Engineered wood floors have a thinner wood surface and hold up better in high humidity than solid wood. Hardwood flooring expert shares how to properly clean and maintain your floor after installation.
Christopher’s Newcom’s family has been involved in the flooring business since 1918, when his grandfather, Henry Bast, travelled the country offering his skills for hire. The family business permanently settled in Tampa and opened Bast Floors & Staircases in 1987. Newcom himself grew up around flooring and has been with the company full-time since 2001.
What should I know about the installation and care of hardwood flooring?
Newcom: "You have the option between two kinds of floor material, and two kinds of installation. The major materials we use are engineered and solid floors. An engineered floor has a thinner wood surface, so it might not have the longevity of a solid wood floor.
"You can renew a solid wood floor more often - for instance, by sanding and refinishing it. The pros of engineered wood are that it meets up pretty well with existing tile and countertops. It's also a little more stable; In high humidity, engineered wood tends to hold up a little better than solid floors.
"Prefinished installation is fairly quick and painless compared to an on-site finish, where we sand and finish the floors ourselves at the job site, which involves some dust and fumes and takes longer. We clean it all up before we're done, but there's an acclimation period for the wood.
"However, a site-finished floor has more of a classic wood floor look. Solid and engineered wood don't look any different when they're site-finished. You can usually tell the difference between prefinished engineered and prefinished solid wood, because solid has more of a bevel on the edge.
"Whenever we complete an installation, we leave a care package with some instructions and recommended cleaning products. A lot of the products that are heavily marketed towards cleaning wood floors can be more of a detriment than anything.
"Avoid any products with oil or wax, because they'll leave a residue on the surface that never goes away, and if you have a top coat done later, the new finish won't bond to the existing floor.
"A top coat is something we usually do every two to five years. If your finish is starting to wear out, we'll clean the floor thoroughly and coat it with another layer of finish so you won't wear through it. Once the finish is worn away, you can't really top coat it. You have to sand and finish it again.
"If you leave a rug on your floor for a while and move it, the area underneath will be lighter. That's from UV rays darkening the wood and finish. Once the rug is removed, we can sand and finish the floor, which will help lessen the overall color difference.
"It won't completely remove the difference, but generally, if you're to pull the rug off and leave the floor sitting with the rug gone, that area will eventually catch up.