What is the Janka Scale?

Did you know that each species of hardwood has a different level of hardness? Some common domestic species like walnut, cherry and birch are less hard in comparison to other common domestic species like maple, hickory and oak. The hardness of solid wood is measured according to a system called the Janka Scale.

The Janka Scale gives a good indication of how well a wood species can be expected to withstand dents and dings. The scale is determined by the amount of pound-force required to push a .444-inch diameter steel ball halfway into the wood.

Ratings for both domestic and imported species are included in the scale; however, none of these values apply to engineered wood flooring. While Janka values give a general sense of how hard solid wood is, other factors also contribute to the durability of wood as well. This can include things like how the wood is cut and the finish that is applied to the wood.

Durability

Paws and claws? No problem! Wood floors are designed to withstand the traffic of busy families, including man’s best friend. Wood floors are extremely durable. They can withstand the rambunctiousness of a puppy and still look beautiful for decades. Just be sure to pick a species that can endure Fido’s playful spirit, sharp nails and occasional accidents.

Source: National Wood Flooring Association

Want to Install Wood Flooring in Your Home?

Here is a step-by-step guide to getting there.

  1. Determine where in your house you would like to have wood flooring. Wood floors can stand up to all the big and small moments that happen at home.
  2. Establish a general budget range and desired timing for the project.
  3. Find a professional to help with selecting/ordering product and installation. Wood floors can last for the lifetime of your home, so you want to choose a professional who has the knowledge and skills to do the job right.
  4. Choose the type of flooring, design requirements, and colors that are necessary for your project.
  5. Plan a time to have the work completed.
  6. Discuss maintenance requirements with your flooring professional. Schedules can vary depending on use, finish wear and tear, and lifestyle.
  7. Enjoy your beautiful new wood floors for many years to come. One of the advantages of wood floors is that they can be refinished, which makes them a great long-term value.

Source: National Wood Flooring Association

Maintenance Tips for Hardwood Floors

When you consider the overall life of a hardwood floor, the benefits of wood flooring outweigh the initial cost. Here are some maintenance tips to help you keep your floors looking great.
  • Wipe up spills immediately with a slightly dampened cloth.
  • Use breathable throw rugs at doorways to help prevent debris from being tracked in and scratching the floor.
  • Sweep with a soft bristle broom or dry microfiber mop. A wet mop and steam mop are not recommended because water and steam can damage the finish and the wood.
  • Follow a regular cleaning schedule to ensure a better performance of the floor. Sweep or dust mop as needed, vacuum weekly using the bare floor setting and clean with the appropriate wood floor cleaner monthly.
  • Use a humidifier throughout the winter months to minimize gaps between the floor boards.
  • Ask a wood flooring professional for a recommended maintenance schedule. Schedules vary depending on use, finish wear and tear and lifestyle.
  • Ask a professional if your wood floor could use a new coat of finish. Most scratches in wood flooring will occur in the finish, not the wood itself. A professional may be able to lightly abrade the finish and apply a new coat to restore the floor.
  • Consider new finish options to give an updated look and style. There are wood floors in excess of 300 years old that are still in service today, but have gone through numerous style changes.

Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

Photo: Shaw Floors

Some allergens are more common outdoors, like pollen and mold spores, while others are more common indoors, like dust mites and animal dander. All allergen sources, however, can be present anywhere at any time. And because the cost of air-borne allergy-related illnesses can be staggering – up to $17.5 billion in health care costs and more than 6 million work and school days lost each year – it is in your best interest to prevent and minimize allergy triggers whenever possible.

While outdoor allergens can be hard to control, there are ways to minimize the impact of allergens that occur indoors. Frequent dusting, vacuuming and washing will minimize many indoor allergens, but these activities also can stir them up as well. One way to prevent allergens altogether is to eliminate many of the areas where they can gather. Flooring is one example.

Flooring is one area of the indoor environment where the amount of indoor allergens can be controlled. Certain types of flooring, such as carpet, are simply better gathering places for allergens. Small microorganisms, pollen, dust, dust mites, mold, animal dander, and other substances tend to accumulate in carpet fibers. Other flooring types, such as wood, tend to minimize the accumulation of allergens because there are no fibers to trap these substances. Taking steps to minimize these kinds of allergens can result in improved indoor air quality.

When it comes to flooring, the Environmental Protection Agency finds that hardwood floors improve indoor air quality. This is because hardwood floors do not harbor microorganisms or pesticides that can be tracked in from outdoors. In addition, hardwood floors also minimize the accumulation of dust, mold and animal dander. Both of these findings result in improved indoor air quality.

Importance of Moisture Management for Wood Floors

Photo: Shaw Floors

Wood is an organic material that reacts to its environment. It is hygroscopic, which means that it absorbs and loses moisture in reaction to its surrounding environment. Wood gains moisture and swells in humid environments. In dry environments, it loses moisture and shrinks. This is completely normal and happens at all stages of the wood life cycle, even as the tree is growing in the forest.

If wood gains or loses too much moisture, problems can occur. Wood that gains too much moisture can cup. Cupping occurs across the width of a floor board, with edges that are raised on each board and centers that are lower than the edges. Cupping always happens due to a moisture imbalance through the thickness of the board.

Wood that loses too much moisture can gap. Gapping occurs between floor boards. Gaps can vary in size and are considered normal if they appear and disappear during seasonal changes in humidity. Gaps are not considered normal if they are large or do not close during more-humid months.

Both of these issues can be minimized by maintaining an environment that is consistently between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and 30-50 percent humidity. Significant fluctuations outside these ranges can result in cupping or gaps.

Source: National Wood Flooring Association

Unique Flooring Options

 You can create a unique look with simple upgrades such as borders, medallions, distressing, painting floors, mixed media and staining.

  • Borders create a frame effect. They can incorporate multiple wood species, stone, marble, brass, stainless steel, nickel and other metals.
  • Medallions are installed in the main field of the floor. They can incorporate multiple wood species, stone, metal and leather. Medallions also can be routed into existing floors.
  • Distressing offers an antiqued appearance. Hand-scraping is the most-common distressing technique used to achieve a worn look.
  • Painted floors transform an ordinary wood floor into something unique. Features such as borders or other design elements can be added and sanded off later.
  • Mixed media mixes wood with other materials. A marble and wood foyer makes a dramatic entryway, while brushed nickel accents in your kitchen wood floor could showcase your appliances.
  • Staining can give your existing wood floors an entirely new look very affordably. Light, medium and dark stains transform your floors without replacement

Source: National Wood Flooring Association

Wood Floor Sheens: Which Is Better?

Photo: Shaw Floors

Some wood floor sheens are shiny and some are not. Is one type of sheen better than the other?

It really is a matter of preference. If you choose to install a site-finished floor, you can choose any sheen that you like. Gloss finishes offer the most shine, and will reflect the most light. Semi-gloss finishes offer some shine, and will reflect some light. Satin or matte finishes offer the least shine, and will reflect the least light.

Generally speaking, the less sheen, the less you will notice small scratches and other wear that is normal with wood floors. If you choose to install a factory-finished floor, you will be limited to the sheen available for the material you select. All sheens will offer the same protection for your floor, so it truly is a matter of which look you like best.

Source: National Wood Flooring Association