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Tag Archives: Douglas fir flooring

  • The Poop on Douglas Fir Pet Stains: Removing them from your floors

    Posted on March 18, 2011 by nell

    You love your Douglas fir floors. But, if you’ve got cats, dogs, or other indoor pets (or indoor toddlers, for that matter) then you know the sinking feeling you get when you look down at your feet and see a wet, stinky mess spoiling your beautiful Douglas fir floors.

    Never fear—with a little action on your part you can restore your Douglas fir floors to their original, unsoiled state.

    Recent messes
    If you come upon the mess relatively soon after the deed was done, first remove any solid waste and then use paper towels or newspaper to blot up any puddles. When all traces of the mess have been removed from the surface, clean and disinfect the area with whatever cleaning product you normally use on your wood floors. If your floors are well sealed and you get to it before the mess had time to sink in, you should be in the clear.

    Older issues
    But what about those times when you didn’t spot it immediately? Like when your cat used a rug instead of the litter box and the damp spot soaked through to the floor underneath? Or, when your new puppy chose an out-of-the way corner to have his “accident” and no one realized it until later? Maybe you purchased a home with wood floors that you just know could be beautiful if the previous owners hadn’t let their darn dog go all over the place.

    When set-in stains and lingering odors are a problem, you need to do more than merely removing the mess and wiping the surface. The ammonia in urine often reacts with the tannic acid in wood, creating ugly black blotches.

    Store-bought cleaners
    Most pet stores carry products specifically designed to clean up pet stains. Nature’s Miracle, the best-selling stain treatment product at PetCo, has formulas specifically designed for solid surfaces such as wood. When you’re picking a product, read the label to make sure it’s labeled as safe for wood surfaces. At home, try a tiny bit out in an inconspicuous area first to make sure the cleaner itself isn’t going to discolor your floors.

    Enzyme action
    There are dozens of varieties of pet stain removers on the market, but what most of them have in common are ingredients called enzymes. Enzymes are in a lot of household items—certain laundry soaps and even contact lens cleaners use enzymes as well. What are enzymes? They’re special varieties of bacteria grown in a lab that react with the proteins in stains of animal (or human) origin. A cleaner with enzymatic action will eat away at the stain, breaking down the chemical bonds of the urine itself.

    Another reason it’s important to make sure all traces of a lingering stain are gone? Animals are attracted to the odors left behind in a place that’s been urinated on. If you don’t make sure it’s really gone, your pet might decide to mark that same place again and again, leaving more messes for you to find. Whatever you try, don’t use a cleaner that contains ammonia—the scent of the cleaner could mimic the smell of the ammonia in urine, attracting your pet again.

    When using a stain-removal product cover the entire affected area with the cleaner, then cover it with a paper towel or newspaper to prevent it from evaporating before it has a chance to work. Allow it to dry naturally, then remove. You may have to repeat the process several times.

    Other options
    If an enzymatic cleaner doesn’t work, or if you prefer a do-it-yourself approach, you can try hydrogen peroxide on the stain. Like enzymatic cleaners, hydrogen peroxide works on a chemical level—the oxygen in the peroxide reacts with the substances found in urine to remove or lessen the discoloration and odor.

    As with any product, try a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to make sure it won’t damage the floor first. Some folks recommend adding baking soda to the hydrogen peroxide to speed up the oxidation process. Either way, cover the area you’re treating with something to make sure it doesn’t evaporate before it has a chance to work into the stain, and repeat the treatment several times if necessary.

    You can also try lightening the stain with oxalic acid, a wood bleach. Oxalic acid is said to lighten the tone of wood without bleaching it completely white—it should leave your Douglas fir floors a natural wood color, just lighter (like it was before your pet did his business on it). Oxalic acid is sold in home improvement stores, usually in powder form. You’ll need to make sure the stained area is clean of any dust or dirt, mix up the oxalic acid solution as the package directs, and then, wearing gloves, apply it to the spot, rinsing with clean water afterwards.

    Refinishing: the last resort
    If nothing else is working, you always have the option of sanding and re-finishing the stained portion of the floor. Sand the floor carefully, removing only as much of the surface as you must to get rid of the discoloration. If your wood was stained and has been sanded enough to see the natural color of the Douglas fir, thoroughly wipe off the dust and grit and re-stain. Make sure that whatever stain and finish you use matches the rest of the floor.

    Embrace uniqueness
    With a bit of work, you can get your Douglas fir floors looking good again. And even if they don’t end up in factory-new condition, just remember that part of the beauty of a wood floor is the patina it acquires over time. People buy reclaimed wood on purpose so that they can get that aged look. Each mark of wear and tear is a part of the unique story of your Douglas fir floors—even if the day you woke up to step in a puddle from Fido isn’t your favorite part of that story.

    - Jennifer Rouse

    This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Flooring, Care & Maintenance and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, pet stains, removing pet stains, hardwood pet stains

  • Bringing Out the Best in Douglas Fir: Quarter-Sawing

    Posted on March 16, 2011 by nell

    When we think of quality Douglas fir flooring, we often consider only what’s on the surface – the finish, the stain, the arrangement of boards. However, the most important step in ensuring the ideal product is the first one: cutting the boards from the log itself. Which method you choose will have a profound result on the quality of the wood.

    vertical grain douglas fir

    Douglas fir logs that are quarter-sawn yield clear vertical grain boards.

    The two most common methods for cutting lumber are quarter-sawing and flat-sawing. Quarter-sawn wood products are typically more expensive, and with good reason: they are of a much higher quality, and are more labor-intensive to produce. A flat-sawn log is run through the blade repeatedly at the same angle, while quarter-sawn logs are split into four pieces (thus the name) and cut from multiple angles. The method of cutting dramatically changes the orientation and amount of grain in the boards. A quick look at the different end grains (what you see at the smallest end of the board) can illustrate the difference. Because of the uniformity of cuts into the log, flat-sawn boards have a range of grain patterns. However, most end up with a horizontal, curved end grain. This can be problematic, as seasoned wood expands and contracts with variations in climate. The curved, sparse end grain can result in cupping when the wood swells. When wood curves as a result of this process, it never returns to its original shape. Quarter-sawn boards, on the other hand, have a dense vertical end grain. This way, when the wood shrinks or swells it nonetheless retains its integrity.

    mixed grain douglas fir

    Flat-sawn Douglas fir yields a wavy, or "cathedral" grain.

    Aside from structural considerations, quarter-sawn wood products also display a superior surface grain. Whereas flat-sawn boards tend to show a cathedral-grain pattern, the quarter-sawn wood results in beautiful vertical-grain designs. Furthermore, because the wood is cut perpendicular to the growth rings of the log, quarter-sawn boards often capture the medullary rays (or pith rays) that run vertically through the tree. These worming ribbons can add beautiful figures to the surface of the boards, such as silver grain or pith flecks.

    The vertical grain and dimensional stability of quarter-sawn wood makes for the best flooring products. Flat-grain wood is more commonly used for paneling, siding and framing lumber, though some people admire the grain variation enough to use it for flooring. Combined with a quality lumber variety, the quarter-sawn method guarantees a long-lasting, attractive result. Douglas fir is an ideal wood for flooring, as it is one of the most dimensionally stable. The quarter-sawn process increases that stability, in addition to bringing out the beautiful vertical grains in the wood – a flawless choice for the majestic Douglas fir.

    - Ian Friedman

    This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Flooring, Douglas Fir Trim and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, quarter-sawn, flat-sawn, clear vertical grain, appearance grade

  • Mellowing the Squeak in Your Douglas Fir Floors

    Posted on March 11, 2011 by nell

    Krrrr…Creak! Krrrrr…Crack! Krrr… Crunch! We’ve all heard the noises Douglas fir wood flooring can make and like most homeowners with a sixth sense, can point to the spot where they happen – near the front door, by the bed, or on your way to the kitchen. If you’re really good, you can anticipate the precise moment it will happen and lip sync along. So what do you do? Live and let be or go nuts? Either way, we’d like to help set your squeaky floorboards straight and go over the causes and cures for those pesky squeaks.

    The cause behind the squeaks
    Home flooring is usually made up of three layers: the floor, the subfloor or decking, and the joists. Squeaks tend to happen when the subfloor is loose and not flush against the joists. Every time you step on that spot, it slides along the nails that are supposed to be holding it in place, pushing it down and up from the weight of your step. Voilà! You’re making music, though not exactly your favorite. Those other creaks, cracks, and crunches come from the friction between boards still in place and the one that’s loose and floor joists shrinking over time.

    Although Douglas fir is a durable product, it’s susceptible to the same wear and tear as other parts of your home – more so if not properly cared for. You might think an older home wouldn’t be as charming without its occasional grunts and groans. We all know age defies gravity and an old home is no exception. So, let’s start off easy.

    The cures behind the squeaks
    There are some simple tricks you can try before calling a specialist. You’ll end up saving yourself a chunk of change and have a greater appreciation of your home’s, shall we say, temperament. It may make you feel a sense of accomplishment too. Besides, most squeaks can be silenced with stuff already in your home and a bit o’ brawn. Your method of action is part preference and part squeak. IF you ever feel the project is too much to handle, contact a professional.

    Quick – I’ll do it later – Fix: Furniture
    1. Rearrange furniture to hide squeaky floorboard.

    2. Place furniture coasters beneath fixtures before sliding and pulling across the floor.

    3. Position furniture over squeak and forget about it.

    Rubbing floorboards: Talcum Powder + Broom
    1. Locate the squeak on the floorboard.

    2. Spread talcum powder in between the seams of the squeaky and non-squeaky boards. Powdered graphite is a messier alternative, but keep the liquid form away from floors.

    3. Brush the powder into the seam along the board.

    4. Step on the boards to work in the talcum powder.

    5. Repeat a few times until squeak is gone.

    6. Please note this is temporary fix.

    Loose subfloor: Hammer + Nails

    1. Get flooring nails in 6d or 8d finishing size.

    2. Locate the loose floorboard.

    3. Predrill a hole using a bit slightly smaller than the nail shank - this prevents premature splitting. Do not hit the subfloor.

    4. Put nail in new hole and hold down the floorboard.

    5. Drive the nail in at an angle toward the center of the board and down into the subfloor, keeping pressure on the floorboard.

    6. Repeat a couple of times until the squeak softens or is gone.

    Basement access: Screwdriver + Screws

    1. Get square headed screws 1 ½ to 2” long.

    2. Get someone to stand on the loose spot above pressing it against the subfloor and joist.

    3. Drive the screw in at an angle.

    4. Make sure it passes through the joist up into the subfloor (but not the floor itself).

    5. Repeat until squeak softens or is gone.

    Basement access: Bridging + Joists

    1. Get a small square of 3/4” plywood and construction adhesive.

    2. Put adhesive on one side of plywood.

    3. Get someone to stand on the squeaky spot.

    4. Place plywood over squeaky seam – glue side up.

    5. Screw 4 or 6 screws through plywood and into the subfloor.

    Basement access: Blocking + Joists

    1. Get a 2x3 block of wood and construction adhesive.

    2. Get someone to stand on the loose spot to press it down.

    3. Put adhesive on two sides of the 2x3 block.

    4. Place the block along the joist just below the squeaky spot – the block should be touching the joist and the subfloor.

    5. Screw the block to the joist.

    6. Screw the block to the subfloor.

    To shim or not to shim?
    Shims, those thin wedges of wood, are best left for leveling furniture on an uneven floor. We do not recommend the advice given in your dusty home improvement book to hammer a shim or two into your Douglas fir floorboards or through the joists below. Doing this is like your 5-year-old squeezing an extra crayon into an 8-pack box. Another area of your flooring will creep up and Voilà! -- more music.

    If all else fails, poorly installed flooring, water damage, an uneven subfloor, or joist damage is likely to blame. Do your best to pinpoint the problem and then, call up a contractor. We suggest calling at least three to get a variety of quotes. And, don’t shy away from requesting recent references. As with squeaks, it’s wise to be thorough in your search.

    - Nicole Morales

    This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Flooring, Care & Maintenance and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, squeaky floors

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