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September 2015

What to note....

Solid hardwood floors have been around for many years. However, more and more manufacturers are switching to wood-engineered floors for various - good - reasons.
This chapter will highlight issues you have to note when purchasing and installing solid wood floors to make sure you end up with the best result possible

Recommended measurements of Solid floorboards and some important rules

Rule of thumb: the width of a solid board should never be wider than 10 times the thickness of the board.

  • 20mm thick means 200mm wide maximum, 15mm thick means 150mm wide maximum.
  • 'Oversized' boards are very prone to buckle and cup.

Rule of thumb: the location of the Tongue and Groove should be as close to the centre as possible to give the board the best stability. Sold floors with the T&G below the centre are prone to buckle and cup.

The reason given for why the T&G is almost at the bottom of the board: floor can be sanded many times more might sound valid, running the risk of cupped boards before there is ever a need to have the floor sanded outweighs this 'benefit' many times over.

short end of the stick - or in this case: the boardRule of thumb: Solid floors can be installed floating if:

  • they are wider than 100mm, 
  • if the room is not wider than 5 - 6 meter
  • and in cases with random length: maximum 15% of the boards are of 'short' lengths - see the article "Three Things DIY Stores Won't Tell You"

Rule of thumb: overall solid floorboards will expand and shrink more than wood-engineered boards. To allow this movement you have to calculate the correct expansion gap needed (and don't fill this gap with cork or anything else!).

Oak floors: for every meter width of the room leave a 4mm gap with a minimum of 10mm. A 2 meter wide area means 10mm gap; a 3 meter wide room needs a 12mm expansion gap. 
Make sure your skirting board are thick enough to cover the movement of shrinkage as well - we recommend 18 - 21 mm thick skirting for solid floors.

Pine boards: 4 - 5mm per meter

Beech - a rather 'nervous' wood type - floors: 7mm per meter

Rule of thumb: moist content of a solid Oak floorboard must be between 8 - 11% when it arrives in your home. Leave solid floors - in their packaging - to acclimatise to your house climate for at least 1 - 2 weeks if they are supplied by a reputable company. (Will you ever know where your floor has been stored when you buy of Ebay?)

Take note in which season you are installing the floor: 
winter, when your house climate is rather dry due to central heating effect, add 2mm extra to your calculated expansion gap
Late summer/autumn, when your house climate has a high humidity, your floor will shrink more when the heating season starts, this is a normal effect but don't reduce the standard expansion gap for this reason. It's better to add 2mm to your skirting board thickness (if you need to buy new ones - alternatively use flat beading to cover expansion gaps and leave skirting boards in situ).

General advice: keep the width of solid boards narrow, 150 - 160mm tops, for the best and trouble free result. If you fancy a wider board do select wood-engineered, much safer bet and in the end exactly the same look - you only see the surface of your wood floor - which with wood-engineered floors are definitely from solid wood - anyway.

image from woodyoulike.typepad.com

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When others let your DIY plans down

You've done your home work, read and studied all there is to know upfront - in this case our "7 Easy steps to repair/restore your parquet floor" - ordered the needed materials and arranged the suitable sanding equipment from the hire centre to be collected just before the weekend.

Only to discover when you collect the sanding equipment the sanding belts available don't go higher than grit 80 - where for an oil finish you should finish with grit 120 and for varnish/lacquer with grit 150.

Failed

That was the story one of our DIY-clients told us over the phone: what should he do now, would grit 80 be enough for his parquet floor he was restoring and could he apply the tropical combo as planned?

Not really, grit 80 as last sanding can produce a rough surface plus sanding lines - every grit leaves sanding lines, the lower the grit the more pronounced they can be. These sanding "errors" will definitely show once you applied a finish layer. Grit 120 will smooth down the surface and remove the sanding lines of the lower grits.

Our client considered himself between a rock and a hard place, having to invest in another day of sanding hire and trying to find the correct grit. But in the end he did find the needed grit and reported an excellent result on his parquet floor restoration.

Be aware when you hire sanding equipment the accessories are also those you definitely need, don't accept lower grits than ordered or arranged - it will come back to hunt you in a less than satisfactory result.

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Fresh New Look Newsletter

Once in a while you have to change things, such as the look of our newsletter. Fresher, brighter than before:

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A lighter colour to brighten up your day - instead of the dark green colour before - filled with the beginning of the latest blogpost and all the other well known items such as:

  • how to find a discount code for our secure online shop
  • Facebook like button
  • where to find the free guides - if you ordered them online and discovered our system already knows you as a subscriber
  • a direct link to the FSC Oak wood floors we have for you
  • a list of the last 5 blogpost so you'll never miss a single one
  • etc etc

We hope you like the new lay-out, we certainly do! It will arrive in your inbox every Monday morning around 11am. Not yet subscribed? Simply fill in the form at the bottom of this (home)page and you're all set. Rest assured, we will never forward your email address to third parties.

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Before Autumn really arrives

BewolktAfter a few months of great high temperatures, last week Autumn definitely seems to be on its way. In some UK areas it was half as warm as before!

When you have UnderFloor Heating (UFH) you should prepare your wooden floor for the coming Autumn/Winter period now, before the real heating season starts. UFH tends to dry out the wood a bit more than on average, so treating your floor with a maintenance polish (like a moisteriser) will keep it in good health and beautiful over the colder times of the year.

It's never a good idea to apply a polish on a warm wooden surface, this can create patches of too quickly dried polish, therefore treat your wooden floor during a "sunny" day these coming weeks, before the UFH is switched on to higher levels.

To know even more about maintaining your wooden floor, have a look at the "Ultmate Maintenance Guide" - filled with practical tips and advice and includes videos showing you how to wash and wax.

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Floor sanding, tips and best products

Discovering an original parquet floor underneath an old wall-to-wall carpet is a great and valuable discovery. Specially if the floor is still in one piece, i.e. no rows or tiles removed for installing a central heating system or other 'modern' plumbing work.

(See also our Wood Floor Guide: "7 Easy Steps to Repair/Restore Your Parquet Floor")

Restoring the parquet floor to its original lustre is really a 'labour of love', but with the right tools and products it will regain its beauty for many years to come. First up is to remove all carpet residue, like the sticky (rubber) underlayment. Scrapping will get most off. If you need to use chemicals try it out first in a corner behind a door - ventilate the room sufficiently and READ the instruction before hand!

Many old parquet floors were stuck down with bitumen which over time can become very brittle and loose its bonding power. Loose blocks (rattling underneath your feet when you walk over it) could be the result. Most old wood blocks have small T&G's all around, lifting one of the block could result in a kind of cascading effect, more loose blocks. So be careful when trying to remove loose blocks.
Before you re-install the lifted blocks remove as much of the bitumen from block and underfloor as possible. Any large residue of the bitumen will make the floor uneven, plus the time the modern adhesive will take to fully bond with block and underfloor will be longer - in cases we've seen even days longer!

Some re-found original parquet floors only need a bit of extra TLC, remove all dirt and apply a suitable maintenance product.
Others however take more work, specially when blocks had to re-installed, the wear and tear layer is rather damaged (by carpet grippers etc). Then sanding the whole floor is the only solution (such a shame to cover your valuable parquet floor with carpet again!).

Before you go out and hire the first sander you can find, a word (two words really) of advice: remove what's left of the old finish material and hire the proper sanding equipment.
No matter with what grit you start sanding, if your old floor still has layers upon layers of wax on and in it you'll spend a fortune on sanding sheets! Try out a tiny corner of the floor with a sanding paper by hand. If the paper fills right up and spreads rubbish (warmed wax) all over the floor you'll first have to remove this old wear and tear layer. Apply Wax and Polish remover - turpentine or white spirit based - on a cloth and remove the old layers as best as possible. Again, VENTILATE & READ the instructions on the tin/bottle.

Wood You Like the best results with a Beltsander For the best end result after sanding your original parquet flooring you'll have to use (hire) a professional belt-sander Beltcloth(and edge-sander). Like the description says a belt-sander has a continuous (or endless) belt, or rather continuous (or endless) sanding paper - called Belt cloth. These belts are very easy to 'wrap' around the drum of the sander (1 minute tops), but most importantly will give the smoothest results on your floor.

Drumsander causing shatter marks, ruining your hard workMost DIY hire centres can only supply you with the (much lighter) drum-sander. Drum sanders have sheets of sanding paper, that has to be wrapped around the drum and fixed firmly in place with a metal bar. This metal bar, when not attached correctly will create shatter marks all over your floor. The problem is that those shatter marks will mostly only show up AFTER you applied the finish product (varnish or HardWaxOil). Trying to remove these marks with a rotary sander will create another problem: circular marks in your floor.

So for a 'professional' restored original parquet floor use/hire professional tools.

More tips and advice on restoring existing Oak flooring see our Wood-Guide "7 Easy Steps to Repair/Restore your Original Parquet Floor".

The best finishes in our opinion is still an Oiled finish, for Oak floor we highly recommend Saicos Premium HardWaxOil - finish your floor in one day due to the quick dyring time.

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