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Tag Archives: hardwood flooring

  • How Hardwood Flooring is Made

    Posted on January 29, 2013 by Jennifer

    It all starts with a tree. Whether it’s a towering Douglas fir or a massive white oak, every piece of hardwood flooring once started out as part of a living, breathing forest.

    But how do you get from giant, bark-covered tree to smooth, beautiful floorboard?

    It’s an interesting process. Altrufir shows you how it works:

    1. Trees are cut into logs. Whether those are sustainably harvested using modern forestry practices, or salvaged from dead standing timber, foresters fell the trees and transport the resulting logs to a mill.
    2. At the mill, logs are de-barked and sawn into planks. Even at this early stage, there is some variation in the manufacturing process. The simplest way of sawing a board is flat-sawn, also sometimes called plain-sawn; the logs are simply run through the saw and cut into flat planks. Quarter-sawing is a bit more work. The log is first cut into four quarters, and then each quarter is sawn at a right-angle to the tree’s annual growth rings. This reveals what’s known as vertical grain. You’ll see long, vertical lines running up and down the face of each board.
    3. We at Altrufir tend to favor clear vertical grain flooring; not only is it attractive, it also produces a more stable final product. When the flooring expands and contracts in response to temperature and humidity in the environment, as all wood naturally does, vertical-grain flooring expands and contracts evenly all along the length of the board. It’s much less prone to buckling and warping than other varieties.
    4. After sawing, expert graders examine the boards, looking for the number of knots, streaks, or other variations in the wood. Boards are sorted into a number of different grades based on their quality.
    5. Once the logs have been transformed into boards and graded, the surface of the board can be treated in a variety of ways. Sometimes, they’re left rough-sawn; that means that the texture from the saw blades will still be visible on the surface of the boards. More often, they’re “surfaced,” which means they’re run through a machine called a planer that gives them a smooth surface.
    6. Next, profile options are added. The profile of a board is what you see when you look at it sideways. Are the edges perfectly square, or does it have a slight diagonal cut from the corners? That’s a beveled profile. Do the sides have tongue-and-groove options cut into them to allow for a snug fit during installation? Back relief is a common feature of hardwood flooring—that’s when small grooves are cut in the back side of the board, making the flooring more flexible, less prone to warping, and easier to install. Altrufir sells flooring in several types of standard profiles, and also allows customers to specify custom profile options.
    7. You might think that flooring would be all done once it’s been cut to the right size and shape. Altrufir’s flooring goes through a final process of kiln-drying, in which the wood is heated to decrease its moisture content. That’s important, because wood that’s not pre-dried could warp or buckle as it dries out after installation.

    In the end, you’re left with a smooth, beautiful, durable product. It’s the result of many hours of labor from foresters, truck-drivers, sawyers and lumber graders. And it’s all ready to install in your home–your own personal, daily reminder of the transformation from forest to floorboard.

    This post was posted in Douglas Fir Flooring, History and Interest and was tagged with wood flooring, hardwood flooring, hardwood floors, wood floors, how hardwood floors are made, creation of hardwood flooring, creation of wood flooring, creation of wood floors, creation of floors

  • 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

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