New! An “Eco-Friendly” Finish

What do you think of when you hear the word “whey”?  Do you think of the nursery rhyme of little Miss Muffet?  Or do you think of a health food missmuffetpictureprotein powder?  You probably don’t think about it in conjunction with hardwood floors.  If you are looking for an eco-friendly, “green” flooring option you should!

Hardwood flooring is one of the most eco-friendly flooring materials there are.  It’s renewable, and many manufacturers work with suppliers to ensure that the trees are harvested in a responsible manner.  Now, thanks to whey protein, it can be finished with the only finish made from a 100% recyclable material.

refinishing_floor1Typically, hardwood flooring is stained, and then a polyurethane top coat is applied to protect the floor.  The polyurethane seals and protects the finish on the floor.  There are two types of polyurethane used – oil based or water based.  Water based polyurethane dries quickly, provides a clear finish and has a low odor.  It can require up to four coats to provide maximum protection. Oil based polyurethane requires fewer coats, but the drying time is longer and there is a stronger odor.  It also lends an amber glow to the wood.  Oil based polyurethane tends to be more durable than water based.

A new product, PolyWhey® by Vermont Natural Coatings, combines the high durability of an oil based finish with the application advantages of a water based finish.  Plus – it’s made from a renewable resource!

CheeseWhey is a by- product of cheese making.  It is what is left after the milk has been curdled and strained.  PolyWhey® started as a collaboration among farmers, furniture makers, and the University of Vermont scientists to expand the value of Vermont’s agriculture and forest industries. What began as an interest in whey, as a possible ingredient in woodworking projects, has emerged as a revolutionary new science.  The whey acts as a co-binder and co-solvent, replacing other, more toxic substances.

Other than the ease of application and durability of PolyWhey®, the number one advantage to homeowners is that Polywhey® has the lowest VOC level in the industry.  VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds.  VOC’s evaporate into the air from many substances and can cause or contribute to many health problems.  Petroleum products, like oil based finishes, carpets and vinyl flooring can have harmful levels of these VOCS which are easily identifiable by their noxious smell.   The VOC level for Vermont Natural Coatings finishes is ≤180g/L (grams per liter). The toughest indoor air quality standard for wood finish in the United States is California’s 275g/L.

Here at Yankee Classic Flooring we are proud to add PolyWhey® Wood Floor Finishes to its line of floor finishes.  It is a beautiful finish that brings out the richness of Northern Grown Oak and Maple.  Available in a matte, satin, semi-gloss or gloss finish there is a look that is just right for your home.   With so many options, we can customize your floor any way that you want.  And with PolyWhey®, your floors can be refinished without the smell!

As always, Yankee Classic Flooring offers free consultations.  Give us a call, and we will show you how beautiful your wood floors can look.  For more information on PolyWhey® or any of our flooring options, call Tracey or Jerry at 608-467-2551 or email us at yankeeclassicfloors@frontier.com.

Polywhey finish

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Staining Your Hardwood Floor

Do you want a truly custom hardwood floor?  Something that is unique to your home that no one else will have?  Sometimes that means that you will want to have your floors custom stained.  This is definitely something you should not try to do yourself.  Let an expert from Yankee Classic Floors help you customize and custom stain your hardwood floor.  We take great pride in offering custom staining.

Staining your hardwood floor can be a tricky process.  First, let’s define what staining is and what it isn’t.  Staining isn’t varnishing your floor.  It’s not putting a coating on your floor to protect it from wear and tear.  Staining is done to change the natural color of the wood.  There are some hardwood floors that should not be stained.

Maple, birch, and coniferous woods such as pine will take stains unevenly. In maple and birch the wood is very tight grained with very small pores, and the density of the pore wall fibers vary drastically. The particles of stain pigment have fewer places where they can wedge themselves and those places are not regularly spread through the wood.  With pine and fir, there is the added element that these woods contain resins that actively resist the stain.   If you do not mind the “busy” appearance of what the stain will produce, this look might be for youFloor Stain Samples

The first thing that Yankee Classic floors will do is sand your existing floor.  We put our 20 plus years of sanding craftsmanship to work to ensure that your floor is smooth, with no scratches.  Once the floor is sanded, we completely clean the floor.  We begin by sweeping with a push broom, and end by using a professional vacuuming system that has a dust containment system.

Yankee Classic will work with you to determine the look and feel that you want your floors to have.  You have many options when it comes to color, from light to dark.  You may prefer to use a stain that adds a red tone, or one that is more honeyed.  We can help you find the perfect color for your application.

Testing Floor StainsIt can be confusing trying to figure out that perfect color.  Our refinishers will apply samples directly to the floor, so we get exactly the right color you want.

The next step might involve a process that is called “water popping”.  When a floor is sanded, it closes the natural grain of the wood.  This leaves the wood non-porous, and unable to accept stain well.  In order to open that grain back up again, we wipe wet (not soaking) rags over the floor, making sure not to miss any spots. This allows the stain to be more evenly applied across the floor, it will absorb better, and the color will be richer.

Applying floor stainsThe next step is to apply the stain.  At Yankee Classic Floors, we prefer to use a lambs wool applicator. This allows for a smooth application.  Once the stain is applied, the excess is wiped off with a rag.  Allowing the excess stain to sit on the floor boards does not deepen the color, hardwoods can only accept a percentage of the stain that is applied.

Once all the stain is applied, and the excess is wiped off, the floor is left to dry.  The final step is then to apply the protective top coats in the selected finish.

Always use an experienced team of refinishers if you are going to stain your floor.  Inexperienced workmen don’t necessarily know all the steps that are required to ensure that YOUR floor is stained correctly.  One common condition that can occur if the floor is not allowed to dry properly is called “Bleedback”.  This occurs after the finish coat has been applied to a layer of stain that has uncured in the gaps between the boards.  It causes a cloudy streak in the floor, and experienced refinishers know to look for those uncured areas before applying the finish coat.

While staining your hardwood floor adds an additional day to the project, it can be well worth the extra time.

Staining before and after

Remember, we at Yankee Classic Floors want you to have beautiful floors that will last.  We are always happy to give you a free consultation and estimate of what it will take to make your floors a beautiful foundation for your home.  Just give us a call!

Buyer Beware – You Get What You Pay For

We all know the old sayings “You get what you pay for” and “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is”.    And in the case of Lumber Liquidators, both apparently are true.  This past Sunday night, CBS’s news show “60 Minutes” aired a segment on their investigation of the safety of Lumber Liquidators products, which has captured headlines around the world.

Lumber Liquidators is a nationwide retailer of hardwood and laminate flooring.  They advertise inexpensive flooring options that, when you are looking to upgrade or replace your flooring seem like an attractive option.  Who wouldn’t want a pretty floor, at what seems to be a much cheaper price?  According to 60 Minutes, you don’t and here’s why:  there are serious concerns about the safety of Lumber Liquidators products and also about where and how they get their materials.

The biggest safety concern is the amount of formaldehyde found in the laminate and hardwood flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators and produced in China.  Formaldehyde is a compound chemical made up of formaldehydecarbon, hydrogen and oxygen.  It can be found all over, since it both occurs naturally and is manufactured for industrial use in many of the products we use today.  In the case of flooring, it is often used in the adhesives that hold the wood and laminate particles together.  Formaldehyde can be highly dangerous, damaging your health if concentrations are high.  It can cause respiratory problems, headaches, skin rashes, eye and throat problems, and fatigue.  It can trigger asthma attacks in people who are prone to them, and is a proven carcinogen.  You might say so what if it is in the floor, isn’t it contained there?  The answer is no, it doesn’t stay in the floor.  Just as a fragrance can be released from a material, so too can formaldehyde. Over time it simply leaches out into the air you breathe.

In the 60 Minutes investigation, an environmental attorney in California ordered testing to be done on 150 cases of laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators.  California has standards on how much formaldehyde is safe to be in certain products. These legal limits are set by the California Air Resources board (CARB).  In the testing of the laminate from Lumber Liquidators, they found 13 times the amount of formaldehyde in the Chinese Laminate products. Some of the product tested was 20 times higher.

Tiger

Tiger walking in the snow by Tambako the Jaguar is licensed under CC by 2.0

We at Yankee Classic Flooring, Inc. were already aware of lawsuits filed against Lumber Liquidator’s Flagship line, Bellawood.  The lawsuits allege that Bellawood is sourced from illegal logging operations in protected forests in the far eastern part of Russia, and delivered through suppliers that Lumber Liquidator’s work with in China. These forests are the natural habitat of the endangered Siberian Tiger. Lumber Liquidator’s Russian Timber suppliers have been convicted in Russia of 15 counts of illegal logging.

A separate lawsuit has been filed against Lumber Liquidator’s in reference to their bamboo flooring product.  Lumber Liquidator’s claims that their Morning Star Bamboo flooring is extremely durable and free of defects for 30 years.  However, there have been several complaints of defects showing up within weeks of installation.

Why do we bring this all to your attention?  Because at Yankee Classic Flooring we believe that you should know what products go into your home.  Good quality product comes at a price.   We don’t buy from questionable sources, we know where our flooring products come from.  We buy our wood from northern Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota family farms, which in turn have the product locally milled.

In the past 5 years, we have seen more finishing operations open up locally in the state of Wisconsin. This will guarantee that all pre-finished products are being stained and finished in Wisconsin, following strict guidelines and codes in this process.

Yankee Classic Flooring scrutinizes all products that we bring in to sell to the customer. We understand that we might not be the most inexpensive, but offer safety and quality to our customer on all products we install and finish. If you ever have a question about what we sell, just ask us!

Lumber  Liquidators certainly offers “cheap” inexpensive products – but now we fully understand the ramifications.

It’s the new year – and my floor is a mess

Yankee Classic Flooring Winter LakeThe New Year has been rung in, the holidays are over, and the decorations have been put away.  And there, on your beautiful hardwood floor, is evidence of all the activity that your home saw in the last month.  You loved the season, but hate what it’s done to your floor!  The Christmas tree stand overflowed, Grandma’s precious FiFi peed in the guest room, and scratched the floor by the door.  There are small dents in the floor in the dining room from the high heels your best friend wore to the New Year’s Eve party.  Salt residue lines the back hall, and there are black heel marks in the front hall.  It can be as depressing as a gloomy day in January.  But take heart, many of these damages can be easily repaired.

As long as the rest of the floor is in good shape, you only have to concentrate on the damaged area or damaged boards.  Let’s start with how damage such as gouges, high heel marks, scratches from furniture or dogs can be repaired.

If the damage is small, such as a single scratch or gouge that isn’t very stain pendeep, you can purchase a furniture marker of the same color as the wood floor and fill in the damaged areas.  Wipe off the excess with a clean cloth and no one will know the floor was damaged.

If you have a pre-finished floor and have stored extra boards, you are in luck.  The damaged boards can be cut out of the floor and replaced rather easily by one of our expert floor installers.  The floor is site finished, or you don’t have any extra boards for your pre finished floor, Yankee Classic Flooring can fill the gouges with a color matched wax that we then buff to the sheen of your existing floor.

Water StainedIf there is water or urine damage, repairs are best done by a professional.  These areas may need to be spot sanded and re-sealed.  Yankee Classic Flooring offers a variety of finishes that will blend into your current floor finish sheen.  Spot sanding, sealing and finishing should be left to our experts.

To keep your floor in good condition throughout the rest of the winter, remember to keep the humidity level in your home in check.  Like your skin, hardwood floors need a certain level of humidity.  Use a humidstate or hydrometer (available in most hardwood stores) to check the humidity levels in rooms where you have hardwood floors.  It should be anywhere from 35% to 55% year round.  If it is to dry, use a humidifier to put humidity back into the room.  If it is too humid, use a dehumidifier to remove some of the moisture.

If your hardwood floors didn’t enjoy the holidays as much as you did, give us a call.  We can help you get them back into shape.  Yankee Classic Flooring is committed to helping you not only find the perfect flooring, but also to helping you keep it beautiful.  As always, consultations are free.

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I want my floor to be “eco-friendly”

Do you want your floor to be green?  No, I don’t mean green in color, I mean environmentally “green”.  Many of us have concerns today about the materials we use in our homes.  Are the raw materials environmentally friendly? Does the manufacturing process cause more pollution?  Do the materials release any toxic chemicals inside my home?

When it comes to flooring, there is a clear winner if you want to be eco-friendly, and that’s solid hardwood.

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Not only is solid hardwood flooring beautiful, it causes the least amount of damage to the environment.  While trees can be harvested specifically for use in floors, often when lumber is harvested for other uses, such as for making furniture or cabinets, the leftover lumber is made into flooring.  Wood is renewable, and many hardwood flooring manufacturers work closely with lumber companies to ensure that they practice responsible forest management.

Forests are essential to our eco-system. Not only do they provide a home for many species of flora and fauna, they naturally help manage our water supply by providing Blog 5 Deerfiltration and storage.  When a forest is responsibly harvested, trees are selectively thinned, not clear cut.  This then thins out the density of the canopy and allows sunlight and more water to reach the forest floor.  Not only does this provide a better habitat for wildlife, but it allows new seedlings and saplings to grow.  Evidence shows that a responsibly managed forest will release slightly more water for years after a harvest.
Bog 5 TrilliumLike all plants, trees are carbon neutral.  They absorb carbon dioxide from the air, and release oxygen. While the trees act as a filter to clean the air of greenhouse gases, the carbon is used to help the trees grow, thus reducing CO2 emissions.
Solid hardwood flooring uses the least amounts of fossil fuels in its production than any other type of flooring.  It uses less water, and fewer chemicals than carpet or vinyl, which not only use more fossil fuels in their production but often contain petroleum products themselves.  Once a tree is harvested, a drying kiln and saw blade are all that are required to produce the flooring.

If you live in the Madison area, look for hardwoods milled in northern Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. These have the smallest carbon footprint for delivery back to Madison.
If you are concerned about your indoor air quality, hardwood flooring is a wonderful choice.  Unlike carpet, hardwood does not trap dust and allergens, nor does it generally release other materials into the air in your home which can contribute to health problems.  It is easy to clean and maintain, keeping your home allergen free with minimal effort.
Finally, solid hardwood flooring has the longest service life of any flooring option.  A hardwood floor can last more than 100 years.  It can be refinished numerous times, to bring it back to its original beauty, or even to change the look.  When a hardwood floor is no longer usable as a floor, it can be used for other purposes.  It can be made into furniture, used as fuel or returned to the earth.  Hardwood will not sit for years in a landfill, waiting to decompose.  When exposed to the natural environment it will quickly decay.
So, if you are looking for a “green” flooring option, solid hardwood is a terrific choice.  And of course, if you want your floor to be “green” and GREEN, it can always be stained to whatever color you like!
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Yankee Classic Flooring is committed to helping you find the perfect flooring option for your home.  Give us a call today, and we will help you decide what options work best for you.

Choosing a floor can be confusing

Does deciding on new flooring make you feel like this?

Woman Screaming   Choosing a new floor can be so confusing.  Tile? Carpet? Laminate? Hardwood? Many factors go in to deciding which kind of floor to install.  Once you’ve made the decision to put in hardwood, then you’ve got even more decisions to make.  What kind of hardwood?  What color? Site finished or pre finished?  Solid or engineered? Here are a few tips when considering what kind of hardwood floor to install.

Pre-finished layersThe first thing you want to consider is where you will be installing the flooring.  Wood is affected by humidity.  It will expand and contract based on how much humidity is in the air.  If you are putting the flooring in an area that is below the grade, meaning it is below ground level, such as in a basement, your best choice is an engineered flooring.

Engineered flooring is still a hardwood floor.  It’s not laminate.  Engineered flooring is produced with three to five layers of hardwood.  Each layer is stacked in a cross grain configuration and bonded together under heat and pressure.  As a result, engineered flooring is less likely to be affected by changes in humidity.  Once the layers are bonded together, a top layer is glued to them.  This top layer can be any species of wood, so you have the same options of type of wood, color and plank width as you do with solid flooring.

Other factors to consider when deciding between solid or engineered hardwood are what type of surface the hardwood will be installed on, and plank width.  If the installation will be on cement or gypcrete, or if you want a plank width of 5 inches or more, engineered hardwood will once again be your best choice.

Pr-finished colorsBased on the above criteria, if you have decided your best choice is not an engineered floor but a solid floor, there are a couple of other factors that will guide your decision.

Solid flooring is usually 3/4 inches in depth.  It is usually sold in plank widths between 2 ¼ inches up 5 inches.  Your floor will be more stable if you choose a plank width between 2 ¼ inches and 3 ¼ inches. The 4 and 5 inch width planks can be used, but the installation type will change in order to keep the floor stable.

Ok, so you’ve decided on whether the floor is engineered or solid.  Now how do you decide what type of hardwood to use?  Some types of wood are more durable than others, so the use that the floor will get is important to consider.  Do you have dogs or children?  Will there be a lot of heavy foot traffic, or will chairs be moving in and out frequently?  Yankee Classic Flooring uses the Janka scale of hardness found on the National Woods Flooring Association website (www.nwfa.org).

chart_janka_001Woods such as Hickory, Maple and Oak are very durable and suitable for areas that will get a lot of wear.  American Cherry and Dark Walnut, while beautiful, are very soft and will scratch and dent easily.  Be careful where you use these.

 

Once you decide on what kind of wood, your next decision is color.  This is what sets the mood for your room.  Floor coloring plays an important role in establishing the overall feel and design of your room, so you need to think about what kind of mood you want created.

Dark Hardwood

Is it a formal setting, or an area of fun and activity? LIght hardwood

Traditionally, the darker the flooring, the more formal the space will feel.

The last decision you need to make is whether to have the floor site finished or pre-finished.  There are benefits to both.

A site finished floor will be:

  • Seamless – no beveled edges
  • Color can be custom. Yankee Classic Flooring works with you to get the right color applied to the floor.
  • The floor is sanded and finished on site.

A pre-finished floor will:

  • Have beveled edges
  • Be factory stained. This process gives normally hard to stain species a very smooth stain / finish
  • Faster installation without the sanding and finishing so there is less mess in your house.

So many choices, so many decisions.  Don’t let it overwhelm you.  Yankee Classic Flooring are experts in helping you make the perfect choice for your home.  We will bring samples out to your home, discuss what feel you are trying to achieve, and help you find the perfect floor for your home.  Consultations are always free, so give us a call today!

 

 

Time for a change

Sometimes there is absolutely nothing wrong with what a customer already has in place, they are just looking for a change.  Updating flooring can create an entirely different feel in our homes.  Darker to lighter, lighter to darker, carpet to hardwood or tile, or any other combination can make us feel differently when we walk in the front door at night.  Such was the case with one of Yankee Classic Floorings’ customers. They already had hardwood through much of their home.  It was an older cherry floor that really didn’t have anything wrong with it.  But they were tired of it, and wanted something different.  After consulting with Tracey and Jerry, they decided to replace the cherry floor with a number 2 grade Maple floor. When logs are milled into boards, they are graded based on appearance. A clear grade will have uniform color, longer board lengths and no knots or checks. A number 2 grade will typically show a lot of character, with different colors of light and dark, larger knots and more variation.  Board lengths are generally shorter. One grade isn’t necessarily better than the other, what you choose depends on how you want your home to feel.  Do you want it to have a clean, sophisticated, more modern look or a more rustic look? The Maple floor that this customer picked had just the right feel for their home.

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Removing an older cherry floor for reuse later

Since there was nothing wrong with the floor in place, the homeowners decided they would use it in their study.  So Yankee Classic Flooring carefully removed the old floor, and saved it for installation in the study.

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Acclimating the floor

The new wood floor would be sanded and finished on site, so the next step was to bring the new flooring into the home, and allow it to acclimate.  This means letting the wood sit in the room where it will be installed for a few days so that it adjusts to moisture and temperature levels in the home.

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Acclimating the floor.

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New Underlayment

Because wood is a natural material, it reacts to different moisture levels and temperatures.  If you install a hardwood floor before you acclimate it to the new environment, the floor could shrink or expand, buckle, cup or develop structural damage. So before wood flooring is installed, Yankee Classic Flooring will deliver it to your home and let it sit for a few days in the rooms where it will live. Once the wood has acclimated, a new underlayment is laid down.  In this case, Yankee Classic flooring used a product that would help reduce noise.       After the floor is installed, it is sanded in place.  Yankee Classic Flooring uses special equipment when sanding in an existing home to ensure that your home is filled with sawdust.  After sanding, the floor is stained.

Floor sanded and stained

Floor sanded and stained

As you can see in this picture, the floor is stained and finished, but the stairs are not done.  In this home, Yankee Classic Flooring also updated the stair system to the second floor.  The main floor was completed before the stair system was begun.

New stair system

New stair system

 

New rail system

New rail system

Once the new stair system was in place, a new handrail, spindles, baluster and newel post were installed.     Rail System overlooking family room The rail system overlooking the family room was also updated to match the rail system to the second floor.

Finished Floor

Finished Floor

A hardwood floor is certainly beautiful on its own.

 But what makes it truly beautiful is how it looks in your home, with your furniture and accessories.

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Finished Kitchen

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Finished living room

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Finished Stair System

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Finished Dining Room

Whatever flooring you put in your home, it has to fit your lifestyle…and your style.   If your home doesn’t reflect who you are, and it’s time for a change, let Yankee Classic Flooring show you how updating the floors can truly make a difference.  As always, consultations and quotes are free.  Just give us a call today.