Hardwood floor protection can play an important roll in the life-cycle of your hardwood floors.
If you are considering installing hardwood flooring for its beauty, longevity, and ease of maintenance, you may be interested in learning more about the life-cycle of hardwoods floors. The choices you make with your hardwood floor throughout its life can have a positive impact on your home and on the planet.
Hardwood Floors Begin in the Forest
Regardless of type, all hardwood flooring products begin with the harvesting stage. Various woods from around the globe are used to produce wood flooring planks, and their individual carbon footprints vary widely. Those seeking a more eco-friendly hardwood material are advised to select products with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Sustainable Flooring Initiative (SFI) labels to ensure the wood was grown in responsibly and sustainably managed forests. Flooring can also be manufactured from salvaged or reclaimed wood (such as that found in old buildings), slashing its carbon footprint in the process.
Installation Can Be Completed in Different Ways
Homeowners have several options for installation of hardwood flooring, including:
- Nail or staple down applications
- Glue down installation
- Floating installation, also known as the click and lock method
Because the glues used in the glue down method typically contain a large amount of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s’), homeowners with health concerns are advised to select another installation method, or opt for glues with a reduced VOC content.
Proper Care Extends the Lifespan of Hardwood
Once your hardwood flooring is in place, it will last for years with simple and proper maintenance. Dirt and debris can act like sandpaper on your wood, so it’s important to clean your floors often with a gentle cleaning product specifically designed for wood flooring. You can further extend the lifespan of your hardwood with the following tips:
- Wipe up any spills immediately, as moisture is an enemy to any wood floor.
- Protect high traffic areas of your home with hardwood floor coverings and/or guards. With a gentle adhesive to hold them in place, floor guards keep sensitive zones protected against scratches and moisture for months at a time. Floor protection is especially important during home renovation.
- Check and maintain the humidity inside your home year round. It’s recommended for a home with hardwood floors to maintain a humidity level between 35 and 55 percent year round. Remember, moisture is an enemy to your hardwood floor, and excess humidity can cause warping and/or cupping of any hardwood material. On the other hand, dry winter air can cause your wood to dry out and splinter, so use a humidifier in the winter and a dehumidifier during the warmer months to maintain proper moisture levels.
Renovation or Refinishing Make a Wood Floor Look New
Naturally, any floor will become scratched and worn over time, but hardwood floors are easily revitalized to look like new. When the damage is not extensive, scratch remover products or spot sanding followed by a light coating of polyurethane will often do the trick.
More extensive damage, including gouges, can warrant a complete refinishing project. Some types of wood flooring can be refinished more times than others, as the sanding removes the top portion of the wood itself, revealing fresh, new wood underneath. Once all surface damage is removed, all dust will be cleaned and eliminated. The wood is then stained and finished, leaving you with the appearance of a brand new wood floor.
Although engineered hardwood flooring planks are less expensive than solid wood flooring, some can only be refinished one time, greatly reducing their lifespan. While traditional 3/4″ solid wood floors can be refinished every 10-20 years and still be fully functional and beautiful 100 years later, the relatively thin top layer of wood contained in engineered wood planks is generally sanded away after one to three refinishing sessions, depending on the type and grade of the engineered product.
Hardwood is Reusable and Recyclable
When the time does come to retire your old wood flooring, your hardwood can likely be reused or recycled, keeping additional material out of landfills and further reducing the overall carbon footprint of the product. In many cases, you may be able to find someone who will even purchase old hardwood planks in reasonable condition, for use in further construction projects (including furniture manufacturing), artistic venues, etc. If reusing your old wood is not an option, check for recycling facilities in your area, which can turn your old hardwood into particleboard, or burn it for use in a waste-to-energy system.
Hardwood flooring is one of the most environmentally friendly flooring options on the market today. From installation through renovations, with the proper maintenance and care, hardwood flooring can be the most beloved feature of any home. Take care of your hardwood floor and it will take care of you.