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!

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.