Our industry has seen some fairly bold trends in 2016, and we're certain this train isn't slowing down anytime soon. Our thoughts? Woot- woot! With so many different styles and options available, you're sure to find something you'll love that will set your flooring apart from the rest. Scroll down to see some inspiring looks that are sure to impress.
Gray tones hit a peak in 2016, thanks large-in-part to HGTV and home-improvement programs, and we anticipate this trend will continue through 2017. Grays and gray-brown blends provide a super modern and updated feel, whilst still providing a rustic charm. Like your favorite pair of jeans, they can be dressed up or down.
Other honorable mentions are super-dark Ebonies and super-light Whites. 2017 is all about extremes!
One fun way to make classic hardwood flooring a bit edgier is to have it installed in a pattern. We've seen a rise in chevron, herringbone, parquet, and diagonal installations and agree that they add a uniqueness and sense of regality to any room.
Another increasingly popular way to add some character to any room is through texture. Hand-scraped and wire-brushed flooring is on the rise, and we can see why; they have a charming appeal and can add gorgeous dimension to your flooring.
Perhaps our most favorite trend we're seeing for 2017 is the installation of less common species, and accentuated with a natural finish (no stain) to emphasize its organic beauty. Maple, Hickory, Cypress and Cherry have seen a rise in sales, closing the gap between exotics and more frequent species, like Oak. From their indescribable grain patterns to their one-of-a-kind characteristics and color variation, these hardwoods are sure to inspire awe and add emphasis to any living space.
We're excited to see what new styles and trends will appear in 2017. Which is your favorite? Comment below!
Peace, Love & Wood,
The last step of any (raw) installation or refinishing project is the application of the polyurethane finish. The finish is the key factor in determining the durability and longevity of any flooring project, and is essentially the only thing protecting your hardwood from the wear and tear that it receives every time you walk on it. Choosing the correct polyurethane finish to best suit your needs is a crucial step, and we highly recommend any homeowner considering installation or refinishing services to be as well informed as possible on their available options. Today we'll explore your two main choices: oil-based polyurethanes and water-based polyurethanes, the pros and cons of each, and why it's important you have a heavy hand in the decision making process.
Oil-based polyurethanes have been around forever and are a tried-and-true product, which is why they're still extremely popular today. They're also considerably less expensive than water-based polyurethanes, which makes them ideal for short-term homebuyers, rental properties, and anyone looking for a budget-conscious option. While their longevity and durability rank amongst the best, they do, however, have a few drawbacks compared to their more modern, water-based counterparts.
Oil-based Polyurethanes: Pros and Cons
*Hard, durable, and long-lasting finish
*Inexpensive (retails right around $20/gallon)
*Self-leveling and user friendly
*Generally less health-friendly and less environmentally-friendly (they're not permitted for use in the state of California)
*Longer dry time (8-12 hours before walking on floors is permitted, once the final coat is applied)
*Longer curing time (approximately 5-7 days to reach 90% hardness [when furniture can be moved back onto the flooring], and 14 days to reach 100% hardness [when large area rugs can be moved back onto flooring])
*Prone to ambering (over time, floors will develop a darker, amber color)
*Highly susceptible to sunlight damage (ambering can be accelerated or intensified in areas where sunlight hits the flooring)
Water-based polyurethanes, while newer, are fast-approaching the popularity of the classic oil-based version. Though they fare as the more expensive option, they offer long-term benefits ideal for homeowners looking to invest in their home, and get the most value in the long-run.
Water-based polyurethanes: Pros and Cons
*Hard, durable, and long-lasting finish
*Generally more health-friendly and more environmentally-friendly
*Shorter dry time (45 min-2 hours before walking on floors is permitted, once the final coat is applied)
*Shorter curing time (approximately 2-4 days to reach 90% hardness [when furniture can be moved back onto the flooring], and 14 days to reach 100% hardness [when large area rugs can be moved back onto flooring])
*Less prone to ambering (over time floors may develop some ambering, but it's very subtle by comparison)
*Less susceptible to sunlight damage
*Pricier than their oil-based counterparts (retails right around $75/gallon)
*Much trickier to apply; because they dry so quickly, water-based polyurethanes are more susceptible to application errors. It's imperative you hire a professional who is experienced in applying water-based polyurethanes.
Because we at Hamilton Hardwood understand that the needs for each homeowner differs from the next, we always aim to inform you about your options, and we'll happily apply whichever type of products you decide best suit your needs. You should certainly be leery of anyone trying to steer you down one specific path, and with anyone providing you with only one option on materials. (We can think of only a few reasons why other companies do this: they're either using crappy materials in order to maximize their profitability, or they don't have the skill-set needed to properly apply all types of finishes. Yes, it happens, and more often than you'd probably think.) Your contacted service provider should be as forthcoming as possible about the materials being used in your home, and you, the homeowner, should be researching these materials as well. The more you know, the better off you'll be!
If you ever have any questions about the materials being used in your home, please don't hesitate to ask us how we can answer your inquiries, or help you become better informed.
Peace, Love & Wood,
That IS the question.
You may have heard conflicting information about whether or not it's best to have your floors trowel-filled during the sanding process of your hardwood installation or refinishing project; While some professionals insist on applying it to your flooring, others avoid it like the plague. The decision is ultimately best left to the homeowner, depending on their desired end-result, but it is important that they understand the benefits as well as the limits of trowel-filling before choosing which route to go. In the next few paragraphs, I intend to explain what trowel filler does for the overall look of your flooring, what it doesn't do, and why we at Hamilton Hardwood recommend you have an opinion, either way.
First of all, just what is trowel-filler, exactly? Trowel-filler, or 'trowel,' as it's commonly referred to in the industry, is simply a filler that is applied to surface of your hardwood after your flooring has been rough sanded, much like the way spackle is applied to drywall, for the purpose of filling in all of the tiny cracks, nail holes, and imperfections in your hardwood. The trowel-filler is then sanded off during fine sanding, yielding a flush, smooth, table-top surface for stain, sealer and finish to be applied to. Trowel-fillers are typically water-based, non-toxic, pet and eco-friendly, and contain no harsh solvents. Furthermore, they receive natural, light, dark, white and gray stains in a manner consistent with your hardwood for optimal blending. Having trowel-filler applied to your flooring is crucial if you desire floors that look flawless and new, and many companies include this service at no extra cost, Hamilton Hardwood included.
With all of those listed benefits, it's hard to imagine why a hardwood expert would recommend you not have your floors trowel-filled, right? So, what's the catch? When asking this question, the responses you receive will most definitely vary, but the main reason will likely hear is that, unfortunately, trowel-filler is often only a temporary fix. Your flooring, being a natural, porous material, will expand and contract seasonally. In the summertime, when humidity is high, your flooring will swell up, forcing some of the trowel-filler out of their little cracks and onto your flooring. Because this happens gradually, you will likely not even notice the eviction of the cracks, but in times that you do, it can easily be remedied with a quick sweep or vacuum. Being that, over the years it will likely eventually come out, some pros do not see the purpose in applying it in the first place. Another reason- one they won't tell you- is because it's an added cost of labor, time, and materials, often at no upcharge. Trowel-filling is widely considered a step in the process, not an option, and many companies believe skipping this step, except for in instances when skipping it is requested by the homeowner, is an example of "cutting corners." It's fair to also mention that some homeowners might opt against having their floors filled because, perhaps, brand-new looking flooring doesn't go with the style or décor of their home. Older, antique homes, as well as customers looking for a natural, unpolished, and/or rustic look may opt to skip the trowel-filler for aesthetic purposes.
If brand-new, polished, perfect looking flooring appeals to your tastes, we at Hamilton Hardwood insist on applying trowel-filler to any and all flooring projects. Our reasoning is because, if it's going to come out over time anyway, homeowners might as well enjoy the look while it lasts! Further, because the trowel-filler is applied in between the rounds of rough sanding and fine sanding, we are more easily able to see where our machines have already passed, allowing for a smoother, more consistent sanding. Here are a few photos that show what finished flooring looks like- with and without trowel-filler- for you to reference.
It is ultimately best to consult with your hired professional before deciding whether or not to have your flooring trowel-filled. Feel free to post questions in the comments, or contact me directly at (248) 802-5501 with any further inquiries. Happy filling... or not!
Peace, Love & Wood,
When you're considering having professional work done in your home, an in-home estimate is the best place to start. A professional service provider will schedule a date and time that best fits in your schedule and will drive to your home to speak with you about your renovation interests, take measurements, discuss with you your various options, and will submit to you a quote on a price for the work requested. It's recommended you have 2-4 professionals provide you with a proposal for their services, so that you can compare the costs and determine the best value while finding a company that you feel comfortable hiring and inviting into your home. But how do you decide whom to invite over? How do you determine which company is giving you the best value? What do you do when the professionals you invite over for estimates provide you with conflicting information? How do you know who to trust? Continue reading for a how-to guide to walk you through the process, as well as some tips and tricks that will help ensure you're making the best decisions for your project, home and budget.
STEP 1: DETERMINE YOUR DESIRED SERVICES
Before you begin calling service providers, it's good practice to know exactly what services you're looking to have completed in your home, as well as a list of possible additional services. For example: "I'm looking to have new hardwood flooring installed in my home, and I also may be interested in having my vents replaced, if the price is right." The more specific you can be, the better your professional can envision your desired end-result and provide you with an accurate price. "I'm looking to have new hardwood flooring installed in my home, having the flooring stained a shade in the Medium Brown range, and I also may be interested in having my vents replaced, if the price is right," would be better, and "I'm looking to have new 3-1/4" unfinished oak hardwood flooring installed in my home, having the flooring stained a shade in the Medium Brown range, and finished with a water-based polyurethane. I also may be interested in having my vents replaced, if the price is right," would be even better yet. If you're unsure about which services you desire, I recommend doing a bit of research- Utilize search engines, talk to your friends, request feedback from public forums, and have a list of questions prepared for your in-home estimate. While it's perfectly acceptable to seek guidance from your professional, you should not rely on him or her as your sole source of information; the more educated you are about the process, what to expect, and your available options, the less you're exposing yourself to the possibility of being taken advantage of.
STEP 2: BEGIN THE SEARCH FOR A PROFESSIONAL SERVICE PROVIDER
Now that you've been contemplating on which services you're interested in, it's time to begin scheduling in-home estimates. Finding service providers that specialize in your requested field is a breeze in this modern day and age- Websites and apps such as Angie's List, Thumbtack, and Home Advisor will assist you in easily sourcing local professionals. Many of these sites take some of the guess-work out of your search by providing screenings, background checks and reviews from previous customers. Obtaining referrals from friends, neighbors and relatives is also encouraged, as you can ask them directly about their experiences.
STEP 3: SCHEDULE IN-HOME ESTIMATES AND COLLECT QUOTES
Scheduling an in-home estimate is important; it allows the professional to take a good look at your current conditions to help you determine what is and isn't possible. It also allows the professional the opportunity to notice and mention any possible or foreseen issues you may experience in your renovations. It also provides you, the homeowner, the opportunity to get a feel for your professional- Did they seem respectful of your home? Did they show up on time? Did they give you any negative vibes? Do they seem trustworthy? How your professionals present themselves in your in-home estimate is a decent indicator of what you can expect, should you hire them.
Depending on your project, your professional should provide you with at least a few options for the services you request. For example, with hardwood flooring refinishing projects you have various options for finish, but two of the basic categories of finish are oil-based polyurethanes and water-based polyurethanes. When I am providing an in-home estimate to my perspective clients, it's important that I tell them about both options- the pros and cons of each, how the price of each would impact their total price, whether or not either would have any adverse affects on their health or the environment, how long each will take to dry/cure, etc., and allow them to decide which is best for their home and budget. I would be leery of any contractor or professional trying to steer you down a specific path- it is their job to educate you on your options in order for you to make the best decision for you, it is not their job to decide for you, or to dictate to you what they will be doing in your home.
Sometimes professionals will provide you with conflicting information. This can happen for a myriad of reasons- Some professionals will tell you oil-based polyurethanes are the better option while others will recommend you opt for water-based polyurethanes, but don't panic!. Allow each professional to explain to you why they feel this way and from what source they obtain their information. Also, seize the opportunity to seek both professional and public opinion on the matter. Do you have any friends that recently had their floors refinished? What did they opt for? Were they happy with their decision? Seek the advice of professionals that aren't performing the work in your home (make sure they're aware they won't be hired) so you can get an unbiased professional opinion. And Google, Google, Google.
Some other (highly) recommended questions to ask your professional include:
-Who does the work? Do you complete the work yourself, or do you subcontract the work to other companies?
-Is the company that is completing the work in my home insured? Can I obtain a copy of the policy? (Do they have coverage including accidental property damage? Physical/Medical coverage in case of an accident?)
-What brand/formula of materials will you be using in my home?
-Do you expect any possible issues that might impact the total price of my project, if occurred?
-What is your availability?
-What forms of payment do you accept? Do you have a specific payment schedule?
Once your professional has spoken with you about your renovations and collected accurate measurements of the project scope, he or she should provide you with their professional recommendation and a quote, or proposal, of what the price would be if they completed the services. Don't hesitate to ask to be quoted on your different options separately, so that you can compare the price differences between them.
STEP 4: COMPARE QUOTES APPLES-TO-APPLES
Comparing quotes isn't as easy as comparing the prices. Yes, prices do play a roll, of course, but the important thing to remember to ask yourself is what am I getting for this price? Referring back to my hardwood flooring example, the oil-based polyurethanes and water-based polyurethanes vary fairly greatly in price at about $20-$30 per gallon versus about $70-$125 per gallon, respectively. The difference in the price of the materials being used should reflect in the prices you are quoted. Therefore, a professional quote for refinishing using an oil-based polyurethane should be less expensive than a professional quote for refinishing using a water-based polyurethane. Request that the companies quoting you list the brands of materials they will be using, and do a quick Google search- See what the materials retail for and compare the costs with the materials being proposed by other companies to help determine the total value you're getting. You may find that while Company X has the higher price compared to Company Y, Company X is investing much more money in the quality of materials for your home, comparatively.
STEP 5: HIRE A PROFESSIONAL
You're almost there! Once you've gathered your quotes and have determined the best value, it's time to hire your company! Call them to inform them you would like to hire them based on the quote you received and arrange the dates for your project. Inquire as to whether or not there are any steps you need to take to prepare for their arrival- Do they require a monetary deposit? Do you need to move furniture? Etc. This will help ensure you are prepared to receive your company and will certainly help to expedite the process.
Never be afraid to ask questions. You should feel an overall level of comfort with your professional- You are, after all, inviting them into your home and entrusting them to perform a paid service. If you have an inquiry I haven't covered, please comment or feel free to contact me directly. Wishing you all the very best in your renovations!
Peace, Love & Wood,