlife habitat. The property shown in the above photo offers wintering and staging areas for migratory waterfowl in Union, Connecticut.

The increased use of wood is one of our most important forest conservation tools. If you’re reading this blog, you may already be aware that working (i.e. managed) forests are the key to forest conservation. But, for those unconvinced, read on.

Increasing the use of wood benefits the environment, economy, and community.   The use of wood provides incentive for private landowners to maintain their forestland, and this land provides public benefits like air and water quality enhancement, wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, and open space preservation.  Using wood also provides a critical source of jobs in rural America.

When a life cycle cradle-to-grave analysis is performed, wood outgreens every other building material.  It takes less energy to produce than any other building material, it stores carbon throughout its service life, and when its service life is over, wood can be recycled  to produce energy.

Recognizing that the active management of working forests is in the nation’s best interest, the USDA and the U.S. Forest Service are now giving preference to domestic wood as a building material.

Here’s a nifty 90 second video put out by the Danish Wood Initiative that sings the praises of wood, the world’s most environmentally friendly raw material.

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Old Growth Forest Identified and Preserved

Old growth hemlock and pine, Ashfield, MA
Core samples taken in 2003 revealed this stand of eastern hemlock and white pine to then range from 183-250 years old.

June 2003- A Glimpse of the Precolonial Forest in Ashfield, Massachusetts

When our family land trust, Hull Forestlands, purchased the Sears Meadow Forest in Ashfield, Massachusetts in 2000, we realized there was a very old stand of eastern hemlock and white pine on the property. Tall and stately with deeply furrowed bark, these trees stand straight and solemn, their long trunks free of low branches and their canopy darkening the forest floor.

Intrigued by the possibility that this could be old growth, we invited eastern old growth forest expert Bob Leverett and Harvard University Forest Ecologist David Orwig to measure the trees in the stand. Leverett found pines with circumferences ranging from 7.6 to 11.7 feet and heights ranging from 117-131.9 feet, with an average of 260 square foot/acre basal area. One of the biggest pines was estimated to have 3,500 board feet of volume. After conducting ring counts, David Orwig estimated one of the hemlocks could be as old as 250, while the white pines ranged between 183-217 years in age. Orwig also found the pines had very good growth early on, averaging 5-8 rings per inch. His estimates are conservative, and he feels the trees could be much older, but since many were rotten at the core, it was difficult to get an accurate core sample.

According to Leverett, these trees offer a glimpse of the forests of North America prior to settlement by European colonists. And their longevity is remarkable as they are as convenient to access as any old growth in New England.

Hull Forestlands has pledged to protect this stand of old growth and we placed the property under conservation restriction with the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife in 2003.

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