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Douglas Fir Flooring Blog

  • How to Lay Wood Flooring

    Posted on February 12, 2013 by Jennifer

    Maybe you’ve been longing for a floor that will make your heart skip a beat every time you walk in the door, but you’re worried about taking a big step like laying wood flooring. Well, wait no longer. Laying wood flooring is a great way to add beauty, value, and style to your home--and when you invest in wood flooring, you’re investing in a love that will last a lifetime.

    Decor Decisions

    First, consider what variety of wood you’d like. Of course, here at AltruFir we’re partial to the warm, rich hue and time-tested durability of clear, vertical-grain Douglas fir flooring. But even if you’ve decided on Douglas fir, you have some options. Would you like to go with brand-new floor, or do you prefer the aged look of reclaimed lumber? Is it important to you that your flooring be FSC-certified? Do you want the old-fashioned feel that comes from wide-plank Douglas fir?

    Once you’ve decided on the perfect style for your home, measure the room where you plan to lay the flooring, add 10-15 percent to ensure you have enough, and then place an order with a knowledgeable lumber company.

    Project Prep

    As with many home improvement projects, a lot of the work involved in laying wood flooring happens before you ever lay a single board. First determine which way the joists—the supporting members underneath the floor—are running. You want to lay your flooring perpendicular to these joists. Walk around the room, listening for squeaks and looking for dips and bumps in the subfloor. Nail down loose boards and sand down any ridges. You’ll also want to use a moisture meter to test the moisture level of the subfloor. Then, make sure to install a vapor barrier on top of the subfloor. Roofing felt or kraft paper are two popular options. Either material will protect your wood flooring from the possibility of any dampness seeping in that might cause warping or buckling.

    When your flooring is delivered, open up the boxes and spread your flooring planks around the room. You’re probably eager to start laying your wood flooring, but instead, the best thing you can do at this point is walk away. That’s right—don’t touch your flooring yet. Let it sit at room temperature for several days in the room where you plan to install it in. This gives your flooring time to acclimate to the temperature and humidity level—once again, this extra time up front prevents problems like warping or buckling down the road.

    While you’re waiting to start the actual installation, you can begin visualizing what your floor will look like. Sort through the boards and pay attention to variations in color and length. You want each row of flooring you put in place to include a nice mix of wood tones.

    Board Beginnings

    When you’re finally ready to start laying wood flooring, take extra care with the first row (professionals call each row of boards a “course”). If it’s not straight, the subsequent courses will be that much harder to get right. Start on the longest and straightest wall in the room; this is often an outside wall. Measure a line 3/8 of an inch away from the wall and mark this line on the floor; it’s crucial that you lay down the first course along this line, rather than flush up against the wall. You need to allow space for the natural expansion and contraction of wood to occur. You can use shims to help keep that first course at the 3/8 mark once you’ve got it lined up.

    You won’t be able to use a pneumatic nail gun at this point in the installation because you’re working too close to the wall. Instead, nail the first course of boards in place, either nailing at an angle through the side of the board into the subfloor, or nailing through the top. If you top-nail, sink the nails down into the board with a tool called a nailset.

    Once you’ve got the first row nailed down, check to make sure it’s still in line with the 3/8 mark. If it is, proceed to the next course. After a few courses, you’ll be far enough away from the wall to switch to a nail gun, which will make things go more quickly. Plan to put at least two nails in every board and aim for one nail every 10-12 inches.

    Course Continuity

    As you go along, remember to continue varying the tones you include in each course. You also want to keep board lengths random, staggering them so that two adjacent courses don’t contain boards that start and stop at the same point.

    Partway across the room, check to make sure that your courses are still running straight and true. If needed, you can use a rubber mallet to nudge the courses together more snugly as you continue.

    Don’t worry if you get to the far side of the room and there isn’t enough width to lay down a full course; you can cut your final row of boards lengthwise with a table saw so that they fit. Remember to leave a 3/8-inch gap at the far wall as well.

    Flooring Finishes

    Once you’re done laying your flooring, it’s time to fill in any nail holes with wood putty. Then let it rest for a few days so that the wood settles firmly into place before you complete it with proper sanding and finishing methods. Make sure that you allow time for your finish to cure before you begin moving your furniture in and walking on it.

    Laying wood flooring can be time-consuming, but when the result is a beautiful, timeless addition to your home, it becomes a labor of love—and it’s all the more reason you’ll be glad you followed your heart’s desire.

    This post was posted in Douglas Fir Flooring, Care & Maintenance and was tagged with wood flooring, hardwood flooring, wood floors, how to install wood floors, how to install wood flooring, how to install hardwood

  • How to Install Wood Flooring

    Posted on January 24, 2013 by Jennifer

    Installing wood flooring in your home may seem like a daunting task—and to be honest, it is a big job! But with proper preparation, the right tools, and some patience, you can put down beautiful floors that will be a gorgeous accent to your home for generations to come.

    Before you start, you have a few decisions to make. What type of flooring would you like? Douglas fir flooring has a warm, rosy glow and is known for being durable and stable. Oak flooring is a traditional American choice and will hold up for years to come. Whether you want an exotic wood, reclaimed wood, or boards in wider widths than are available at many retailers, Altrufir can help you find high-quality wood flooring that will make your visions into reality.

    Before you start

    Measure your room to figure out how much flooring you need. Add 10-15 percent extra into your total to allow for any irregular boards or cutting mistakes.

    Once you’ve ordered your wood flooring, prepare the site where you plan to install it. Remove any existing flooring and check out the subfloor underneath. Are there are any wiggles or squeaks? Is it level all the way across, or are their bumps and low spots? Fix these issues before you put your wood flooring down, or you won’t be pleased with your final product.

    Next, you need to acclimate your wood flooring. Maybe you didn’t realize this, but natural materials such as wood are sensitive to cold, heat and moisture—just like people are. Pores in the wood expand and contract in response to temperature and humidity. Bring your flooring into the room where you plan to install it (don’t forget to open up the boxes!) and let it sit for at least four or five days to get used to its new environment.

    You’ll also want to install a moisture barrier of some kind over the top of the subfloor--Kraft paper and roofing felt are two popular options.

    Day of installation

    Now take a look at your room and figure out where you want to start. You want to install flooring perpendicular to the supportive joists of your house, if possible, for additional structural stability. Exterior walls tend to be the straightest, and a longer wall is best.

    Before you start nailing, lay out your flooring in the room and take a look at the variations in length, grain and color. You want to keep color tones and board lengths random, and never let the ends of boards in two adjacent rows line up with each other.

    There’s one final—but critical—step before you start putting your wood flooring in place. You don’t want your first row of boards to sit flush up against the wall; you need a gap to allow for natural expansion and contraction of wood, as we talked about earlier. Measure about 1/2” out from the wall, and then use a tool called a chalk line to instantly snap down a straight line marking all the way down the length of the room.

    Nail it down

    Now you’re finally reading to start placing boards! If your wood flooring is tongue-and-groove, make sure to lay down the board with the tongue facing out toward the rest of the room. Follow that chalk-line religiously as you lay the first row. Once the first two or three rows (a complete row of boards is called a “course”) are complete, the rest of the installation should follow smoothly.

    Be gentle with the first few rows. Some experts recommend drilling pilot holes through the boards, nailing them in place, and then sinking the nails further into the board with a tool called a “nail set,” which drives them down below the floor’s surface. Another option is to use a small hand-held finish nailer, a tool that is less jarring than the pneumatic nailer or stapler you’ll likely use for the rest of the room. The point of all this care is to keep that crucial first board in place, without messing up the alignment. Placing shims between the wall and the chalk line helps with this as well.

    Fit the second course into place against the first, using the same fastening method as before.

    Keep it straight

    Once you’ve got two or three courses laid down, you can switch to a pneumatic nail gun, which will make the rest of the installation go more quickly. As you’re nailing, make sure to fasten each board in at least two places; aim to place a nail about every 10 to 12 inches.

    About halfway across the room, snap out another chalkline and see how you’re doing at keeping your courses straight. If you need to, drive them together more tightly with a rubber mallet, which won’t damage the flooring.

    When you get to the other side of the room, make sure to allow for that expansion gap against the opposite wall as well. You can make your final course narrower, if you need to, by measuring and then cutting down the length of the board to make it the perfect width.

    You’ll need to put away the pneumatic nailer once you get to final row of wood flooring, as well—here isn’t room for it when you’re working close to the edge.

    Final touches

    Once all the flooring is fastened in place, give yourself a pat on the back—and a break. Wood flooring needs to sit for a few days after installation to allow the wood to relax into place, before the final staining and finishing  steps.

    Yes, that’s a long process. But like any lengthy process, if you take your time and do things right the first time, you’ll be rewarded. In this case, you’ll get beautiful, durable floors that will make you happy every time you walk into your home.

    This post was posted in Douglas Fir Flooring, Care & Maintenance and was tagged with wood flooring installation, wood flooring, hardwood flooring, install wood floors, installing wood floors, installing wood flooring, installing hardwood flooring

  • Water Based Finishes for Wood

    Posted on June 20, 2012 by pat

    Water based finishes, like oil based finishes, protect your wood from everyday wear ‘n’ tear inside your home. But, what are the real differences between water based and oil based finishes for solid wood flooring, paneling, trim, and casework? Here are four common questions about water based finishes.

    What are the benefits of water based finishes?

    Choosing a water based finish (waterborne) really comes down to preference. People who prefer working with products that emit low odors or less VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) opt for a water based finish. Oil based finishes are notorious for their stink factor and required ventilation during application.

    Many of the harsh and flammable ingredients found in oil based finishes have been replaced with water in water based finishes, making them safer to work with, easier to clean, and less harmful to breath, though not completely harm-free. People looking for environmentally-friendly wood finishes can find water based products made with plant oils and plant waxes.

    Another benefit of water based finishes is its drying time. Weather conditions and climate aside, water based finishes dry faster because their ingredients evaporate once applied – oil based finishes dry through a reaction process. However, a faster drying time calls for a faster application time, leaving less wiggle room for errors.

    Water based finishes also affect the final look of the wood differently than their oil based counterparts. Left alone, water based finishes tend to maintain the existing color of the wood as closely as possible, whereas most oil based finishes can deepen the color of the wood adding, an amber hue to your CVG Douglas Fir Flooring.

    What’s the durability of water based finishes?

    Water based finishes are durable. However, the level of durability needed is important when considering a water based finish for interior wood. For instance, if you’re finishing a Doug fir floor and prefer a water based finish, you’ll want to use a water based finish made for flooring that offers scratch-resistance, such as a water based polyurethane finish. On the other hand, if you’re looking to finish wainscoting in a bathroom, you may need a different kind of durability from a finish, and may want to consider an oil based product to protect against humidity and moisture (but we’re not saying there aren’t water based options for this type of application, as well).

    What maintenance is required for water based finishes?

    Water based finishes are a breeze to maintain, so keep your maintenance routine simple. Dampen a clean washcloth with mild water and wipe the wood dry. If you’re tempted to use a cleaning agent or product designed for wood--don’t. The most popular household wood cleaners contain waxes that build up on your wood, leaving a dull, smeary appearance over time.

    You can reapply or re-coat water based finishes as often as needed, though you may need to do some light sanding to remove dirt, grease, and grime before re-coating.

    What else should I know about water based finishes?

    Our advice is to condition the wood before applying the water based finish: after sanding, wipe down the wood’s surface with a damp cloth, then lightly re-sand to get rid of any raised grain. Also be sure to read the manufacturer’s label and instructions before applying your finish – application guidelines vary from product to product. Store your finishes in their original canisters and keep them from freezing. If you’re the inquisitive, inventive type, never mix water based finishes with oil based finishes together in the can. You’ll end up with a mess on your hands and money down the drain.

    Happy finishing!

    This post was posted in Care & Maintenance and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, water based finishes, oil based finishes, wood flooring, paneling, trim, casework, CVG douglas fir flooring

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