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The Importance of Humidity and Your New Floors

Everyone that has lived in Michigan for any period of time knows that there is a LOT of humidity here. When it comes to hardwood floors, humidity is a big issue.

When you hire us to install and/or sand and refinish your hardwood floors, you will notice that we put a lot of effort into getting the humidity and moisture content in your home just right, before we start working. This allows us to create the best environment possible so we can do a professional job of restoring your floors.

But… one of the first things we notice people do right after we finish restoring their floors is to turn off the air conditioning or dehumidifier in the summer or crank up the heat without using a humidifier in the winter.

We would like to explain why this isn’t a good idea.

First – Why Humidity is an Issue

During the humid summer months, your floors draw in moisture from the outside air causing them to expand. When they expand excessively it causes major problems like buckling and crowning.

In the winter the opposite is true. As cold outside winter air enters your home and you warm it up, which dries it out, the relative humidity of that air will drop considerably. This will draw the moisture out your hardwood floors and they will shrink. This can cause large unsightly gaps, loose boards and sometimes annoying squeaks.

Neither option is good for the aesthetics or health of your floor.

The solution in preventing both issues is to balance the range of humidity in your home throughout the year.

In Detroit, a range of 35 to 50 percent relative humidity in your home is ideal.

How to Maintain Proper Humidity Levels

Below are four suggestions to help you maintain balanced humidity levels in your home so you can avoid these issues…

1. Suggestion 1: Buy a Hygrometer

A hygrometer is a device that measures the amount of relative humidity (RH) in the atmosphere. We strongly suggest investing in one. You should be able to pick one up on Amazon.com for under $25.00. It will make looking after your floors so much easier as you will always know the exact RH level in your home just by looking at the reading.

Suggestion 2: Control Ventilation

For an older house with lots of drafts, the inside air is replaced by outside air in roughly 1 to 2 hours. Newer houses are usually much more efficient and take about 5 hours to replace the air.

The technical term for this is ACH – or air changes per hour.

The higher your ACH level the harder it is and the more expensive it is to keep control of the RH level inside your home.

The biggest ventilation culprits in an old house are leaky drafty windows and doors. Recessed lights and holes and gaps in ceilings and floors are also big perpetrators. It makes sense that if you can close up these drafty areas effectively, then you can get your home’s ACH down to more normal levels.

This can be as simple and affordable as using insulation strips and some caulking, or as complicated and expensive as replacing all your doors and windows and re-insulating the entire house.

Suggestion 3: In the Winter ADD Moisture

In the winter months, outside air that makes its way into your home and is dried by your heaters, requires added moisture in order to bring the humidity in the air up to our balanced levels (between 35 – 50%). By adding moisture to the air it will stop your floors from excessively drying out and shrinking.

The easiest way to do this is with a humidifier. There are two kinds of humidifiers. You can use either a free standing unit or a permanent installed one that is attached to a central forced air furnace. Both work well and the one you choose will depend on the size of your house and area of wood flooring.

Suggestion 4: In the Summer REMOVE Moisture

In the summer the problem is too much humidity. So in order to stop your floors from taking on too much moisture you will need to reduce the moisture in the air. This means using either an air conditioner or dehumidifier.

Which one is better?

An air conditioner is very similar to a dehumidifier. The BIG difference is that with a dehumidifier, the evaporator coil and condenser coil are both in the same room. So while it does remove moisture from the air, the unit also acts as a heater by releasing the warm dry air back into the room.

With an air conditioner, the evaporator coil is in the room and the condenser coil is on the outside of the house. So like the dehumidifier, it removes moisture from the air to bring the humidity down, but it also removes heat from the room which is much better in the summer.

Below is a chart to help you see the difference between humidifiers, air conditioners and dehumidifiers and when to use each one…

Air Conditioner Dehumidifier Humidifier
Function To reduce the moisture content in the surrounding area and to cool air. To reduce the moisture content in the surrounding area. To increase the moisture content in the surrounding area.
When to Use During warm and humid months where humidity is greater than 50%. During warm and humid months where humidity is greater than 50%. During cold and dry months when humidity is less than 35%.
Differences Cools room as it lowers humidity. Heats up room as it lowers humidity.

The Bottom Line on Humidity 

In the end, wood is wood, and physics are physics. But… there are certain things that can be done to try and control them so your floor has a fighting chance of looking good and staying healthy throughout the year. That’s why we are passionate about educating people on how to properly maintain a balanced RH level in their home.

So after we leave, please, don’t forget to keep using your air conditioners or dehumidifiers in the hot humid summer months. And when the weather turns cold and you crank up that heater, please also turn on your humidifier.

If you do you will be rewarded with a beautiful looking floor year round!

Oh and don’t forget to invest in a hygrometer.

 

Sunlight and Fading Hardwood Floors

Posted by Victor Mulbauer on May 31st, 2014
 

If you have hardwood floors in your home then you know that direct sunlight streaming through your windows can be a big issue for your floors. Most of us have experienced moving furniture or an area rug and noticed the covered flooring is now either darker or lighter than the rest of the surrounding wood. The longer a part of the wood floor is kept covered and away from sunlight, the more noticeable the color difference becomes.

Why does this happen? And more importantly, what can be done about it?

Why do Hardwood Floors Fade?

Fading of hardwood floors due to sun exposure is quite an in-depth subject. Basically, fading and bleaching, as well as darkening in hardwood floors is caused by overexposure of three types of light: visible light, ultra violet light (UV) and infrared light.

UV light is the biggest culprit when it comes to fading of hardwood floors. Wood is very photosensitive, which means it reacts when direct sunlight comes into contact with it. If you put a piece of wood outside during the day, in direct sunlight, with half of it covered, you will be able to see how quickly the sun’s UV rays affect it. When your floors are exposed to sunlight day-in and day-out, it is easy to see why they fade or darken so much.

Whether your floors will go lighter or darker and the speed of the happening depends a lot on the species of wood your floors are made from. Exotic imported woods like Brazilian Cherry will react to UV exposure very fast and tend to darken, compared to domestic woods like red oak, which will react at a much slower rate and tend to lighten in color.

And it’s not only the wood that reacts to the sun’s rays, the finish on the floor can also have a lot to do with with how the floor will react and change color. For example many older homes have oil based polyurethane on the floors. Over time, the three types of light – infrared light, ultra violet light and visible light – will react with this type of finish and slowly transform it into that dark orangey yellowish color that everybody wants to get rid of.

In simple terms, wood reacts to overexposure of sunlight much the same way our skin reacts. If our skin isn’t protected with shade or by applying a sun block, it changes color and gets damaged – some skin goes darker slowly and some goes red very fast! All skin gets damaged from too much sun though, just as wood does.

So What Can Be Done to Stop My Hardwood Floors From Fading?

There are a number of different things you can do to limit the amount of direct sunlight your hardwood floor is exposed to. Some are simple and free, while others will take a bit more time and investment.

The list below starts with simple and free and then goes up from there…

1. Rearrange your furniture and rugs:

Every so often move your furniture and floor coverings around so sunlight reaches the previously covered-up parts of your floors. This will even out the ultra violet and infrared light exposure so the fading process is more consistent throughout the room.

If it’s not possible to move furniture because of space and design restrictions, then at least consider changing up the location of the area rugs during the sunnier months – maybe even removing them completely and then putting them back for the darker and colder winter months.

2. Window coverings:

Curtains, blinds, and shutters are some of the best defenses against fading hardwood floors. The best part is, most likely you have them installed already. Keep them closed on the sunniest side of your house during the worst part of the day. This will drastically cut down on any UV and infrared light reaching the floor. If you have horizontal louvers you can adjust the slats so they angle upwards allowing the sunlight to be directed towards the walls and ceiling instead of towards the floor – that way you still get light inside without direct damage to your floors.

3. Upgrade your finish:

The top hardwood floor finish manufacturers are working hard trying to find solutions to fading and color change. Unfortunately, there isn’t a factory or site applied finish that can completely stop the fading process, at the moment. They are getting better though and a number of finish systems are available that have been designed to slow the fading process down. The high-end water-based finish systems have the best UV inhibitor technology currently, and as a bonus they are extremely durable as well. Ask us which ones we recommend when we’re visiting you for an estimate. Yes, these high-end finishes may be 2-3 times more expensive, but the finish isn’t a huge part of the overall cost in a floor refinishing project, so if you are going to have your floors refinished anyways, this option is definitely worth considering.

4. Specialty window films:

The next step up is to apply a specialty ultra violet and infrared blocking film to your windows. These multilayer films are designed to filter out the damaging types of light while allowing the safer visible light to pass through. You’ll need to do your research well because there are endless brands and businesses that manufacture and install them and they all claim to be the best. 3M seems to be one of the better companies to maybe start with them.

5. Install awnings:

One of the best ways of stopping the sun’s harmful rays from damaging your floors is by blocking them before they even reach your windows. This is what awnings are great for. They come in retractable or fixed designs and in many different kinds of materials and styles to suit every type of home. You can even get remote controlled ones that automatically extend during the sunny part of the day and then retract afterwards. Of course this is a more expensive option… but it’s also one of the most effective in protecting your floors.

What if my hardwood floors are already faded?

If you’ve already tried the free option of rearranging your furniture and area rugs for a few months and the fade lines are still very visible to the point you can’t live with them – then the only option you have is to start over by sanding the floors bare again. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Unfortunately, sunlight damage and fading is an unavoidable part of having hardwood floors. Unless you totally block out your windows so no sunlight can get in at all (which would be very impracticable), there is no way to completely avoid ultra violet and infrared light exposure.

The best thing to do is to try and delay the fading process as long as you can by minimizing the amount of damaging sunlight your hardwood floors are subjected to, and then balancing the amount of light different parts of your floor are subjected to so all areas blend well together as the floor slowly changes color over time.

7 Reasons to Uncover the Hardwood Hiding Beneath Your Carpet

Posted by Victor Mulbauer on May 16th, 2014
 

So you’ve ripped up a corner of your old crusty carpet to see what’s underneath and you’ve discovered hardwood flooring that has been hiding there all this time… how exciting!

A lot of houses here Michigan have beautiful solid hardwood floors that have been covered up by carpeting for decades. Now you need to decide what you’re going to do – stick with carpet or bring those beautiful hardwood floors back to life.

Here are 7 great reasons why we think you should go with the decision to rip out your old carpet and get those beautiful wood floors refinished…

1. Much Easier to Keep Clean

Hardwood floors are way easier to keep clean over the long term because they don’t accumulate hard to remove dirt, dust, and debris like carpet does. No matter how much you vacuum or get your carpets professionally cleaned, you won’t be able to suck up all the gunk stuck underneath them. You should see the amount of dust and dirt that comes up from old carpet and underlay when we remove them.

Properly refinished hardwood floors also have far greater resistance to liquid spills and common household stains and are much easier to clean up after an accident. And the cleaning schedule for keeping wood floors spick and span is easy with regular use of a damp microfiber mop once in a while doing a more thorough clean with an approved cleaner.

2. Way Better for your Health

Hardwood floors are a much healthier choice for anyone with any kind of allergies or if you’re looking to greatly reduce the overall allergens and pollutants in your home’s air. That’s because wood doesn’t have fibers that can trap dust, pollen, dead skin particles, animal hair and dander, fluff, mould, mildew, and other allergens like carpets do – not to mention dust mites which especially love carpeting. Hardwood floors don’t give any of these nasty things a place to hide and accumulate.

There’s a warning on the American Lung Association’s website advising against using carpeting due to the harmful effects these pollutants can have on your respiratory system. They warn that just by walking on them or by vacuuming them you can “disturb settled particles, causing more pollution to become airborne.” It’s not hard to see why carpets are a big health issue, especially for people who suffer with allergies.

3. Longevity, Durability and Respectability

Wood is one of the oldest types of flooring material in the world. Hardwood floors are tough, hard-wearing and have great long term durability. They can stand up to decades of heavy workplace foot traffic. For example, you can visit old buildings and warehouses in Europe that have had wood floors installed for hundreds of years and they still look great today, proving that high quality hardwood floors can last for generations if cared for properly. Have you seen what 30 year old carpet looks like?

Also, keep in mind that unlike carpeting, when your wood floors start looking  a little worse for wear, they can be sanded and refinished to be brought back to new condition. On the other hand when carpet reaches the end of its limited life it will have to be torn out, thrown in a landfill and then replaced with brand new carpeting. It’s rarely necessary to completely replace a wood floor, but when it is necessary, the wood can still be replaced for other uses or as a last resort be used for fuel or heating… no landfill space needed.

4. Increase your Home Value

Hardwood floors can be one of the biggest selling features of a home – along with renovated kitchens and bathrooms. There is no doubt that solid hardwood flooring adds more value to a property compared to carpet, vinyl, tile or laminate flooring. Unlike these other types of flooring, hardwood is long term and never goes out style.

5. Help with a Quicker Sale

If you’re going to sell your house down the road then remember that many prospective homeowners dread the thought of all the work and hassle in removing old carpeting and going through the install or sand and refinishing process. As prospective buyers walk through a place they’re adding up how much time and money they will need to spend getting things renovated and will try to get a lower price. So if you already have your hardwood floors refinished prior to putting it on the market then it will definitely help with a quicker sale and a better price. Houses with hardwood floors are proven to bring in a much higher price compared to similar homes with wall to wall carpet.

6. They Look Great

Hardwood floors are beautiful. They give a much classier and refined look to a home compared to almost any other type of flooring. And it’s just not just us saying that, some of the classiest mansions, libraries, museums and historical estates have beautiful hardwood floors installed in them for the exact same reason – and who are we to argue with that.

7. Completely Customizable

Hardwood floors are also one of the most customizable products in your home. One of the best things about them is that if you decide to change your decor or design style from country or traditional to modern or contemporary, you can change the color and style of your floors to match your new look without having to replace them. Try doing that with any other floor covering.

So there are our 7 top reasons why you should just go ahead and rip that old carpet up and bring your hardwood floors back to life. When you decide to go ahead with your plan, we’ll be here to help. We have the expertise and equipment to completely transform your carpeted floors into the hardwood floor of your dreams.

UV Cured Floor – Part 2

Posted by Victor Mulbauer on May 3rd, 2014
 

In Part 1 of this article, we talked about some of the issues that come from the long cure times of traditional hardwood floor finishes. Namely 1) long waits to replace all furniture and rugs, 2) over exposure to harmful VOCs as the finish off gasses as it cures, and 3) major inconveniences and wasted time on commercial projects.

In this article we’re going to show you how UV Cured finishes solve each of these issues. First though we’ll go through what a UV finish system is and how it works.

How UV Finish is Different

Although UV finish is water based, it is made quite differently from traditional water based finishes. For example, in a typical water based finish, in order for the finish to cure relatively fast and become durable, to work through and although they are faster than solver or oil-based finishes, you’re still looking at up to a week till full cure.

With UV finishes though, the catalysts are monomers, oligomers and photo-initiators. When photo-initiators are exposed to UV light it generates an action that induces cross-linking between the monomers, oligomers and polymers in the finish, which cause it to cure.

It all sounds very technical but the most important, as well as easy part to understand from all of this is that UV finishes, once exposed to UV light, cure, not in days or hours… but in seconds.

This is a huge benefit to pre-finished flooring manufacturers who have been using this technology for years. Pretty much all of the hardwood flooring you see with finish on it at your local big box store has been cured instantly with a UV finish system. It allows for a very fast production line. Quick multiple coats can be applied and then it can be cured, packed and shipped very quickly.

The UV curing machines they use though, are very large and heavy. What was needed was a UV light source that was small and light enough so it could be used on job sites. This is where the portable UV light machines come in to play.

The UV Curing Process

There are two types of portable UV machines used to cure a site finished floor. One is the big machine which comprises of a large UV light, encased in a box on wheels. This large light is rolled over the main floor area once the final finish coat is dry enough to walk on. It is limited though in that it can’t reach corners or other small areas like closets and stairs. So to expose these areas to UV light a small handheld UV unit is used.

These portable UV light machines basically allow us to bring prefinished hardwood floor coating technology to the job site.

The sanding process is exactly the same as it would be for any other finish. The hardwood floor is sanded to finish stage then the first 2 coats are applied and allowed to dry between coats. Once the final coat of finish is applied and is dry to the touch, the UV light machine is rolled over the floor which instantly cures the finish. The result is an impermeable, chemically resistant and extremely durable film that is comparable to the super-tough finishes you find on quality pre-finished flooring but without the negative aspects, like ugly bevels and limited options for customization.

Let’s have a look at the benefits of using a UV cured finish system compared to the limitations of a traditional finish system…

Benefit 1 – Residential Projects

As has been previously mentioned, UV cured finishes instantly cures to 100 percent hardness after the UV light rolls over it. It is then ready for traffic immediately!

Think of how much of an advantage that gives you as a homeowner. Now you can move back all of your furniture the minute the floor guys pull out of your driveway. No more waiting weeks to put your hallway and area rugs and door mats back. No more tip toeing around the house trying not to damage the floor till it reaches full cure.

It is also stressful having to constantly remind the tradesmen working on and around the newly refinished floors to be careful with their tools, ladders, and heavy boots, so they don’t damage it as it’s still curing. Something else that renovating homeowners do is cover the newly refinished floors with paper or plastic as soon as they’re dry, but not cured — do not do this. this will only cause issues with the finish, because the floor needs to breathe while it cures.

Now with instant UV cure finish, all three of these issues are a thing of the past.

Benefit 2 – Zero VOCs

In the Part 1 of this article, we mentioned how VOCs are not safe to be around and breathe in, especially if you’re pregnant or have young children living in your house. That’s one of the major downsides to traditional finishes. Because they take much longer to cure, you’re exposed to these nasty VOCs for a greater period of time. Old school solvent based finishes can contain 750 grams/liter which can off gas for weeks. During that time you’re breathing in all kinds of harmful substances.

With UV finish though, the VOCs are only emitted as the finish is drying. Even then the VOCs are extremely low. Once the finish is dry enough to put the UV lights on, the finish is 100 percent cured instantly and there are no more smelly fumes or VOCs released from the finish.

It’s one of the most eco-friendly finishes available.

Benefit 3 – Commercial Projects

We also touched on the huge issue cure time is for commercial projects. All down time waiting for things to dry and cure costs either time, money, or both in one form or another. Retail stores, offices, and restaurants, can lose huge amounts of revenue from staying closed for even a day.

VOCs, fumes and smell are also a big no, no for commercial projects. And your clientele couldn’t care less about treading carefully on your new floors while they cure either.

With our UV finish system, commercial floor renovations are much more convenient and way faster. Usually commercial floor renovations are done over night, after the business closes for the day. Once sanded, the hardwood floors can be coated and let dry for a few hours until the curing machines can be used. Then, once they’ve instantly 100 percent cured in the time it takes ot roll the UV light across the floor, your floors are completed and ready for you to re-open to conduct business the next morning. All with absolutely no smell or VOCs still being released from the finish and no stress about clientele scuffing up partially cured finish!

Of course certain projects may still need to be completed over the course of a couple of days, but compared with using traditional finishes, the benefits of UV technology for commercial projects are huge.

The Wrap Up

I think you can see why we absolutely love this new technology. On-site UV cured floors are the way of the future in the hardwood floor refinishing industry.

Of course they won’t be for everybody, but if you have a project that… 1) needs furniture moved back in as soon as the floors are done, 2) don’t want to have VOCs or smelly fumes being released for weeks, or 3) have a commercial project that needs to stay open during working hours while the floors are being renovated, then you should really look into UV cured finishes.

We’re happy to answer any questions you have about them.

 

UV Cured Floors – Part 1

Posted by Victor Mulbauer on April 13th, 2014

One of the biggest hassles in traditional hardwood floor sanding and refinishing is having to wait for the finish to dry and cure before being able to get back on your floor. Let’s face it – you want your life to get back to normal as soon as possible and that means being able to replace your furniture and walk on your floors as soon as you can.

Before we get into all the details and benefits of a UV cured floor finish system, let’s talk about why such a system is needed.

First though, when it comes to floors being ready to use after the refinishing process, most people get confused by the terms ‘dry time’ and ‘cure time’ so I’ll quickly explain each below…

Dry Time Vs Cure Time

Dry time is simply the amount of time it takes for the finish to be dry to the touch so it’s able to be carefully walked on. Cure time is completely different though.

Cure time is the length of time ti takes for all of the solvents or liquid carriers to evaporate from the finish, for the fumes and smell to stop being emitted and fro the finish to fully harden. It is an important part of the finishing process because once a floor has fully cured it can be subjected to long-term normal wear and tear without you having to worry excessively about damaging it.

For more common traditional finishes used in Detroit like water-based and oil modified, the cure time can be anywhere from 7 days all the way past a month. There are many factors that speed up or slow down the curing time including the type of finish system, the temperature, air flow and humidity levels. Some of these can be controlled and some can’t.

A long curing period means you will need to wait for an extended period before replacing large heavy furniture, floor coverings and rugs. It also means that you will need to be extra careful putting smaller pieces of furniture back as well as being careful in how you use your floors during this time so they don’t sustain any premature damage or wear.

It can be quite the hassle tip toeing around your hardwood floors for weeks on end as you wait for your floors to cure and harden to their 100% strength.

The Unspoken Danger of a Long cure Time

There’s another issue that comes with a long cure time too. As mentioned above, the curing process involves releasing all of the solvents and fumes from the finish. The agents that are released are called VOCs or volatile organic compounds. These solvents and chemicals being emitted from the curing finish are what causes the horrible fumes and smell, especially if you have used an oil based finish.

As you can imagine, VOCs are not good things to be around and breathe in, especially if you’re pregnant or have young children. They’re also dangerous and can be lethal for your pets. The longer your finish takes to cure, the longer you will be subjected to these nasty VOCs.

Cure Time on Commercial Projects

Long cure times are also a major inconvenience for builders, restaurant owners and commercial property manager that need to have hardwood floors refinished as quickly as possible.

Take a restaurant that has badly worn floors for example. Most restaurants are open 7 days a week and don’t have the option of closing down for multiple days in a row as they complete renovations and wait for floors to dry and cure. To do so would result in a huge loss of income. They also can’t have finishes off gassing harmful VOCs for weeks or even days on end. I’m sure nobody would stick around to order a meal in a restaurant that was full of smelly fumes. I know I wouldn’t.

The same concerns come up with commercial retail stores, malls, doctor’s offices and other areas that have customers and clientele come through regularly.

If Only…

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a finish that could cure super-fast so you could completely skip past the long waiting period for it to gain its complete strength, plus… not have any VOCs after it was quickly cured?

Well now there is and that’s where UV cured finishes come into the picture. In Part 2 of this article we’ll go into detail about them and show you how they could make your hardwood floor refinishing project far easier and quicker.

Bona’s GREENGUARD Certification – A Healthier Way to Refinish Hardwood Floors

Posted by Victor Mulbauer, March 23rd 2014

From the very beginning of starting Michigan Hardwood Floors Services we have proudly used Bona finishes. There are a couple of important reasons why we chose to use this company’s products and we’d like to share one of the main reasons with you today…

The Need For Safer Finishes

As you’re probably aware of, traditional oil and solvent based hardwood floor finishes that have been used for decades aren’t the safest products out there. They have high VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and they’re full of solvents and chemicals that pollute our home environment and ultimately the whole environment. You only have to take a quick smell of this type of finish to know they’re not good for you to breathe in, let alone be off gassing as they dry in your home.

Those that have had their hardwood floors refinished with solvent based finish will know exactly what I’m talking about. The stuff absolutely stinks when it first gets applied and, depending on what product you use (moisture cure finishes are the worst), it continues to off gas and stink for days, weeks and sometimes even months. Definitely not good for the long term health of you and your family.

Bona was one of the first pioneers in this new exciting field when they started working on water based finishes way back in 1979. With these new finishes, because ti was mostly water evaporating as the finish dried instead of all solvents, the stink factor was greatly reduced. But the chemicals and solvents that were used in these water based finishes were still very dangerous. And while VOC levels had dropped, they were still way too high as well.

Why Lower VOC Levels are Important

Something that not too many people are aware of is that indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than the air outside the same building. Most of this is from chemicals and VOCs that are released into the air from our furniture, from the paint on our walls, the chemicals in our carpets and floor finishes etc.

That’s quite scary to think about, especially considering that most people spend the majority of their time indoors where they are repeatedly exposed to indoor air pollutants – think mornings and evenings before and after work or school and then there’s the long hours you spend sleeping. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EAS) estimates that on average, a normal person receives roughly 72 percent of their total chemical exposure while at home.

That’s not a good statistic.

Enter GREENGUARD Certification…

Bona decided that they wanted to make their water based finishes as environmentally safe as possible so that indoor air quality was at reasonable levels while their finishes dried and cured. To do that, they went to an independent third party organization, UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and their GREENGUARD Certification program.

Underwriters Laboratories and their GREENGUARD Certification helps manufactures create and adapt their products and materials for home, school and office interiors so they come out with very low chemical and VOC emissions.

Their goal as an organization is to improve indoor air quality and reduce people’s exposure to chemicals, VOCs and other dangerous pollutants. They test products for more than 10,000 chemicals to ensure they are safe and healthy for indoor environments.

They have became highly regarded as the trusted air quality and low emissions standard for North America. All the products they test – like hardwood floor finishes – undergo independent, scientific testing as well as continued monitoring of their chemical emissions to make sure these products stick to their standard. Obtaining their certification is quite a big deal and not many floor finish companies have this certification for obvious reasons.

Bona has all the certification for ALL the hardwood floor finish products that we use on our clients’ floors.

We care about your floors, but we are also concerned about you and your family’s health. You can be assured that we are using finishes that are among the safest water based finishes currently available. That’s one of the main reasons we choose to use Bona hardwood floor finishes. It also helps that they’re some of the highest quality and most durable floor finishes available as well.

Our Brand New State-Of-The-Art Dust Containment System

Posted by Victor Mulbauer, March 5th 2014

I’m excited to introduce you to our new dust containment system. But before I get to that, I’d like to talk a bit about dust.

Nobody likes dust.

Unfortunately one of the by-products of getting your hardwood floors sanded and refinished is exactly that… lots and lots of dust. Dust has been a big problem in the hardwood floor refinishing industry for decades. If not contained properly during the sanding process, the vast amount of dust created can leave a huge mess.

You’ve probably heard horrible stories from friends or family about super fine dust getting into, onto, and under absolutely everything after having their floors refinished. It’s not a fun experience. Imagine having to move out of your home for a few days while you get your floors refinished, and then, just when you think the worst is over, having to spend a few more days cleaning the dusty mess the floor refinishing guys made before moving back.

Picture dust throughout all your cupboards and closets, on your out-of-reach light fixtures and ceiling fans, all over the walls and sills and worse… all throughout the impossible to get to ducting running through the house. Everything is coated with a fine film of dust and it all needs hours and hours of cleaning.

Definitely not fun cleaning up a mess like that.

Unfortunately that’s the reality for many homeowners throughout Michigan and Detroit that hire hardwood floor sanding companies that sand floors and try to contain dust the traditional way. Not only that, but it is important to keep in mind that while dust might be harmful to your home, it is also harmful to your health and the health of your family, due to dust being a carcinogen.

How Dust Used to be Contained… 

The traditional way of sanding a floor includes using cloth bags that are tied to the big belt sander and smaller cloth bags attached to the edgers. They do work to an extent, but they are by no means effective at completely containing the vast amounts of dust these machines kick out. A lot of dust gets airborne throughout the cloth bags. Then there’s the mess caused by the bags being shaken as they’re emptied out.

The biggest dust maker though is the buffer. This machine is used to blend the different sanding patterns of the belt sander and edger together and provide a flat finished floor. Because it’s a finishing sander, it kicks up super fine dust like nothing else, and… there is no bag that’s able to be attached to it to even try to contain the mess.

No wonder people put off getting their floors restored!

The New Way of Dust Containment

In the last few years there have been big achievements in the dust containment field. Here at Michigan Hardwood Floors Services, we have experimented with and used numerous dust containment systems during this time. They all worked much better than just using cloth bags. But they all had limitations.

Portable dustless systems that were set-up inside the house still let small clouds of dust escape as they were emptied, which is a common occurrence because of their small drums. They would cause dust to go everywhere when they got blocked up and needed cleaning out, and they were also noisy and got in the way.

We wanted something better.

We wanted a system that would guarantee that 98 – 99 percent of the dust generated by our sanding machines would be sucked up… but we also wanted it to be taken completely out of the house so it was gone for good. No more removing full bags of dust or unclogging a blocked vacuum inside, or just outside the door, or a customer’s home.

Introducing Our New Dust Containment System!

After much consideration and careful research, we made a big decision and decided to finally invest in one of the best – if not THE BEST AND MOST POWERFUL – dust containment systems available. We figured we were going to do it we might as well do it properly.

So we’d like to introduce our newest member of our team… the state-of-the-art BONA ATOMIC DCS system!

This high end dust containment system is mounted in an enclosed trailer and has a super powerful 4 stroke, V-Twin gas powered engine driving it. It creates a lot of CFM and water lift – both important measurements for removing dust. It makes the other dust containment systems we used look like toys. This machine is a dust eating monster!

The belt sander, edger, and yes, even the buffer, are connected to a 2″ non-marking hose which is attached to the separate dust collector vacuum system located in the trailer.

The sanding dust is sucked up at the source and then quickly and efficiently transferred outside through the long hoses where it’s dumped into the large enclosed trailer mounted drum, never to be seen again. The emptying all gets done off site and if there is ever a problem with the system getting blocked, the problem is contained in the enclosed trailer, far away from your home. It works amazingly well in stopping almost all the dust from becoming airborne during the sanding process.

It really is an amazing system and we’re very proud of the new level of cleanliness we can offer because of it. Not only will your home be much cleaner after the refinishing process because of the lack of dust, it has other benefits too.

With the old way of sanding, there was a lot of dust floating around in the room… even if it had been cleaned and vacuumed well. These dust particles would land on the wet finish as it dried and cause a rough surface in areas. With our new powerful BONA ATOMIC DCS trailer, the dust gets sucked away before it gets airborne, so there is extremely little dust in the air. It also keeps us and our clothes dust free as we sand, so next to no dust falls from our clothes or hair as we coat the floor. That means a much smoother and debris free floor for you to enjoy.

There’s also a huge health benefit. Because dust is kept to an absolute minimum during the sanding process, there will be no vast amounts of carcinogenic dust spread throughout your home and in the ducting like there would have been with the old way of sanding… so you and your family can breathe safely afterwards.

Now you really can get your floors sanded without dreading about that huge dusty mess to clean up. We’re excited about and love the newest member of Michigan Hardwood Floors Services, and we know you will too once you see it in action on your floors.

VISIT OUR YOUTUBE PAGE TO SEE IT IN ACTION:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-W4YqmfVlHE 

Seasonal Expansion and Contraction – Why Does My Hardwood Floor Have Gaps?

Posted by Victor Mulbauer, January 19th 2014

Over the summer you’ve invested a significant amount of money to have either your hardwood floors refinished, or have new wood floors installed. Now, just a few months later, it’s winter and you’re starting to see gaps throughout your floor.

Gaps are visibly present throughout the floor. They can be seen running along the length of the picture.

Gaps are visibly present throughout the floor. They can be seen running along the length of the picture.

What on earth is going on? Is there something wrong?

Thankfully, in most situations the answer is no.

What you’re experiencing is perfectly normal for all things made of wood in your home, including your hardwood floors. There is a simple explanation for why you sometimes see gaps in your floor and other times in the year you don’t.

The reason is that wood is hygroscopic. Hygro what??? Let me explain…

When something is hygroscopic it has the ability to attract and hold water molecules from the environment it’s surrounded by. For example… have you ever been to a restaurant and had a salt shaker that won’t let any salt out because it’s all clumped together? This happens because the high humidity levels int he surrounding air have caused the salt crystals to absorb moisture. Now the salt has expanded and clumped together to the point that it can’t come out of the small shaker holes… so you either eat your fries without salt or search for a dry salt shaker on another table.

Exactly the same type of thing happens with wood.

The moisture content of your hardwood floor is going to change depending on the relative humidity of the surrounding air in your home. As the humidity level increases, the moisture content increases too. This makes wood expand. Likewise, when the humidity levels drop, the wood’s moisture content decreases and it contracts or shrinks.

The technical term for this is Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC).

You may have noticed that wood doors in older homes get tighter in the summer months and are harder to open, but in the winter they’re back to opening and closing normally. Those solid wood doors are dealing with the same EMC issue.

Like doors, this movement in floors is almost noticeable in the seasonal changes between winter and summer. In the summer your house is open, there is lots of humidity in the air and the wood in your floor is fully expanded as it absorbs moisture. Then winter rolls around, it gets cold, you shut up your home and turn the heat on. In turn the humidity levels drop and the wood in your floor releases that moisture it’s been holding and it begins to shrink.

That’s when you start to see gaps forming.

It gets especially bad when we have freezing cold days like we have experienced the last few weeks here in Detroit and everyone’s furnaces are cranked right up and all the moisture is sucked out of the wood. Thankfully these unsightly gaps will disappear when spring rolls around with its increased humidity levels and the heat gets turned off.

But what if you don’t want to wait for summer?

Is there anything that can be done to close the gaps a bit now and keep the floor tight throughout the year?

What Can Be Done to Control the Gaps?

One of the best things you can do to control the gaps in your hardwood floors is try to keep the humidity levels in your home stable throughout the year. In order to do that you will need to add moisture to the air during the drier months.

The easiest way to add moisture during the months you have your heat on is to invest in a humidifier and set it at a level of 45 – 55 percent. (Gaps start to appear when the humidity level creeps below 40 percent). That way the relative humidity in your home will stay stable and your floors won’t contract or expand as much during the year – which means far fewer gaps.

There are two types of humidifiers to choose between. One is a permanent installation that’s connected to your furnace and works throughout the whole house. It gets integrated with the blower system and draws water directly from the main water supply.

Thoughts for Preventing Gaps in New Installations:

There are a few things that can be done before a hardwood floor is installed that will greatly help with preventing gaps down the road…

  • Make sure the wood flooring gets acclimated properly before installation. Once the flooring is delivered we recommend placing it in the room it will be isntalled in for as long as possible. Stack it well spaced out so all the planks are able to acclimate evenly. Two weeks is ideal. Make sure the room is at the temperature and humidity level you normally have it at, or will have it at, for living in.
  • Make sure your installer uses a moisture meter and knows how to calculate EMC. The flooring must be checked for moisture content when it’s delivered to see if it’s within acceptable levels. this will also allow the installer to anticipate future movement. The subfloor should also be checked.
  • When you choose wood flooring, realize that the wider the board is the more seasonal movement will occur within each plank. A 2 1/4 inch wide board will expand and contract far less than a 6 inch or 12 inch wide plank. If you want wide plank floors you really need to put a humidifier on your shopping list as well.
  • Plain sawn flooring will expand and contract roughly twice as much as quarter sawn (or vertical grain) flooring. Quarter sawn is much more stable but it is also much more expensive.
  • Don’t deliver or install hardwood flooring until all wet trades (drywalling, painting, etc.) are finished and the high humidity levels have settled back to normal. If you must have the flooring there while wet trades are working, keep it wrapped in plastic to keep the humidity out and then give it ample time for the moisture content to stabilize before installing it.

 

In Conclusion…

So as you can see there is nothing wrong with your hardwood floor if you have some gaps in it. Wood is a natural product that predictably reacts to the environment it’s placed in. How much it expands and contracts all depends on the weather and humidity levels you keep in your home. If you’re installing new hardwood, it will also come down to how well your installer understands EMC and prepares the flooring before it is installed.

With a little foresight, being sure to follow the tips above, and investing in the right humidifier, you can greatly limit the amount and size of gaps you will see in your floors until summer rolls around once again.