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9000 Watson Rd
St Louis, MO, 63126
United States

314-730-3100

Boardwalk Hardwood Floor is a hardwood flooring supplier that sells prefinished hardwood flooring, unfinished hardwood flooring, laminate flooring, cork, leather, hand scraped and wire brushed flooring.

Wood Talk

Reclaimed Wood

Amanda Rieffer

Reclaimed wood in general is repurposed material from an existing form or structure.  Our main reclaimed mill, Olde Wood, uses wood that comes from old barns, buildings, and factories…typically those that were erected pre-1940 when older milling techniques were being used.  They produce flooring (that can also be used on walls and ceilings), barn siding, and hand hewn mantels, beams, and beam skins.

 

Reclaimed wood is typically desired by customers that want something that is authentically old, and not new trying to look old.  Another time for it to be a desired media is when a recycled or environmental element is wanted or required (although I do consider regionally local new wood products to be environmentally sound as well).

 

One of the biggest factors I bring up during a discussion of reclaimed wood is going to be stressing the importance of kiln drying.  Kiln drying brings the moisture content down to 6-8% (like a new wood floor), but more importantly it kills any eggs, bugs, or larva that could have been living in the structure before it was dismantled.  All of our reclaimed products are kiln dried, but be aware there are many reclaimed products on the market that are not kiln dried.  I have heard multiple horror stories from people that purchased reclaimed wood and a few weeks/months after install had a massive beetle problem (not material from me, of course!).

 

Reclaimed wood products are not for the faint of heart.  Although truly timeworn and uniquely beautiful, there are attributes like knot holes, nail holes, bolt holes, and texture that may frighten some away from it.  It is an old wood that is coming from an old structure, so there needs to be a bit of a “you get what you get” quality to be considered.  Also because the wood is coming from different structures, in different states, that were built in different decades no two projects are exactly the same, even if you order the “same” product.  Therefore, your reclaimed wood floor can be classified as custom and distinctive to your project.

 

If you’d like to see a large area of our reclaimed flooring, check out the Three Kings Pub Des Peres location on Manchester Road.  They have Olde Wood’s Historic Plank, 5/8” engineered glued to concrete, and jobsite finished with an oil based poly.  I would recommend a visit during their happy hour, but that is just me.  Cheers!

 

Amanda Rieffer, Commercial Wood and Tile Rep, arieffer@boardwalkhardwood.com

Solid vs Engineered Wood Floors

Greg Blanke

Solid vs Engineered Wood Floors

A brief discussion about the difference between the two.

I consider myself to still be young, but my general preferences toward solid wood over engineered products tend to align with more “old school” beliefs.

I’m going to discuss some pros and cons of solid verses engineered floors, but in order to stay relatively brief here, I’m going to focus on residential applications that are at or above grade over wood/plywood/OSB subfloors.  With that said though, when we talk about installing wood over concrete or below grade in future articles, I do recommend engineered or solid sawn floors (re: Vintage Solid Sawn and Northern Solid Sawn), and I feel that over concrete is the best time to use these types of products.  That is the application for which those products were originally developed.

Engineered wood floors are not necessarily good or bad in general, but they are definitely not all created equal.  A typical engineered wood product has a veneer of real wood mounted over a plywood or fiberboard core.  Typically your less expensive/lower end engineered floors are going to have a rotary peeled veneer.  This is your weakest and cheapest cut of the tree (it is how they cut for plywood).  Rotary peeled veneers are highly prone to face checking (small looking “splits” in the wood) and are typically not refinish-able, but some are thick enough that you may get one sanding out of the floor if you are careful.  Many of these products begin the starting price of wood flooring (generally in the low $3 range) for people that want to make the conversion from a plastic laminate price-point to a real wood price-point.  Sawn veneers are cut out of the log like the solid lumber.  There are floors with sawn veneers that are not sand-able, and there are products with sawn veneers that are sand-able the same amount of times as a regular ¾” solid wood.  However, these higher quality engineered floors are typically the same or more expensive than most solid wood floors.  So if you are on a wood subfloor, and you want a quality sand-able product, why wouldn’t you just use a solid wood floor?  A solid wood floor is made to last a lifetime.  There are 100+ year old homes and structures in St Louis city that have their original hardwood that still looks great today.

It is true that engineered floors are made to be more stable than solid wood, but that does not mean that they are not moving at all.  Stability is basically relating to expansion and contraction.  Wood still has its cell structure from when it was a living tree that is affected by moisture/humidity changes (it’s hygroscopic in technical terms).  Here in the St Louis area we have very dry winters and very humid summers, so stability is a valid concern.  Most solid woods are stable from about 40%-55% humidity levels, but many engineered wood products are warranted to be stable from only 40%-60% humidity levels.  With our dry winters, ESPECIALLY with homes that do not run a humidifier, it can easily get below 40% humidity if not below 30% when temperatures get very cold.  If your engineered floor gets extremely dry it has the potential to fail (delaminate), and if this occurs when it is below the manufacturers recommended humidity levels this will not be covered under warranty.

These are more extreme cases, but just for example 100% of the time I will recommend solid wood when someone comes to me for hardwood floors in a lake-house or cabin that is not climate controlled year round (again, over wood/plywood/OSB subfloor).  I will tell them that they will probably get gaps (and maybe some splits) in the winter when the wood is contracted, and they may get some cupping or crowning in the summer when the wood is expanded, but the solid wood is not going to fail.  The solid wood will move, but it is not going to fall apart.  Also for these extreme situations, I would recommend looking for wood species that are more stable (for example oak and ash are more stable than maple and hickory) and sticking with smaller width planks.  The wider the board the more wood there is per piece, so the more it can show expansion and contraction.

Engineered wood products definitely have a place in the market, but I think some companies and their salespeople exaggerate the facts.  I’ve had numerous people come to me and say “so and so said I need an engineered wood because I want a wider plank” or “because I’m doing my kitchen in case my refrigerator or dishwasher leaks” or “because it’s completely stable”.  For me, those are not strong enough (or accurate) reasons to tell someone that they need/require an engineered wood product, especially if their budget is in an average range.  If you are really concerned about movement with your wood floor (whether it is solid or engineered!), the best thing to do is control your humidity levels by running air conditioning/dehumidifiers in the summer and running humidifiers in the winter.

Amanda Rieffer – Architectural/Design Representative

arieffer@boardwalkhardwood.com

How winter weather effects hardwood floors.

Greg Blanke

SEASONAL GAPS IN HARDWOOD FLOORING 

It seems like winter is paying us an early visit this year.  The heating season is upon us and most likely you have already turned on your heat.  Heating your environment typically starts to dry things including your skin and your hardwood floors.  Typically we use moisturizers to relieve dry skin and your hardwood floors need similar care in the form of humidity. When floors start to dry out you will see gaps develop between the boards, this can be minimized by running a whole house humidifier or room humidifiers in the areas you have hardwood.  As we saw last winter with the "polar vortex", temperatures were in the single digits for a sustained period of time and severely dried out wood in homes even with humidifiers working on furnaces.  Please make sure that you have a humidifier on your furnace and that it is functioning.  Typical whole house humidifiers only put moisture in the air when the heat kicks on.  So depending on the efficiency of your home it may be necessary in severe cold snaps to turn the blower on to cycle air and add humidity when the heat is not running or add room humidifiers in those areas.  

The best way to measure the humidity levels in your home is to get a digital hygrometer. This will tell you the interior temperature and relative humidity in your home.  If you see the humidity drop into the low 30% range or below, you definitely need to add moisture to the environment to prevent permanent damage to your floor.  Manufacturers typically recommend a range of 40-55% RH to minimize movement.  Manufacturers do not warrant expansion and contraction as this is an environmental condition related to each individual home, so please take the proper precautions to protect your investment.

If you need to invest in a new humidifier we recommend installing a steam humidifier on your furnace.  Steam humidifiers monitor the moisture content of the air in your cold air return and will add humidity when it needs to and is not dependent on the heat kicking on. You will be able to maintain a more consistent humidity level in your home with steam, making you and your floor more comfortable.  

Here's to a warm and quick winter season, hopefully we won't have a repeat of the 2013/14 winter. 

 

 

 

Shopping for hardwood 101

Amanda Rieffer

Hardwood floors are like a piece of furniture on your floor.  They are an investment that can add warmth and comfort to your home’s design, but are not indestructible.  All woods can dent, ding, and scratch…period.  I don’t care what marketing key words you see (“diamond” or “titanium” for example) or what thousand year Armageddon warranty they carry.

 

There are 4 main factors to seek out when looking for maximum performance in your hardwood floor: grain, low gloss level, texture, and hardness.  The more of these factors you have, the better your floor will handle the everyday rigors of the average household.  If you do not have pets/kids/high traffic areas, the more you can throw this advice out the window, but I find this is not the case for most of my residential customers.

 

1.        Grain – Basically the more going on in a floor, the more it is going to hide or distract your eye from dirt, wear, and imperfections.  I stress getting a wood with grain the most for households with pets.  Pets (particularly dogs) can cause surface scratches.  A wood with more distinct grain patterns (like oaks, ash, and hickory) are going to hide more surface scratches than less grainy woods (like maple and birch).

2.       Lower sheen/low gloss level – Any floor that is less shiny is reflecting less light, so the less it shows dust, scuffs and traffic patterns.  As a finish wears, it dulls.  Think of a set of old wood steps that are dull in the middle (where you always walk) and still shiny on the sides.  When you have a floor that is more matte to begin with the less it will show this wear over time.

3.       Texture – Texture, in general, tends to hide dents and dings the most.  Floors with texture tend to already look old and “beat up”, so they wear their imperfections better, longer.  Distressing, wire-brushing, etching and handscraping (both people scraped and machine scraped) all fall under the texture category.

4.       Hardness – I list hardness last as I find a lot of my clients get too caught up in this factor.  Hardness ratings on the Janka scale are measured by the force it takes to insert a steel ball to it’s halfway point into a piece of wood.  Janka ratings can vary from test to test, as your heartwood of the tree is harder than the sapwood.  The hardest woods I sell can still dent, the dent just may be smaller than on a softer floor.  Also, when it comes to surface scratches (like what dogs can cause) you are just scratching the finish…it doesn’t really have to do with how hard the wood is below the surface.

 

I consider color choice to be personal preference and not a performance indicator as far as wear and tear, HOWEVER the darker the color you choose the more it is going to show dust and smudges.  The very dark floors are going to look great when they are clean, but are going to appear dustier faster than lighter options, and therefore may not be the most practical for the average household.

 

Interior design is basically fashion for your home.  It is not one size fits all, and there are always going to be trends that are popular, but may not work for you (I never wear skinny jeans whether they are in style or not…they just do not work for me).  You have a dog, but you can’t stand textured floors?  Don’t worry!  Just be sure to choose a wood with grain and look for a mill that offers a satin or a low gloss finish.  Everything is going to have pros and cons, it’s just about weighing all the options and finding what is going to work best for your preference, lifestyle, and budget.

Blog written by Amanda Rieffer - Boardwalk Architectural / Design Representative- arieffer@boardwalkhardwood.com