hardwood flooring Tag

Once frowned upon by healthy-home experts, engineered hardwood flooring is becoming a people- and planet-friendly choice Engineered-hardwood-diagram-150x150If you are looking for a new hardwood floor in today’s popular, wider widths, you most likely have seen engineered flooring. Unlike solid hardwood flooring, an engineered floor is put together in layers, using adhesives. And when the healthy-home movement began more than a decade ago, these products were a no-no. But with today’s No Added Urea Formaldehyde (NAUF) adhesives, used by many leading manufacturers, concerns about unhealthful chemical emissions are diminishing. And because engineered products use the premium wood species only on the product’s surface, planet-friendly product seekers can make a stronger case for engineered hardwood.

Zero-VOC hardwood floor finish proves to be unmistakably modern and virtually odor-free Cincinnati Architect Adam Fosnaugh and his wife, Margot, were clear on what their new hardwood floor would have to be: Warm, durable and honest to the material. Indoor-air quality also was key. They selected a palette of light colors and natural finishes, designed, Adam says, “to be minimal and modern with a sense of Scandinavian sensibility. … Living with a two-year-old and being keenly aware of the detrimental effects many building materials have on indoor-air-quality, we were also looking for environmentally-friendly solutions with low VOCs.” With their remodeling spanning weeks and nearing a conclusion, their new White Oak flooring has been installed throughout the first floor, and finished on-site with a zero-VOC, three-step white lye finish.

Onsite, UV-cured hardwood floor finishes are starting to beam BulldogWe talk a lot about low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) floor finishes, and the scientific advancements that have produced less-toxic polyurethanes and natural oil floor coatings.  But the truth is that our search for the perfect people-and planet friendly option continues daily. “Water-based” and “waterborne” now are second only to “low-VOC” on the list of buzzwords that put our minds at ease. But when you consider that zero-VOC paints are readily available, the VOC content in floor coatings can seem high, in addition to other chemicals that some formulas use. This reality has made the ultra-violent curing machine the latest proven weapon in our arsenal of remedies for unhealthful indoor air. It stops chemical emissions by instantly curing the finish that would ordinarily take days to weeks to completely dry and stop off-gassing. In addition, waterborne polyurethanes with VOC content as low as 17 grams per liter are now available.

Air conditioning gets installed in the nick of time for proper moisture levels needed for hardwood and cork 003“The relative humidity is still reading 65 percent. Should we open or close the windows?” In preparing to install hardwood flooring, we have been monitoring moisture levels at this new construction site for weeks. It’s part of our normal preparation for installing hardwood and cork floors. “Don’t leave the windows open overnight or we’ll be sabotaged by night-time condensation,” our quality-control manager says. “The air conditioning is being installed tomorrow, and as long as that happens, we should be fine.” Tomorrow will be just 24 hours before all the flooring is delivered to acclimate in the home for three days prior to installation. The moisture content in the subfloors has been measured and was fine, but the relative humidity has been climbing since the walls were painted.

Designer Rosemary Storie found the perfect hardwood floor to showcase the furniture and artwork she loves

195“This is how you do it.” Rosemary Storie, an Anderson Township, OH, designer, never suggests that her clients spend a lot of money to accomplish logical goals. Instead, she shows them how to make use of simple objects, sometimes objects they already have.

Take, for example, the table in her newly remodeled kitchen. Storie, owner of Southern Interiors, made it from a planter she bought at a home center, then added a glass top.

“Creating the perfect aesthetic means thought and creativity, not necessarily running out and spending a lot of money,” Storie says.

009For some homeowners, the perfect porcelain tile doesn’t look like tile at all At first glance, this floor looks like hardwood. It does on second glance, too, which often is not the case with vinyl wood-look products. Even upon third inspection, most people don’t imagine that this floor is porcelain tile. This look is increasing interest in a product that already was popular because of its durability and ease of care and maintenance.

Water-based stains offer better indoor-air quality and a different aesthetic, but applying them requires an experienced professional There is a critical question you should put to your hardwood flooring contractor if you are planning to finish your floor with a water-based stain: Does he know how to apply it? The question is easily overlooked. Most of us would assume this knowledge is a given. But applying water-based stain requires a different technique than what is used with traditional oil-based products. And so can applying a water-based polyurethane over the water-based stain. If you try to use these stains like traditional products, you most likely will not be happy with the final appearance of your floor. And you will face the costs of refinishing in order to fix it.

Natural oil hardwood flooring finishes gain popularity as consumers get more familiar with product benefits Some would say that using plant-based oils to finish a hardwood floor is unique. Not the norm, the road less-traveled and, possibly not suited for standing up to high traffic. But with the number of customers who are beginning to ask about oil or low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) floor finishes, I would have to say that a trend is emerging. And floors that are standing up to customers and spilled drinks in a downtown Cincinnati bar where the floor was finished with plant-based oil last fall is debunking doubt about durability.

FSC is the top indicator of sustainable harvesting, but it’s hard to find on a finished flooring product Forest  Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification.  It is synonymous with wood that meets the most rigorous standards of sustainable harvesting. It remains the only certification the U.S. Green Building Council will use for certified wood in the latest version of its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, and it is lauded for everything from protecting forests to keeping toxic chemicals out of our groundwater. But aside from a few, higher-end hardwood floors like DuChateau or USFloors Navarre, you won’t find the FSC-certified label on standard, finished hardwood flooring products – even those from manufacturers that have FSC-certified factories.  The chain of custody documentation, from the forest to the distributor, required by FSC is costly, and in some cases, logistically impossible. “We sell though a large number of independent distributors like Wanke Cascade,” says Ron Gade, western regional sales manager for Columbia and Century Flooring. “We see it as difficult to obtain FSC certification for this group of distributors.”

Part I: Engineered hardwood flooring can be a greener option than solid, but there are many factors to consider before you buy We knew the day would come. Many of us in the green products industry pushed engineered wood floors because they require less premium wood to manufacturer than solid hardwood floors. Many customers resisted. Solid wood is stronger, lasts longer and doesn’t echo when you walk on it, they argued. Not true, we countered. When properly manufactured and installed, engineered wood floors can be more durable and feel almost the same underfoot as a solid, hardwood floor. Today, the argument has dwindled. Engineered hardwood is a top pick for people building green homes on the West Coast. And the trend also has spread across the country. It’s even apparent in the Midwest.