Last Update:
20-Nov-2014

Top 10 Flooring Myths

1) "No Wax Finish" means that your floors never need any maintenance.

The truth is that any film finish will need periodic cleaning, and possibly touch ups of deep scratches. In 5-10 years depending on use a scuff sanding (screening) and recoating of the entire floor is needed to maintain the finish's ability to repel water.

2) High gloss polyurethane is the most durable finish.

The truth is that even though a high gloss finish will wear a little bit better, it will loose its gloss in the high use areas first. So really a low luster or semigloss finish has a better appearance durability in the long run. A low luster or satin finish will show dirt and dust the least.

3) Hardwood Floors are 10 times more expensive then wall to wall carpeting.

A properly maintained 3/4" by 2" strip floor will last 300 years bringing its cost, per year, to about 7 cents per square foot. That would include having it recoated and resanded periodically. After 20 years carpeting will look worn out and will have been professionally cleaned many times never really restoring it. It will then be replaced bringing it's cost with maintenance to about 35 cents per square foot per year. After 20 years Hardwood flooring is just beginning to age to a warm patina .

4) Prefinished floors are easy to install and require little skill or attention to detail.

In order to get that 100-300 year life out of your plank floor a lot of consideration has to be put into the suitability of the Subfloor and proper fasteners need to be used. What a waste of money when its just slammed into place, by some production installer, who was assigned to your job when you ordered your wood from a big showroom. Remember it's floor carpentry not floor covering.

5) By choosing the cheapest quote from a hardwood flooring contractor I will save money.

As a general rule the contractor that is 20-50% cheaper than all the rest will skip vital steps in the installation and sanding and finishing processes. The result will be both immediate problems such as a rough finish or uneven stain color. Also future un-solvable or expensive problems, like peeling finish, or gapping and squeaking of boards.

6) Hardwood Floor is one of the best choices for a kitchen floor.

Short term, maybe. But consider that the kitchen takes 10 times the wear and tear of your living room floor. Be sure water spills are wiped up promptly. Recoat the surface with 1 or 2 coats of finish every 2-4 years at the minimum (even if it still looks good). This will keep the surface more water resistant. Consider if you really want this aggravation for the most used floor in your house.

7) A wax finish or oil finish is the most natural look and least toxic for a hardwood floor finish.

You can only apply a wax to a regular film finish. Only a sound finish will allow the wax to be buffed to a high luster. Wax itself will not provide much water resistance and will wear off within a year in the high used areas. Although it is easy to apply, even paste wax has some toxic solvent in it. Oil finishes are usually an oil / varnish blends. Theses provide little protection unless you apply 20 coats. Scratches are easily touched up but are actually still visible once the oil dries. With just a few coats of oil you have minimal if no moisture protection, and because oil finishes are mostly solvent you will be exposed to toxic fumes more often as you do all those touch up coats. Sometimes they put in scents in these finishes to disguise the solvent smell, it won't diminish the toxic effects.

8) Wood floors need to be nourished with wax, oil, or polish to keep them from drying out.

The wood itself is dead, the bones of a tree essentially. The pores of the wood floor are coated with a film finish to prevent water and moisture damage (warping). Floors look like they are drying out when they have lost their finish and the surface has become abraded. At this point they probably need to be sanded and refinished. Oil polishes like lemon oil are actually slow drying solvents and will only make the finish look good for a few days before it evaporates. Wax does not protect the wood except to make it more slippery to reduce
abrasion.

9) After floors are sanded they need to be "sealed" before a finish is applied.

Any quality film finish will "seal" the wood with the first coat. The trick is to scuff sand the finish and clean between all coats so there is a mechanical bond between them. Without this scuffing, polyurethane for example will peel right off. Lacquer sealers or Shellacs are the very worst base coats for polyurethane. And yet most flooring contractors use these sealers because they will save time and money by using only polyurethane as a top coat. Using the same finish for all three coats makes the finish more sound and relativity easy in most cases to touch up.

10) Gaps between floors boards can easily be filled or oil polish or talc can be used to quiet squeaks.

Unfortunately floors that have undergone some swelling, then shrinking don't take well to being simply filled or refinished. Filler in any form is not wood and will not expand and contract with the floor boards. Filler will always crack out within a few seasons, Fresh coats of finish applied will simply seep down between the boards and not solve anything Oil will only last for a few days and will dry up and talc is just as temporary. The floor can be renailed and we'll show you how in a future video.

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