Eco-Friendly Wood Flooring Options: Our Top Sustainable Choices

Eco-Friendly Wood Flooring Options: Our Top Sustainable Choices

As a society, we are slowly but surely becoming more environmentally friendly and socially responsible. We have seen an increase in people exploring green practices to make their homes eco-friendlier, including investing in sustainable options.

Now you may be thinking, what makes a flooring option sustainable? By definition, sustainable refers to something that is capable of being maintained. Choosing sustainable products for your home means picking ones that are high quality and built to last. Eco-friendly flooring means it was sourced from a company that manages forests responsibly, and is FSC certified. FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) is devoted to ensuring that forests are regrown, biodiversity is preserved, and air and water quality is protected. The non-profit’s stamp of approval indicates that forest operations met their extensive criteria including protecting wildlife, minimizing the use of toxic chemicals, and not being sourced via clear cutting.

Wood is one of the best eco-friendly and renewable materials you can choose for your home. Fewer raw materials are used to create wood flooring products, and they also require less energy and natural resources. If you’re interested in installing eco-friendly flooring in your home, keep an eye out for these sustainable wood flooring options:

Palm Wood

Palm trees that no longer produce coconuts are getting a second life as flooring. Typically, trees that do not produce coconuts are burned or dumped. When reclaimed for flooring it helps keep more of the rainforests intact by becoming a source of income for the farmers. Palm wood is a great versatile option for both homes and businesses as it its hard-wearing qualities are well suited for high traffic areas. Being a dense hardwood, it is less prone to damage.

Cork

Cork is a great versatile eco-friendly option with plenty of benefits. Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree, which can be harvested without harming the tree. The bark regenerates within three years, which makes cork a particularly renewable resource. Cork is also anti-microbial, it does not produce off-gas that can damage the quality of the air in your home. Additionally, it does not develop mold or mildew. It is considered a durable option due to its soft sponge like texture. It can sustain regular wear and tear and will not succumb to dents or gouges because of its unique texture. Cork is a natural insulator, it will feel warm to touch, rather than ice cold during the winter months. Lastly, cork is a great noise absorber making it a great option for high traffic areas, or loud spaces, like recording studios, where you would prefer sound not to travel.

Interested in exploring sustainable flooring options for your next flooring project? Give us a call, or stop by the showroom! 

Should I Install Cork Flooring?

Should I Install Cork Flooring?

If the word “cork” only brings to mind wine bottle stoppers, think again. Cork Flooring is a beautiful, comfortable, and sustainable alternative to traditional flooring options. This sleek and contemporary style of flooring has experienced a surge in popularity over the years. Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree found throughout the Mediterranean. Portugal is the largest producer of cork in the world with over 30% of the world’s cork trees and 70% of the world’s total cork production. Cork bark is made up of a tiny sealed honeycomb cellular structures containing gas of 90% air. These cells provide cushion and insulation. Cork can be compressed up to 40% and quickly returns to its original shape. This makes cork a very unique flooring material compared to either hard and delicate counterparts. As an added bonus, cork is environmentally friendly as it is a renewable and sustainable natural resource. Trees are harvested, on average, every 9 years and can produce up to one ton of cork per year. Cork trees typically have a lifespan of 150-200 years. 

Benefits of Cork Flooring

  1. Durability 

Cork flooring is resistant to cracking and abrasions. It’s also impermeable to liquids. Cork flooring has the ability to bounce back, so you don’t need to worry about your furniture causing indentations. When properly maintained, cork flooring will last 40+ years. 

  1. Health and Safety 

Cork is naturally resistant to mold, mildew, and termites. It is also considered anti-microbial. These natural properties make cork flooring healthy and safe for adults, pets, and babies. 

  1. Noise Reduction

No need to tip-toe around the house for a late-night snack when you have cork floors. Unlike hard materials like tile, wood, or vinyl, cork reduces impact noise like the sound of people or pets walking, or something falling on the floor.

Cork is a natural thermal insulator. With a warm hand (or foot) feel, this hardwood and tile alternative will reduce your energy bills through the cold winter months. Its resilience makes it easy to stand on for long periods of time, and makes it resistant to stains, mold and mildew. This renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable option has a minimal impact on the environment from harvesting through to the manufacturing process making it the perfect option for the environmentally conscious homeowner.

Interested in learning more about cork floor options for your home? Visit us in-store to learn more: https://woodchuckflooring.com/

3 Tips For Protecting Your Floors On Vacation

3 Tips For Protecting Your Floors On Vacation

You go on vacation to relax, and spend some time outside of your house. But what happens to your hardwood floors when you’re out of town? Even after being transformed into flooring, wood is still a natural material that reacts to changes in the environment like humidity, temperature and light. Here are our top 3 tips to protect your floors while on vacation because the last thing you want to worry about while you’re kicking back on the beach is the condition of your flooring. 

  1. Check for drastic weather changes that can affect flooring 

If you live in a region that experiences drastic weather changes it may be worth investing in a thermostat that can be controlled remotely. Whenever there is a sudden peak or drop in temperature you can remotely adjust the settings on your thermostat to ensure you maintain the appropriate temperature and humidity levels inside your house. 

  1. Close all windows and skylights completely 

Prolonged periods of sunshine exposure can lead to the lightening of your hardwood floors. To keep your floors protected make sure you close all windows and skylights, and close your curtains or blinds. Another protective barrier would be adding a protective screen on the glass to reduce the amount of light that shines through.  

  1. Don’t turn your thermostat off! 

The indoor temperature of your house should remain between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit with a relative humidity level between 30%-50%. When it is too humid your hardwood flooring absorbs moisture from the air. This results in swelling and expanding of the wood which creates pressure between the boards that can lead to cracking. When humidity is low, it can result in the wood boards shrinking which can result in cracking and buckling as well. 

To prevent this from happening, leave your air conditioner and dehumidifier on while away to maintain the appropriate temperature and humidity levels. 

Questions about best practices for maintaining gorgeous hardwood floors? Give us a call!  

 Did you know? Series #1: The Janka Test

 Did you know? Series #1: The Janka Test

Did you know? The Janka Test measures the force required to embed a .444 inch steel ball into wood by half its diameter, and it is used to determine the ability of a wood specie to withstand denting and wear.Important when choosing the right hardwood flooring for your space, whether than be a high-trafficarea like your hallway or kitchen, or a basketball court.The chart featured here shows you the measurement formore than 20 hardwood species.Now you know.

How to prevent damage to your hardwood floor

Published by: Priscilla Bergeron Photographies by: Mélanie Lafond

(Original Author is Lauzon Hardwood Flooring)

Your renovation project is done; your new Lauzon hardwood flooring is installed, damage-free. You now have your dream décor and dream kitchen, and your house finally feels like a home. You are now wondering how you should care for your hardwood floor to make sure its beauty stands the test of time. As you know, your hardwood floor needs proper care and damage prevention no matter what room, species or finish you have chosen!

Here are our top-5 tips on how to prevent damage to your hardwood floor, along with a few things to take into consideration before you buy, for those of you still shopping for your hardwood floor.

1.  Preventing Scratches

Sand, dirt and sharp objects can scratch and damage your hardwood floor no matter the quality of the finish.

Sand, dirt and sharp objects can scratch and damage your hardwood floor no matter the quality of the finish.

Before buying your hardwood floor

– Choose a resistant finish
Good quality hardwood floor finishes, such as Lauzon’s Titanium finish, will not leave a chalky trace if scratched, as is the case with a standard Aluminum Oxide finish. Scratches are therefore less visible.

– Choose wood with character
Some wood species do have natural character that camouflage damage done by everyday accidents better than others, such as Red Oak and White Oak and Hickory, which are all open grain species. Click here to learn more about our Open Grain texture.

After buying your hardwood floor

– Vacuum and sweep
Vacuum you wood floor weekly, and sweep it daily, using a soft-bristled attachment or a broom, especially in high-traffic areas. Do not use vacuums with a beater bar or power rotary brush head as it will damage your hardwood floor. Vacuuming prevents gritty dirt and particle buildup that can scratch the wood’s surface.

– Use mats
Place floor mats at entrances and exits—they collect and trap corrosive substances that can be tracked in, such as dirt, sand, oil, grit, asphalt, or even driveway sealer. Remember to vacuum or shake out these mats regularly.

– Use protectors
Use felt protectors, protective pads or barrel-type coasters under all furniture legs, especially heavy ones, to protect your hardwood floor from scratches and indentations. Do not use plastic coasters, as they can damage your hardwood floor. Replace these often, as dirt and debris can become imbedded on the pad and act like sand paper on the floor surface.

– Sharp objects
Beware of sharp objects and high heels that can permanently scratch your hardwood floor. Ask your family and guests to remove their shoes.

– Pets
Keep pets’ nails trimmed and their paws clean. Pets can track in substances that cause scratching and stains.

– Deep scratches
Individual wood planks that are heavily damaged can be replaced by your Lauzon professional flooring installer. Always keep a few extra planks in case you need a replacement. 

2.  Preventing Dents

When there is impact or strong pressure applied to wood flooring, wood fibres crush, resulting in the appearance of dents. Each wood species’ hardness is inherent and unique to the species of the hardwood you choose; no manufacturer can influence that. Wood species’ hardness is measuredby the Janka Scale, as discussed in our blog post on hardwood floor hardness.

Before buying your hardwood floor

– Choose texture
Textured hardwood floor can help hide dents. Learn more about this here!

– Choose a flexible finish
It is important to know that high-quality hardwood floor finishes, such as our Titanium finish, have good flexibility. This flexibility allows the finish to absorb heavy impact without cracking by bending with the wood underneath. Although this will protect your floor, it won’t prevent denting.

After buying your hardwood floor

– Floor protection
Refrigerators and other heavy objects should never be moved without proper floor protection. Place them on a thick rug, back side up, and slide the rug so the weight is equality divided. The best method is to pick up the furniture to move it.

– High heels
Beware of sports cleats and high heels that will dent your hardwood floor, as they focus most of a person’s weight on the small heels area. A 125-pound woman walking in high heels can exert up to 8,000 pounds per square inch. Always ask your family and guests to remove their shoes.

– Deep gouges
Individual wood planks that are heavily gouged can be replaced by your Lauzon professional flooring installer. Always keep a few extra planks in case you need a replacement.

3.  Preventing Humidity Problems

Keeping the humidity at recommended level is essential to a healthy home environment, as well as for keeping your hardwood floor looking great. Wood is a natural material that reacts to changes in its environment. Therefore, it is important to keep humidity and temperature at the recommended level at all times, even when the home is unoccupied.

Before buying your hardwood floor

– Choose the right construction
Manufacturers have developed different types of hardwood floor constructions to “improve and control” wood flooring’s natural reaction to changes in humidity. Making sure to buy the right construction for your needs is key. And remember to keep humidity at the recommended level.

Expert engineered Lauzon hardwood floor
    – Humidity levels: 30-80%
    – Levels: Basements, main, upper floors and condominiums
    – Radiant heat: Compatible

Any other Lauzon engineered hardwood floor
    – Humidity levels: 35-65%
    – Levels: Basements, main, upper floors and condominiums.
    – Radiant heat: Compatible

Solid Lauzon hardwood floor
    – Humidity levels: 35-55%
    – Levels: Main and upper floors
    – Radiant heat: Not compatible

After buying your hardwood floor

– Humid season
Excess moisture causes your hardwood floor to expand. To prevent your hardwood floor from expanding, you should:
    – Maintain proper humidity levels with an air conditioner, dehumidifier, or by turning on your heating system periodically during the summer months.
    – Avoid excessive exposure to water from tracking during periods of inclement weather.
    – Make sure you leave free expansion space around the perimeter of your floor when installed and at all times afterward.

– Dry Season
Insufficient moisture causes your hardwood floor to contract or shrink. To prevent your hardwood floor from shrinking, you should:
    – Maintain proper humidity levels in your home with a humidifier during the winter months.
    – Be aware that wood stoves and electric heat tend to create very dry conditions, so make sure to use your humidifier when these are on.

Discover the 6 ways humidity can affect your hardwood floor by clicking here.

4.  Preventing Water Damage

Exposure to water is one of the main reasons why some people shy away from hardwood flooring in some areas of the home, such as kitchens. As we saw in our blog post about hardwood flooring in kitchens, if not stagnant or in big quantity, water does not damage hardwood floors. 

After buying your hardwood floor

– Area rugs
Use an area rug around the sink and dishwasher and in other similar areas to protect your hardwood floor from water and heavy traffic.

– Swipe it
Never allow liquid spills to remain on your hardwood floor; swipe it when you see it.

5.  Minimizing the Effects of the Sun

Over time, sun and bright light can have an effect on your hardwood floor. Some species will gradually age when exposed to sun, and some are more susceptible to yellowing than others.

Before buying your hardwood floor

– Choose sun protection
Choosing a hardwood floor with UV protection is especially important in natural or very light-shade species, such as maple, red oak, ash and birch—the most prone to yellowing.
Most Lauzon hardwood floors with Titanium Finish have integrated Sunshieldprotection minimize the harmful yellowing effects of the sun.

– Be aware of oxidation
Some wood species, mainly exotics, will gradually age when exposed to sun, which is highly desirable. They will reach a darker, richer hue depending on the species and the amount of light the floor is exposed to. This phenomenon, called oxidation, is inherent to the wood species.
It is mainly present in exotics—Brazilian CherrySantos MahoganyAfrican Sapele as well as Black Walnut. It is also visible in our OrganikSeriesHard Maple floor.

After buying your hardwood floor

– Use protection
Use protective window coverings to block fade-causing UV rays and excessive heat from direct sunlight.

– Move
Rearrange rugs and furniture periodically to help the wood age evenly. 

Remember, your new Lauzon hardwood flooring is an investment that can maintain its strength and beauty for years, especially with a little help on your part.

Love your floors, and your floors will love you back for a very long time.

(Original Author is Lauzon Hardwood Flooring)

 MercierPro tips for a worry-free installation

 MercierPro tips for a worry-free installation

(Original Author MercierPro)

We often make the mistake of thinking that installing a wood floor is easy. Because all you need are floorboards and a few nails or some glue to affix the floor to the subfloor… and presto! Right? Wrong. Although the technique may seem rather basic at first glance, some elements can compromise the success of this endeavour, or be a major cause of dissatisfaction.

Here is a list of the main problems caused by a deficient installation, and tips on how to avoid them.

 #1 problem : Inadequate relative humidity and temperature 

We will never say this enough, wood is a living matter that adapts to the building or house ambient humidity and temperature. Throughout its useful life, a wood floor will go through repeated cycles of absorption and desorption of humidity. These gains and losses in humidity will cause expansion or shrinking, respectively, of the wood’s fiber. When these gains and losses greatly differ from the internal condition of the product when it was produced, it will result in deformations. These deformations are usually reversible but can unfortunately be permanent in some cases.

This is the phenomenon that causes the floor to expand with high humidity and contract with periods of low humidity due to seasonal humidity change.  That also means that the wood floor is alive and well! The effects of expansion and contraction are proof of this, as the house dries out during the winter or when indoor heating in on, and then gorges itself with humidity afterwards. Wood is in constant synergy with its environment. It acts like a sponge, absorbing the humidity in the air when it is too high. And when the air is very dry, the wood will release some of its stored humidity. Wood is always striving to be in balance with its environment.

To avoid problems due to improper environmental conditions, it is recommended to maintain a temperature of approximately 68 °F (20 °C ) and 45% relative humidity, even before starting the floor installation. The use of a hygrometer will enable you to monitor and manage the relative humidity  of the installation site and to correct it if needed. Why are these levels optimal? Wood floors are made with an internal moisture content between 6 and 9% to be in balance with an environment of 68 °F (20 °C ) and 45 % relative humidity. To keep the floor’s internal moisture and dimensions (absorption or shrinking), ambient temperature and relative humidity in the home/building must remain approximately at these levels. The temperature and relative humidity mentioned above are ideal for hardwood floors and woodwork inside a home, as well as for the healthy lungs and skin of the humans who live there. In short, everybody wins!

An hygrometer will give a reading of the temperature and relative humidity of the room allowing you  to adjust ventilation, hea or dehumidifier if need be.

Among the most frequent problems related to humidity, there is wood cupping. Cupping is defined as a concave deformation where the edges  of the floorboards are raised compared to the center. Cupping happens for one reason: Variations in humidity compared to the product’s original state. In the case of a hardwood floor, increased humidity in the air or from the subfloor can lead to this type of deformation of the floorboards. In the case of an engineered floor, cupping can happen when conditions are rather dry. In both cases, these changes can create stress in the wood’s fiber, even leading to delamination (separation of the top layer) in engineered floors. When cupping is present in hardwood and engineered floors, it is important to restore optimal conditions. In most cases, the wood will revert to its original state.

As the saying goes: Better safe than sorry. Make sure to allow an expansion gap between the wood floor and vertical surfaces such as walls or built-in furniture. This space will give the wood room to expand and avoid problems when humidity rises. The required expansion gap (widthwise for the boards) is equivalent to the thickness of the board. The expansion gap at the end of each row must be approximately 1/4”. The wood expands more widthwise than lengthwise. It is thus important to allow transitions between floor coverings and vertical obstacles. If the wall molding is too thin to allow the required expansion joint, you can cut notches into the drywall. The wood will then be able to expand, invisibly, under the lower wall molding.

The expansion joint between vertical
obstacles and the end of the rows must be approximately 1/4”.

 In second position: A subfloor that does not meet the requirements for installation of a wood floor. 

Although the subfloor will be covered and hidden by the wood floor, it can be the source of many problems. First, let us revisit the building code requirements and manufacturer’s recommendations for floor coverings. The Building Code ensures that the building will withstand the mechanical loads that it is subjected to. In other words, this ensures that the piano on the ground floor will not go crashing down to the floor below… However, these building requirements do not consider the conditions for optimal floor covering performance. When installing a solid or engineered floor, requirements regarding levelness, joist spacing, and thickness of the subfloor will ensure that the product is not subjected to vertical loads and significant drops that could compromise its performance. The minimal standard for a plywood or OSB (oriented strand board) subfloor is 3/4” thickness and 19” joist spacing, center-to-center. If the joists are spaced at 16” center-to-center, the plywood subfloor can be 5/8”. A subfloor that does not meet the prescribed requirements can lead to squeaking sounds, or friction of the floorboards when walked upon. In other words, that annoying “squeaky floor”. Hence, the importance of the subfloor.

Which brings us to the third most frequent problem during installation: Squeaking noises 

Many parts of the structure and subfloor can be responsible for this. Squeaking sounds come from the movement of the floor when subjected to a vertical force. The floorboards are fixed with mechanical fasteners or adhesive. When this connexion is deficient, the floorboards can move, producing a squeaking sound. A floor that cannot move will not squeak. It is therefore crucial that the recommended subflooring be firmly affixed to the structure, preventing any vertical movement.

Secondly, the floor covering must be affixed with the manufacturer-recommended mechanical fasteners. The use of fixations of the correct length, size, and type (nails or staples) is essential to a successful installation. Spacing between the fixations (nailing pattern) can also vary according to the thickness and width of the floorboards installed. An insufficient number of fixations or too much spacing from the ends of the boards will not ensure good retention and can cause squeaking sounds. In the same sense, a fractured tongue or a fixation with the wrong angle will not ensure good retention. Some floorboards that are more than 5” in width will require mechanical fasteners and adhesive. Make sure to have this information from your wood floor manufacturer before installation.

When the floor is glued to the subfloor, retention is ensured by the quality of the adhesive as well as how it is applied. The key to success is total contact of the board with the subfloor. Using the right trowel, levelness of the concrete slab and using a roller to ensure contact are all important elements. Be careful about how long the adhesive remains in contact with the air. Some products or ambient conditions leave very little time to glue the boards to the floor. The adhesive then becomes less efficient and can cause some the boards to adhere less to the subfloor.

When an acoustic membrane is used, subfloor to membrane adherence and membrane to flooring adherence must be flawless to avoid vertical movement. Finally, choice of membrane is crucial. It must not be easily compressible to prevent any flattening which will lead to the boards to create noise when subjected to a vertical load.

As for the floorboards, they are very rarely the cause of squeaking noises. A word here about the tongue and groove at the ends of the boards and vertical floor movement. The tongue and groove on the boards’ ends do not have anything to do with the floor’s adherence to the subfloor. It is normal for the tongue to be smaller than the groove once assembled. The lateral tongue and groove, paired with adequate fasteners or adhesive is what ensures that the boards remain affixed to the subfloor.

 Problem number 4: The floor’s appearance does not live up to the client’s initial expectations 

Like any natural material, each wood floor is unique, as well as each of its boards. Upon installation, we suggest that you open more than one box at a time to select boards that look good together.

The cutting loss during installation is estimated at approximately 5% of the surface to be covered. It is better to put the darker-colored boards or the ones with more pronounced character marks aside, to install them in less visible areas such as outer walls, under furniture or inside closets, or simply to distribute them equally for a more harmonious result. The prefinished wood floor industry allows for an up to 5% margin of error for natural imperfections and manufacturing defects/grade selection. Before ordering the quantity of flooring needed, it is crucial to carefully calculate the surface to cover and allow a little more to cover any losses due to cuts, natural imperfections, or manufacturing/grade selection defects.

The same is true for accessories. The stair nosing may have been manufactured from lighter wood than the floorboards where it will be installed. It is thus smart to choose your boards in advance to avoid drastic visual transitions in your floor. These details will prevent many dissatisfactions.

 The last problem (but not the least): Splits and checks of the floorboards 

This problem has multiple causes that can usually be easily avoided. Let us be clear: It is unrealistic to expect that a wood floor will show no cracks over time. By splits and checks, we mean the small, almost invisible lines, the size of a strand of hair, to the more evident cracks that sometimes require filler. These cracks are part of the wood’s nature and certain species are more prone to them than others.

Fine crack on a floorboard. 

Some wood floors have more character marks, and already have checking and cracks at the time of installation. Products with more character marks will show more checking and cracks when exposed to fluctuating humidity. If you love wood and its natural look, you must also accept its nature! Adequate control of ambient humidity and allowing for expansion joints during installation will prevent subtle, existing cracks from progressing.

The installation process itself can also create cracks in the wood. Setting the flooring nailer at the wrong pressure, faulty positioning of mechanical fasteners or too much lateral impact when assembling the boards into place can all lead to breakage of the ends and edges.

We can’t really compare wood floor installation to science, not in the true sense of the word. However, every detail in planning, installation, and maintenance will have a direct effect on the floor’s performance and on your satisfaction. 

(Original Author MercierPro)