Extending the lifespan of your hardwood floor or Wood flooring decision

Among the many floor covering types available nowadays wooden floors stand out through their unmatched beauty, naturalness and warmth. Yet, when it comes to longevity, many consider hardwood floors way behind other floor coverings like porcelain tiles.
Posted on06-01-2017 by 1214
Extending the lifespan of your hardwood floor or Wood flooring decision

Among the many floor covering types available nowadays wooden floors stand out through their unmatched beauty, naturalness and warmth. Yet, when it comes to longevity, many consider hardwood floors way behind other floor coverings like porcelain tiles. Actually a wooden floor may reach over 100 years of use and may still look wonderful. Thus having some history to tell. Maybe outfashioned but at Fin Wood we still have the motto: "crafted for life".
But to achieve this there are some details which need to be cared.

Of course, the main influencing factors in a hardwood floor lifespan should be considered when planning the flooring project, before acquiring the wood or booking the installation.

- Where the wood is coming from - Manufacturing standards

It is a crucial aspect to really know if your wooden floor was manufactured in accordance to the industry standards. If not this will definitely have an impact on the stability and integrity of the floor through the years, and quite soon. We do advise always to ask information about country of origin, if banned chemicals were used in the manufacturing process, about the FSC certification and any other genuine quality certificates. As a rule of thumb, if it's cheap, ask why. The post "Why quality wooden floors?"  brings more light on this subject.

- Type of board - engineered or solid

We have a dedicated post for this and we recommend to have a look over it here. The main reason for which we recommend engineered wood flooring is stability, consistency and again stability. As we all know wood reacts to moisture by expanding and contracting. Therefore many of the dangers associated with solid wooden floors are reduced by choosing engineered hardwood floor. By risks we mean the gradual development of gaps, debonding, swelling, cupping or warping etc.

- Wood floor thickness

Thicker floors will have a potentially longer life span. In the case of the engineered wooden floors special attention should be paid to the top layer thickness also known as wear layer when choosing. This thickness will have an impact on the number of renovation cycles.
Under normal circumstances, approximately 2 renovation cycles can be carried out for a typical wear layer of 3mm compared with the approximately 6 renovation cycles for a wear layer of 6mm. This translates into extra decades of service for the lifetime of your floor.

- Type of finish, Oiled or Lacquered

Firstly it is good to know that the prefinished wooden floors, during the manufacturing process, tend to withstand better the daily traffic compared to the site finished ones. We have a detailed comparison in the "Prefinished vs Unfinished (Site-Finished) Flooring" post.
The oiled floors allow re oiling, recoating of the entire surface or just locally. And this is amazing because any sign of wear and tear or superficial scratches can be dealt once noticed. On the other hand lacquered floors cannot be mended since any intervention will not blend in. Of course an oiled floor demands a higher degree of involvement and help but this brings the huge advantage of postponing the next renovation (sanding) with even 10 years or more.
Have a look at the post "Oiled or Lacquered" for a better understanding.

- Subfloor assessment

Alongside the quality of the wood this is another crucial factor with great influence in the longevity of a hardwood floor. The subfloor is the base on which the new wooden floor will have to stay for the rest of its years. Many concrete floors contain a high level of moisture or worst they are dry now but through the years a poor damp course will allow moisture to infiltrate thus causing serious damage to the wooden floor. Also a surface which is not flat, with high and low spots, outside the BS8201 specifications will lead to technical issues like squeaks, cracks in the floor, debonding and separating elements of the floor.
The subfloors come in a different types and often mixed therefore their assessment and treatment is a mandatory stage to be approached by any wood flooring craftsmen.

- Installation process

It is the time when the wood becomes a floor. The majority of the work done now cannot be corrected after completion so it has to be properly planned and carried out. For this important aspect the wood flooring craftsman is the key to have a long lasting and beautiful floor installed with care of details in mind. We cannot stress how important it is to avoid asking the builder, the handyman, the multiskilled, the inexperienced to install your precious wooden floor.
Before choosing the right company to deliver the desired results make a list with all your questions and concerns and request answers from that company. Also look for references and proofs of experience. We actually recommend to contact at least 3 reputable wood flooring companies to select from.

- Regular cleaning and maintenance

Once the installation process is ended the floor will start its service which means that wear and tear begins. This is unavoidable unless the floor is never stepped on and kept away from natural light. And this is impossible. Therefore expect scratches to appear, duller areas  and dents. The aim is to minimise as much as possible these through regular cleaning, using felt pads for furniture, wearing soft slippers, having doormats at entrance doors and keeping away any chemicals or liquids from the floor. Only dedicated cleaning substances should be used. We prepared a series of posts on this subject: Wooden Floor Maintenance - Lacquer Finished Floors, Wooden Floors Protection and Care , and Wooden Floor Maintenance - Oil Finished Floors.

- Reasonable home environment for wooden floors

During the winter season the home environment may fluctuate daily thus increasing the tensions inside the wooden floor. This process may cause the floor to change dimensionally or worst to crack, show gaps and debond. We have explained these in more detail in the post "Reasonable home environment conditions for wooden floors". Maintain a constant environment inside your home and year will be added to your wooden floor lifespan.

- Deep cleaning, scrubbing and re oiling

This is the best solution for adding serious years to your wooden floor lifespan. It should be considered like a general overhaul and it is applicable for previously well maintained floors which have accumulated ingrained dirt. Due to lack of awareness this simple and low cost procedure is overlooked in favour of sanding and refinishing.
Of course, through sanding the surface is totally stripped revealing a fresh layer of wood but additionally floor thickness is removed as well thus a shorter lifespan.
By deeply scrubbing the wooden floor with professional equipment and adequate substances the floor is refreshed. And for oiled floors a new coat of oil can be applied which will add additional protection thus longevity.
We have a dedicated service which you may read about here "Hardwood Floor Professional Deep Cleaning - Scrubbing".

- Repairs

Wooden floors can be repaired bay replacing certain elements. Boards, parquet blocks, frames, nosings etc can be replaced. This might prove a saving solution for your hardwood floor. Let's say that a heavy object was dropped or dragged over the floor and created a deep dent and / or scratch. A solution would be to sand the entire surface which will shorten the life of the floor and bring some considerable costs. To avoid this or even to save the floor in some cases the damaged elements should be replaces.
Although this requires skills and craftsmanship it brings benefits on all sides. Contact us if you need technical advice and assessment.

- Renovation of sanding and refinishing

During the years of service the floor will accumulate signs of fatigue like multiple scratches, dents and hard worn areas. A total stripping of the old finishing layer has to be considered now followed by refinishing. It is an intervention which if it's done professionally will bring back the floor to its first day look and will not remove to much floor thickness. This is an important aspect, as it will allow the floor to go through renovation cycles several times. Once again we advise to proceed in a similar manner with selecting the craftsmen to install the wooden floor.
At Fin Wood we offer this service which adapts to the particularities of each floor "Hardwood floor restoration".

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Hardwood floor sanding and Oil finish: the floor is the very first part of the room to be noticed when entering. It is the only surface of a room to be used so much. For this reason, a regular maintenance has to be done and this postpones any considerable restoration work. Our recommendation for the hardwood floors in your home is the oil finishing

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