Refinishing a Fir Hardwood Floor

Do you have fir floors in your home that need refinishing?Fir floors are one of the most beautiful floors found in many homes throughout North America. It was one of the most popular types of flooring installed here for many years because of its easy availability.But fir floors have many unique characteristics compared to true hardwood floors like red and white oak. This means the appearance and performance of your floor will differ significantly from those of an oak floor. If you want to be completely happy with your floors, then understanding these differences is really important. To start with…- Fir Is Very Soft -Fir is about 100% more vulnerable to impact damage than red or white oak. The wood flooring industry has a guide to tell the density of different types of wood called the Janka Hardness Scale. This test measures the force required to embed a.444 inch steel ball to half its diameter in different types of wood. On this scale, white oak rates at 1360, red oak 1290 and fir at the bottom with a lowly 660. Because they are so soft, fir floors are much more difficult to refinish.Great care has to be taken to ensure the absolute minimum amount of wood is removed during the sanding process. This takes a lot of skill and years of experience. This is one of the easiest floors to mess up if you do not know what you are doing. Many fir floors become ruined by very deep drum marks caused by inexperienced hardwood floor refinishing companies.Once these drum marks (caused by leaving the drum sander in one spot too long) are made, the only way to remove them is to sand the surrounding areas flat to the same depth. This takes decades off the life of a floor and in cases of already thin floors, it can mean having to replace large sections with reclaimed wood.Fir is definitely not the kind of flooring to practice your sanding skills on.- Mottling or Bruising -Refinished fir floors often exhibit another characteristic called mottling or bruising. The extent of this bruising can vary greatly from room to room and even from area to area within a single room. In high traffic areas or near the perimeter of a room, the fir often shows darker, blotchy areas. Most of this is caused by many years of foot traffic and wear. The structure of fibers and cells in soft fir is very different to hardwoods like oak. As traffic makes its way across the floor over many years, fir becomes bruised and this shows up as darker, blotchy areas in the floor.It is not uncommon to be able to tell exactly where furniture had been placed for many years in a room. You will be able to see a light patch that is exactly the size of a bed or dresser surrounded by a darker area which shows the occupants walking path. Usually there will be a darker path to the closets and entrance of the room as well. Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done to guarantee this natural occurrence of mottling, bruising or blotching will not occur. In fact the only assurance that it will not show up is if you install a new floor.- Your Fir Floors May Be Very Thin -Over the years your floors may have been refinished many times, especially if you have a heritage home built before 1940. Because of numerous sandings, the thickness of the wood eventually decreases and the heads of nails begin showing between the boards. If your fir floors are this thin, sometimes refinishing is not an option, and installation of a new floor may be necessary.Sometimes though this can be a false assumption, especially if there is only a few nail heads showing and they are irregularly scattered throughout the floor. The original installer may not have fully set the nail and it is now sitting higher in the floor than the rest. Also, these fir floors installed over a ship lap sub-floor can be very loose and have a lot of movement. It could be the case that the nail has slowly worked its way to the surface over the years and just needs to be set again. So do not let someone tell you that they cannot be restored unless they are absolutely certain that they are unrecoverable.Another clue they may be too thin is to look at the top of the grooves. If they are splitting and breaking off, there is a good chance there is not enough wood left to sand. You could also put a knife blade down between one of the boards (if there is a gap) and measure how much wood is left. The measurement will be the difference between the surface and the distance to the tongue. If its 1/8 of an inch or more you may be in luck.- Movement And Squeaks -Old fir floors are also far more prone to movement and squeaks than other types of hardwood floors. This is because of the way they were installed and the fasteners used. Back then, screws were not used for holding down the sub-floor, or ship lap as it is called under these type of floors. The ship lap was attached to the joists with nails. (If your house is old enough they may even be square headed nails.) The tongue and groove fir flooring was then blind nailed to the ship lap.Over the years, through many winters and summers, your house has settled and the floor has settled and moved along with it. Especially in high traffic areas, the fir and the ship lap will often work its way loose from the nails causing these areas to move and possibly squeak.Movement and squeaks are normal for these beautiful vintage floors. If you have no squeaks consider yourself one of the very lucky few. Attempting to repair this kind of movement can be extremely pricey. It involves very carefully removing the existing flooring to expose the ship lap which then needs to be properly screwed down. Not any easy, quick or cheap process. You are much better off accepting this as part of the character of your floors and getting used to it.- Large Gaps -Another characteristic of fir floors is they often have large gaps between the boards. This has a lot to do with the settling and movement as described above. As they contract and expand over the years, the boards can slowly spread apart and leave you with space between the joints. Many refinishers trowel fill putty over the entire floor to fill these gaps just like they would for an oak floor. But this may not always be in your best interests with fir.Because these floors can move so much, the dried filler will have a hard time staying in place. Also the gaps between the boards will be full of dirt and residue that has collected over the decades and this will further interfere with the adhesion of the filler. Filler that becomes loose will get ground into the newly finished floor surface, scratching it up and shortening its life.Fir also varies greatly from board to board with respect to color. Some boards will be very red, others a lighter brown and still others will have significant light colored streaks in them. Because of this, no filler color will match perfectly. Always take these points into consideration before deciding whether your floors are a candidate for filling or not.Many of these older floors also need repairs due to previous careless renovations like walls being removed etc. Make sure that reclaimed vintage fir from the same era as your floors are sourced so they match as close as possible. Unfortunately, new fir looks nothing like old growth fir from years ago. If you use this new flooring to patch areas in your floor, they will stand out like a sore thumb.So there you have it, soft wood, bruising, movement, squeaks and gaps are all part of the charm, beauty and character of these gorgeous vintage floors. If you accept these characteristics for what they are, then you will love these floors as much as we do.

Types of Kitchen Flooring

The right kitchen flooring can not only make your life easier, but it has the ability to set the mood for the entire room. The three main factors to consider when deciding on the type of flooring for your kitchen are durability, use, and style. We’ll start by taking a closer look at some of the most popular choices in kitchen flooring.Hardwood Flooring
With its warmth and inviting tone, hardwood flooring creates a traditional feeling in any kitchen. Hardwood floors are known for their beauty and prestige and are sturdy surfaces that are easy to clean. One of the most popular types of hardwood floors is oak which is neutral in color and very durable. Other popular types of wood used for flooring are ash, cherry and walnut.Hardwood floors come in two types: solid and engineered. Solid flooring is cut from single pieces of wood and worked into desired shapes. Solid hardwood floors come in strip flooring which are nailed to sub-flooring, plank flooring which has wider boards, and parquet flooring which comes in squares or geometric shapes to create different patterns.Engineered flooring is created by laminating thin sheets of wood together in a crisscross pattern for strength. They are then topped with a veneer of hardwood to add strength. Engineered flooring holds up better than solid flooring when exposed to changes in moisture and humidity. This makes it a good choice for below-ground floors. Engineered hardwood floors come in strips and planks.When purchasing hardwood floors for your kitchen, you want to make sure that it has already been finished. Pre-finished hardwood is your best bet for several reasons. First of all, pre-finished wood flooring is less prone to damage and easier to maintain than its unfinished counterpart. Secondly, it is more durable and will in most cases come with long-term manufacturer warranties. Lastly, pre-finished hardwood floors are offered in a wide variety of stain colors and can be easily re-stained to match future remodeling projects.Laminate Flooring
Laminate is a cost-effective choice for kitchen flooring that is both long-lasting and easy to maintain. Although not considered to be on the same level as wood and marble flooring, laminate can be created to imitate such looks. It is made of several layers and can be installed over
existing floors.Laminate flooring has an impressive life span. In the lifespan of one laminate floor, carpet would need to be replaced 2 to 4 times, solid hardwoods would need 3 to 5 refinishing treatments, and vinyl flooring would need to be replaced 3 times. Most laminate flooring comes with a manufacturer’s warranty of 25 years or longer.Laminate flooring is extremely durable, which makes it a great choice for families with busy kitchens. It will resist damage from traffic, spills, and scrapes and it makes cleaning and maintenance very simple. Laminate flooring will not lose color over time, while flooring such as hardwood tends to fade. It is offered in many different styles and patterns, and can imitate other types of flooring such as wood, rock, gravel, and concrete. Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl flooring is an affordable and aesthetically pleasing choice for kitchen flooring. Because of its durability and moisture resistance it is primarily used in busy areas of the home such as kitchens and bathrooms. Another reason for its popularity is that it can, much like laminate, be made to imitate other flooring materials such as stone, marble, and wood. Vinyl flooring is often referred to by the popular manufacturers’ trade names Linoleum┬« and Congoleum┬«.Vinyl is made of plastic, or more specifically polyvinyl chloride – abbreviated PVC – to which other compounds are added. It can consist of either multiple layers of material or just one layer.It is manufactured using one of two processes: inlay or rotovinyl. With inlay vinyl, color and pattern are imbedded into the vinyl layers, while with rotovinyl only a single layer of vinyl is printed with color and pattern. Both manufacturing processes require a protective coating overlay in order to boost durability.Inlay vinyl flooring, which is only available in tile form, offers great wear resistance since the colors and patterns go all the way through the flooring material. Rotovinyl comes in both sheet and tile form. Resistance to wear is dependent on the type of protective coating used during the manufacturing process. Vinyl floors are very easy to maintain. Sweeping or using a dust mop is often all that is needed.Marble Flooring
Marble flooring is known for its natural beauty and unbeatable durability. Marble is a type of metamorphic rock that is formed beneath the earth’s crust. Although the preferred choice for some, marble flooring is not the optimal choice for kitchen flooring as it is porous and prone
to staining.Marble flooring comes in many styles and always adds a unique look to a room because no two slabs of marble are identical. It comes in a variety of colors such as pure white, deep green, brown, grey and blue. It is ranked in grades A through D, A being the strongest with the least natural imperfections and D being the softest with most faults. Although grade A marble is the most expensive, it is the recommended choice for kitchens because it is the most durable.When choosing marble for your kitchen floor, there are a few things to keep in mind. Since marble surfaces can become very slippery when wet, you should choose finishes to help create traction for your floor; these include tumbled and honed finishes. Marble flooring also requires regular maintenance to last a long time. Because it is porous, marble is susceptible to stains from common household liquids so it is important to apply a sealant to protect it.Ceramic Tile Flooring
Ceramic tile flooring is a very popular type of kitchen flooring in the United States – it is one of the oldest and longest-lasting flooring materials known. Ceramic tile is especially well suited for areas with high traffic and exposure to water and dirt, such as entryways, bathrooms, kitchens and hallways.There are four basic decisions to make when choosing ceramic tile for your floor: size, shape, color, and finish. Ceramic tile ranges in size from 1/4″ square to 12″ x 12″ squares and even larger. Shapes include square, rectangular, diamond, hexagon, octagon, triangular, round etc. – depending on your budget, you can get ceramic tile in any shape you can possibly imagine.Color choices are endless, from black and white to everything in-between, and as far as finish is concerned most people opt for the glazed finish. Glazed tile is simply more water resistant and easier to clean than any other finish. It does tend to be more slippery when wet, but you can easily get tiles that are glazed with a non-slip material, which should take care of that problem. Ceramic tiles are very strong, durable, cost-effective, and require little maintenance – making it an attractive alternative to many other flooring materials. Tile Flooring
Stone tile flooring has a natural look and is strong and durable. It comes in several textures and colors and no two pieces are the same. Stone tiles can look traditional and rustic or contemporary and elegant. Although this flooring option can be expensive, stone tiles have the potential to last a lifetime.Stone tile floors are generally easy to maintain, usually requiring only a mop for cleaning. For extra durability, stone should be periodically sealed. Since kitchens can become busy and messy places, you should choose stone tiles that are resistant to moisture damage and staining.Granite tile flooring is one of the better options for kitchen flooring because it is denser and more durable than other stone options. Granite is still susceptible to stains so it should be sealed and periodically resealed for regular maintenance.Factors such as room size, layout, materials used and amount of labor required will all affect the cost of your kitchen remodeling project. Your project is going to cost more if you are starting from scratch with a complete remodel rather than just replacing a couple of items.A kitchen remodeling project can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 or even $150,000 – you can regulate the cost of your kitchen remodeling project by making product choices that fit your budget.A new kitchen is a major investment, so take your time choosing colors, finishes and features – and remember to have fun. Work closely with your professional contractor and don’t hesitate to ask for help and creative ideas – this will bring you one step closer to the kitchen of your dreams.