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Friday, April 18, 2014

How Not To Ruin Your Floor


Spring is finally here, and for many of us, spring cleaning is on our "To Do" list.  There is a lot of incorrect information about cleaning and maintaining your floor coverings, especially on the internet.  If you are the one in charge of spring cleaning at your house, please take a few minutes to review what the major flooring manufacturers recommend. 

Please be aware that most of the maintenance products and cleaners that are needed to take care of your flooring investment are available at Enhance Floors and More.

HARDWOOD FLOORS
First, check the legs of all furniture to see if the floor protectors need to be replaced and replace them as needed. 

It is now time for a thorough sweeping or vacuuming of your floors.  Do not use a vacuum with a beater bar or hard head on hardwood floors.  The plastic and/or metal parts can scratch the floor.  The vacuum head should be brush or felt; a wand attachment is preferable.

Be careful as you move furniture and appliances.  Do not drag heavy pieces.  You may need to use large pieces of cardboard or something similar to move the heavier items onto to protect the floors underneath.  Many people move the refrigerator to clean behind and under it as part of their spring cleaning.  Do not merely roll the refrigerator out.  The weight of the refrigerator can easily indent the floor.  You need to move the refrigerator onto something so you are not rolling it directly on the floor.  Use a large piece of cardboard, a thin piece of plywood or a piece of carpet with the fiber side down.  Over the years we have seen many hardwood floors damaged from moving a refrigerator.


Damp mop as needed using a hardwood floor mop and approved hardwood floor cleaner.  Do not use oil, wax, or ammonia based cleaners as they will dull the finish and performance of your floor.  These products will also affect the ability to recoat your floor.

Since wood naturally expands when it is wet, never wet mop or use excessive water to clean your floor.  Large amounts of water can cause the wood to swell and may cause your floor to crack or splinter.

TIP:  Just because something says it is for hardwood floors does not mean it should be used on the floor.  Read the ingredients carefully.  We are amazed by what various internet sources state to clean wood floors with.  Do NOT use Orange Glo, Goof Off, bubble bath, steam mops, Windex, ammonia, dish soap, Pledge, vinegar, Pine Sol, Mr. Clean, Mop and Glo, Rejuvenate, tea, Simple Green or similar products.  Only use cleaners made by wood floor manufacturers like Armstrong, Mohawk or Bona.

Use good quality doormats at all of your exterior doors and replace them as needed.

Now is also a good time to look closely at your floors to determine if it is time for another coat of polyurethane.  Start with the areas that get the most foot traffic.  Are these areas duller than the wood in areas that do not get as much traffic?  Do you see light scratches in the finish?  If you can see superficial scratches and the traffic lanes are visible, it is time to recoat your wood floors.  Most floors are in need of another coat of polyurethane every five years or so; in some homes, another coat may be needed every 12-18 months.  If you wait too long, a screen and a coat will not be effective; the floors will need to be refinished.

LAMINATE

There is not much you need to do to a laminate floor as part of your spring cleaning.  Vacuum thoroughly and clean using the product recommended by the manufacturer of your floor.  Check the felt tips on the legs of your furniture and replace as needed.  Be sure to use a large piece of cardboard or something similar when moving large items, like the refrigerator.  Replace your exterior door mats if needed, and just enjoy how easy it is to maintain your laminate floor!

EXTERIOR DOORS
At least once a year, check your exterior doors for possible water penetration.  Check the weather stripping for tears and deterioration.  Check the sills and exterior thresholds for damage.  Is caulking needed?  Can you see daylight through the door?  If you can see light through the door, water can also get through, especially blowing rain.  Sometimes this water gets under your floors without you noticing until the damage is done.  Thousands of dollars in damage can be caused by water penetration. 

VINYL

Now is the time to vacuum and thoroughly clean the floors.  Be sure to use a product that is made by the manufacturer of the vinyl, and do not use a vacuum with a beater bar.

Many people move their refrigerator to clean behind it.  If you are doing this, lay down a piece of plywood and roll the refrigerator onto the plywood.  This keeps you from tearing or indenting the vinyl. 




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Friday, April 4, 2014

This year winter has refused to go away.  We are all ready for spring!  These are some quick and inexpensive ways to freshen and update your home and banish the winter blahs!

~~~display vases of fruit (lemons, limes, tangerines) and fresh flowers
~~~add new pillows and throws in spring colors
~~~change out bedspreads and comforters for   lighter fabrics and colors
~~~how about a new set of dishes in fun colors
~~~new cushions for your patio furniture
~~~make an outdoor serving cart for impromptu entertaining
~~~small chiminea for your patio for the cool spring evenings
~~~a clean and stocked bird feeder
~~~add an outdoor rug
~~~wind chimes placed near windows that you normally have open
~~~a new wreath for your front door
~~~add accessories like candles and lanterns (indoors & outdoors) in fun new colors
~~~new shower curtain and accessories for your bathroom
 


We Are New Too
Have you noticed our new logo and the crisp clean design of our newsletter?  We were ready for a change too!  We have also launched an updated website.  Please check it out and let us know what you think.

How Much Does It Cost
We have had several clients recently having a hard time deciding what type of product is best.  Wood for the kitchen or tile?  Carpet for the stairs and hall or hardwood?  Laminate for the sunroom or luxury vinyl?  Each type of flooring has a unique look and feel, and each has its' own list of pros and cons.  Plus the costs are usually very different.  For some of us, just knowing the approximate cost helps us know which direction we need to go. 

Here is a grid of approximate prices for a typical 300 square foot family room.  All of these floors will look great in a family room.  These prices are fully installed.  As you can see, there is a wide range, based on the quality you choose.

                                 "GOOD"          "BETTER"          "BEST"
Carpet                       $750                  $1200               $1800

Hardwood                 $2000               $2600               $3500

Laminate                   $1400               $1800               $2400

Tile                             $2400               $3000              $5000

Luxury Vinyl            $1400                $1800              $2800

Meet with an Enhance Design Consultant and we will show you all of your options and assist you in making the best choice for your lifestyle and budget.  We're here to help!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

How Do I Pay For It?


If you have been reading our newsletters for a while, you know that many of our most popular home improvement projects are costly.  Your entire house in hardwood floors, kitchen and bathroom remodels, and even top-of-the-line new carpet for really large homes:  the price tags can be in the tens of thousands.  Many have planned ahead for these updates and have the cash set aside.  In fact, one of the most commonly used payment methods our clients use is American Express, because they have the cash and want the points.   Other clients take advantage of 18 and 24 month interest free financing during the time periods that we have these options available.  But for some of us, even 24 month financing is not enough to comfortably fit within our budget. 
  
If this describes you, great news!  As the real estate market and economy has improved, so has the availability of long-term financing options with great rates.  We recently discussed some options with Todd Shepard, 

Senior Mortgage Banker with Fidelity Bank, and he made us aware of several programs that may be exactly what you have been looking for.  Todd tell us that there are essentially three ways to finance a remodeling project:

-a cash-out refinance
-an equity line
-a renovation loan
  
The first two options can work well if you have a lot of equity in your home today.  Renovation loans work well in all situations because the amount you can borrow is based on how much your home will be worth after you make the improvements.
  
Let's take a look at the cash-out refinance and equity line options together, because they work very similarly.  When you apply for one of these loans, your bank will order an appraisal to determine your home's current value.  The bank will then lend you as much as 85 percent of that value for the cash-out refinance and typically 90 percent for the equity line.  From that amount, you subtract your current mortgage balance to determine the amount you net for your project.
  
Again, these options work well if you have a lot of equity in your home.  But what if your current loan balance is at or above 80 percent of your current value?  What if you need more than $10,000 to $20,000 for your project?  This is where the renovation loan saunters in to save the day.
  
The renovation loan was designed with you and your project in mind.  It has two huge advantages that make it an extremely useful financing tool.  The first is that the bank bases the amount they will lend you on the after-improved value of the home, so you get credit for the upgrades and additions.  The second advantage is that if you meet credit requirements, the bank will lend you as much as 95 percent of the after-improved value if needed.  By the way, this product can also be used to purchase a fixer upper and finance the improvements into the same loan.
  
Let's look at an example to see how these advantages can work for you.  Assume that you have a project in mind that will increase your home's value from $300,000 to $350,000, and your current mortgage balance is $250,000.  Because renovation loans use the after-improved value, that means you could borrow as much as $332,000($350,000 multiplied by 95 percent) which would net you roughly $82,500 for your project after you pay off your current mortgage.  Using these same figures you would only net $5,000 on a cash-out refinance and $20,000 using an equity line.  You've priced out maple hardwood floors and top of the line refrigerators---would that extra $62,500 to $77,500 come in handy for your project?
  
This renovation loan program is also ideal for a home buyer looking at houses that need a lot of cosmetic updating but not necessarily major repairs. 
  
The great news is that there are now options available, because for the past several years it was extremely hard to get a mortgage, much less a home improvement loan!  Contact a Mortgage Banker/Broker to find out more about these programs.

What's New At Enhance
It's that time of year that almost every day new products are arriving at the Enhance Design Center.  We just received a shipment of new Shaw area rugs.  Some are suitable to go outside: just what you need to freshen up your deck or porch. 

We have new carpet styles from
Mohawk, Perfection by Bliss, and Tuftex. 
 

If tile is your style, be sure to see the newest selections from 
Interceramic and Happy Floors. 

 
New countertops are a one-day dramatic update to your kitchen, 
and we have new stones in granite and quartz to show you.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Are You Over Your Kitchen?

Kitchens are one of our specialties. A kitchen makeover can be as easy and affordable as painting your existing cabinets, updating your cabinet hardware (knobs and pulls), and adding new flooring, countertops, and a custom backsplash. Other clients want a complete remodel: new design, cabinets, appliances . . . .a brand new kitchen! We can assist you with either scenario. To help you get started, here are a few of the most common questions our clients ask about Kitchen Makeovers.
Will a kitchen remodel add value to my home?
Breathing new life into an outdated or inefficient kitchen can be the smartest money a homeowner spends. Kitchen remodels deliver more bang for the buck than any other home project, offering 80-85 percent return on investment. When planning your kitchen redo, the first step is setting a budget.
What is the average cost of a kitchen remodel?
Every remodeling project is unique, and costs vary depending on the homeowner's budget, tastes, and priorities (a minor redo can be $5,000, while an upscale overhaul can top $100,000). In general, however, materials account for 80 percent of the budget, while labor costs represent 20 percent. According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), the largest expense in a kitchen remodel is cabinetry, which can account for about 30 percent. After labor, appliances are the next biggest expense, eating up about 15 percent of the budget. Countertops are about 10 percent, and flooring makes up 7 percent. The smallest expenses, at about 5 percent each, are lighting, plumbing fixtures, doors and windows, and walls and ceilings.
One of the biggest cost drivers for a kitchen remodel are structural issues. Changing the footprint of your kitchen in any way will bump up your budget. Moving the kitchen or building an addition involves major construction as well as new electrical, plumbing and flooring. Opening up to another room could require structural work and unforeseen costs if you don't have a load-bearing wall. Even relocating the sink or range would mean moving the plumbing or gas lines.
Understanding that there are no standard costs for a remodel -- every home is unique because of its age, layout and construction type -- will help you be more realistic about the potential costs of your project
How long should it take from showroom visit to finished kitchen?
It can take several months, even after the design is finalized. Custom cabinets usually take around four to six weeks for delivery. The extent of the job, the contractor's workload and the availability of materials also have an effect. Once the materials have been delivered, installation can often be completed in as little as two to four weeks.
What makes a kitchen remodel more or less expensive?
Structural changes can be minimal or extensive. Cabinets account for about one-third to one-half the total cost of a typical project and range in price considerably based on quality, the type of material they are made of, and whether they are stock (ready made in specific sizes) or custom (produced specifically for your kitchen in whatever sizes and finishes are needed).
The material you choose for surfaces including counters, backsplashes and floors can also account for variations in price.
Other key elements that factor in to the equation are talent and workmanship. In the remodeling business, you tend to get what you pay for. An accomplished designer, skilled tradesmen and expert installation crew will cost more. But you'll appreciate their ability every time you use your kitchen.
Where do I start? What do I need to be thinking about?
Start by putting together a detailed wish list indicating your goals for remodeling. Do you want more space? More storage? More style? A built-in dog bed? Organize it by priority, from the "must-haves" to the "in our dreams." Use websites like Pinterest and Houzz to view and collect pictures of rooms, products, materials, and architectural details that appeal to you. Visit model homes and vendor showrooms and make pictures of what appeals to you. Make notes on what you like about friends' kitchens (and hate about your own) and general concepts translated from other areas of your life. For example, glass-front cabinets and open shelving are very popular, but if you are not a cleaning fanatic you may be happier with solid doors that conceal clutter.

 

What are some trends in kitchen design?
~Social kitchens with adequate and comfortable seating
~Open floor plans, kitchens that are open to the family room
~Cabinets installed all the way up to the ceiling
~Built-in and concealed appliances, cabinets that look like furniture
~Clean lines and simple designs
~Touch activated faucets, pull-out faucets
~Gray color schemes (white and off-white are still the most popular)
~Light colored cabinets (in 2013 67% were painted white)
~Under cabinet lighting, task lighting
~"Warm" metal hardware like brass, aged gold, and black
~Smart storage solutions like lazy Susans to make potentially wasted corners fully functional, pull-out drawers, customized drawers and cabinets
~Large sinks with deep bowls
~Banquette seating area
~Barrier-free design and products: they make life easier for children, pregnant women, and seniors as well as individuals with disabilities

What is a CKD?
A Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD) is a professional, qualified by education and experience to research, design, plan and supervise the installation of residential kitchens. Only after a rigid examination conducted by the National Kitchen and Bath Association, has he or she been awarded the CKD title. A Kitchen Designer will meet with you and survey your existing kitchen to develop the design plan for your new kitchen. There is a fee for this service, however, if you are changing the footprint of your kitchen, it is well worth the nominal charge to meet with a true kitchen expert.

What is the kitchen "work triangle" and why is it important?
The "work triangle" is the kitchen area from the refrigerator to the main cooking area to the main sink. Connect the three and it should form a triangle (unless you have a 'one-wall' kitchen). It's important because at or immediately adjacent to the triangle's points, all the key kitchen activities - food preparation, cooking and clean up - take place. The work triangle helps to ensure that your kitchen will be functional. It keeps cooking activities centered in one area, with all the necessities close at hand. Whatever your plan, the sink should take central position if at all possible, as it's used more often than either the refrigerator or the stove. If you locate the sink on the same wall as the stove, with the main work area in the middle, you won't drip water on the floor when you go from the sink to the cooktop. When placing the refrigerator, make sure the single-door model, when open, faces into the work triangle, not out of it.

What types of kitchen counter tops are best?
Replacing counter tops is a great way to update your kitchen. Hard surface counters such as granite and quartz are the most widely used surface at this time. Their price varies depending on your stone selection. Granite will have more veining and movement in its look. Quartz counter tops have more of a uniform pattern and color. Quartz holds up as well or better than granite, never needs sealing, and costs a little more than granite.
Can I have wood floors installed in my kitchen?
We install beautiful wood floors in many kitchens with excellent results. Standing water can be an issue but normal kitchen activity is no problem. There are also automated water shut off valves that can be installed in your kitchen and laundry room that will shut off the offending water supply in the case of a leak in an appliance such as a dishwasher.

What are pull-outs? pot drawers? appliance garages?

These are just a few of the specialty features that increase the functionality of your cabinets. If you have not looked at new cabinets recently, you will be amazed at the options that are now available. A pull-out is a shelf that can be independently extended from the cabinet for easier surveying and retrieval like a drawer. Waste cans are now often on pull-outs. Pot drawers are an upgrade from shelves that pull out. 

They lend themselves nicely to storing all types of kitchen cooking and storage necessities. As they are full extension drawers, you will have maximum storage and complete access to items in the back of them with no digging to the back of your kitchen cabinets. An appliance garage is a general term used to reference any number of customized countertop compartments that are specifically designed to house and conceal large kitchen appliances. The appliance garage will usually be on the countertop and will match the facade of the existing top cabinetry. Within the compartment, there is typically a dedicated electrical outlet for the assigned appliance. Appliance garages will usually house appliances like coffee pots, microwaves or other large movable kitchen machines.

How many electrical outlets does my kitchen need?
A guide is outlets every four feet along your kitchen counter tops and at least one on the side of a kitchen island or peninsula. You will also need outlets for your stove, microwave, garbage disposal and dish washer. If you want less clutter on your walls above your kitchen counters, power strips can be installed under the wall cabinets. The strips will create convenient locations to plug in your kitchen appliances without the clutter of wall outlets.
Do all my new kitchen cabinets need to be the same style and color?
This is personal preference. Depending on your taste, your new kitchen can be designed with contrasting cabinets. Unique looks can be achieved by contrasting the kitchen island cabinets from the wall mounted upper and lower cabinets. Contrasting upper cabinets from the lower cabinets will create a custom look.
Contrasting counter tops is another design tool used to customize kitchens and create unique looks.
What is the process?
An Enhance Design Consultant will meet with you in the showroom to discuss the scope of your project. We will assist you in our Design Center with the preliminary selection of cabinets, countertops, backsplash and flooring. We will schedule appointments for you to meet with our Kitchen Designer and to visit our vendor partners for fixture and appliance selection. Remember, the best-case timeline for a kitchen remodel is three to four months start to finish, so if there is a deadline for your new kitchen, be sure to begin the process well in advance.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

How Much Does It Cost?

Hardwood floors are a "must have" in most Atlanta homes.  And many of our best sellers are on sale this month.  Handscraped hardwoods are as pretty as they are practical.  The scraping, distressing, and color variation hides scratches and wear well, so these floors are great for an active family.  Our River Ridge 5" wide handscraped birch is only $5.77 per sq ft installed during our New Year New Look flooring sale.
        
Traditional ¾" thick by 2 ¼" wide oak hardwood floors are perfect for almost every home.  These solid hardwoods can be sanded and refinished numerous times.  This Mohawk prefinished floor is an incredible value this month.  Regularly $6.99 per sq ft installed, now $5.68.  Popular colors include Red Oak Natural, Butterscotch, Gunstock, and Winchester.

On a cement slab and can't have solid oak?  (Not sure why? CLICK HERE to read our Frequently Asked Questions about hardwood floors for more information.)  Never fear.  We have a great engineered oak wood floor on special this month.  It is available in some of our best-selling colors (Chocolate, Cherry, and Natural, to name a few) PLUS has the 50 Year ArmorMax finish, the industry's most durable coating system for hardwood.  Combined with Scotchgard™ Advanced Repel Technology, ArmorMax serves as the ultimate barrier against staining and abrasions that come with everyday life.  The 3" width is regularly $6.40 per sq ft, now on sale for $5.25 per sq ft installed.  Want a wider plank?  The 5" width is now $5.68 installed, regular price $6.70 per sq ft. 

Maybe a wide plank hickory wood floor is more to your liking.  Hickory is one of our best-selling species.  The variation from board to board gives you a truly distinctive floor, and there is sure to be a color that will complement your wood furniture tones and decor.  If you can have the solid hickory, our ¾" x 3 ¼" plank is on sale for $7.31 per square foot.  Need the engineered?  How about a 5" wide style that is regularly $8.35 per sq ft sale priced for $6.80.
  
Maybe wood floors are just not for you.  You love the look, but worry about the care and upkeep.  Consider a laminate.  The realism is incredible, yes, a laminate can fool an expert!  The durability is unmatched.  We love this Mohawk distressed laminate.  Styles include Barnwood Oak, Country Natural Hickory, Bourbon Hickory, and Southern Autumn Hickory.  And the price is almost unbelievable:  regularly $5.60 per sq ft, this month only $4.48 per sq ft with installation.  That's right, with installation, not plus installation!

You do not want to miss out on the lowest prices of the year.  Come by today and let the Enhance Design Consultants show you these great buys.  We are here to help you create beautiful rooms!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Do You Like To Save Money?

Did You Know
that the lowest prices of the year for the flooring industry are in January and February?  You may wonder why.  This is because new flooring products are introduced in December and January, and our manufacturers offer special pricing on some of the older styles to make space and capacity for the new items.  Another reason is that there is not as much traffic in the stores this time of year.  The weather is usually cold and yucky, and bargains are an incentive for us to brave the elements and go shopping.

Why are we telling you this?  Because now is a great time to buy, and there are only a couple of weeks left for you to take advantage of these great prices.  These are some of our best-selling floors and very best buys.  Hurry in, we can’t wait to show them to you!

Carpet…..It Just Feels Better
Patterned carpets are very popular.  These subtle designs add pizzazz to your rooms, and are very easy to decorate around.  Several beautiful styles are on sale, including two Karastan patterns made from SmartStrand Silk, a carpet that is so very soft, durable and stain resistant.  Regularly $5.90 per sq foot installed with new padding, now on sale for $4.78 per sq foot.  Tuftex of California is offering five different patterns, all Stainmaster nylon, for $2.93 per sq ft. installed. These prices include the removal of your existing carpet and pad and furniture moving.  The beautiful patterns include geometrics, pin dots, and scrolls.


If your preference is for a more traditional carpet, you will love this Mohawk WearDated Embrace style.  Embrace features exceptional softness and the durability you expect from nylon.  Regularly $4.45 per square foot installed, now on sale for $3.57 per sq ft.  The beautiful color choices include Grey Flannel, Hazelnut, Shoreline, and Champagne Bubble. 




Carpet with color flecks is also very much on trend.  These carpets are super practical, because the flecks hide stains and dirt.  We can install this Lexmark carpet for $2.50 per square foot, and guess what----the fiber is solution dyed which means you can spot clean the carpet with a bleach and water solution.  What could be easier?!!


Maybe you are only going to be in your home for another year or two and you do not need top-of-the-line carpet.  No worries, we have some great options for you.  We have two great styles from Mohawk and Beaulieu that are much better than “builders grade” carpet, on sale for $2.28 per square foot installed.  There are plenty of colors (70) to choose from, and with an 8 pound pad (included), no one will think you skimped on the carpet.

If Tile Is Your Style
Tile that looks like wood is perfect for those that want the look of wood but are concerned about scratches, indentions, and moisture.  When these looks came out a few years ago, the styles were all super expensive.  Now the prices are coming down, in most cases about the same as hardwood floors!  We have a beautiful style from Interceramic that we can install for $7.06 per sq ft (cement slab installation) or $9.42 if you need an underlayment.  Choose from four colors:  Birch, Maple, Cypress, and Sequoia.

Large format tiles are also hot sellers.  As our Design Consultant Jim says “more tile, less grout!”  Be sure to look at this incredibly priced 20” x 20” Mohawk porcelain tile.  Regularly $7.80 per sq ft with basic cement substrate installation, now on sale for $6.32, or $8.69 per sq ft with backer board.  Another great thing about this tile is that it is rectified, which means you can use a minimal grout joint.  This Travertine-look tile is available in your choice of four designer colors!
           
Next week we will share our best deals on wood and laminate flooring.  If you just can’t wait, come into the Design Center and we’ll be glad to show you what else is on sale this month.

And There’s More!

You can also take advantage of 18 Month Interest Free financing on all installed purchases over $1500.  That’s right, get your new floor today and take until August of 2015 to pay it off.  Hurry, this special financing offer ends Sunday, February 23.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What Is Wrong With My Floor?

Our winter weather has certainly been wild, wacky, and extreme.  Let’s review:  in December it rained (almost) every day, in January we experienced unseasonably low temperatures (single digits and teens) and then Snowpocalypse 2014.  Our heat is running 24/7 and some of us have had busted pipes and water damage.  Unfortunately, this extreme weather is taking a toll on our flooring.  We are getting lots of questions about hardwood floors and how to correct and repair these problems.  Here are some of the most common questions and our answers:

Why is my hardwood floor buckling?
Buckling is the result of wood floors swelling and having nowhere to go but up off the subfloor.  Like a lot of problems with wood, moisture is to blame.  Flooding is the easiest cause to detect because it is easily seen.  Sometimes you can avoid buckling in these situations if you dry the floor out quickly but allowing water to sit for any length of time will cause damage to the wood.  Another reason for buckling is high humidity.
Solution:  Replacement.


Why are my hardwoods cupping/warping?
When the edges are higher than the center of the boards this is called cupping.  This is caused by moisture.  A leak, flood, or large spill will cause a wood floor to warp.
Solution:  Maintain recommended humidity levels (more about how to do this later) and wait and see if the floor will correct itself.  If not, refinish or replace.


Why do I have gaps in my hardwood floors?
It is normal for a home to become drier during the winter months, causing wood planks to shrink.  Properly made and installed hardwood floors can be expected to have normal gaps during the winter season and close back up during the summer.  However, large gaps in wood floors that do not close up in the summer months could be related to a faulty install or faulty job site conditions.  When gaps like these exist the moisture content of the floor is significantly lower than when the floor was installed.  As this excess moisture is lost, shrinkage of the floor occurs. 

Solution:  Maintain recommended humidity levels in the home.  If this does not solve the problem, replace.

Why do my hardwoods squeak?
Squeaks are created by movement.  It is usually not your hardwood floor that is squeaking, it is the subfloor.  Your subfloor (plywood or particle board) is separating from the floor joists. The subfloor squeaks as it moves up and down. 
Solution:  Sometimes a repair (shimming) is possible.  Otherwise replacement of subfloor and flooring.

Why are my hardwood floors dull?
Improper cleaning is usually the cause of hardwood floors starting to dull.  Areas that are high traffic are more prone to dulling, especially if they are not swept regularly.  Grit can definitely dull a floor’s shine.  Harsh cleaners can also dull a floors finish.  Avoid “all purpose,” wax and vinegar based cleaners on a hardwood floor.  A build-up of cleaner (especially Oil Soaps, but any cleaner will leave a residue if you use too much of it) also dulls the finish on the wood floors.
Solution:  Have the floor professionally cleaned and buffed.  If this does not improve the appearance, recoat or refinish the floor.


Why is my hardwood flooring scratching?
Wood is not immune to normal wear and tear, like scratching.  Scratches in the wood can be caused by a number of things, like pets, furniture, high-heeled shoes, etc.  Some finishes are more scratch resistant than others, and higher gloss finishes will show scratches more easily than satin/matte finishes.  Scratches in wood are almost inevitable, but steps can be taken to avoid them.  The use of walk-off mats at all exterior doors, keeping dog’s nails trimmed short, putting felt tips on furniture legs, and decorative area rugs will all help with keeping scratches to a minimum.
Solution:  Recoat or refinish the floor.

More About Humidity
You probably noticed that many of these problems are related to moisture and humidity and wonder why.  Wood is the only thing that we install that was once alive.  Wood is a porous material with a natural cellular structure that expands and contracts depending upon the amount of moisture and relative humidity present in the surrounding atmosphere.  Even after a tree has been cut and milled into planks, the vessels are still present in the wood. It's this quality that makes hardwood floors so absorbent.

The more moisture there is in the air, the more moisture hardwood floors can absorb. When hardwood planks soak up moisture, they expand and swell up. When the humidity level drops below 35%, any moisture within the hardwood planks dries up, consequently causing the planks to shrink. You can safeguard your floors from this predicament by maintaining a steady indoor humidity level. 

If you have hardwood floors in your home you should also have a hygrometer.  This is a device that measures the relative humidity in the area.  Prices average around $15 for a basic model at stores like Walmart and Radio Shack.  You will need more than one if you have hardwood floors in multiple rooms or levels of your home.


Humidity levels affect your health and comfort, as well as your hardwood floors.  Fortunately, the recommended humidity levels are the same for you as for your floors.  The ideal indoor humidity level range is 35% to 55%.  Avoid fluctuations in relative humidity of more than 10 to 20%. Also maintain consistent room temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees.  The important thing is to avoid extremes.