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Different Kinds of Hardwood Flooring Stains Available

kinds of hardwood flooring stains availableIn recent years, hardwood flooring has once again become a popular decorator choice for new homes and for those seeking to update or remodel their existing residences. A century ago, hardwood floors were pretty much the only choice in residential construction and there were few options available to distinguish one hardwood floor from the next.

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In the first half of the twentieth century, hardwood floors were meticulously assembled from individual pieces of wood that were cut in a tongue and groove pattern. Each piece was then nailed into place. Once completed, the floor would by varnished and pretty much forgotten. Eventually, many hardwood floors were covered up by rugs or newer wall-to-wall carpeting.

Hardwood Flooring Stains

The type of wood stain you use will depend in large measure on the kind and style of flooring that you select for your home. Selecting a color and stain begins the last part of the finishing process. The most popular wood floor stain is the Minwax Brand. The other major brand of floor stain is Cabot.

kinds of hardwood flooring stainsFloor stains come in an amazing variety of colors; enough certainly to match any decorator’s tastes. Today’s floors can be stained in dozens of different wood tones, from traditional oak, maple, mahogany, and pine to more exotic shades like fruitwood, pecan, cherry, and chestnut. Even shades that resemble ebony and driftwood are available.

Using a clear or white base, a virtual rainbow of colors and distinctive shades can be created that still allow for the wood’s own distinctive grain patterns to show through. Contemporary hues of pink, blue, green, and violet can be seen in today’s homes side-by-side with more classic wood tones.

Varieties of Stains

Once a wood floor is completely installed, sanded, and prepared for staining, there are several choices of finishing stain products. Which you select will depend on the time, energy, and effort you wish to expend in the application process and, of course, the finished look you are after when the floor is finally done!

The simplest and most popular stains are all-in-one treatments as in the Minwax wood finish product line.

These stains, when applied, penetrate, stain, and seal the wood surface being treated. No additional finishing coats, such as polyurethane, are necessary when using this type of stain.

different types of hardwood flooring stains availableAll-in-one products are long-lasting, oil-based stains that allow for the natural grains of the hardwood flooring to shine through. Minwax offers more than two dozen wood-tone colors in this product line.

Also popular with today’s homeowners are water-based wood stains that allow for a much greater variety of tints and colors. Water-based stains however, either using a clear or white tint base, are generally not recommended for large areas such as floors. These stains come in dozens of colors and can be custom mixed just like paint.

Another alternative to traditional messy oil-based stains are more user-friendly gel stains. These products feature a no-drip formula, are easy to apply, and provide a uniform look to the finished wood surfaces.

Companies like Minwax also manufacture products that can help homeowners change the color and look of wood surfaces that are already stained and finished.

The Finishing Process

Anyone who has ever finished or refinished a hardwood floor can tell you that it is an arduous process: time-consuming, labor-intensive, and very, very messy! Finishing a wood surface requires a number of steps before stain can be applied.

First, new floors must be sanded to smooth and even out the surface. Older floors must be stripped of existing finishes and stains and sanded several times to bring back the original grain in the wood. In both cases, floors may have to be sanded a number of times with varying degrees of grit.

different kinds of hardwood flooring stains availableOnce sanding is completed, according to Inter-County Floors in Long Island, New York, the floor is swept clean. It is then tacked, which is passing it over with a damp cloth to remove any residual dust left over from the sanding process.

Once this is done, the hardwood floor is ready for staining and finishing. A simplified step-by-step floor finishing guide is available online at the For Dummies website.

The Dummies site breaks down the finishing process into a number of easy steps. Three choices are given for finishing the prepared, sanded hardwood floor. The first choice would involve the application of a clear polyurethane protectant and sealer.

Oil-based polyurethane products tend to yellow with age and are hard to spot repair if nicked or damaged. Water-based products are more forgiving and easier to use but both varieties are great for hardwood floors in high-traffic areas such as kitchens and hallways.

The second finishing alternative is the more traditional varnish, which comes in a variety of lusters ranging from a matte finish to high gloss finishes.

While varnished floors are easier to spot repair, varnish darkens significantly with age as you will note when visiting older homes with floors that have never been refinished.

The final, and most popular, choice of course is to finish the floor by applying a penetrating wood stain. This option offers the most natural-looking finish to your hardwood floors and is easy to care for.

Floor Staining

different kinds of hardwood flooring stainsWood stain is applied directly to the prepared surface and hand wiped to even out the stain and allow the wood’s natural grain to show through. Once properly applied, absorbed, and wiped, the stain is allowed to dry. At that point a finishing coat such as polyurethane may be applied.

Another staining process called pickling or whitewash style can be applied using a pickling white wood stain, which again is hand rubbed into the grain of a bare wooden floor. A whitish pink or almond or beige tint is possible, depending on the type of wood being stained.

Wood bleach is used before the pickling white stain is applied, if the user is looking for a white floor color instead of the whitewashed tint as described above. Using this technique, however, will usually result in uneven shading, as some floor boards will turn out whiter than others.

Types of Flooring

The World Floor Covering Association provides a great deal of educational material and helpful links to assist consumers with questions about most any kind of wood flooring. The WFCA website provides complete information on the selection, acquisition, and installation of wood floors.

different hardwood flooring stains availableToday, hardwood flooring has come of age. With the addition of laminates and modern manufacturing techniques, wood flooring comes in a large variety of styles and colors. New and more durable finishes also help preserve the natural luster and beauty of wood floors.

Old-style wood floors came in two different widths. The standard style was composed of narrow pieces called strips. Plank floors were made up of wider pieces of wood and were much more popular in early American home construction.

Developments in wooden floors in recent years allow for much more flexibility. Wood floors can now be a part of any décor and in any room, whether for residential or business use. The type of wood floor you select will be determined by the room in your home that you want it.

There are two types of wooden flooring in the market today–engineered and solid. As the name might suggest, a solid wood floor is composed of a solid piece of wood. From top to bottom, a solid wood floor is usually between 5/16 inches and 3/4 inches thick.

According to the National Wood Flooring Association, solid wood floors can be stripped, sanded down, and refinished many times. Hardwood is a long-lasting, durable, and beautiful flooring option.

What Happened to Carpeting

different hardwood flooring stainsIn our grandparents’ day, the big flooring question was whether to hide the original floors with room-sized carpets or newer and more luxurious wall-to-wall carpeting. The development of new synthetic fibers after World War II, especially nylon, helped fuel the interest in carpeting and brought prices into the range of affordability for the average American.

With new, post-war technologies, carpeting could be mass produced in an amazing variety of styles and colors. Intricate patterns could be created by machine that would formerly have required the work of a master weaver. Americans in the 1950s and 1960s were quickly sold on the beauty, durability, and richness of carpeting in their homes.

So popular was carpeting that the majority of new suburban tract homes built in that time period, and through the 1970s, was finished without hardwood floors at all. Wall-to-wall carpeting was installed directly over plywood or slab sub-flooring. For kitchens, bathrooms, and entryways, more durable products such as linoleum or tile were used.

Carpet maintenance became a big business. The electric sweeper of the 1920s gave way to the modern vacuum cleaner. Companies that specialized in rug cleaning, such as Stanley Steemer, appeared and numerous home cleaning products became available in the marketplace.

Today, home owners can rent, lease, or purchase a number of handy and practical machines to keep their carpets looking fresh and new. And if all else fails, the existing carpeting can quickly be ripped out and fresh new carpets can be installed.

The Decision Is Yours

Whether you choose to add new and decorative hardwood flooring to your home or refinish your older wood floors to restore their natural beauty, there are many options to consider. While hardwood floors do take time and effort to install and finish, the results will be sure to please you and your family for many years to come.

For the latest tips on hardwood floor care products, look no further than the website HERE!

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