The Flooring Girl http://theflooringgirl.com We bring the flooring store to your door Mon, 31 Aug 2015 00:25:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How to get cherry colored (or reddish) hardwood floorshttp://theflooringgirl.com/blog/how-to-get-cherry-or-reddish-hardwood-floors.html http://theflooringgirl.com/blog/how-to-get-cherry-or-reddish-hardwood-floors.html#comments Sat, 15 Aug 2015 00:47:30 +0000 http://theflooringgirl.com/?p=6481 Cherry toned hardwood flooring   Do you love the warm cherry colored hardwood floors?  Ever wonder how to get red-toned hardwood floors?   Well there are 2 ways:  1) install hardwood that is naturally red or 2) sand and stain your hardwood floors with a red-toned stain.    Let’s explore both of these options.   […]

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Cherry toned hardwood flooring

How do you get cherry or reddish hardwood floors? Cherry colored hardwood floors.

 

Do you love the warm cherry colored hardwood floors?  Ever wonder how to get red-toned hardwood floors?

 

Well there are 2 ways:  1) install hardwood that is naturally red or 2) sand and stain your hardwood floors with a red-toned stain. 

 

Let’s explore both of these options.

 

Which types of hardwood species are naturally red?

Here are the species of hardwood that are red or cherry toned. For purposes of this article I’m focusing on the most common and most popular species.  For a full compilation species, check out the wood database.

Brazilian Cherry

brazilian cherry hardwoodBrazilian cherry is the most popular and one of the hardest cherry toned floors.  On the janka scale, the hardness rating is 2,350 making it close to twice as hard as red oak (1,290).  Brazilian cherry is natural red and some boards have orange tones.  The boards have smooth graining and wide color variation. 

 

Brazilian cherry hardwood westchester NYBrazilian Cherry is very photo sensitive, meaning that over time the light (both natural and indoor) darkens and reddens the floor.  Many are thrown by this as the flooring looks lighter than the samples they selected.  But over time, the colors will deepen and redden, especially over the 1st 6 months.  For this reason, it’s best to wait 6 months before adding area rugs. 

 

You can read more about Brazilian Cherry in this article.

 

American Cherry

american cherry hardwood - westchester NY

American Cherry is sometimes confused with Brazilian Cherry.  Brazilian Cherry is rather hard (2350 on the janka scale) while American Cherry is only has a hardness of 950.  American Cherry is a bit lighter and pinker than Brazilian Cherry.  Both are very sensitive to light and darken/redden with light. 

 

American Cherry has smooth graining (smoother than oak, but not as smooth as Brazilian Cherry) and tends to have more color variation.  Even within boards, parts may be lighter and parts darker.  It’s common to see American Cherry in wider boards, especially 5″ in width.  American Cherry tends to be more than Brazilian Cherry. 

 

As the name implies, American Cherry is grown in the US, primarily in the Northern and Lake States.

 

Santos Mahogany

Santos Mahogany in Westchester CountySantos Mahogany is brilliantly red exotic hardwood.  It tends to be a bit redder and deeper in color than Brazilian Cherry, and it tends to have a bit less color variation than Brazilian Cherry.  The graining is smooth and rich looking. It tends to be priced a bit higher.

 

Santos Mahogany is 2,200 on the Janka scale.  It’s primarily grown in South and Central America.  It’s Spanish name is Cabreuva.  It has high rot resistance so it’s often used on higher end decks and porches.

 

Please note that there are other species of mahogany such as African Mahogany, Honduran Mahogany, Swamp Mahogany and others.  Be wary that most of these are softer wood ranging in hardness from 900-1250 on the Janka scale.  Sometimes, these may simply be called Mahogany, especially if they are in an engineered form and/or less expensive.

Other cherry tone hardwood species

  • Tiete Rosewood
  • Bloodwood
  • African Padauk

 

 

What types of wood species are reddish/amber toned:

Douglas Fir

new douglas fir vertical grainDouglas Fir is often found in older homes in Westchester County and the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic, especially in homes built in the 1920’s and earlier.

 

Douglas Fir naturally has gold streaks and red undertones.  It tends to darken and redden over time and it’s a bit more light sensitive than oak (and most has been around for 100 or so years).  If you stain it with a light stain, such as colonial maple, it will deepen in color with reds and golds.  And, of course if you use a reddish stain (see below) e.g. gunstock, red chestnut, it will become even redder. Above picture is new Douglas fir, below picture is Douglas fir that has aged (and deepened in color) with a light stain.  (A red stain would make this even redder).

 

Douglas fir with light stainDouglas Fir is rather soft (only 660 on the janka hardness scale) so when you refinish these floors, I’d definitely recommend a 3rd coat of poly.  Douglas Fir was used a long time ago when the tools weren’t as strong as it was easier to mill and cut vs. oak.  And, because most of the Douglas Fir you’ll find in homes was from the 1920’s and earlier, you will tend to find much longer boards.

 

Kempas

Kempas hardwood - amber exotic hardwoodKempas is an exotic hardwood from Malaysia and Indonesia that is more amber (or orangish) in color.  Some call it a pinkish brown.  It’s a more affordable exotic wood compared to Brazilian Cherry, Tigerwood or Santos Mahogany.  It’s not as hard (it’s 1,710 on the Janka hardness scale vs Brazilian Cherry which is 2,350, but still harder than red oak which is 1,290). The graining is similar to Santos Mahogany. 

 

kempas hardwood - westchester NYKempas generally is found in a solid form; it’s unusual to find engineered Kempas.

 

Other types of amber/reddish wood species:

  • Tigerwood

 

Refinishing your existing hardwood for a cherry look:

Red oak flooring cherry stain westchester NYIf you already have hardwood flooring, you have the option of sanding and refinishing and using a red-toned stain.  Below are a list of reddish stains.  Note that these colors will come out different on different floors, so it’s important to test.  So, for example, if you have red oak floors, the stains will come out different vs red oak floors (red oak tends to have pink undertones, so the colors are a tad redder. If you have Douglas Fir floors, they are naturally redder and golder, so these tend to look more red vs. the oaks.  Floors can also look different based on grade of wood, age and lighting, so we always recommend that you test the colors (and test a few).

 

Here are some red/cherry stains (can be found in Minwax and Duraseal collections):

red and cherry stain colors - mixwax

red chestnut, gunstock, red mahogany, sedona red

  • Red Chestnut
  • Red Mahogany
  • Sedona Red
  • Mesquite Red
  • Red Oak (the stain color, not the species)

Here are some reddish/amber toned stains:

  • Gunstock
  • Rosewood
  • Cherry (the stain, not the species)

Here are some reddish/brown toned stains:

  • English chestnut
  • Early American

cherry stained oak hardwood flooring in westchesterYou have the option of sanding and refinishing virtually all solid hardwoods.  The stain colors will come out different on each species so it’s generally best to test.  Please note that some closed pore woods, especially maple and birch, are challenging to refinish. Due to their nature, they do not absorb the stains as easily as red oak or white oak.  They will often turn out blotchy, and you will see this both on prefinished and site finished hardwoods.

 

Please also note that each species has its own unique graining.  If you start with oak flooring, don’t expect it to look like Brazilian cherry when you add a red stain. The color will be a bit different and the graining and color variation will be rather different.

 

Cost of refinishing hardwood vs replacing it

Oak hardwood with cherry stain - Armstrong Dundee cherry colored hardwoodMany customers ask me about the price of refinishing hardwood vs. replacing it (especially after they realize that it’s a bit inconvenient and they often need to be away while the work is done).  Well let me tell you that there is no contest in costs.  Refinishing will always cost way less than replacing. 

 

In fact, often it costs around 4 to 6 times as much to replace the wood vs. refinish.  Why?  Well because, you need to rip up the existing wood/haul it away, order new hardwood (and let it acclimate) + install it.  In addition, you need to replace the base molding (or add shoe molding. So, if you have existing hardwood floors that are in relatively good condition, it will save you a lot of money to refinish them.

 

Conclusion:

If you are adding new hardwood, the world is your oyster.  You can either choose a hardwood flooring species that is red (or reddish) or a lighter hardwood (such as oak) and stain it a red color.  You also have the option of doing both. 

 

If you have existing hardwood in your home, you can easily refinish your floors with a red stain.  Of course you also have the option or ripping up and replacing the wood and starting from scratch.

When you’re ready for hardwood flooring or refinishing, give The Flooring Girl a call for a free design consultation 914-937-2950. If you’re calling outside of Westchester/ Fairfield Counties, please contact us at 914-407-3899.

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Map Westchester Hardwood floor refinishing

 

How to get cherry colored (or reddish) hardwood floors

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Dark floors vs Light floors – Pros and Conshttp://theflooringgirl.com/blog/dark-floors-vs-light-floors-pros-and-cons.html http://theflooringgirl.com/blog/dark-floors-vs-light-floors-pros-and-cons.html#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 12:01:26 +0000 http://theflooringgirl.com/?p=6476 What are the pros and cons with dark hardwood floors vs light hardwood floors?   Hold up a white index card over half of this to shift from light to dark hardwood floors.  There are several other examples throughout this article. Which do you prefer – dark or light wood?   Thankfully, when it comes […]

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What are the pros and cons with dark hardwood floors vs light hardwood floors?

dark vs light hardwood pros and cons

 

Hold up a white index card over half of this to shift from light to dark hardwood floors.  There are several other examples throughout this article. Which do you prefer – dark or light wood?

 

light hardwood flooring in WestchesterThankfully, when it comes to hardwood floors, there is no one-size-fits-all.  Some people prefer light woods and some people prefer dark woods. 

 

What’s right for your friend may not be right for you or your home.  And, if it’s your house, you get to choose.

 

 

No floor is perfect.  There are trade-offs and only you can decide which factors are most important to you and your family.

 

dark hardwood flooringHere are some factors to consider when choosing the color of your hardwood floors:

  • What do you like, what do you prefer?
  • What is the style of your home?  What is the style of your decor?
  • Do you have a busy household?  Do you have pets?
  • How often do you clean?  How particular are you when it comes to dirt showing?
  • What are the sizes of the rooms?  How much light do you get?  What colors are the walls (and/or will you be changing the paint color)?
  • What goes best with your furniture?  What color are your cabinets goes best with them? 

 

Which hardwood floor stain colors are most in style?

Espresso hardwood - refinish oak floors White Plains NY 10601 westchesterHere in Westchester County and the NYC metro area, dark hardwood floors have been trending the last several years and continue to grow in popularity. These are followed by light floors (primarily natural i.e. no stain.).  You can read more about hardwood floor stain color trends in this article.

 

But, just because dark is in, it may not necessarily be the best choice for you. There are pros and cons to both light and dark hardwoods, so read on.

 

Is it easier to keep dark or light hardwood clean?

match new and old woodLight hardwood floors have a distinct advantage here.  They tend to show less dirt than hardwood floors.  But, if you love love love dark wood, go for a dark color that is slightly lighter (e.g. choose jacobean rather than ebony, or dark walnut over jacobean).  Also, choose a satin finish as this shows dirt, scratches, dents and imperfections less, regardless of stain color (it’s also more stylish). 

 

And, of course, there is always the option to clean more and remove your shoes at the door.  Both of these actions will also help you preserve your hardwood floors longer, too.

 

Light and dark hardwood floors - maple

 

Which shows scratches more – dark or light hardwood?

All hardwood dents and scratches, but dark hardwood tends to show the scratches more.  The primary reason for this is that most wood floor species are light and if you scratch through the dark colored stain, it shows more of a contrast with the wood underneath vs. a lighter colored floor.

 

But here’s a good maintenance solution – Screen and Recoat once every 3 to 4 years.  This will give your floors an extra coat of poly and help your floors last longer.  You can read more about Screening (or buffing) here.

 

Which shades of wood are best if you have dogs?

refinish oil based polyurethaneBecause light hardwood floors show scratches less, they are generally better if you have dogs (and/or a busy household).  If you are staining your floors dark, you may want to consider adding an extra coat of polyurethane so that they last longer.

 

 

Will dark floors make my home look smaller?  Will it be too dark?

light vs dark hardwood flooringDark floors do you make your space a bit smaller and light floors make the space look a bit larger.  However, it is really the combo of colors on the floors and walls that give the total impression, and there is more wall space than floor space.

 

Dark floors tend to work better in larger homes and homes with larger rooms and open floor plans.

 

If you prefer dark floors and are concerned that your space will look too dark, consider going lighter in the painting and consider adding overhead lighting (or more light).  Lighter window treatments and window treatments that show more windows also help as does getting a front door with glass.

 

If you are going dark, how dark should you go?

pros and cons of dark hardwoodThis really is a matter of taste.  The most popular is currently jacobean (which is the 2nd darkest color). 

 

Generally, the darkest you go is ebony.  Sometimes ebony is not a dark as some people expect, so there is an option to do a “water pop” which darkens it a bit further (or aniline dye which gets it even darker).  Because dark shows the dirt more, I’m finding that many are opting for a 50/50 blend of ebony and jacobean. It’s a bit darker than jacobean, and a bit warmer than ebony (but still in the cool tone family). 

 

matching new and existing hardwoodDark Walnut is slightly lighter than jacobean and if you feel jacobean is still too dark for your tastes, give this a try.  Then, just slightly lighter are antique brown and coffee brown.  Everyone’s definition of dark is different and for many these colors are dark enough. 

 

Bear in that the stain colors will vary a bit based on the species of wood you have (e.g. red oak vs. white oak…white oak is a bit darker) and grade of wood (lower grades have more color variation i.e. more darker boards, so these come out a bit darker).  Obviously, the lighting of your home can have an impact on how dark the floors look.  Also, over time as wood ages, it gets a bit darker too. The same stain can easily look different in different houses, so it’s best to test it on your floors before committing to the exact stain color.  And, there is color variation among the planks.  All the more reason to see the stain in a larger area over several planks.

 

Dark hardwood floors ebonyAlso, I want to note that if you have other species such as yellow pine or Douglas Fir, the stains and graining will look different than they do on oak.  These species start out a different color and absorb stain differently.  Oddly enough, for example, I’ve often found that ebony is often not the darkest stain on these woods.  So, test test test. 

 

If you’re selecting a pre-finished hardwood floor, you’ll want to pick out the sample that works best for your floor.  It’s ideal to see the samples in your own home and lighting as they do look different there vs. the store.  (lighting has a huge impact).  And, you will want to look at the sample vs. your furniture, cabinets and paint colors.

 

dark hardwood flooringFinally, I do want to mention that often the pictures online look a bit darker than the wood does in real life.  I know I’ve seen this optical illusion and I’ve had some customers ask how they get the floors even darker (as they show me an online picture).  Some species are naturally darker and some absorb the darker stains better.  If you are refinishing your existing floors, remember that you can’t change the wood you already have (well unless you plan on replacing it).

 

For more info and pictures of dark hardwood floors, check out this article.

 

 

If you are going light, how light should it be?

light hardwood flooring oak naturalAgain, this is a matter of preference.  Most that are going light select natural (as many like the natural color of the wood).  Natural tends to hold up better (vs. a stain) and it tends to dry faster.  There are options to use a water borne poly to make the floors lighter or even use a white wash.  You can read more about light and blonde hardwood floors here.

 

Which hardwood stain colors are most modern?

matching new and existing hardwoodGenerally very dark (ebony, jacobean, 50/50 blend) or gray or white washed look the most modern.  This is followed by light or blonde floors.  (mid-toned brown floors look the most traditional)

 

Which costs more – dark or light hardwood floors?

This depends on whether you are doing pre-finished or refinishing existing floors.  If you are installing pre-finished floors, the cost is the same for all colors on a board.  However, prices can vary based on species as well as brand and sub-line selected. 

 

oak hardwood with walnut border - oil based polyIf you are refinishing existing hardwood floors, generally natural is less expensive than a stain.  And, if you are upgrading to white wash or gray stains, the prices will be a bit more (both due to stain/process and type of polyurethane use.

 

Impact of pre-finished vs site finished wood when it comes to stain color?

If you are refinishing existing floors, the world is your oyster.  Just choose your desired stain color (and test it).  If however, you are installing pre-finished hardwood floors, be careful about the micro-bevel edges. 

 

Hardwood flooring move furnitureSite finished floors are smoothed out and the stain penetrates all areas.  But, pre-finished wood (or factory finished) have beveled edges and often the edges will show lines where the stain has not penetrated (and you can see the underlying wood color underneath).  This is not always apparent on the samples (as some samples only show one piece) and as you are looking at them up close.  When they are installed on the floor, and you view them at a standing height, you notice these more.  And, you notice them much more on darker floors as there is a large contrast in colors.  If you are choosing natural, these are barely noticeable.  So check this out carefully.

 

Which color goes best with your furniture?

dark hardwood floorsBelieve it or not, this is much less of an issue than most realize.  Most wood floors go with most furniture.  The reason is that the wood is neutral.  Also, many people have different types of furniture in different rooms and even multiple wood colors and species in most rooms. 

 

In general, most dark wood floors and most light wood floors go with most furniture.  The tricky part is generally if you have red toned or mahogany furniture.  These generally go better with brown toned floors – and often either very dark or very light.  You don’t want to have floors with red tones as they may compete with with your furniture and you want the floors to complement the furniture. 

 

tips for choosing your hardwood floorsAlso, don’t forget that you can add area rugs to help unify areas and make the colors more cohesive. 

 

If you look at the pictures throughout this article, you’ll see that a variety of furniture colors and styles work with the floors.

 

Which color goes best with your kitchen cabinets

light and dark hardwood floors - oakIf you have hardwood in the kitchen, you’ll want to consider the color of the cabinets.  If you have white cabinets, virtually any hardwood color will go.  If you have a wood colored cabinet, you’ll want to select a color with a nice contrast.  Generally, darker floors look better with lighter cabinets and lighter floors look better with darker cabinets.  And, be sure not to mix and match reds as these usually do not work out right. 

 

If you are having challenges making this combo work consider refacing, replacing or painting cabinets (even if done later) and/or consider the more extreme colors of very dark, very light, white washed or gray hardwood floors.

 

Dark hardwood generally hides “problems” better

If your floor is old and has a bunch of imperfections (e.g. gaps in floor, water stains, knots), darker stains will cover this up better.  Darker stains will camouflages stains better and the shadows of the gaps (which sometimes is due to normal expansion/contraction and other times from the wood drying out a bit after exposure for 80-100 years). Of course, if your flooring is damaged or has holes, new wood can usually be woven in for a repair, especially if it’s a small area.

 

Which has higher resale value – dark or light floor?

Ebony hardwood flooring Harrison NYInherent in this question is which option gives you the higher ROI (return on investment)?  Don’t forget, there are 2 parts to the equation – the numerator shows the preference, and the denominator looks at the cost.

 

The overall trend/preference right now is very dark stains followed by very light (i.e. natural). And, in general reds are less popular – they are polarizing, so if you are looking to sell, I would stay away from them.

 

whie oak water borne polyHowever, it’s not quite as simple as that.  You really need to look at the style of the home to see what works best (e.g. is your home traditional of contemporary?) and there often is more than one answer.  In most of the Tudors, for example, dark hardwood floors tends to look best (and buyers looking at those homes prefer darker floors).  In some contemporary homes, either very dark or very light looks best…and this may depend on the style of decor.

 

Because lighter makes your space look larger, natural can be a great option for smaller homes and condos/co-ops and town houses, especially those with less light.  On the other hand, if your floors have a lot of imperfections or stains, a darker stain may make your floors look better.

 

If you have existing hardwood, then usually it’s less expensive to refinish natural (i.e. light) rather than use a stain.  And, it usually dries faster, so it makes the process easier.  For these reasons (price, ease and making space look larger), many will opt for natural, unless it looks out of place for the style of the home.

 

Which do you prefer – light or dark hardwood?

For hardwood floors, do you prefer dark, light or mid-toned?

     

    Conclusion

    Light and dark hardwoodBoth dark and light floors work very well, and only you can choose which is best for you and your home.  Dark floors tend to be more stylish and hide imperfections while light floors tend to show dirt less and last longer.  Your decision may vary based on whether you are staying in your home or planning to sell in the next few years.  Importantly, both dark and light hardwood floors are great options.

     

    If you live in Westchester County NY, and you would like advice on refinishing your floors, please give The Flooring Girl a call at 914-937-2950.

     

    schedule free flooring consultation2

     

    You may also find these hardwood flooring articles helpful:

    Dark floors vs Light floors – Pros and Cons

    Let us know what you think about this article on light vs dark flooring

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    Tips on Matching New and Existing Hardwood Floorshttp://theflooringgirl.com/blog/tips-on-matching-new-and-existing-hardwood-floors.html http://theflooringgirl.com/blog/tips-on-matching-new-and-existing-hardwood-floors.html#comments Sun, 05 Jul 2015 04:10:03 +0000 http://theflooringgirl.com/?p=6401 How can you match existing hardwood and new hardwood flooring?   Most homes in Westchester County have hardwood floors, at least in some areas of the house. Hardwood flooring is by far the preferred choice of flooring especially in mid to higher end homes.   The trend has been to add hardwood to most areas […]

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    How can you match existing hardwood and new hardwood flooring?

    Tips on matching exising and new hardwood floors

     

    Most homes in Westchester County have hardwood floors, at least in some areas of the house. Hardwood flooring is by far the preferred choice of flooring especially in mid to higher end homes.

     

    matching new and existing hardwoodThe trend has been to add hardwood to most areas of the home, and we are often getting calls where customers would like to add wood to places where it’s missing such as the kitchen, entryway, family room or 2nd floor…it all varies based on how your home was constructed.

     

    The good news is that it’s usually fairly easy to match your existing hardwood for a harmonious look.

     

    Matching new and existing wood – video intro

     

    Here are the factors to consider when matching existing and new hardwood floors:

    1. Thickness/height of flooring (and sub-floor)

    does hardwood flooring make sense in kitchensMost houses in Westchester have solid hardwood flooring which is 3/4″ thick.  It’s much easier to match if you have solid hardwood.  Note: there are some homes that have engineered hardwood, and this may be very difficult, if not impossible to match unless you know the manufacturer/item (and it is still made).  But, most houses here have solid hardwood which is good news both for longevity, flexibility in color and “match-ability.”

     

    It’s important that the new area where you’ll be installing has 3/4″ plywood sub-floor.  (Note: if you have a concrete sub-floor this will make it much more difficult (and likely more expensive) to install solid hardwood.  You can learn more about this here: Solid vs engineered hardwood.

     

    It’s also smart to check if your sub-floor is consistent in height to the existing sub-floor for the other wood.  If it is, your height should be even. If it’s not, you may want to explore removing another layer of plywood or adding some, pending the height difference.

     

    2. Species/grade of hardwood

    matching hardwoodsThe next step is to identify the species and grade of the wood.  Most homes in Westchester and the East Coast have oak flooring.  But, of course, it’s not as simple as that.  The first question is whether you have red oak or white oak flooring.  These are 2 different species, and you need to match to the correct one.  You can learn more about red and white oak flooring here.

     

    Please note that there are other common species of wood such as maple, douglas fir and yellow pine.  If your house was built in the 1920’s or before, there is a good chance that you have one of these species.  You can learn more about the most common flooring species here.

     

    The next step is to identify the grade of wood. Do you have select grade or No 1 or No 2.  There are also other cuts of wood such as rifted and quarter-sawn.  You can learn more about hardwood flooring grades in this article.

    3. Width

    match new and old woodThis is generally the simplest to figure out.  Just take a tape measure and measure the current width of your wood.  Most Westchester houses, especially those built before 2000 have the standard 2 1/4″ strips.  The standard sizes for solid oak flooring is 2 1/4″, 3 1/4″, 4″ and 5″.

     

    Now, if you would like to do a larger size than what you currently have, this is possible.  The decision on this should be based on preference and aesthetics, and this may depend on the area and shape of the room (s) being done.

     

    can you match new and existing hardwood floorsMost people prefer wider planks as it is more stylish and makes the room look larger.  But, in some circumstances this may look out of place if the rest of the floor is 2 1/4″.  Here are some times where it can make visual sense to go wider:

    • If you are adding hardwood to a different level (e.g. if you have 2 1/4″ on the 1st floor and you are adding wood to the 2nd floor.

     

    • If you are adding wood to the kitchen and you are trying to set it apart and/or going on a diagonal or a different direction for the kitchen.  This works in some layouts and not in others.  It’s a judgment call.

     

    • If you are adding wood to the Master Bedroom and trying to upgrade it/set it apart.  Again, this works in some layouts, but not in others.  It also works well when it’s a squarish room and you are laying the wood on a diagonal.

     

    4. Color

    dark hardwood flooringGenerally, if you have oak hardwood flooring, provided that you match the existing species and grade, you can generally refinish the wood to match the stain on the existing portion.  (This assumes you hire a professional hardwood sanding company). 

     

    Please note that because hardwood darkens over time, it may not be an exact match, but it will be pretty close.  Please also note that if you have a custom blend of stains on your floor, it may be more challenging to match, as well as if you have used wax on the floors (note: some cleaning products have wax in them). 

     

    ebony hardwood floors darkImportantly, if you are adding the same species of wood to your floors, you have the option of refinishing all the floors and changing all of the colors so they are uniform.  Often you can go lighter or darker, pending your preference.  See: Can you change the color of your hardwood floors? 

     

    If you’d like to know the most popular stain colors for hardwood floors, read this article.

     

    5. Direction of wood and whether to Weave In

    hardwood flooring on diagonal westchesterHardwood should be installed perpendicular to the joists or on diagonal for the best stability.  However, occasionally, homeowners make a strategic choice to alter the direction of the wood. 

     

    One reason for changing would be to accentuate the longer length of the room (if it’s rectangular.  Another reason for this could be if one wants to change the width of the wood in the new area.  Or, this could be because the color may be different (and/or it may be slightly different than the existing and changing direction fools the eye).  And, a 4th reason for changing direction may be to avoid weaving in the hardwood.  This leads into the next choice…

     

    Should you weave in the hardwood to the existing wood?  This depends on direction of wood as well as budget and area to be done.  There is no one size fits all.  If the new wood is parallel to existing wood, this is a non-issue as wood does not need to be woven in; rather, it would just be laid next to existing wood. 

     

    blonde hardwood flooring oak naturalBut, if the wood is flowing in the same direction, you may want to consider weaving it into the existing wood as it will make your space look larger.  Of course, if you do this, you MUST use the same width as the existing hardwood.

     

    (Note: It’s very challenging to weave in new wood if you have pine floors since the woods are milled at different widths vs 100+ years ago so the pieces will not line up). 

     

    If you weave in new hardwood, you must sand and refinish the existing room where the new unfinished wood has been woven in.  For many, this is not an issue as many may want to change the color and/or it may be time to refinish the existing area due to normal wear and tear.  For others, it creates a domino effect and makes the project scope to large. 

     

    Ebony hardwood flooring Harrison NYObviously, it costs more to weave in wood.  There is more labor involved (and you must have someone experienced in this area) and you need more wood to do the job.  Plus, you need to refinish a larger area. 

     

    Alternatively, you can consider adding a flush saddle (or a full saddle) to separate the new and old areas.  If the transition area is a doorway, this looks normal (and may save you money later if you need to refinish one of the areas rather than the whole area).

     

    But, if it’s a long transition (e.g. if it’s an open floor plan from kitchen to family room or dining room), this may look a bit odd.  This is a judgment call both in terms of aesthetics and budget.  But, remember, this is a permanent change.  Once you choose, you can’t easily undo your decision years later.  So plan for the long term.

     

    6. Transitions

    white oak wide plank tung oil hardwood flooringPending on above decisions and areas to be done, you may need some transition strips.  If the wood is the same height, you may be able to do a flush saddle.  Or, a saddle may work better if you have saddles in the doorways (alternatively, a t-molding can be used as that has a much lower height threshold.). If the heights are different between rooms either a reducer or saddle can be used.  All of these should be made of matching hardwood so that they look like they belong.

     

    Conclusion on matching new and existing hardwood

    Tips on matching exising and new hardwood floorsIf you have solid hardwood, it’s relatively simple for a professional hardwood flooring contractor to match what you have.  It’s important to look at height, type, species, grade, width, color and direction of wood. 

     

    Let us know what you think of this article in the comments and if you think your friends will find this helpful, please socially share.

     

    When you’re ready for hardwood flooring or refinishing, feel free to give The Flooring Girl a call for a free design consultation 914-937-2950. If you are calling outside of Westchester/Fairfield Counties, please contact us at 914-407-3899.

     

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    Map Westchester Hardwood floor refinishing

    Tips on Matching New and Existing Hardwood Floors | Westchester County NY

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    Blonde hardwood and light flooring – Which types are lightest?http://theflooringgirl.com/blog/blonde-hardwood-and-light-flooring-which-types-are-lightest.html http://theflooringgirl.com/blog/blonde-hardwood-and-light-flooring-which-types-are-lightest.html#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 01:32:54 +0000 http://theflooringgirl.com/?p=6304 How do you get blonde flooring?  How do you get light hardwood floors?  Which types are the lightest? There are 3 main factors that will impact the lightness of hardwood: 1.  Species 2. Stain color (or no stain color) 3.  Type of polyurethane (oil based vs water based poly)     Background on light (or […]

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    How do you get blonde flooring?  How do you get light hardwood floors?  Which types are the lightest?

    blonde hardwood floors - mapleThere are 3 main factors that will impact the lightness of hardwood:

    1.  Species

    2. Stain color (or no stain color)

    3.  Type of polyurethane (oil based vs water based poly)

     

     

    Background on light (or blonde) types of hardwood

    blonde hardwood flooring oak naturalNow, let me first explain that there is no one size fits all and different people have different preferences.  Some people like stronger graining; some prefer less graining; and others like smooth graining.

     

     

    Some like more color variation in the planks and others prefer less.

     

     

    how to get light and blonde hardwood floorsAnd, importantly, different people have different definitions or opinions as to what is light or what is blonde hardwood.

     

    I will also mention that you can alter all 3 of these components (species, stain and type of poly) or just 1 or 2 of these components.  And, it’s important to know that sometimes the stain color and/or species of wood will help dictate which type of polyurethane you should use.

     

    If you are buying new hardwood, you can choose your preferred species – based on look and price point.  If you are refinishing existing wood, you’ll need to work with what you have and read below on colors/polyurethanes that work/don’t work on certain species.  (Skip to section 2)

     

    So with that said, let’s explore the 3 components one at a time.

     

    1.  Which types of hardwood species are the lightest in color?

    Red Oak

    refinish oil based polyurethaneRed oak is the most common hardwood in the US as it’s also the most abundant.  Many are surprised to learn that it is lighter than white oak and has pinkish undertones.  It also has stronger graining than white oak. For some, this is a big plus.  Others prefer the look of white oak. 

     

    You can learn more about red oak and white oak here.  If you want a reasonably wood and you like light wood, red oak can be a great choice.  But, if you prefer smoother and a bit more golden, than white oak may be a better choice.

     

    Red oak hardwood flooring - Westchester NY - Select grade  blonde hardwood flooring oak natural

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    White Oak

    white oak flooring - light and blonde hardwoodsWhite oak is on the lighter side, but it’s slightly darker and more golden than red oak.  It’s also slightly harder than red oak. 

     

    White oak often has more mineral streaks which make it look a bit more modern where as red oak’s strong graining give it a more traditional look. 

     

    White Oak tends to look better than red oak with water borne poly as well as white wash and gray finishes.  More about that below.

     

     

     

    White oak hardwood flooring - Westchester NY - Select grade  light hardwood floors - white oak blonde

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Maple

    how to get light and blonde hardwood floorsMaple is generally the lightest hardwood (in terms of color).  The graining is very smooth and gives a modern chic look.  You will often find this wood in Scandinavian furniture and homes.  If you’re looking for super blonde wood in it’s natural form, this is probably your best choice.

     

    Hard Maple is more expensive than oak and it’s a bit harder than oak (1450 on the janka scale vs 1290 for red oak).  Because its graining is smoother than oak, it tends to show scratches a bit more. 

     

    If you’re looking for hardness, it’s important to get Northern Maple/hard maple which (as the name implies) harder.  Some older homes (from the 1920’s and before) have soft maple and southern maple tends to be softer, too.

    maple hardwood flooring - light wood from US

    blonde hardwood maple floors

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Please note that maple color variation can vary greatly pending on the grade.  For those looking for a modern and light look, choose clear grade.  Other grades will have much more color variation with darker boards that will not only make the floors look darker, but also more rustic.  See below pictures for the contrast.  Clear grade is more expensive. 

     

    maple hardwood more rustic

    rustic maple light hardwoods

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If you are seeing a maple that costs a lot less, chances are because it is a lower grade and will have more color variation and knots.

     

    You can learn more about Maple flooring here.

     

    Birch

    birch hardwood grown in USBirch is very similar to maple. It is light and has smooth graining.  It’s not as strong as maple (1260 vs. 1290 for red oak and 1450 for hard maple. 

     

    Like maple, Birch doesn’t stain well and it’s best to use water borne polyurethane to prevent yellowing.

     

     

     

    Ash

    Ash hardwood flooringAsh is another light wood and graining looks similar to oak.  It’s less popular than oak.  It’s not quite as hard as oak, but it is a touch lighter. 

     

    Please note that I wasn’t able to find a picture of Ash Natural.  This one on the right has a stain on it.

     

     

     

     

    Bamboo

    Blonde and light flooring bambooBamboo is technically a grass and most Bamboo is grown and/or made in China.  In it’s natural form, it is one of the lighter flooring choices available. 

     

    It grows and replenishes quickly so it’s seen as a green product, but there are some definite drawbacks to this product and some controversy as to whether it really is eco-friendly or good for the environment.

     

     

    bamboo natural horizontalBamboo is certainly your cheapest option.  But, cheaper generally does not mean better…there is a reason for everything.  Bamboo generally does not hold up well to foot traffic.  It dents and scratches easily and does not hold up well to water especially due to its water borne poly. 

     

    Bamboo generally can not be sanded and refinished, and/or if it is, it doesn’t absorb the stain or poly well, so it will look worn down after 1-2 years after being sanded on site.  So generally when it wears down, it needs to be replaced. 

     

    Strand woven bamboo is stronger and holds up better, but strand woven is darker than the basic horizontal or vertical grain.

     

    Carmelized bamboo flooring - Westchester NYIf you search around on the internet, you will see tons of complaints on all types of bamboo and anecdotally, customers I’ve met who have had this have been regretful of their choice. 

     

    Also, bamboo uses a lot of adhesive to adhere the pieces of grass together, so there are many who are skeptical of the impact of this on air quality and how truly sustainable this product is (not to mention the impact on the carbon footprint from all of the importing).

     

    Grade of wood

    In addition to the species of wood, you’ll want to look at the grade of wood.  Is it select grade?  (Sometimes called select and better).  Is it No 1/No 1 common (lower grade) or No 2 Common (even lower?.  The lower you go in the grade, the more color variation (i.e. more darker pieces) and more knots you’ll get (as well as shorter lengths.). 

     

    The left side (below) is red oak select grade; the right side is Red Oak No. 1.

    Red oak select vs Red Oak No 1

     

    On the higher end of the spectrum, there are different and specialized cuts of wood such as rifted and quarter-sawn, or rifted only or quarter-sawn only.  Think here of different cuts of meat.  They all come from the same tree, but only a small percent of the wood qualifies and they create more wasted wood.

    White Oak Chevron rifted and quarter sawn light hardwood

    These woods are significantly more expensive and they have less color variation.  You will rarely see these cuts in pre-finished wood.  They are often used in site-finished woods either because they are going over radiant heat (these work over radiant heat due to their cuts and lower expansion) as well as higher end homes where some customers prefer the look and want less expansion/contraction of the wood.

     

    So, if your objective is to go light, purchase the higher grades such as select, select and better or clear.  (Note: the names of these grades will vary based on the species of wood.  You can read a bit more about grades of oak in this article.

     

     

    2.  Which types of hardwood stains are the lightest?

    When you sand and refinish wood floors, they look like raw hardwood again.  So, if you have solid hardwood, you can go lighter in color, even if your floors currently have a dark stain on them. Most floors in the US, and especially in the Westchester NY/NYC metro area are oak, and these can go fairly light.

     

    brazilian cherry hardwoodThere are some exceptions though.  If you have a dark or red species such as Brazilian Walnut, American Walnut, Brazilian Cherry, American Cherry, etc. there is only so light you can go as these woods are naturally dark.  Also, some of the pines are a bit darker, although most can go fairly light.  Remember, you need to work with the wood you already have (unless you want to replace it).  If you are unsure what species you have, call in a flooring expert to get their opinion.  Also, this article on popular hardwood species may help you identify what you have.

     

    In addition, most wood species darken a bit over time due to light (both sunlight and ambient light). So, when you refinish them, they become a bit lighter as the top layer is removed.  (Think about our skin and sun tans and what happens when your skin peels).

     

    Natural (i.e. no stain) is generally the lightest you can you go (among the traditional colors)

    oak hardwood with walnut border - oil based polyNatural is one of the most popular choices.  It means that you have no stain and are letting the natural color of the wood shine through.  Natural tends to hold up better as it shows the scratches less (as it is more similar to the natural wood underneath vs a scratch through a dark stain shows the contrast).  Natural tends to show dirt less, too.  Generally, to when you refinish natural, it will cost you a bit less and it will dry a bit faster (vs. having a stain).

     

    Above picture is white oak with a walnut border – all natural (i.e. no stain).

     

    blonde hardwood wood oak natural - which types are lightestNatural will (obviously) look slightly different on different species of wood, different grades and different ages of wood.  But, as I mentioned above, it’s generally the lightest you can go (before adding a white wash).  More about that in second.

     

     

     

     

    White wash

    White wash - Armstrong Mistic TaupeWhite wash is the big up and coming trend.  It can give you a refreshed and contemporary look in your home.  It tends to work well with cool colors on the wall (e.g. whites, grays, light blues). 

     

    We have been getting many requests for white washed wood from our more upscale and fashion forward customers, especially those moving to Westchester from NYC.

     

     

     

    Birch driftscape white washWhite wash is the more modern up-to-date version of pickled oak.  The coloring is slightly different and it gives the home a clean, modern and often beachy feel. 

     

    It’s a great way to also add more light to your home.

     

     

     

     

    white washed hardwoodWhite washed floors are more expensive than typical stains both due to the process as well as the fact that you need to use a water borne poly, so that the floors don’t have a yellow tint. 

     

    Most will opt for the higher grade of this (Bona Traffic) as it looks better and lasts longer.  It also yellows less over time.  It is well worth the extra money for the look and longevity of this product.

     

    white washed hardwood floorsWhite washed floor look much better on white oak than red oak. Red oak will have pinkish undertones and stronger graining.  It just looks better color-wise and graining wise with white oak.  White washed floors also work well with maple (although they are harder and more expensive to do due to pores).

     

    White wash does not work well with Douglas Fir nor other pines, both as these woods have golden and red tones (so the colors don’t work well) and the resin in the pines reacts with the white wash and it usually looks blotchy.  I would avoid trying this with dark or red woods (e.g. brazilian walnut, brazilian cherry) as I’ve heard these look terrible and you may permanently damage these woods.  Better safe than sorry.

     

     

    Light gray

    light gray hardwood floorsGray is the new hot hot color (even though it has cool tones LOL).  It is the new and trendy version of white wash.  It mixes white and ebony and you can go from light gray to dark gray.  In terms of species of wood and type of polyurethane, the same principles for white wash apply (read above).  A light gray can give your home a refreshed and it may even turn out slightly lighter than natural.

     

    You can read more about refinishing hardwood floor gray in this article.

     

    Other traditional light stains

    light hardwood floors - oak flooringA light stain will always be darker than natural, but there are some light stains that may appeal to you.  Some feel that some of these give your floors a bit more depth and character.  Some to consider are:

    • Golden Oak
    • Golden Pecan
    • Fruitwood
    • Ipswich Pine
    • Puritan Pine

     

     

    3.  What is the impact of polyurethane on color of floor?

    oil based polyThere are 2 broad classes of polyurethane – oil based and water-borne polyurethane and you can read more about the pros and cons of oil and water-borne poly here.  For purposes of this discussion, I’m going to focus on the impact of color on the wood. 

     

    The picture above right is oil based poly (on red oak).

     

     

     

    whie oak water borne polyWater-borne poly will be lighter than oil based poly.  And, over time, oil based polyurethane will darken and amberize more.  That is not necessarily a bad thing.  For many, they prefer for look of the oil based poly as it is typically what they see in most homes, and this is light enough for them; for others, they prefer an even lighter look and they prefer the look of the water borne poly. 

     

    The picture above right is white oak with water borne poly. (white oak is typically darker than red oak).

     

    blonde hardwood floors - white oak natural water borne poly

    water vs oil poly

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Above left is white oak with water borne poly.  The picture on the right shows water borne on left and oil based poly on right (note: it’s worn down).

     

    Personally, I prefer the look of water-borne poly on white oak floors, but that is a matter of taste.  On oak floors either oil based or water based poly can be used (but don’t mix).  This is a matter of preference on looks and longevity.

     

    But, with certain species and certain colors, water based is a better choice and should be the only consideration.  Below is a quick guide by species and color.

    • Red Oak – either oil based or water borne…unless using white or gray…in that case use water-borne

     

    • White Oak – either oil based or water…unless using white or gray…in which case water-borne

     

    • Maple – best to use water-borne poly

     

    • Birch – best to use water-borne poly

     

    • Douglas Fir or other pines – best to use oil based (esp since these are softer woods)

     

    • Ash – either water or oil based

    Conclusion on Blonde hardwood and light flooring and which types are lightest?

    Blonde hardwood and light flooring - Which types are lightestSo there are 3 ways to get light or blonde hardwood floors. 

    1. If you are buying new wood, get a light colored species, especially red oak, white oak, or maple. 

    2.  If you are refinishing existing wood, either go natural or use a white wash stain. 

    3.  If you want to go even lighter, consider a water-borne polyurethane (and if using white wash or gray, definitely use a water-borne poly).

     

    Other useful flooring articles:

     

    If you live in Westchester County NY, and you would like advice on refinishing your floors, please give The Flooring Girl a call at 914-937-2950. (Outside of NY/CT, please call 914-407-3899)

     

    schedule free flooring consultation2

     

    Blonde hardwood and light flooring – Which types are lightest?

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    More flooring polls – Please votehttp://theflooringgirl.com/blog/more-flooring-polls-please-vote.html http://theflooringgirl.com/blog/more-flooring-polls-please-vote.html#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 23:02:03 +0000 http://theflooringgirl.com/?p=6297 We’d love to hear your opinions on our latest flooring polls.  Tell us what you think. Oil vs water based polyurethane Read more about oil vs water poly here   Sheen level Read more about hardwood sheen levels here   Gray Stains Read more about staining hardwood gray here   Red oak vs white oak […]

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    Hardwood flooring pollWe’d love to hear your opinions on our latest flooring polls.  Tell us what you think.

    Oil vs water based polyurethane

    Oil vs water based poly - Which do you prefer?

      Read more about oil vs water poly here

       

      Sheen level

      Which sheen level do you prefer?

        Read more about hardwood sheen levels here

         

        Gray Stains

        What shades of gray do your prefer?

          Read more about staining hardwood gray here

           

          Red oak vs white oak

          Red oak vs White oak - which do you prefer?

            Read more about red oak vs white oak hardwood here

             

            Carpet runners

            Which type of carpet runner style do you prefer?

              Read more about carpet runners here

              More flooring polls – Please vote

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              Does dark hardwood scratch more easily than light hardwood?http://theflooringgirl.com/hardwood-flooring/dark-hardwood-scratch-easily-light-hardwood.html http://theflooringgirl.com/hardwood-flooring/dark-hardwood-scratch-easily-light-hardwood.html#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 02:53:44 +0000 http://theflooringgirl.com/?p=5148 Yes, and no.  Technically, the color of the wood has no impact on how much the floor scratches.  However, darker floors tend to show scratches, dirt, dents, footprints and imperfections more. So what impacts the scratching on wood? Primarily the finish of the wood, and the wood species (i.e. how hard is the wood and […]

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              Yes, and no.  Technically, the color of the wood has no impact on how much the floor scratches.  However, darker floors tend to show scratches, dirt, dents, footprints and imperfections more.

              Do dark hardwood floors show scratches more

              So what impacts the scratching on wood?

              Do dark hardwood floors show dirt morePrimarily the finish of the wood, and the wood species (i.e. how hard is the wood and how strong is the graining (stronger graining hides scratches more).  You can read more about the hardness of wood species here.  You can learn more about finishes here.  And, of course, heavier traffic impacts the wood.

               

               

              Why do dark hardwoods show scratches more?

              are dark hardwoods harder to cleanMost floors in the US are oak (which are naturally light).  If they are dark, that’s because they have a stain on top. The stain is topical, so when you scratch through the stain, the original color of the wood is revealed.  Hence, when you have a dark stain, you notice the color difference more vs. a light stain that is more similar to the underlying wood.  Regardless of species, natural (i.e. no stain) will show scratches less.

               

               

               

              Why do dark hardwood floors show dirt and foot prints more?

              dark hardwood flooring ebony westchester NYDents and cracks, a natural characteristic of wood, are magnified on dark floors, especially those with a high gloss finished.  In fact, dust, dirt and damage show more on dark flooring due to the contrast in color between the dirt and the stain color.  Also, darker staining hides the graining more (which many prefer) and makes the color of a wood plank look more uniform.  This, in turn creates less camouflage for the dirt and dust bunnies.  (On the other hand, darker stains do cover up knots and natural gaps in wood (from typical expansion/contraction and aging of wood)).

               

              What can you do to protect you dark hardwood from scratches?

              There are a few solutions to help reduce scratches in dark hardwood floors.  This advice really applies to all types of hardwood – light and dark and will help make all types of wood floors look better for longer.

              how to maintain dark hardwood flooring1.  Use oil based polyurethane for longer life

              Oil based poly lasts longer than water borne poly.  It will also give you a darker and richer look.  You can learn more about that here.

               

              2.  Add an extra coat of poly

              Your floors will last much longer if you use 3 coats of polyurethane (rather than 2).  For extremely busy households, you may even consider 4 coats, but generally 3 is perfectly sufficient.

              3.  Use a satin finish (or even a matte finish)

              Not only is satin finish more stylish, but it’s more practical too. The shinier you go, the more the dents, scratches and dirt will show.  You can read more about hardwood sheen levels here.

               

              4.  Periodically screen and recoat floors

              dark hardwood flooringThis is one of the best kept secrets in the hardwood industry.  If you screen and recoat (or buff) your floors once every 3-4 years BEFORE your floors get scratches through the color, you can prolong the life of your floors and avoid a full sand and refinish.

               

              5.  Add area Rugs and entry mats.

              This is especially important for entryways where water, snow and salt may be brought into the house. This is even more important if you have pets as they don’t typically (in my experience) remove their shoes (LOL).  It is also very important for areas that get heavier traffic and chair movement (e.g. your dining room table/areas where you typically eat and move chairs, family rooms).

               

              6.  Remove your shoes

              Shoes probably do the most damage to our floors (due to the dirt and small rocks that get caught in them, as well as some of the nails that may wear through as your heal wear down.  Removing your shoes and wearing socks or slippers can have a huge impact on keeping your floors in great shape.  I’m amazed at how much better floors look (and how much longer they last) in homes where my customers remove their shoes.

               

              7.  Avoid chairs with wheels

              dark oak hardwood- espressoYes, chairs with wheels can be deadly for hardwood floors, especially dark hardwood floors.  Dirt and grit gets caught in the wheels and this will wear down the polyurethane on the floors.  If you have rolling chairs consider adding an area rug.

               

              8.  Clean dark floors regularly and with a swiffer or soft duster.

              Keeping dirt and grit off the floors will not only make the floors cleaner and healthier, but it will prolong the life of your floors.  Use swifters or soft dusters.  Avoid brooms as these can cause scratches in your floors.

               

              Are dark hardwoods right for you and your household?

              ebony hardwood floors darkOnly you can answer this question.  Dark hardwood are certainly chic and stylish.  Currently, in Westchester County and the NYC Metro area, dark hardwood floors are the most popular.  But, they can be a bit more challenging to maintain. I generally advice customers to get what they love, but they need to make the call on what’s more important – style or practicality. Sometimes, a good solution for those that prefer dark but also want easier to maintain is to go a shade or two lighter.

              I think this customer summed it up well from apartmenttherapy.com

              I bought my house with light hardwood floors. In three years, my 4 year old and three cats have managed to destroy them! I have another little girl on the way and I’m dreaming of the day when the kids get older and I can have them redone…DARK. So basically I think you should get what you like because they will have to be redone someday anyway.”

              Dark hardwoods do show scratches and dirt more than light hardwood floors do.  Importantly, there are ways to help prolong their life and minimize the impact.  Are dark hardwood floor right for you?

              Related articles

               

              When you’re looking to refinish your hardwood floors in Westchester County, give The Flooring Girl a call at 914-937-2950.  (Out of area callers, please dial 914-407-3899).

              schedule free flooring consultation2

              Map of Westchester Hardwood Flooring – Floor Coverings International


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              Does dark hardwood scratch more easily than light hardwood?

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              10 tips on buying hardwood floors – from an insiderhttp://theflooringgirl.com/blog/10-tips-on-buying-hardwood-floors-from-an-insider.html http://theflooringgirl.com/blog/10-tips-on-buying-hardwood-floors-from-an-insider.html#comments Sun, 19 Apr 2015 01:55:12 +0000 http://theflooringgirl.com/?p=5889 Hardwood flooring buying tips Hardwood flooring can add beauty and warmth to your Westchester home.  It can also be a large and a long term investment.  This choice can impact the style (as well as value) of your home, and you’ll be living with it for years to come.  It’s ideal to thoroughly research the […]

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              Hardwood flooring buying tips

              10 tips for choosing hardwood floors

              Hardwood flooring can add beauty and warmth to your Westchester home.  It can also be a large and a long term investment.  This choice can impact the style (as well as value) of your home, and you’ll be living with it for years to come.  It’s ideal to thoroughly research the type of wood and the hardwood flooring contractor you’ll use.  Sometimes, making the choice can feel overwhelming, especially when one ventures into a hardwood flooring store.  This hardwood flooring guide can help you think through the choices.

               

              1.  Understand your sub-floor BEFORE you start

              • tips for selecting hardwood solid vs engineered hardwood flooringDo you have a plywood sub-floor or concrete?  You should know your options and limitations before you start as this can have a big impact on the form of wood you choose/type of construction (e.g. solid hardwood flooring vs engineered) and your budget.

               

              • This can help determine the installation method – nail, glue, float

               

              • Generally, if you have a plywood sub-floor, solid hardwood flooring will be a better option for you, especially longer-term.

               

              • If you have a concrete sub-floor, your options are a bit more limited and/or expensive.  First, if you want to do solid hardwood, you would need to first add a plywood sub-floor. This can add to your cost, as well as your height.  If you have engineered flooring, that can go directly on top of the concrete, but if your sub-floor is uneven and/or unsmooth, you may need to spend some additional money on floor prep.

               

              • should you install cabinets for floors firstHeight constraints – You should investigate if you will have any height restrictions.  Solid hardwood is generally thicker than engineered wood.  Solid is 3/4″ thick and engineered generally ranges from 3/8″ to 1/2″ thick (and if you are adding plywood, that adds an additional 3/4″ on top of that.  Check out your door heights (especially if they are exterior doors which a much more challenging to cut, especially if they are metal; interior wood doors can generally be cut, but they will add to your cost).  Will you have any tripping hazards by adding the wood?  This could happen if you are adding it some areas and not others, but the more commonly the issue comes up if you add height near steps so that it may change the height of 1st or last step.  Also, if the hardwood is going in the kitchen (and you are not remodeling the whole kitchen), check to see how the height will be next to the cabinets and even more importantly next to the appliances.  Is there enough clearance height?  Will any of the appliances get locked in (check the dishwasher…it might be fine now, but what if it needs to be repaired or replaced 5 years down the line?)

               

               

              2.  Determine general scope and objectives before you start

              • tips for choosing hardwood flooringWhat area(s) do you want to add hardwood flooring to?   Is it the whole house?  1st floor?  2nd floor?  Living room/dining room?  Bedrooms?  Will the kitchen be part of this work?  What about the steps?  If your current budget won’t allow you to do your dream list, what are your priorities?  (Remember, you can do some now and more later).

               

              • If you have hardwood in other places, it’s generally better to match, especially on species and color.  If you have solid hardwood, recognize that you generally can sand and refinish the wood to be a different stain color, if that’s what you would prefer.  You don’t have to be locked in to the current color.  (And recognize that it is much less expensive to refinish existing hardwood than to replace it).

               

              • ebony hardwood floors darkWhat colors do you generally like? Do you prefer dark hardwoods, light, mid tones, red tones?  Now, this can also be impacted by rooms/rooms of the house you are doing. If it’s a kitchen, consider the color of your cabinets (or what color  they be if you are replacing them) so that you consider the color of the hardwood vs the cabinets (hint: contrasting is better…and white cabinet go with virtually any color hardwood).  How much light do you get in the area?  How large (or small is the space)?

               

              3.  Determine your general budget

              • tips on buying hardwood floorsAs a first stab, determine how much you can or are willing to spend.  What is your upper limit?  Be realistic with what you can afford.  How much do you have saved and/or allocated for work in your house?  Are you expecting a bonus (or a refund check for your taxes?  Do you know how much it will be (or have a range).  What portion of that will be dedicated for this project?

               

              • Remember that you don’t need to spend your full budget.  But, also bear in mind that the cost of the project may exceed what you have budgeted, and you may need to make choices.  This may entail only doing some portions now and others later.  Or, it may mean making sacrifices and choices on type of wood you do.  (Personally, I’d prefer to have my customers “do it” right and either wait or do in phases rather than feel they are making sacrifices.).  If hardwood is too expensive, you may consider doing laminate or carpet…or doing hardwood in some areas and carpet in others (e.g. bedrooms).

               

              • cost of refinishing hardwood in westchesterBear in mind that many underestimate the cost of hardwood.   Sometimes, this is because they see a cheap or sale price item in Home Depot (or another lower end store).  Often, it’s because they see in a store (or online) the cost of the hardwood, but they don’t factor in all of the costs such as installation/labor, rip up/haul away of existing flooring, delivery, transition pieces, base molding/shoe molding.  refinishing steps, moving furniture.   In addition, customers will often take a per square foot price, and then measure their room for square feet and do the math. But, they often forget about the closets and/or hallways, as well as the fact that you need to add in an extra 10% for waste.  Sometimes, there is a lot of floor prep needed.  So, many underestimate the costs of installing hardwood until they get an actual full estimate.  And, sometimes, at this point, they need to rethink the scope of their project and/or wait until they have more savings.

               

              • Determine what you would like the professionals do vs. what areas you plan to do.  In general, it’s best to leverage the expertise of the professional contractors, but there are some areas that can be done by homeowners if they want to save money.  For example, who would you like to move the furniture?  Who will rip up the carpet?  Determine whether it’s more important to save money or time.  Know what you’re capable of…some things end up taking a lot longer than what homeowners expect.  Other times, budget is the constraining factor, and doing some of these tasks yourself may enable you to get the floor that you prefer (or do the full area).

               

               

              4.  Do some research on local flooring stores/contractors – involve them early in the process

              • design consultation for hardwood flooringAsk your friends, realtor, other contractors who they would recommend.  Some people just call and ask their friends and trusted advisors; others ask questions on their facebook page or better yet in their local facebook groups.  Some of our local moms groups are pretty active on facebook and they will recommend great contractors (as well as ones to stay away from).

               

              • Check out Angie’s list.  You do need to pay a small fee to read the reviews on Angie’s List, but if you are doing a big project, it is generally worth it to spend a little of bit of money (e.g. $15-$40) to make sure you get the best contractors.  This will ultimately save you money.  Bear in mind, that you can buy just a 1 month subscription and sometimes, they run special promotions.  Generally, you will find the better contractors on Angie’s List.  You can read the reviews and many of them are fairly in depth.

               

              • Google local flooring stores, especially reviews.  So you could type in “Town XYZ hardwood flooring stores” or “Reviews for town XYZ flooring stores.” (Or after you find some flooring stores, google “XYZ store reviews.”

               

              • hardwood flooring selection tipsGenerally, you’ll get a higher quality product, better value, better workmanship and stronger communication when working with one place, rather than dividing the job up between materials vs labor.  You will also have someone who can give you more holistic advice on the combination of costs, so that you can choose wisely.  There are plenty of instances where customers may think they are saving money by going to a cheaper material, and then they learn later that this choice costs them more in labor.  So, they really haven’t saved anything and in the process received lower quality materials.  Be sure to look at the WHOLE PROJECT price.  Don’t focus on line items, as some stores charge more some items and less on others.  Focus on the whole price and make sure you are comparing apples to apples. 
                • I will give this example about Home Depot’s carpet pricing structure to illustrate a point.  Home Depot typically advertises a small charge for carpet installation (sometimes $39 or $99 or something like that).  Do you really think a good carpet installer will install carpet for low prices like that?  (Not even a desperate carpet installer would work for that price?)  So, they stuff the costs somewhere else.  Instead, they charge the customer about double for the carpet padding…and that’s how they pay for the installation.  So, asking how much someone charges for installation and then comparing it to Home Depot’s is the wrong approach.  Asking how much someone charges for the combo of carpet/padding/installation is a better approach.  But, even here, there can be differences as some carpets are 12 ft in width and some are 15 ft in width, and so you need different amounts.  Some places may charge more for steps, but less for rip up…or vice versa.  So, it’s best to look at the full prices…because in the end, that is what you will pay, even if their “apparent” labor rate is lower, their full price may be higher.

               

              5.  Beware that cheaper is not better…in fact, it’s often worse.

              • Yes, generally, you do get what you pay for.  Cheaper woods are generally cheaper for a reason.  Many are cheaper forms of wood (e.g. engineered vs. solid), have lower grades of wood (e.g. more knots, color variation, more shorts, lower grade species), have inferior milling (i.e. the edges are not straight and hence you will have more gaps which you’ll see during the installation process), and/or inferior finishes (i.e. they will scratch more easily).

               

              • westchester bamboo flooring species westchesterBe very careful with Bamboo.  As a general rule, bamboo does not hold up well to foot traffic nor water.  And, many bamboos, especially those carried by the Big Box stores, are made in China. (Translation: this usually means they have formaldehyde in them.)  They are cheaper than standard woods, and there is a reason for that…they generally don’t last and they can not be refinished.  So, when the bamboo dents and scratches, you will either need to live with it or replace it (and replacing it costs more than initial installation as you will now need to rip it up, and if it’s glues, you will need to smooth out and prep the floor.  Note: strand woven bamboo holds up better, but some of these have issues as well…and these will often cost as much, if not more than oak.  I will reiterate, “you get what you pay for.”  If it’s much cheaper, it is probably inferior.

               

              • Lumber Liquidators…need I say more?  Well, I will just say a bit more, besides the obvious of “you get what you pay for.”  First, in case you missed the 60 minutes episode on Lumber Liquidators, here’s a link.  This is not the first time that there have been allegations against them for dangerous levels of formaldehyde.  Since 2013, there is another ongoing investigation on their engineered hardwood floors.  After the brouhaha from the March 1st, 2015 60 Minutes episode, there is now a federal investigation underway.  But, what about their solid hardwood?  In our experience, I will say that the samples in the store look amazing.  But, the milling has been very poor making installation very challenging and the final work product is not good as the wood is uneven.  (We no longer install their products and haven’t for years).  You can see more in this video put together by some hardwood flooring installation experts on their “top of the line wood.”  I will also say that I participate in some of the online flooring forums, and every week, I see multiple complaints about Lumber Liquidators wood as well as customer service and non-responsiveness to complaints.

               

              • hickory hardwood country naturalBe careful when buying on-line.  Often, you can not see the product in person.  So, the color/tone/graining may look different in person. There may be many more shorts as well as knots.  Often, most of these bargain products are seconds or thirds (meaning they are leftovers that were returned and/or shipped multiple times.  As a result, you will often need to order and extra 10-20% to account for more waste. 
                • Delivery and shipping is often more expensive and inconvenient.  Be careful to view the shipping costs before you decide.   Usually, they will not deliver to your door.  There may be extra charges for a lift gate, and you will need to meet them at the truck and carry this to your house (or apartment).  You may need to stay home from work for the day to do this (as you may get a large delivery window).  You often have little or no recourse if there are issues with the wood, even if that was caused by delivery issues.  Caveat emptor applies here as well.

               

              6.  Style considerations – what are your preferences?

              advice on picking hardwood flooringThere is no one size fits all.  This really depends on your style and tastes, as well as the style and decor of your home.  You can read more about the 2015 Hardwood flooring trends here, but I would encourage you to choose what you like best, even if it’s not one of the top trends.  It’s your home, and you need to love it.  Here are some things to consider.

              • Color – do you prefer light, dark, or mid tones.  Do you prefer brown tones or red tones (or a mix).  Do you prefer gray or whitish tones?  See above hardwood flooring trends for examples of the hot dark, gray and whitish tones.  See this article for the full breath of stain colors.

               

               

              • picking hardwood floors - tips and advicePlank width – That standard you see in many homes in Westchester is 2 1/4″ (for houses that already have hardwood).  Are you looking to match this or go for a contrast?  Often when installing new hardwood, most customers would prefer to go wider. 3 1/4 inch, 4 inch and 5 inch are very popular.  In general, wider makes your space look larger…unless it is “too wide” for your space.  So look at your floor plans and room dimensions.  If you are installing on a new floor (e.g.  if you already have hardwood on 1st floor and you are now adding it to the 2nd floor), it’s visually simple to change the plank size and go wider. But, if your flooring is going next to existing flooring, you need to consider how a change in width will look.  In some spaces, making a change works great, and sometimes, by altering the direction (e.g. going diagonal or just laying it at a right angle) will work very well.  This is a judgment call.

               

              • Pre-finished vs site-finished woods – see more below.

               

              • Texture – Do you prefer a smooth look?  Or do you like a distressed or handscraped look.  This is a matter of preference and style.  Here in the Westchester area, most customers prefer smooth (and finished on site).  Some like an old world oiled floor look.  In other parts of the country, handscraped (and distressed) is popular.  Some of this will also depend if you buying new hardwood vs refinishing existing hardwood.

               

              7.  Family usage and Pets

              tips for selecting hardwood - what is best type of hardwood for dogsIf you have a busy household (e.g. pets, kids, lots of foot traffic), you may want to consider the following.

               

              8.  Prefinished vs. site finished

              Hardwood flooring can either be pre-finished (i.e. finished in the factory) or site finished after it’s installed (sometimes referred to as unfinished). 

               

              tips for getting best hardwood floorsThe advantages of pre-finished wood are:

              • Faster installation (as you avoid the sanding and refinishing process).
              • Harder finish as it has aluminum oxide applied at the factory.
              • Less messy/smelly as you avoid the dust and odor created during the sanding  & refinishing process.

               

               

               

              The advantages of site finished are:

              • tips for choosing your hardwood floorsSmoother edges/no beveled edges – many prefer this look and feel it looks more real.  Color is more consistent (vs. with prefinished wood, you often see lines between the boards, and this is more noticeable in darker colors.)
              • Can make flooring more consistent with hardwood in other areas of the home
              • More impervious to moisture, and this is especially important in kitchens and entryways
              • Can test and customize the color – either to match to existing hardwood or to match to taste

              You can read more about pre-finished vs site-finished hardwood flooring here.

               

              9.  Special considerations

              • Radiant heat – If you’re installing radiant heat, there are extra considerations as many woods will not work over radiant heat.  In addition, you should not be using adhesive over radiant heat.  For solid oak, you will need to use rifted and quarter-sawn oak over radiant heat.  Some engineered hardwood floors are also approved for radiant heat.  But, be careful and do your research before making a mistake that may cause you to replace your floors.

               

              • VAT (vinyl asbestos tile), terrazo, terra cotta – If you currently have any of these on your floor, please recognize that removal of these materials may be very costly, may require special licenses to remove (and air quality testing).  They may also entail extra prep work as the floors may not be smooth was these materials are removed.  These can cost a lot extra to remove.

               

              • Sound transmission – If you live in Co-op or condo, and if you have restrictions on hardwood and sound transmission, you may want to consider a sound barrier such as a cork underlayment.  Please note that sound barriers generally require a floating floor.  (If you nail through the cork or other sound barrier, the nails puncture it allowing more sound to travel through, especially over time as the wood expands and contracts).

               

              10.  Plan ahead on your timing – many underestimate the time frame

              • Westchester hardwood floors - oak flooringUnderstand how long things will take.  How long will it take to deliver the hardwood?  Allow time for this (it might take 1-2 weeks, but it can vary).  Allow time for acclimation (generally 2-7 days, pending on the species and width of hardwood).  How long will demo and install take?  This can vary based on scope of work.  If you are refinishing hardwood floors, how long will that take – learn more here.  Bear in mind that if you are refinishing the hardwood floors, most likely, you will need to be away during this process.  Many customers don’t realize this until they meet with me, and this may cause them to delay 2-6 months as they need to plan the work around a vacation.  So, plan ahead.  Get input and then figure out when is best for you and your family.

               

              Conclusion:

              Picking hardwood can be tricky, especially if you try to do it on your own.  It’s best to consult with the experts.  If you live in the Westchester County/Lower Fairfield CT area, I’d be happy to help.  Call The Flooring Girl at 914-937-2950 (Out of area, please call 914-407-3899.

               

              When it comes to hardwood flooring, choose wisely.
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              10 tips on buying hardwood floors – from an insider

               

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              Hardwood floor refinishing FAQs – Everything you ever wanted to knowhttp://theflooringgirl.com/blog/hardwood-floor-refinishing-faqs-everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know.html http://theflooringgirl.com/blog/hardwood-floor-refinishing-faqs-everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know.html#comments Sun, 12 Apr 2015 12:01:48 +0000 http://theflooringgirl.com/?p=5999 Hardwood floor refinishing FAQs – my most popular articles This gathers my most popular hardwood floor refinishing articles of all time.  These are the frequently asked questions I get from my customers.  If you understand the pros/cons on different types of refinishing as well as the time frame, it will allow you to better choose […]

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              Hardwood floor refinishing FAQs – my most popular articles

              hardwood floor refinishing FAQsThis gathers my most popular hardwood floor refinishing articles of all time.  These are the frequently asked questions I get from my customers.  If you understand the pros/cons on different types of refinishing as well as the time frame, it will allow you to better choose the best option for you and your floors, as well as allow you to properly plan ahead.

               

              This includes articles on the most popular stain colors, video blogs and a very detailed Q&A article (see the post on everything you ever wanted to know about hardwood floor refinishing).

               

              Oil vs water based polyurethane - which is better for hardwood floorsOil based vs. water based polyurethane. Which is better for refinishing your hardwood floors?

               

              How long does it take to refinish hardwood floors?

               

              Can you change the color of your hardwood floors?

               

              Hardwood floor stain color trends – What’s hot?

               

              Can you refinish pine floorsShould I refinish or replace my hardwood floors?

               

              If you have hardwood flooring underneath your carpet, is it better to refinish the hardwood or replace the carpet?

               

              Can you refinish pine flooring?

               

              What is a screen and recoat?  What does floor buffing mean?

               

              Video blogs – Hardwood floor refinishing FAQ’s

               

              FAQ’s for hardwood floor refinishing – everything you ever wanted to know

               

              I hope this info is helpful for your hardwood refinishing projects.  If you live in Westchester County NY/Lower Fairfield County CT, feel free to call us at 914-937-2950. If you are calling outside of Westchester/Fairfield Counties, please contact us at 914-407-3899.

               

              schedule free flooring consultation2

              Hardwood floor refinishing – FAQs – Everything you ever wanted to know

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              Most popular hardwood flooring species and pictures.http://theflooringgirl.com/hardwood-flooring/most-popular-hardwood-flooring-species-and-pictures.html http://theflooringgirl.com/hardwood-flooring/most-popular-hardwood-flooring-species-and-pictures.html#comments Sun, 29 Mar 2015 22:22:24 +0000 http://theflooringgirl.com/?p=5931 What are the most popular choices for hardwood flooring species? There are many species of hardwood flooring, and I thought it would be helpful to help explain and visualize the different types.  There are pros and cons to each, and there is no “one size fits all.”  It depends on what you like and which […]

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              What are the most popular choices for hardwood flooring species?

              Dark hardwood flooring - oak in Westchester NYThere are many species of hardwood flooring, and I thought it would be helpful to help explain and visualize the different types.  There are pros and cons to each, and there is no “one size fits all.”  It depends on what you like and which elements are most important to you as well as budget.  Understanding the characteristics, as well as the pros and cons, will help you select the ideal species for your home.

               

               

               

               

              Westchester red oak hardwood flooring

              Oak hardwood flooring

              Oak is the most common type of hardwood in the United States, especially in Westchester county. Oak is generally less expensive (since it is more abundant) and it is usually the hardwood that you find in most homes…so if you are looking to match what you already have, chances are, it is oak. There is red oak and there is white oak, and you can learn more about the differences here.

               


              dark oak hardwood- espressoOak flooring is very practical for many reasons. First, it is economical. Second, due to the strong graining of oak, it helps hide the scratches and dents better than most other hardwoods.  (Note: if you are not a fan of strong graining, oak is probably not the best choice for you). Third, oak absorbs stain very well, so it is easy to change the color when you are refinishing the floors. Here are some examples of oak flooring with different color stains. You can go from very light all the way to ebony.

               

               

              Red oak eagle ridge from Shaw Red Oak - Shaw Eagle Ridge mid tone Red Oak - Shaw Eagle Ridge

               

               

               

               

               

               

              Oak hides dents and scratches well making it a great option if you have dogs or a busy household.  You can learn more about types of hardwood, colors and finishes that are great for dogs here.

               

              most popular species of hardwood flooringOak is a tree in the genus Quercus of the Beech family.  There are actually 600 species with red oak and white oak being the most popular, especially when it comes to flooring.  White Oak is the state tree for Connecticut, Illinois and Maryland; Red Oak is the state tree for New Jersey.  It’s important to note that red oak and white oak are the names of the trees and not the color of the woods.  They are named these due to the bark.  (But red oak tends to have pinkish undertones and white oak (which is a bit darker) more gold and brownish tones).

               

               

               

               

              maple hardwood flooring domestic species

              Maple hardwood

               

              Maple is slightly harder than oak is (1450 on Janka hardness scale vs. Red Oak at 1290) and it is light in color than oak. Maple hardwood generally comes from Canada and the northern US. Maple has light graining for a smoother and sleeker look. It’s more modern and contemporary while oak is more classic and traditional. Some customers prefer this light color and smoother look, while others feel it has less character. Maple is more expensive than oak and the difference varies pending on which grade of maple it is.

               

              rustic mapleMaple tends to yellow a bit more over time, especially in rooms that have a lot of light. Maple does not absorb the stain as well as an oak does Because of this, maples with stains tend to have a bit of ‘blotchiness” in them…some people prefer this look; others think it looks fake. Maple just absorbs stains differently…and with some of the darker stains, they turn gray…which is a very stylized look. If you are looking for that hip gray look, maple is your best bet (it just doesn’t look the same on oak).

               

              Please note that there are many species of maple and they do vary in hardness.  Hard maple, which is known as Sugar maple or Rock maple (species acer saccharum) which is the same type that is tapped for maple syrup.  This has a hardness of 1450.  There is also Black Maple which is considered somewhat hard.  It’s 1190 on the janka hardness scale.  But, there are also soft maples such as Big Leaf Maple, Red Maple and Silver maple, and these vary in hardness from 700-950 on the janka scale.  In older homes (e.g. 1920’s or earlier) with maple, chances are these are soft maples.

               

              Maple hardwood flooring in westchester character gradeWith maple flooring, there is a wide variance on the grades of hardwood. Clear grade looks very clear and uniform, and if you are going for the modern look, definitely go for a clear grade (and beware…some samples are misleading). Clear grade costs a lot more…so if you are seeing major differences in prices across brands or companies, this is probably the reason why. Lower grades have a lot of color variation, darker boards and imperfections…which is great if you are going for more character, but won’t work if you want modern/contemporary.

               

              Maple is the state tree for New York, Vermont and Wisconsin.  It typically grows to be 130 feet and does better in northern climates.  Sugar maple is tapped for its sucrose-containing sap to make maple syrup. It may take up to 30 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.  A typical maple produces up to 12 gallons of maple syrup per year. Hard maple is also the standard wood for cutting boards since it imparts no taste to food and holds up well.  Gymnasium floors have maple.

               

              Hickory - Shaw Jubilee good for pets and dogs

              Hickory (sometimes called Pecan)

               

              Hickory is also native to the US and looks fairly similar to oak in it’s color and graining, but it is significantly harder than oak (hickory is 1820 on the janka scale vs. red oak is 1290). Many hickories have a lot of color variation and some have knotting and differences in color even within a board. Because of hickory’s hardness and it’s ability to hide scratches and dents, it’s often a great choice for busy households and households with pets. Hickory is more expensive than oak.

               

               

               

              hickory hardwood flooring armstrong country naturalHickory is grown in the Eastern US, principally in the Central and Southern states. Tree heights range from 60 to 120 feet. They typically grow slowly and often it takes 200 years for the trees to mature. The Westward pioneers used hickory for their wagon wheels. Hickory chips and sawdust are used to flavor meet by smoking. Pecan is a species of hickory native to southcentral and southeastern regions US. Pecan was a Native American name given to any nut hard enough to require cracking with a stone. Andrew Jackson was nicknamed “Old Hickory” because of his toughness during disputes. He was “tough as old hickory.”

               

               

              bamboo natural horizontal

              Bamboo flooring

               

              Technically bamboo is a grass, but it can often have the hardness of a hardwood and has really risen in popularity the last few years given its exotic look, lower prices and it’s eco-friendly story.

               

              bamboo carmelized horizontalBamboo is often a bit less expensive than oak, but prices can vary based on the type of bamboo and quality. Bamboo, more than any other species (because it’s imported from China) tends to have the greatest variation on quality and if you are considering bamboo, I suggest you do your homework. If you are looking at a very low priced bamboo, chances are it is low quality and will dent very easily, so tread with caution here.

               

               

               

               

              Strand woven natural bambooStrand woven bamboo is very strong and durable (and it’s significantly harder than oak). It also costs more and looks different than the bamboo you may be accustomed to but, if you are looking for a more durable bamboo, this is the way to go.

               

              One of the nice benefits of bamboo flooring is that the solid version can actually be glued to concrete floors, so if you live in a condo or co-op with concrete floors, this may be a cost effective option for you.

               

              While some bamboos are technically harder than oak, many on the market place (especially the carmelized/darker ones) are not. And bamboo tends to show dents and scratches much more than an oak, and it tends to be even more sensitive to water from minor leaks or pet stains. Oak is very easy to sand and refinish, while bamboo isn’t. Further, bamboo does not tend to absorb the stains nor the polyurethane very well, so you are much better off getting prefinished bamboo (vs. for other hardwoods, either type will work).

               

              Note: Be very careful about buying bamboo that is made in China. Not only do these products tend to be inferior, but there may be a health risk (w/ formaldehyde) due to the adhesives used. In my opinion, it is not worth the risk to save a few dollars.

               

              Brazilian Cherry hardwood flooring Westchester NY

              Brazilian Cherry

               

              As the name implies, Brazilian Cherry comes from Brazil and many fall in love with this beauty due to it deep red color (and it tends to darken and deepen with age) and it’s smooth graining. Brazilian cherry is rather hard (2350 on the janka hardness scale). Brazilian cherry tends to have a lot of color variation across the planks which some customers love and some hate (and the samples are often misleading).

               

              Brazilian Cherry is often called Jatoba (the spanish name).

               

              Brazilian cherry hardwood darkens with age (actually almost all hardwoods darken with age, but the exotic/South American species darken the most. Be careful if you have area rugs…if you lift them up, you will see the wood here is light than the other areas. But, don’t worry, over time (usually around 6 months), it will catch up. Also, because Brazilian cherry darkens over time, some customers get confused and concerned when they see the hardwood when it’s initially installed as it is often lighter than they imagined/remembered, but it will darken and deepen over time so not to worry.

               

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              Brazilian Walnut

               

              Brazilian Walnut is also very rich looking and has similar smooth graining to Brazilian Cherry, but it is brown in tones. Brazilian Walnut is often called Ipe or Lapacho (spanish) and it is extremely hard…one of the hardest hardwoods ~3,600 on the janka scale (almost 3 times as hard as red oak).

               

              Brazilian Walnut is typically grown in Central and South America.  Sometimes, it’s challenging to visually distinguish Brazilian Walnut from Brazilian Teak (Cumaru) as they do look similar (and both are very hard and dense woods.  Brazilian Walnut tends to be darker than Brazilian Teak.  It also lacks the subtle vanilla/cinnamon scent that can detected when the wood is cut.  Because of it’s strength and low shrinkage, it’s often used in high end decking.

               

              Brazilian Walnut also has large color variation and like Brazilian Cherry, it darkens significantly over time. Brazilian Walnut is generally more expensive than Brazilian Cherry and both are significantly more expensive than oak.

               

              Pine Wood Flooring

              can you refinish pine flooring - westchester NYPine is on the softer side of the hardness scale. It’s a soft wood, although its hardness varies by species. Most range from 380-870 on the Janka Scale. Notably heart pine (which is the heartwood and hence hardest section ) is much harder (1225). Softer pine tends to dent more easily from furniture and high heals.

               

              Pine is a character wood. This gives the wood its authencity and helps hide dents and imperfections. Notably, in our area of Westchester County, many older homes (from the 1920’s and earlier) have pine floors. In Westchester, we also have many homes from the 1800’s and even several from 1700’s and these undoubtedly has some form (and more often forms) of pine. Pine was used in older homes as it is softer and the tools and milling capability wasn’t as strong. Older homes in Westchester tend to have Douglas Fir, Yellow Pine, and Eastern White Pine. Many of the boards were both wider and longer. Older homes tend to also have face nails.

               

              I’ve had many customers ask me whether pine or old pine floors can be sanded and refinished. You can read more about that here.

               

              douglas fir wood us species

              Douglas Fir

              This is a beautiful soft wood.  It’s a type of pine, and it’s also known as Oregon Pine or Douglas Spruce.  On the janka hardness scale, Douglas Fir is only 660, so it dents very easily.  Douglas fir beautiful with radiant gold an red undertones, and it’s usually with a vertical grain.  We typically find Douglas fir in older homes in Westchester County, especially on upper levels of homes.  They’ve often been there for 80-100+ years (so they’ve witnessed a lot of history)…many from the turn of the 20th Century and before.

               

               

              douglas fir vertical grainDouglas fir is grown in the coast regions of the US, especially the Western US from California to Washington.  They are also grown as far up the coast as British Columbia.  It used to be a very popular wood because it yields more timber than any other North American tree.  In older homes, most of the planks are very long, and longer than what is typically milled today.  The picture on the left shows newly installed Douglas fir without a stain (i.e. natural).  But, typically, in most older homes with Douglas fir, it naturally looks darker as the wood has aged.  It would typically be a bit lighter than the above picture.  (The above picture appears to have a light Colonial Maple stain on it).

               

              Douglas fir tends to darken a bit more than oak, and because the wood has often been in place for over 100 years.  When repair is needed, it’s a bit more challenging as fir is cut in different widths nowadays (so it needs to be custom milled down to size) and the new wood is lighter as it hasn’t aged for 100+ years.

               

              If you have Douglas Fir or other types of pine flooring in your home, you may find this article helpful:  Can you refinish pine flooring?

               

              Generally, Douglas fir is installed unfinished and then refinished on site.  It is rarely sold as a prefinished hardwood.  I generally advise my customers with Douglas Fir to use an oil based poly as it will hold up better.  And, as many of these woods have been in place for a while, there may not be many sandings left.

               

               

              Heart pine

              heart pine floor Heart pine is the hardest of the pines, and its hardness (1225) approaches that of red oak (1290).  Heart pine has a lot of character and knots, and it tends to come in long and often wide planks for a rustic look. While it is slightly softer than oak, the character nature of the knots and grain helps hide the dents.  This is a very stylized and rustic look. The floor has a lot of beautiful character and patina.  Because of that, it can be the center focal point, and it’s important to make sure the room does not have too many other distractions in it so that it doesn’t look too busy.

               

              A heart-pine floor will resist dents and deep scratches better than a pine floor made from sapwood.  These floors naturally have a reddish-golden tone. Those that prefer their character and authenticity prefer to go natural (i.e. no stain).
               

              Birch

              birch hardwood grown in USBirch is also native to the US.  It looks similar to maple in terms of color and graining. It’s a big softer than oak and maple.  It’s a 1260 on the hardness scale.  Birch is often mistaken for maple and it does stain similar (it has the same challenges that maple does when it comes to staining and closed pores).   Like maple, it takes some of the brown stains and it turns them gray for a very stylish look. Many of the manufacturers use birch for that look, but as a less expensive substitute vs maple.

               

               

              Birch is often used as a filler wood in engineered hardwoods and some plywoods. It is rarely used as an unfinished wood that is sanded on site.

               

               

              us flooring birch hardwoodThere are multiple species of birch. There is paper birch and this is softest – only 910 on the janka hardness scale. Yellow birch is stronger – about the same hardness as red oak. Sweet birch is hardest variety with a 1470 on the hardness (vs. maple which is 1450). There is also “red birch,” but this is just the heartwood of yellow birch. As the name implies, it has more red tones.

               

              Also, there is a unique type of birch that has a waviness or shimmer. It almost looks like flames (or waves) in the wood as the cuts are perpendicular to the grain (similar to quartersawn oak). It’s a characteristic of particular birch trees, not for all trees of the species. This is usually advertised as “flame birch” (or sometimes “curly birch” and more often seen in furniture than in flooring.  You can see an example of this on one of my pinterest boards.  (On this board, you can also see more pictures of other hardwood flooring species.

               

              Ash

              Ash hardwood flooringAsh is pale in color. The color is similar to the lighter pieces of white oak flooring and the graining is reminiscent of red oak, but a bit smoother and a bit more consistent. It is 1320 on the Janka hardness scale, so the hardness is in between these 2 species of oak. Ash absorbs and hold stains well.

               

              Ash belongs to the Olive Family.  It’s grown in Eastern US, and generally grows 80 to 120 feet tall, typically 2 to 5 feet in diameter . Ash is used for baseball bats, hockey sticks, garden tool handles and skis as it’s a hard and sturdy wood.  Ash is also used in food containers as it has no taste.  Natural ash is typically lighter than it appears in this picture…think baseball bats.  It has good shock resistance (hence its use in tools and baseball bats).

               

               

              American Cherry

              American cherry before it has darkenedAmerican cherry is a beautiful wood that reddens with age. While it’s beautiful (and expensive), it’s rather soft and dents rather easily.  It’s only 995 on the Janka hardness scale.  Many get Brazilian Cherry and American Cherry mixed up.  Brazilian cherry is rather hard and is darker/redder and has more color variation than American Cherry.  Both American Cherry and Brazilian Cherry have a lot of color variation and they tend to darken and redden over time.  They are much more photo-sensitive than oak (sensitive to both natural and artificial light).

               

               

               

               

               

              American cherry hardwood flooring briarcliff NY

              American Cherry belongs to the Rose family and is mainly grown in the Northern and Lake states. The average tree is 60 to 70 feet.  The wood has a fine uniform, straight grain, satiny, smooth texture, and may naturally contain brown pith flecks and small gum pockets. American cherry is a bit challenging to stain and can turn out blotchy.

               

               

               

               

               

              American cherry herringbone with borderBe careful with area rugs – it’s ideal to wait 6 months before putting these on top of American Cherry.  Because the wood darken from light, it’s typical to see the areas under the area rug as much lighter. Most of the darkening happens during the 1st 6 months; therefore, waiting 6 months before adding the rugs. Please note that American Cherry gets redder than the sample at the right shows.

               

               

              American Walnut (sometimes called Black Walnut)

              American Walnut popular hardwood speciesAmerican Walnut is another US hardwood that is beautiful and tends to be more expensive.  Sometimes, it’s called Black walnut, or simply walnut.   The color varies from a lighter pale brown to dark chocolate brown. Colors on some boards can have undertones of purple, gray or even a reddish cast.

               

              Like American Cherry, American Walnut is rather soft – only 1010 on the hardness scale and many get this confused with Brazilian Walnut which is one of the hardest hardwoods (around 3600 on the Janka Scale).  American Walnut is also very photosensitive, and often gets lighter over time.

               

              walut border with herringboneWalnut is often used as an accent in older, more traditional homes of Westchester that have borders. It contrasts well vs oak and maple.

               

              Black Walnut is grown in the Eastern U.S., but principally region in the Central states. The average tree height of 100 to 150 feet. The tree trunk diameter is usually only 2-3 feet wide. The roots of the walnut tree release a toxic material which may kill other plants growing above them. The wood develops a rich patina that grows more lustrous with age. The wood is generally straight-grained, but sometimes with wavy or curly grain for more visual intrigue. This species produces a greater variety of figure types than any other as there a wide variations in both color and graining.

               

              Be careful with area rugs – it’s ideal to wait 6 months before putting these on top of American Walnut (just as you would for American Cherry or Brazilian Walnut or Cherry).

               

               

              Hardwood flooring species - which are most popularThere are many other species of hardwood flooring, but these are the most popular hardwoods in Westchester County.

               

              I will do a follow up blog to show some of the other hardwoods including:

              • Brazilian Teak
              • Santos Mahogany
              • Caribbean Walnut
              • Tigerwood
              • Kempas
              • Brazilian Oak/Amendoim

               

              Other useful articles:

              When you’re ready for hardwood flooring or refinishing, give The Flooring Girl a call for a free design consultation 914-937-2950. If you’re calling outside of Westchester/Fairfield Counties, please contact us at 914-407-3899.

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              Hardwood flooring species – pictures of hardwood species

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              Stain protection for your carpethttp://theflooringgirl.com/carpet-and-runners/stain-protection-for-your-carpet.html http://theflooringgirl.com/carpet-and-runners/stain-protection-for-your-carpet.html#comments Sun, 29 Mar 2015 21:44:40 +0000 http://theflooringgirl.com/?p=5934 Does your carpet have good stain protection? When it comes to carpet, stain protection is very important. In fact, staining is usually the primary reason that carpets need to be replaced (along with odor). We know that stain protection is important to our customers, especially those with young kids and pets. That’s why virtually all […]

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              Stain protection for your carpetDoes your carpet have good stain protection?

              When it comes to carpet, stain protection is very important. In fact, staining is usually the primary reason that carpets need to be replaced (along with odor). We know that stain protection is important to our customers, especially those with young kids and pets. That’s why virtually all of the carpet we sell comes with stain protection.

               

              Recently, Shaw upgraded their stain protection. Shaw is the only one in the industry that now places a warranty on their carpets for pet stains, human stains and even places a warranty on carpet placed on the steps. But, if you don’t believe me, check out these 2 videos.

               

              To demonstrate how resistant their carpets are to stains, they created the world’s largest pie throwing contest. Check out how this carpet survives. See how well their carpet stands up to this…it’s AMAZING.

               

              First – the world’s largest pie throwing contest…

               

               

               

              stain protection for carpetNext, check out this technical video with demonstrations. While not as dramatic as the pie throwing contest, the visual demonstrations will wow you. Here is link to Shaw’s R2X stain protection video

               

               

              It’s quite impressive. Personally, I love Shaw carpets. They have so many soft and pretty ones. And, as you can see from the video, they are very practical, too.

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              Stain protection for your carpet. How well does your carpet stand up?

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