Why Are There Discolorations and Dark Spots on My Floors?

Hardwood is often used in flooring because it’s durable and looks great. But it’s a porous, organic material, which means that it can develop discoloration and stains that detract from its appearance. In this article, we go over some of the causes of hardwood flooring discoloration and what to do about it.

UV Exposure

Wood is photosensitive. When it’s exposed to UV light, it can develop discoloration. In fact, about 40% of the fading that occurs on surfaces inside your home is due to UV exposure. Light damage darkens some types of wood and fades others.

If you have rugs or furniture on your floors, the sun will discolor the visible wood, leaving behind silhouettes in the shape of your decor. 

What You Can Do About It

If the glass on your windows doesn’t contain UV protection, it only blocks about 25% of harmful rays. However, installing UV-blocking window film allows the glass to block 99.9% of the sun’s light. 

Another option is to add window treatments, such as blinds and drapes. Keep these closed when the sun is streaming into the room to prevent floor damage. Exterior awnings, pergolas or porch roofs also create shade, protecting your flooring and furniture.

You might be tempted to place an area rug on spots where the sun beats down. That will protect the wood beneath it, but the area around it can become discolored. The best way to manage this is to move around your furniture and rugs regularly. By doing this, you’ll expose the floor to sunlight in a more consistent fashion. This might be the best option if you use hardwood flooring in a sunroom, for example.

Rugs

We already mentioned how rugs can block UV rays, creating discoloration around them. However, rugs that are made from certain materials can chemically alter the color of hardwood flooring.

If you don’t use a rug pad, the dye on the fibers can transfer to the flooring beneath it. Pigments that aren’t colorfast can quickly stain the hardwood if you spill something on the rug.

But using the wrong rug pad can also cause hardwood discoloration. Pads that contain phthalates, which are found in some plastics, can dissolve the finish on wood flooring over time. Those that use adhesive to prevent them from sliding can stick to your floors, creating dull spots or removing the finish.

What You Can Do About It

Always use a high-quality rug pad. Felt and rubber are natural materials that don’t interact with hardwood flooring’s color or finish. They won’t stick to the floors, either.

Type of Wood

Different species of wood have qualities that make them more or less susceptible to hardwood flooring discolorations.

Soft wood, such as pine and poplar, are more absorbent than hardwood. These soak up spills and moisture more quickly than oak, maple or hickory if they’re not finished properly. 

Many tropical woods, such as American cherry, Brazilian cherry and tigerwood, darken when they’re exposed to light. This reaction happens fairly quickly. Oak, hickory and maple, on the other hand, fade in the presence of UV rays. However, this takes place rather slowly.

Some types of wood have natural deposits of minerals, such as limestone, gypsum and potassium. These can cause gray, purple, greenish or blue streaks in the grain. These are natural variations that cannot be removed. However, they will be evident in the planks when you purchase them. 

Tannic acid is a compound found in darker woods, such as walnut, oak and mahogany. Because it’s water-soluble, tannin can get lifted to the surface when you coat the flooring with a water-based sealer.

Finally, some types of wood develop sap stains. These hardwood flooring discolorations come from a fungus that grows on the wood before it is dried. If you’re using kiln-treated wood, you shouldn’t see the sap stain grow. It isn’t mold, and it doesn’t interfere with the structure and strength of the wood. Pine can also begin to emit sap over time. This is often yellow or brown and sticky. 

What You Can Do About It

If you’re installing hardwood floors in a particularly sunny room, consider using a material that reacts slowly to UV light. You can also use UV-protective finishes to prevent the wood from darkening, fading or absorbing stains. 

Natural sap stains are nothing to worry about. However, you can avoid using planks with these stains if you don’t like them. To prevent pine flooring from leaching sap or dark flooring from leaching tannin, use an appropriate sealer

Finishes and Colorants

Speaking of hardwood flooring finishes, have you ever noticed that polyurethane yellows over time? Water-based varnishes and sealants are less likely to darken or yellow than oil-based products. The dyes in pigmented stains are also vulnerable to fading from light exposure.

What You Can Do About It

Choose the right stain for your indoor environment. You might not want to use a bold, dramatic color in a room that gets a great deal of sunlight. You can also use a UV-blocking sealant over the stain to protect it.

Water Damage

Water damage is a common reason for hardwood flooring discolorations. Lingering moisture creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew growth. If these fungi develop on the wood, they can create dark black, brown, gray or green spots or streaks. 

Moisture can also affect the finish. It may dull the sheen or lighten the color of the wood. If the spilled liquid has a color, such as wine, it may seep into cracks and pores, creating a more permanent stain.

What You Can Do About It

Wipe spills on hardwood floors immediately to reduce the risk of water damage. In areas where moisture or spills are likely, protect the flooring. Avoid placing flower pots directly on hardwood floors. Don’t let damp towels sit on the surface. 

If you notice moisture stains but haven’t spilled anything in the area, look for signs of a water leak. Hidden moisture beneath hardwood floors can create shadows between the planks, which are visible from above. 

How to Get Rid of Hardwood Flooring Discolorations

The tips above will help you prevent hardwood flooring discolorations. But if your floor is already stained or faded, you might wonder if there is anything you can do about it now.

Addressing the source of the stain is important. It tells you how deep the discoloration goes and gives you clues about how to eliminate it. For example, surface stains can often be faded with an appropriate cleaning solution. 

You might want to avoid bleach, which can create a dramatic contrast between the affected and surrounding areas. However, you can try cleaning the stain with a vinegar-and-water solution or a paste of baking soda and water. Hydrogen peroxide may also be effective on common stains.

Oxalic acid is often used to remove chemical and water stains from wood. However, this is a harsh product and should be used with caution. Any time you use new cleaning products on hardwood floors, test the chemical in an inconspicuous area first.

If the stains are too deep to clean off, you’ll need to sand and refinish the floors. You may be able to limit the refinishing to the area with the stain. However, for excessively stained flooring, a complete refinishing job is usually necessary. If the boards are damaged, replace them entirely.

Will a Rug Help a Squeaky Floor?

If you have plank flooring of any type, you might expect the floorboards to squeak as you walk over them. Maybe it happens so often that you’ve gotten used to the sound. Or perhaps it’s getting worse, and you’re looking into a quick fix. 

One option that may have come to mind is throwing a rug over the squeaky spot. But will a rug help a squeaky floor? 

A Rug Can Help or Hurt

To answer the question “will a rug help a squeaky floor,” you need to identify your goals. If you just want to get some peace and quiet as you search for a permanent solution, a rug will make the squeak sound softer. 

Especially if it’s made of a thick, dense material, the rug will muffle sound vibrations that come from the squeak. A thick, firm rug might even displace some of the direct pressure from each footstep, putting less force on the source of the noise. Use a high-quality pad beneath the rug for even more sound-canceling capabilities.

Ultimately, however, a rug won’t fix the problem that’s causing the squeak. If the rug displaces some pressure, it can delay the progression of the problem. 

But concealing a squeak with a rug could make the problem worse. If the squeak is caused by moisture, placing a rug in the affected area could increase the humidity in the flooring. This can deteriorate the subflooring, adhesives and size of the floorboards, making the squeak worse.

Some rugs aren’t effective in minimizing the sound anyway. Soft throw rugs don’t absorb much of the squeak. Moreover, they can become a tripping hazard. This is especially true if the source of the squeak is uneven flooring.

What Makes Your Floor Squeak?

Many types of flooring can develop squeaks. Hardwood floors commonly experience this issue. But so do laminate and engineered flooring. Squeaks can also happen in the subfloor of a tile or vinyl floor.

A squeaky floor is usually an indicator of a minor problem. If the squeak is new, it probably doesn’t mean that your floorboards are about to give out. But if you’ve been dealing with it for some time and have other signs of structural issues, you could be awaiting a cave-in.

Squeaks in your floor are usually caused by movement. Houses settle as they age. This moves the angles in the construction slightly, throwing things slightly out of square. 

Slight shifts in the shape of the house can cause the floorboards to rub against each other when you walk on or near them. This makes a noise, much like the sound of a cricket rubbing its wings together. 

The sound also happens because porous flooring expands and contracts with temperature and moisture. Over time, this creates gaps. Even if your flooring is a non-porous material, it often has a porous underlayment. If this is soft or uneven, it could emit a squeak when you step on it. Gaps between the joists and subflooring will also cause movement and creaks.

If you’re on a concrete slab, you’re less likely to have a creaky floor. However, certain types of flooring can still be noisy. This is especially true if they’re not installed correctly. 

For example, floating floors are held together by pressure. If the measurements aren’t right or the underlayment is uneven, floating floors may creak. Homeowners may also have issues with squeaky floors in the kitchen if their cabinets aren’t installed correctly with the flooring.

How to Locate the Squeaky Spot

Squeaky floors can be tricky. The problem area isn’t always directly underfoot. Pressure in one spot can make the floor creak a few feet away. 

If you can see the joists beneath the squeaky floor, send someone to observe as you walk on the floor above. Look for spaces between the joists and the subfloor. 

Sometimes, the squeak is caused by the hardwood and subfloor rubbing against each other. In this case, you wouldn’t see a gap in the joist. In fact, you might not be able to observe the issue directly. But if you see movement in the subfloor in the area of the squeak, you might just need to reinforce the connection between the subfloor and main floor.

Finding the squeaky spot is more difficult if you can’t get beneath the floor. When seeking out the creak from above, look for bulging or warped boards. Feel for movement, bounce or softness beneath your feet. If there is significant sagging or movement, you might be dealing with rot in the subfloor.

How Else Can You Help a Squeaky Floor?

A minor squeak doesn’t necessarily indicate that you have a problem; it could be the result of the house settling. But you don’t have to put up with it if it bothers you.

Some quick ways to help a squeaky floor include the following:

  • Sprinkle a lubricating powder into the seams – Baking powder, graphite powder and baby powder reduce friction and minimize the squeak. This solution is only temporary, however. If you rely on this technique too much, you could end up with gunky residue between your floorboards.
  • Shims – Place shims in gaps between the joist and subfloor. Tap them in with a hammer if necessary. Be careful not to widen the gap by pushing the shim in too far. Add some wood glue to keep the shim in place.
  • Construction adhesive – For long gaps, multiple shims are not usually the best solution. These can quickly shift, causing the squeak to come back. A more stable solution involves applying construction adhesive to the space between the joist and the subfloor. The squeak should stop after the glue has dried. You can also use this method to fill hollow spots between the flooring material and a concrete slab.
  • Screw it down – If the subfloor is squeaking against the primary flooring, try driving a screw through the subfloor from below. It should be long enough to connect with the main flooring material without puncturing the top surface. This will tighten everything and prevent movement. Be careful not to over tighten the screw, though. This could cause warping and buckling, which could generate a squeak down the road.

Minimizing Squeaky Floorboards

If you want to avoid waking up your family when tiptoeing to get a midnight snack, you can take the following steps to prevent squeaky floorboards altogether:

  • Have your floors installed properly – It’s often best to leave flooring installation to the experts. They’ll be familiar with flooring problems in your area and can give you tips on keeping your floors well-maintained. 
  • Deal with moisture immediately – Wipe up spills and deal with leaks so that water doesn’t warp your flooring. Eventually, moisture can rot the floor, causing structural issues in addition to creaks.
  • Maintain consistent humidity levels – Dramatic changes in temperature and humidity can cause certain types of flooring to expand, contract, shift and crack. As it moves, the flooring creates gaps beneath and around it. Prevent this from happening by keeping the air in your home conditioned and using humidifiers or dehumidifiers when necessary.

If you can’t get to these suggestions right away, you can use a rug to help a squeaky floor. Just don’t look at it as a permanent solution. It would be especially disadvantageous to install carpeting over a squeaky floor. Deal with the creak from the source to fix the problem for good.

How to Clean Up a Bleach Spill on a Hardwood Floor

Hardwood floors are fairly resilient, especially when their finish is properly maintained. But wood is a porous material, and certain chemicals can damage it. Bleach is one of those chemicals that shouldn’t have prolonged contact with a hardwood floor. But if you’ve spilled bleach on hardwood floor, you haven’t necessarily ruined it.

Act Fast

If you have ever spilled bleach on fabric, you know how quickly the chlorine can damage the fibers. A tiny splash of bleach can result in faded spots on many fabrics. But bleach doesn’t interact with wood as fast as it does with fabric.

You have some time to take action if you spill bleach on hardwood floor. However, you should still resolve the problem as quickly as you can. The longer you wait, the more likely the bleach is to damage the material.

Use absorbent cloth or paper towels to clean spilled bleach on hardwood floors. Try not to rub or push the bleach into the wood. Instead, use a light touch, and let the fibers soak up the liquid. Keep a bucket or garbage can close to contain the towels. Make sure that you don’t drip the bleach-soaked towels onto other flooring, upholstery or furniture.

Continue to rinse the area with fresh water and clean towels or a mop until all of the evident bleach residue has been removed. Avoid stepping on the mopped area so that you don’t track the chlorine in other parts of the house.

Neutralize the Bleach

Did you know that hydrogen peroxide neutralizes bleach? It deactivates the active ingredients and stops the fading action. Therefore, you should treat your floors with it before the bleach has time to discolor the material. 

In a bucket, combine one part hydrogen peroxide to 10 parts water. Soak a towel in the solution, and rub it over the spill. Then, soak a fresh towel in the solution. Lay it over the affected area of flooring for 10 minutes. Remove the towel, and rinse the spot with fresh water. Dry the spot with a towel.

This method won’t affect an area that has already become faded by bleach. However, it will stop the bleach from decolorizing the wood if it hasn’t already.

Evaluate the Finish

After the floor has dried, assess the condition of the finish. If there is no fading after 24 hours, you may not have to do anything else. You have successfully removed the bleach.

But how does the protective finish look? Is the material duller in the region of the spill than other areas? You might need to restore the finish in that area to make it match the rest of the floor and replenish any damage that was caused by the bleach.

Scratch repair kits may work to repair small areas of discoloration. Follow the instructions on the label to use these products, and test them on an inconspicuous area first.

Are You Sure It’s Bleach?

Do you have some faded spots on your hardwood floors but you don’t remember spilling bleach on them? Hardwood is prone to fading from other factors too.

Sunlight can fade hardwood floors. If you don’t have UV protection on your windows, pay attention to the parts of your home that are vulnerable to direct light exposure. These areas can lose color and become brittle faster than the rest of the flooring.

Moisture damage can also create faded spots on the floor. Have you been tossing wet towels into the same corner? Do your raincoats drip from their hooks in the hallway? Wiping up any liquids from hardwood floors quickly can prevent blemishes and lightened areas.

Avoid using harsh or abrasive cleaners on hardwood flooring. Ammonia and vinegar can cause discoloration over time. Abrasive products can scratch or dull the surface. Even using oils and waxes can cause your floor to look dull. 

How to Repair Faded Floors

Whether bleach or something else has discolored your floors, you have a few options for fixing the problem. The simplest solution is to cover the stain with furniture or a rug. This will conceal the blemish, but it doesn’t resolve the issue. If you’re selling your home or simply want to restore your flooring to its original condition, you’ll need to perform a more thorough repair.

One option is to refinish the floor. Sanding the surface of the hardwood removes superficial discoloration. If the bleach has sunken into the floorboards, though, the faded spots might disappear easily from sanding. You might have to replace the floorboards.

In many cases, you can swap out the planks in the affected area, recycling the old hardwood and installing new boards. You might not have to redo the whole floor. However, a professional flooring expert can give you specific advice for improving the appearance of your hardwood floors.

Can You Use Bleach to Deep Clean Your Floors?

Flooring gets dirty quickly, especially if you have kids or pets. Even if you sweep regularly, you might want to deep clean your hardwood floors from time to time. For example, you might need to sanitize the area where you keep your cat’s litter box or remove bacteria from a food spill under the kitchen table.

Is it safe to use bleach in these cases?

While there is some controversy about whether bleach is safe to use on hardwood floors, most experts agree that you can use it sparingly. Combining 5 tablespoons of bleach with one gallon of water produces a strong enough solution to use for disinfecting purposes. You can mop your hardwood floors with this solution periodically.

However, keep the following guidelines in mind when using bleach on hardwood floors:

  • Bleach with oxalic acid is the most gentle on hardwood floors.
  • Don’t use too much water or allow water to pool.
  • Don’t use undiluted bleach.
  • Use the diluted solution to spot clean areas.
  • Rinse with a damp mop and fresh water.
  • Dry the floor completely when you’re done.

The Dangers of Using Bleach to Clean Hardwood Floor

Using bleach to clean a hardwood floor can be risky. If your flooring has a penetrating finish, such as linseed oil, it can soak up the bleach. Flooring with a surface finish, such as polyurethane, stands up to bleach better. However, repeatedly cleaning these types of floors with bleach can damage the protective finish over time. This leaves the floors vulnerable to further damage. 

Bleach isn’t the best product to use on hardwood floors. It raises the wood grain. This impairs the texture of the wood, making it more likely to crack and splinter. Older hardwood floors and those with existing damage are especially prone to bleach damage.

Although you can use bleach to clean a particularly icky stain, other products may produce better results. Look for cleaning solutions that are designed for hardwood floors. Clorox makes one that contains no bleach but kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. Keeping a product like this on hand will help you tackle spills and messes without risking damage to your investment.

If you want a type of flooring that stands up to bleach, you might prefer a material such as vinyl or ceramic tile. These are especially water resistant and can take a beating, whether it’s from foot traffic or deep cleaning with bleach.

Pine Flooring vs Oak Flooring

Rustic cabin floors often come to mind when you think of pine and oak flooring. While these natural materials might work well in a rugged environment, they’re equally at home in traditional, contemporary and luxury homes. If you’re deciding between pine vs oak flooring, you should understand the characteristics of both so that you can make the best choice.

What Is Oak Flooring?

Oak is a hardwood that has been used in construction for centuries. This dense material is durable and more water-resistant than many other woods. It’s often chosen for its durability, but it also has a classic, neutral appearance.

Oak is an easy sell for most homeowners because it’s not too dark and not too light. It appeals to many tastes and provides an unpresuming canvas for the rest of your decor.

What Is Pine Flooring?

Pine is a softwood. Whereas hardwoods like oak come from deciduous trees, which drop their leaves in the fall, softwood flooring like pine comes from coniferous trees. While it’s true that softwood isn’t quite as durable as hardwood, it still makes a practical flooring material in many cases.

As popular as pine is for flooring, it must have some advantages. People often choose pine planks for their natural appeal. The wood’s original color is fairly light and accepts stain well. Therefore, you can alter the tone to match other types of wood and complement your style.

What’s the Difference in Appearance Between Pine vs Oak Flooring?

The way that the planks are cut affect their grain pattern. However, most oak flooring has a low-contrast grain design that’s not too dramatic. Its natural tone is a medium, honey brown color, but it can have reddish or walnut variations. 

Pine tends to have more “character” than oak flooring. Although it often has a blond hue, it may have some honey or coffee-colored knots. These stand out against the light background and offer plenty of variation in the look of the flooring. Depending on the species of tree that it comes from, pine flooring can also come in shades of deep red and dark honey.

There are different styles of flooring within the same material category. For example, you can find light pine planks with a uniform grain pattern. These are ideal for minimalist and Scandinavian styles. You can also purchase distressed pine boards, which have knots, uneven surfaces and marked grain patterns.

Oak is the same way. When an oak tree is cut across the grain, it produces planks with a highly varied appearance. You can see lots of wavy patterns and knots on some types of oak flooring. On the other hand, standard oak floors have a more consistent pattern and color.

If you want your flooring to stay consistent throughout its life, oak might be the way to go. With proper care and maintenance, your oak floors will stay resilient over time. 

Pine changes in appearance with age. Depending on the way that it’s treated, pine can develop a patina, which changes its color. Moreover, it will show signs of wear as it gets older. But this is one of the reasons that some consumers choose pine over oak. They appreciate the way that it evolves.

Pine vs Oak Flooring: Which Is Tougher?

If you’re purely practical, you’ll want to know which type of flooring is more durable. Oak wins the contest for its hardness. 

The Janka Hardness Scale identifies the hardness of a wood and rates it with a number. White oak has a rating of 1360. Red oak is slightly softer, with a rating of 1290. Most firs have a hardness rating of 400 to 500. Eastern white pine is particularly soft, with a hardness rating of 390. Heart pine, on the other hand, is fairly rugged, with a harness rating of 1225.

Oak is more resistant to damage than pine. It won’t dent or scratch as easily from hard-soled shoes, furniture or animal claws. Pine is easily distressed. But pine flooring often comes with a worn-in look. Extra scratches aren’t always seen as blemishes—they add to its character. 

Pine becomes tougher over the years. As you walk on it, you compress the fibers in the wood. Therefore, older pine floors are more resilient than newer ones. 

How Do Pine vs Oak Flooring Handle Moisture?

Oak is much more water-resistant than pine. Because pine is so soft and porous, it readily absorbs moisture. Therefore, older pine floors are more likely to warp, cup and bend over time. 

White oak grain is filled with tylose, a material that blocks moisture absorption and retention. Oak is not completely waterproof, but white oak is much more weather-resistant than pine. 

If you live in a high-humidity area, you might think twice before choosing pine over oak flooring. Pine is more likely to shift and gap over time. However, you can ask a flooring expert about the best option for you. Pine flooring that has been treated for moisture resistance can last a long time in any environment. 

You can also choose engineered hardwood or laminate with a pine finish. These materials are often less susceptible to changes from moisture exposure than natural oak or pine.

Where to Use Pine vs Oak Flooring

Oak’s durability makes it perfect for floors in high-traffic areas. This material is often used for stair treads because it’s likely to hold its shape and develop less wear and tear than softer woods. 

You can use oak throughout a home. It’s also an excellent flooring for bedrooms, foyers, living rooms and hallways. It’s not uncommon to find oak flooring in kitchens and bathrooms. However, you need to take extra precautions against moisture if you place oak flooring in rooms with exposure to wetness. Still, oak would be preferable to pine in rooms where they’re likely to get splashed.

Even though pine is a softwood, it’s ideal for decking. Pressure-treated pine is extremely weather-resistant and affordable, making it a good choice for outdoor flooring. Oak, on the other hand, is more expensive to use for decking. Some consumers install treated oak decking outside as an alternative to even more expensive tropical hardwoods. But pressure-treated pine is much more common for flooring on decks, sunrooms and porches.

Pine might not be the best material for a dining room or other area where heavy furniture gets moved around a lot. Chairs can leave marks from where guests slide them under the table. You can protect softer pine by using rugs under furniture that’s likely to dent the wood.

Is Oak Better Than Pine Flooring?

There is no clear winner when it comes to pine vs oak flooring. The best choice depends on where you plan to put the flooring, how you intend to maintain it and how long you expect it to last. 

Oak and pine flooring have similar maintenance needs. If you sweep them regularly and go over them with a damp mop to remove residue periodically, they should stay pristine for a long time. Floors with more distressing can be harder to keep clean, though. Sand and dirt work their way into crevices, abrading the surface and causing premature wear and tear. 

Still, this is the beauty of natural wood. It reflects exactly who you are.

Acacia Flooring Problems and Disadvantages

Many people are floored when they come across acacia wood. (Pun intended.) This type of flooring has a distinctive appeal. It’s a departure in appearance from oak and maple, two traditional hardwoods with a classic appearance. Acacia’s grain pattern is highly variable, with contrasting swirls and knots in shades of amber, honey and wine. 

Sometimes referred to as Asian walnut, acacia is one of the hardest woods used in flooring. It resists scratches and damage better than hickory, maple and oak. Its density makes it incredibly water repellant, and it polishes to a beautiful shen.

It sounds too good to be true. But, like everything, acacia wood has its disadvantages. It might not be your best choice for the following reasons.

It Has an Extremely Busy Appearance

There are more than 1,000 species of acacia tree. The different types of trees have distinct hardness levels. They also bring a lot of variety into the mix. Some species are almost as light as pine, while others have chocolate-colored waves and gold undertones. 

If your jaw drops when you see an impressive acacia floor and you want to replicate it in your home, you might have trouble replicating it without knowing the species. Moreover, the inconsistencies in the design will likely look very different in your space than someone else’s.

Here are some other disadvantages of busy flooring:

  • It makes the room look smaller – In some cases, you can take advantage of a striped grain pattern to widen a narrow room, much like vertical stripes make you look taller. However, busy floors aren’t recommended for small spaces if you want to make them look more expansive. If you do want to incorporate acacia wood into a smaller area, use it as an accent. It would look excellent in a sunroom, foyer or living room if the rest of the house had neutral flooring.
  • It can make your room look cluttered – This floor is the conversation starter. The rest of your decor should complement the acacia without competing with it. If you have too much variation in the patterns around the room without giving the eye a chance to rest, you might feel as though your atmosphere is always chaotic.
  • It doesn’t appeal to everyone – Although some people love the look of extremely variegated flooring, others prefer a more uniform look. On one hand, expensive flooring can improve the resale value of your home. On the other hand, buyers who are looking for a simpler aesthetic may move on. 

The Planks are Short

Unless you are using engineered hardwood or laminate with an acacia wood design, you won’t find long planks. The acacia plant is a tree-like shrub. The trunk is often short, and the undulating branches spread out horizontally. This plant doesn’t give manufacturers much room for cutting long, interrupted lengths. 

Therefore, it typically comes in planks that are only two to four feet long. While short planks are convenient to handle and transport, they take longer to install.

Moreover, short planks can make your room look small. Some people prefer long boards for hardwood flooring so that they can expand the illusion of depth in the room. 

When several short planks are installed adjacent to one another, they showcase the grain pattern variation between the boards. One long plank will always look more uniform than many short planks. If you’re trying to minimize the disparities in your floor design, you might not like the way that acacia’s short planks come together.

It’s Prone to Shrinkage and Buckling

It’s hard to imagine that a wood this hard would ever lose its straight, smooth profile. But acacia wood is susceptible to buckling. This is one of the acacia flooring problems that can make your floors look uneven and wavy. Acacia flooring can also shrink, leading to gaps between the planks. 

Buckling and shrinking are problematic for a number of reasons. They can:

  • Increase the risk of trips and falls
  • Attract moisture beneath them
  • Create spaces for dirt and debris to settle, causing abrasion and damage
  • Be difficult to clean

Acacia wood is more likely to warp if it hasn’t been dried properly during the manufacturing process. The fresh wood must be heated in a kiln until its moisture content is between 6% and 8%. 

Before installing them, you should acclimate the planks to your interior environment. Let them sit in the room in which they’ll end up for several days before attaching them to your floors. This gives them space and time to expand or contract as they get used to their final resting place. If you skip this step, the expansion and contraction may leave gaps around the planks and the borders of the room.

Acacia wood floors may not be the best option for extremely dry climates or rooms that experience a lot of temperature fluctuation. If you have this type of flooring, keep the humidity levels lower than 55%. 

Acacia Flooring Is Brittle

Hard flooring has many advantages when it comes to durability. However, it can be difficult to work with. It’s harder to cut than softer flooring materials. It’s also prone to cracking and splintering.

Acacia wood doesn’t contain as many natural oils as some other hardwoods. Unsealed acacia can dry out quickly in certain environments. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for sealing your floors. Keep it out of direct sunlight to prevent the material from drying out.

Some Scratches Are Difficult to Hide

Even though acacia is a durable, resilient wood, it can get damaged if it’s mistreated. Grooves that follow the wood grain blend into the design. However, scratches that cross the grain disrupt the undulating lines that make the wood look so beautiful. They can be hard to disguise. 

Pet nails probably won’t create deep gouges in acacia wood. However, they can mar the finish and make it look dull. They may even catch the light at certain times of day and look more obvious.

The good news is that acacia hardwood can be refinished. In fact, experts recommend that you sand and replace the coating on your floors every 10 years or so. 

To keep your floors looking great on a daily basis, keep them free of sand and grit. Sweep them daily, or use a dry mop. Avoid dragging heavy furniture across the floor without protection. Casters and children’s toys can mark up the floor. Put down a rug in play areas, and consider replacing traditional casters with rubber ones.

Acacia Flooring Problems Aren’t a Disadvantage for Everyone

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. If you have reached this point and think, “I don’t understand how these acacia wood features are problematic,” then this is a flooring material that you might consider.

There are several ways to make this wood work for your space:

  • Cover some areas with solid rugs.
  • Don’t use busy flooring in other rooms.
  • Pair it with painted cabinets and neutral stone in the kitchen.
  • Complement it with vibrant or neutral upholstery with simple or no patterns.
  • Use the short planks to create a basket weave or herringbone design.
  • Stain it to merge some of the contrasting colors together.

These tips are especially important when you’re selling your home. Avoid turning buyers away by simplifying the rest of your decor so that the flooring gives off a peaceful vibe instead of a chaotic one.

The acacia flooring problems that have to do with its structure and maintenance are not much different than the problems with other hardwood flooring. Therefore, if you’re trying to decide between a similar material, make your selection based on your preferences. A floor that you’re proud of will bring you joy every time you enter your home.

What Causes Moisture Under Hardwood Floors?

Improper Installation

Proper installation thwarts a lot of moisture problems that could occur with your hardwood floors. This involves installing the right subfloor and protecting it with an adequate underlayment. Cement floors require a moisture barrier so that the condensation produced from temperature changes doesn’t seep into the hardwood. 

How to Fix It: Unfortunately, the best way to remedy an installation problem is to have the existing flooring removed and reinstalled. You could repair a small area if the moisture problem is not widespread. However, without installing the floors properly, you will probably continue to have issues down the road.

Make sure that the hardwood floors are properly sealed before you walk on them. You should also acclimate the wood to your indoor environment before installing it. This allows it to breathe, adapting to the humidity levels in your space and letting go of excess moisture before it gets trapped beneath the floorboards.

Using too Much Water When You Mop

Liquids should always be cleaned off of hardwood surfaces right away. If you mop the floors using puddles of water, you risk the liquid leaking into the cracks and creating moisture problems under the hardwood floors.

How to Fix It: Sweep, dust or dry-mop your hardwood floors regularly. Doing this daily prevents the need for deep cleaning. If you must use water to remove residue or grime from your floors, use a barely damp cloth, and dry your floors after you’re done.

Leaking Appliances

Is your washing machine or refrigerator leaking without your knowledge? If appliances are losing water in hidden areas, the liquid could pool beneath the floor. The hardwood underneath could buckle, but you won’t see it. 

Some signs that you have a hidden water leak from an appliance include the following:

  • Your refrigerator keeps freezing
  • Your water bill is higher for no obvious reason
  • Walls and ceilings in lower levels have water stains
  • You notice a musty smell around your appliances.

How to Fix It: Identify and repair the source of theleak. Before replacing your appliance, however, you’ll need to inspect the flooring and subfloor. Remove decayed boards, treat the area for moisture, and install the new flooring properly.

Water Intrusion

If your roof, exterior walls or foundation is compromised, you could develop moisture under hardwood floors. Water can flow into the tiniest cracks. If the water volume is high or consistent enough to prevent the material from drying out, it could rot and warp your flooring.

How to Fix It: Call the appropriate professional to identify and repair the problem. Moisture in the crawlspace can also make its way under your hardwood floors. Some tips for keeping water at bay include adding gutters to your roof, having your crawlspace inspected and using the right vapor barriers, dehumidifiers and insulation.

Incontinent Pets

Unfortunately, pets can have accidents inside. Moreover, you may not notice until you start to smell urine. By this time, the moisture may have seeped underneath the floorboards. If your pet has accidents in the same spot repeatedly, the hardwood will get damaged. The subfloor might also absorb the liquid.

How to Fix It: It’s not easy to get the smell of pet urine out of any material, including hardwood. The best course of action is to replace any affected pieces of flooring. Restrict your pet to parts of the home with waterproof floors, such as tile or vinyl, when you’re not around. Clean up accidents as soon as you see them happen.

Signs of Moisture Under Hardwood Floors

As wood absorbs water, it swells. Soaking a piece of wood in a bucket of water would cause it to expand uniformly. But If your hardwood floor is only picking up water from its underside, it will only expand on that surface. 

Cupping

The material’s uneven expansion leads to cupping. The edges of the planks will turn upward, creating a u-shaped profile. The floors will begin to feel uneven, and the raised surfaces will be vulnerable to more wear and tear than the valleys. As the wood swells, it can shift, creating gaps between the boards.

Water Droplets

Have you noticed beads of water forming on top of your floors, but you can’t find a source? The wood may be holding onto moisture that it’s absorbing from below. Condensation on your floors is also a sign that the indoor humidity is too high. Use your air conditioner or a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels below 55%.

Softening

If parts of the floor feel weak or soft, they might be rotting. Moisture beneath the floorboards almost always leads to decay. The rot can transfer to other floorboards and affect the structural integrity of your home. If your floors are rotting, you probably have moisture damage to the subfloor and underlayment too. Hire a professional to remediate the moisture problem and repair the flooring.

Pest Problems

Many pests, such as ants, cockroaches, silverfish and earwigs, are attracted to moisture. If they’re infesting your home, you might want to have your flooring inspected for moisture under hardwood floors. Humid environments are also magnets for termites. Prevent this from becoming a bigger problem by identifying the source.

Musty Odors

Musty, mildewy odors are almost always a sign of a moisture problem somewhere in your home. Dampness promotes the growth of bacteria and fungus, which make your home smell bad. It often takes a professional to remediate the issue and prevent these organisms from spreading.

Squeaking Floorboards

You might think that it’s normal for floorboards to squeak. However, properly installed hardwood shouldn’t make noise when you step on it. Plus, a new squeak is a sign that something has changed.

Creaking floorboards don’t always indicate that you have a moisture problem. Your subfloor could be uneven, or the joists could be sagging. Still, it’s a good idea to rule out moisture under hardwood floors if you’re noticing strange noises underfoot.

Stains

Water stains that come from above will usually create rings or discolored patches on the surface of your floorboards. But if there’s moisture under your hardwood floors, the staining will look different. You might notice darkness along the edges of the room or between the planks. 

Check for Moisture

If you’re not sure whether your flooring is damaged from water or another issue, you can conduct a moisture test. Use a moisture testing meter in various locations where you spot damage. High readings could indicate that you have moisture under hardwood floors and it’s time to call in the professionals.

Oak vs Maple Flooring: Important Differences

Oak and maple are both classic materials for flooring. These hardwoods are fairly neutral and create a solid foundation for the rest of your decor. Even though they have some similarities, oak and maple have distinct qualities. You may be partial to one over the other based on appearance, durability and personal preference.

Do Oak and Maple Look Different?

When you think of hardwood floors, do you imagine medium-brown planks with some grain patterns? Oak and maple may both fall into that category. However, you might be surprised by the subtle intricacies of each material.

Maple is lighter than oak. It has a blonde hue that borders on creamy white. Depending on the manufacturer, some types of maple flooring are beige or light brown. The overall appearance of maple is uniform. The wood doesn’t have high-contrast grain, and all of the planks that you’ll buy for a single project will have a fairly consistent tone and pattern.

White oak has a golden brown color. It has chocolate tones in the grain, which contrast nicely with the base color. The grain pattern of white oak is much more pronounced than that of maple. However, the type of cut influences the grain definition. Some oak planks have straight, subtle lines, while others have a swirling, organic design.

Red oak is lighter than white oak and has a reddish hue. Some experts say that it has a salmon-colored tint. This hardwood is an excellent option if you prefer the warm tones and want a floor that’s not as light as maple but not as dark as white oak.

Staining Oak vs Maple

Most people select the type of hardwood in part for its color. It makes sense that you would choose maple if you wanted lighter colored floors and white oak for a grayer, more neutral hue. If you want dark floors, you’re likely better off choosing a different type of wood. However, this isn’t always possible. If you’re interested in changing the color of your existing hardwood, you should consider the way that the different materials accept stain.

Maple flooring usually comes with a factory finish. This may differ between manufacturers. It might also include a stain that changes the natural color of the wood. If you want maple floors in a particular hue, you should select planks that best match your preferences. Most maple planks are finished with a light or clear sealant.

Maple is very difficult to stain once it’s on your floors. That’s because the grain is tightly closed on most of the plank. These spots don’t absorb stain well. The more porous areas do soak in plenty of stain, resulting in an uneven, blotchy appearance.

Manufacturers often use special techniques to prevent this from happening. But those techniques are difficult to replicate at home. Consult with a flooring professional if you are interested in changing the color of your existing maple floors.

If you’re looking for something darker than maple, consider oak. Not only is oak naturally darker than maple, but it also takes stain better. That’s because the wood is more porous and less dense than maple. If you want to darken existing oak floors, you can sand, stain and seal them.

You can stain oak flooring with any hue. Dark brown stains will camouflage some of the grain pattern and provide a more uniform appearance. However, dark floors aren’t as forgiving as light hardwoods when it comes to seeing dirt and dust. If you have a busy household and want dust and other particles to blend in with your floorboards, you might want to choose a lighter shade.

Is Oak or Maple More Durable?

Maple is harder than oak. However, these materials don’t fall far from each other on the hardness scale. Both are extremely good choices if you’re looking for a floor that will last for years.

These hardwoods resist scratches, gouges and dents. While dragged furniture or your pet’s claws can mar the finish, they’re not likely to dig into the wood itself. If your maple or oak floors do become damaged, you can sand and refinish them.

Even though maple is harder than oak, it’s not as stable in the face of humidity. The cells in any hardwood floors swell when they’re exposed to moisture and shrink in dry environments. Wood species that swell less in response to moisture are more dimensionally stable. Oak has more dimensional stability than maple.

This means that oak is less likely to become cupped or warped. Oak floors are less prone to developing gaps between the planks than maple. If your room is in a humid environment, oak may be the best option.

To reduce the risk of gapping between the boards, however, you can also choose narrower planks. These display less movement in response to moisture than wide boards.

How to Maintain Oak vs Maple Flooring

The best way to keep your oak or maple floors in good condition is to keep the humidity levels in your home stable. Using an air conditioner or dehumidifier in wet weather prevents moisture changes from affecting the floorboards. You can use a humidifier in dry weather, but don’t let condensation build up on the floors. You should also avoid leaving wet towels, shoes or bathing suits on the flooring.

Maintain your roof, and inspect your home regularly for signs of moisture damage. Standing water and leaks can permanently disfigure both oak and hardwood flooring.

Maintenance requirements for oak and maple flooring are similar. Keep them free of dirt and debris by sweeping or using a vacuum with a soft head. Avoid harsh cleaning equipment with hard edges, which can dull or scratch the finish on your floors.

When it’s time to deep clean your floors, feel free to mop them with a damp cloth. You can find many commercial cleaners that are designed for any hardwood. You can use these interchangeably between maple and oak. However, you might want to use the manufacturer’s recommendations for the best cleaning products for the best results.

Which Flooring Fits With Your Style and Budget?

It’s difficult to separate cost from style. Maple is often less expensive than oak, but it offers fewer variations in grain, color and pattern. While oak generally costs more than maple, it comes in a broad range of styles.

If you’re looking to spend less money to put down a neutral, classic and timeless floor that matches any decor, you might want to consider maple. However, if you have a unique color and design in mind, you can usually find a type of oak flooring to match your vision.

Cork vs Bamboo Flooring

If you like the look of hardwood but want something more unique and sustainable, you might consider bamboo or cork flooring. These materials have a similar price and offer a sustainable way to cover your floors. However, there are several differences between the materials. Compare their characteristics so that you end up with the perfect flooring for your space.

Sustainability of Cork vs Bamboo Flooring

Cork and bamboo are considered to be eco-friendly flooring options. Both come from resources that are more renewable than hardwood.

How Environmentally Friendly is Bamboo?

Although bamboo can grow to 100 feet tall, it’s not a tree. Bamboo is a grass that regenerates through the root system. When a stalk is cut, the plant puts out new shoots. That means that bamboo grows more abundantly the more it is harvested.

Unlike hardwood trees, bamboo doesn’t need to be replanted after it is cut down. Plus, bamboo reaches maturity in about five years. Its fast growth cycle allows for responsible farming. Because bamboo requires no fertilizer and less maintenance than other crops, it’s quite sustainable.

However, there are some concerns about the way that bamboo is farmed. If land is cleared to plant a single crop, it damages the natural ecosystem. Look for FSC-certified bamboo products. These have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to ensure that the farming procedures preserve the biodiversity of the environment and allow for long-term sustainability.

How Environmentally Friendly is Cork?

While cork flooring comes from trees, it doesn’t require the entire plant to be harvested. When a cork oak tree reaches maturity, which takes about nine years, the bark begins to separate from the live tree fibers. At this point, workers carefully remove the bark without cutting down the tree. The bark grows back and can be harvested again every ten years or so if it’s done properly.

Cork trees can live for centuries if they’re cared for properly. In Portugal, where the majority of cork is harvested, cork trees are protected. The bark must be removed by skilled workers without harming the tree.

Is Cork or Bamboo Flooring More Durable?

Cork and bamboo flooring are both relatively durable. When properly maintained, cork flooring lasts about 25 to 40 years. High-quality bamboo flooring lasts 20 to 50 years.

How Durable Is Bamboo Flooring?

Even though bamboo flooring is harder than most hardwoods, it doesn’t usually last quite as long. Its longevity depends on the product’s type and quality.

There are three basic types of bamboo flooring:

  • Vertical – Bamboo stalks are arranged vertically before being fused into planks, creating a narrow grain pattern and a modern look.
  • Horizontal – Stalks are arranged horizontally, offering a wider grain pattern and a more traditional finish than vertical bamboo flooring.
  • Strand-woven – Instead of being butted together, bamboo stalks are separated into fibers. Those fibers are compressed with a resin to form a solid block.

Strand-woven bamboo is up to three times more durable than vertical or horizontal bamboo flooring. It’s often the best option for high-traffic areas and spaces with pets or kids.

However, you can also choose engineered bamboo. Instead of bonding bamboo into a solid plank, engineered flooring fuses a thin bamboo veneer with a sublayer and a wear layer. In some ways, engineered bamboo is more durable than solid bamboo. That’s because the wear layer provides extra protection against moisture and stains. However, you can’t sand and refinish engineered bamboo if the surface becomes marred.

Even though it’s harder than many hardwoods, bamboo doesn’t have the same resilience. Hardwoods contain natural oils and other compounds that naturally resist abrasion and cracking. But bamboo is less sensitive to moisture than hardwood, which makes it an ideal choice for humid environments.

How Durable Is Cork Flooring?

Although cork flooring is soft, it’s more durable than you might think. Because it’s so pliable, it resists cracking and scratching. In fact, it’s a naturally self-healing product. Small dents and gouges spring back into shape when the source of damage is removed.

However, cork is generally more delicate than bamboo. If large chunks of flooring are chipped away, they will need to be repaired or replaced.

Still, with an adequate finish and proper maintenance, cork flooring can last longer than bamboo. Cork contains a natural wax that makes it resistant to water and pests. However, some cork planks are made with a layer of high-density fiberboard at the base. If water seeps into the cracks, it can cause this layer to swell or buckle. Choosing high-quality tiles or waterproof click-together planks and installing them properly can prevent this from happening.

Installing Cork vs Bamboo Flooring

If you have some skill with power tools and home improvement projects, you can likely install bamboo or cork flooring yourself. It’s essential that you prepare your subfloor properly, however. It must be level, clean and dry. Take measures to protect the subfloor from moisture to extend the life of the bamboo or cork floor.

Most types of bamboo flooring are pre-finished. You won’t need to add any sealant, and you can walk on it immediately after installation. Click-and-lock cork planks may be pre-finished with a polyurethane sealant. However, glue-down cork tiles require one of the following sealing agents:

  • Acrylic urethane
  • Polyurethane
  • Wax

The sealant must be reapplied every several years, depending on the type. Without sealant, a cork floor will readily absorb moisture and deteriorate quickly.

Cork vs Bamboo Flooring Maintenance

Cork and bamboo flooring don’t require too much special maintenance. Take care of them by sweeping off grit regularly. Particles of dirt are abrasive and wear down the surface. Although both materials are water resistant, they last longer if the humidity and moisture levels in the environment are controlled. Clean up spills as soon as they happen to prevent moisture from seeping into the flooring.

You can deep clean both materials every month or so. Use a product that is designed for cleaning each type of flooring, and avoid dousing the surface in water. A damp mop works well for removing residue and freshening the floors.

You probably don’t need to reseal bamboo flooring during its lifetime. However, cork requires resealing every few years to help it last as long as possible

What Are the Benefits of Cork vs Bamboo Flooring?

If you’re still trying to decide between cork and bamboo, evaluate the benefits of each type of flooring for your needs.
Some of the benefits of cork flooring include:

  • Insulation from extreme temperatures
  • Provides a cozy, comfortable surface
  • Unique appearance that can be stained to your preferences
  • Excellent noise absorption
  • Non slip

Some of the benefits of bamboo flooring include:

  • Versatile for homes with fluctuating temperatures
  • Easy to keep clean
  • Durable and scratch resistant
  • Ideal for transitional pieces

Both surfaces resist mold and mildew growth, making them excellent choices for people with allergies. They also offer a distinctive look that can transform your space.

Recycling Your Hardwood Floors (How, Where, and Why)

It’s exciting to plan a flooring project. Deciding on the style, color and material keeps you busy and allows you to customize your home’s environment. But you might spend so much time envisioning the new floor that you don’t stop to consider what happens to the waste from the old flooring. If you’re replacing hardwood floors, you can reduce your impact on the environment by recycling them.

Benefits of Recycling Hardwood Flooring

Most people are familiar with recycling glass, metal and paper. However, you may not realize that you can also recycle your hardwood flooring.

Reduce Deforestation

The primary benefit of recycling hardwood is that it prevents trees from being cut down to make wooden products. Many hardwood planks are restored and sold as reclaimed pieces to lumber yards and flooring manufacturers.

Prevent Waste From Ending Up in Landfills

Recycling old hardwood floors also reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. Although landfills are necessary for containing solid waste and preventing it from ending up in other areas, they have detrimental impacts on communities and the environment.

Wood makes up slightly more than 8% of the solid waste in landfills. With some states running out of landfill space, it’s more important than ever to repurpose or recycle garbage, including hardwood flooring.

Landfills also produce greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change and pollution. Natural habitats are decimated to make room for landfills. Garbage dumps further damage ecosystems by leaching chemicals and toxins into the ground.

Moreover, landfills can be smelly and noisy. They reduce the value of adjacent land and create health risks for nearby residents.

Produce New Materials

Whether you send your old hardwood floors to a recycling center or repurpose them creatively, you support the creation of new materials. This practice protects natural resources and reduces the amount of energy that is spent on production of new materials.

It also reduces costs. Disposal fees for recycling facilities are often lower than those for landfills. DIY recycling saves you money on these fees and prevents you from having to buy new materials for projects. Manufacturing products from recycled materials also tends to cost less than making items from new raw materials.

How to Recycle Hardwood Floors

Part of the process of renovating your floors involves making decisions about how to dispose of the old materials. Coming up with a plan ahead of time can make the recycling process easier. Here are some ways to recycle hardwood floors.

1. Repurpose It Yourself

If you’re handy with woodworking tools, you can make just about anything with the planks that you pull off of the floor. Some creative ideas for things to make with reclaimed wood include:

  • Shelving
  • Furniture
  • Decorative facades for cabinetry
  • Accent walls
  • Headboards
  • Home decor
  • Artwork

Old floors often have discoloration and imperfections. However, sanding and refinishing the surface provides a clean look. You may not be able to get rid of all of the flaws. However, this aspect of repurposing hardwood gives your projects extra character.

Reclaimed hardwood is an excellent material for many home improvement projects. It is often harder and denser than wooden planks that are available at hardware stores. If it’s still in great shape after being tread on for years, it will deliver the same resilience wherever it ends up. Plus, reclaimed wood adds character to projects.

2. Contact a Recycling Facility

You can’t put old hardwood floors with your other curbside recycling items. Wood contaminates the city recycling facilities, which cannot process this material. Look for an independent recycling center that deals with other materials.

Some recycling facilities work directly with construction and demolition companies and accept large loads of wood. They may offer recycling dumpsters, which you fill up at your pace. Recycling companies that accept hardwood should even be able to haul off the material for you. You’ll typically have to pay a fee to use a recycling service.

3. Sell or Donate It

Building with reclaimed wood is a popular way to protect the environment and save money. You may be surprised by the number of people who are looking for inexpensive sources of reclaimed materials for their projects. You can try to sell the hardwood on local marketplaces, on Craigslist or at yard sales.

You might even have takers if you set the material by the curb with a sign indicating that it’s free. However, you can’t guarantee that the person who picks it up will recycle it.

If your old flooring is in great condition, or even if you bought too much, you might want to contact a local salvager or flooring contractor. In addition, you can donate it to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity.

4. Use a Removal Service

Some contractors will dismantle a hardwood floor for a fee. The benefit is that they’ll clean up after themselves and haul away the old material. If you choose this option for your hardwood floor removal, ask about what they do with the planks. Eco-friendly companies will recycle it, making it an efficient option for those who don’t want to get involved in a home improvement project.

Dos and Don’ts for Recycling Hardwood Floors

Before you make provisions for recycling your floor, ensure that it’s made of true hardwood. Engineered hardwood flooring is harder to repurpose because it may be glued down. Also, the click-and-lock mechanism on engineered hardwood planks often gets damaged as the wood is removed.

The condition of the wood makes a difference if you’re using the wood for another project. Pieces with extreme damage or rot won’t be suitable for upcycling. If the hardwood is in bad shape, the best option is usually to have it hauled off to a recycling facility.

If you are planning to reuse the wood, take care when you’re removing it. Start by removing the baseboards. Easing planks off of the substrate with a flat bar is an ideal way to get them up. Try to remove several rows at a time to avoid damaging the tongue-and-groove areas. Older wood floors have been subjected to temperature and moisture changes for years and may be susceptible to cracking. Be gentle, and follow the directions of the nails. If you use too much force, you might split the wood.

Find out how you should prepare the wood for the recycling option that you choose. You may need to sort the material, discarding planks that are in poor condition. Some facilities require you to remove nails and other fasteners from the boards.

Although creating a bonfire sounds like a fun way to dispose of your hardwood flooring, it’s not the best idea. The planks likely contain finishes and chemicals that are harmful to your health and the environment. When you burn them, you put yourself and your neighbors at risk of breathing in the toxic smoke. The chemicals in the wood also make it a poor choice for using as mulch.

Take the proper safety measures when you’re working with wood. Wear gloves to protect your hands from getting splinters. Use a mask to avoid inhaling particles when you’re sawing or sanding reclaimed wood. With the right precautions, planning and creativity, you can recycle your hardwood floors, contributing to the preservation of the planet and potentially saving yourself money in the process.

What is Cabin Grade Flooring?

Hardwood floors come in many styles, grades and prices. Some hardwood flooring is clean, modern and minimalistic. But that doesn’t always complement the rustic, farmhouse style that’s so popular nowadays. Plus, hardwood flooring can get expensive. Cabin grade flooring satisfies your desire for a casual, natural look and saves you money.

Cabin Grade Flooring is Utility Grade

Like eggs, hardwood flooring is graded according to certain aesthetic characteristics:

  • Prime – AB grade flooring is uniform in color and grain pattern and has minimal knots.
  • Select – ABC grade flooring contains some knots and color variation.
  • Natural – ABCD grade flooring has plenty of variation in its pattern and color and contains significant knots.
  • Rustic – CD grade flooring offers a vintage, pastoral style and has lots of knots and grain variations.
  • Utility – Cabin grade flooring is the most rustic, with many natural imperfections.

You may read that cabin grade flooring is low in quality. However, it’s not an inferior product. It simply contains more of the deviations that occur in natural wood. Don’t confuse cabin grade flooring with factory seconds, which are usually cast offs that do have quality issues.

Cabin grade flooring is harvested from parts of the tree in which knots, cracks and scratches are likely to be found. These types of planks are not milled as meticulously as other grades. Therefore, they may not have a uniform thickness or length.

Because of the nature of cabin grade flooring, it may also contain more defects than other grades. But these are like beauty marks; they create character. Nevertheless, you may have to work around some of the flaws and generate extra waste.

Types of Imperfections Found in Cabin Grade Flooring

We think of flaws as something negative, but many people look for wood with imperfections because it has more character than uniform planks. Some of the variations that you will find in cabin grade floors include:

  • Heartwood – Strong, decay-resistant wood from the center of the tree, which often contains tannins that darken its tone
  • Sapwood – The outermost layer of wood, which is lighter than heartwood
  • Knots – Illustrative of the location where a branch meets the tree, these oval shapes contain resins that make them darker than the surrounding wood
  • Pinholes – Narrow cavities that formed when wood-boring insects lived in the tree before it was harvested
  • Filler – Material that is added to holes, particularly in knots, to close the gap
  • Splits – Cracks in the surface of the wood that add character without impairing its durability
  • Mineral coloration – Patches of color that are formed when minerals from the soil leach into the wood as the tree grows

What You Should Know About Cabin Grade Floors

Having realistic expectations can help you get the look that you’re going for with cabin grade floors. Here are some things that you should consider before making a decision.

Boards Are Shorter Than Usual

While many planks will be a standard 24 inches long, about 50% of them will be shorter than that. This can add work to the installation process. However, many installers feel as though the labor balances itself out because they don’t have to deal with bowing and warping. Also, the shorter planks let you create a unique pattern with plenty of contrast.

The Species of Wood Affects the Aesthetics

All cabin grade flooring is not the same. The look that you’re going for depends on the type of wood that you buy.

Maple contains fewer knots than most other types of wood and may come with more short planks. It provides one of the cleanest finishes of all of the cabin grade planks.

Hickory features some of the most contrast. The background color ranges from almost white to dark honey, and the splits and knots are deep chocolate. The tone variation on hickory cabin grade flooring may even look splotchy and organic. Gray hues are also common in this species of wood.

Oak provides balance between color and contrast. It offers a medium honey background color, and the splits and knots are not as noticeable as they are in hickory.

Expect Some to Go to Waste

The average installer discards up to 20% of cabin grade planks. Keep this in mind so that you purchase enough to cover the entire area.

You’ll have to decide which defects are acceptable and which won’t work in your master plan. You can minimize much of the waste by placing less desirable boards in low-visibility areas, such as inside closets, near baseboards, beneath furniture and under rugs.

Look at the Floor as a Whole

A hardwood floor is supposed to look like a mosaic. When you look at individual planks, you may not think that they’ll go together well. But when you step back and look at the entire space, you will appreciate the way that the variety adds depth and interest to your décor.

Make sure that you open all of the boxes of flooring before you install it. This allows you to mix up the planks and produce the most pleasing results.

You might not like all of the nicks and blemishes on the planks. However, you can sand, stain and fill areas to produce a finish that you’re happy with. The knots and texture may show through stains, producing an interesting look that’s never too uniform.

Why Would You Choose Cabin Grade Flooring?

Cabin grade flooring has a rough-hewn appearance that many people aim to incorporate in their homes. The grading system doesn’t reflect the integrity of the wood; it just indicates that this is on the rustic side of the spectrum.

Some reasons that you might prefer cabin grade flooring are as follows:

  • Excellent value – This type of flooring costs up to 50% less than prime grade planks. It’s an affordable way to swap out your carpet or linoleum without derailing your budget.
  • Complements multiple styles – You don’t need a cabin to make this flooring look good. Cabin grade flooring can look vintage or surprisingly modern, depending on the way that it’s installed.
  • Unique character – It’s difficult to predict exactly how cabin grade floors will look before they are installed. Because the planks have so much variation, you can change the overall appearance by configuring them differently.
  • Perfect for busy spaces – Floors in high-traffic areas, such as mudrooms and playrooms, get lots of abuse. Damage will blend into cabin-grade flooring, but it could create obvious blemishes on other grades of hardwood.

All natural wood has imperfections. If you’re looking for a floor with character, you can capitalize on those flaws by using cabin grade planks. This type of flooring offers a distressed, rustic look that will never be identical to anyone else’s floors. It may not be the best option for people who want a uniform, even-looking floor. But if you install cabin grade floors, they’re sure to complement many styles of décor and start conversations.