Saturday, March 1, 2014


Wow! How about this weather? The rain and the wind are causing all kinds of trouble here in Southern California, from accidents to evacuations.

And speaking of water causing trouble, hardwood floors may take some abuse this stormy weekend. Hardwood floors are hygroscopic (it readily absorbs moisture), and therefore, react to the relative humidity in the environment. Too much moisture and you may see cupping (the edges become higher than the center of the board) or buckling (the boards begin to lift off the subfloor). Too little moisture and you may see shrinkage. That is why most manufacturers suggest keeping the relative humidity of your home at a certain percentage, generally between 30 and 60%.

Before installation of hardwood floors, contractors often, and should, check the moisture content of the subfloor. If it’s a little high, then a moisture barrier should be used, whether a concrete sealer or some type of rated underlayment. However, if it’s too high, that might indicate a problem such as leak and further investigation may be required before installation can begin. If there has been a recent flood, then the subfloor should be given time to dry out.

Many manufacturers require some acclimation time, which varies from three days to two weeks, depending on the material. This allows the wood to adjust to the moisture content of the environment.

So, all the moisture present in the environment right now may cause your hardwood floor to do some things that will make you worry. But don’t panic! A little strange behavior may not be anything to fret over. Once the sunny, dry weather is back, your floor may return to its normal self. Be sure to place mats at all exterior doors. Also, don’t let driving rain come in through open windows or doors. If water does fall on your floor, whether by rain or spills, clean it up right away. And don’t ever wet mop your hardwood floor. Remember, standing water is very bad for your hardwood floors!

If however, you notice extreme changes in your hardwood (severe cupping, buckling, and/or discoloration or delamination); you should call in an expert.

We hope you and your floor stay safe, warm, and dry this weekend.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The holidays are here! It’s a time of joy! A time of feasting! A time when family and loved ones will be ringing the doorbell!

Ok, did you just panic? Are you thinking about all the decorating and redecorating you want/need to do before a mass of humanity descends upon your home?

Well, just take a deep breath and relax, and remember that the family is coming to spend time with you, not critique your interior design or crafting or cooking skills. Of course, we all want to create a beautiful presentation and we want our meals to be devoured. I readily admit that I am somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to such matters.

So, where do you start? Well, it’s amazing what a difference it makes just to clean your home. I mean really clean your home. When my house is clean, it looks like a page out of a magazine. Of course, that is a rare occasion and it generally looks more like the scene of a robbery, but I digress. Get out those brooms and mops and dust rags and start going over every surface. Scrub those dirty spots on the doors, walls, and baseboards. Dust furniture and books and decorative items you may have strewn about your horizontal surfaces. While you’re at it, organize them too.  Clean those windows inside and out. Make sure bathrooms are sparkling and beds have fresh linens. Scatter scented candles, sachets, or diffusers around the house.

When your house is clean and organized, think about what you really want to do as far as decorating. Are you thinking about trying to tackle large projects? Well, don’t get too ambitious. Unlike what you see on HGTV, projects can actually take a lot longer than people realize. Make certain that you have the time and energy to pour into larger projects. Maybe you would like to paint a room. That can be done in a weekend. A whole house? Not so much. Perhaps some new furniture? Ok, but make sure the item is high quality and in stock. Or consider rearranging furniture or purchasing slipcovers or new pillows instead. 

On that subject, new accessories might be the answer to your decorating dilemmas. New window coverings, rugs, or artwork can make a dramatic difference without the cost and time of a complete overhaul.

Now, let’s say you are thinking about rolling out the red carpet for your guests, but your flooring is not up to the task. Maybe you have been considering a new hardwood floor for a long time and this might be just the perfect time. Here are few things to think about prior to making such a big decision:

We are human and as such, we often do things at the last minute. This is true in the world of hardwood flooring. Most contractors experience a spike in sales and installation in November/December. Everyone wants a new hardwood floor and they want it by Christmas! Well, there are only so many experienced, reliable contractors around and their schedules are quickly filled, and they can only move so fast. And you should never rush an installation.

Not all products are stocked or readily available. Some sell out. Some are custom and require long production times. Some get held up in customs. A contractor has no control over this. Have your contractor or salesperson check stock before making that final decision. On the subject of products, if you want something installed quickly, then a prefinished, engineered product is your best bet.

If you have a hardwood floor and just want it to look a little more presentable, you can consider a buff and recoat. It doesn't take as long or require as much work as a sand and finish. However, if your floor needs more intensive rehabilitation, then you want to schedule that sand and finish as soon as possible, like now. Depending on many square feet you need done, it can take as much time as an installation, and you’ll want to let the floor cure a bit before everyone walks all over it.

Once you've drawn up a plan and made your decisions, don’t forget about those decorative holiday touches! Hang a wreath on your door or over your fireplace. Lay a garland on your mantle and hang those stockings. Place apothecary jars or vases filled with pine cones or glittery ornaments on your dining table. Lay soft faux fur or wool plaid throw blankets on your sofa and/or armchairs. And lights aren’t just for the tree! I like to wrap some around my stair banister and railings. Place a basket of small logs by the fireplace. And don’t forget candles. They are quick, inexpensive way to cozy up a place!

I hope these tips help. And I wish you and yours safe and happy holidays!

P.S. We have some room in our schedule if you would like to purchase a new hardwood floor   ; ) 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The pendulum swings again. It seems the market for distressed, oil finished floors has grown tremendously. People are no longer clamoring for smooth, shiny exotics. Now it is all about wire-brushed white oak. Perhaps it is because these floors look and feel more natural, more like the hardwood floors of yore. 

It’s not surprising. In this fast-paced, digital, plastic world, people may be looking to create simple, peaceful retreats. And natural materials are often chosen for such environments.

These particular products look and feel ‘real.’ The wider width boards lend themselves to the feeling of authenticity. They also look more handcrafted, more like the floors of yesteryear, when people, not machines, took the time to create quality. There has been a trend towards rustic spaces reminiscent of European farmhouses: less stuff, white walls, solid wood furniture, and textured linens. Wide width, distressed, oil finished floors are perfect companions to such a design scheme.

But there is no need to box yourself in. These products work in a variety of interiors, from traditional to rustic to contemporary. They can be at home in a seaside cottage or a downtown loft. And although white oak is the most prevalent, there are other species available, including walnut, hickory and maple. There is also a variety of stained products, offering different shades of brown, red, grey, and ebony. White washed floors are also finding their way into the mainstream.

Oil finished floors require different care and maintenance regimens. The oil finish is absorbed into the wood, as opposed to polyurethane or aluminum oxide which create a protective coating on top of the wood. So, the more natural look stems from the fact the wood is “naked,” so to speak. This means the floor is a bit more vulnerable to spills, dirt, and water damage. And oil finish floors require special floor cleaners. You shouldn't use the same cleaners recommended for polyurethane finished floors, nor should you wet mop. Oil finish floors also require periodic re-coating.

Don’t let any of that scare you away from an oil finished product. Because they are distressed, and not shiny, their bumps and bruises are less noticeable than on a polyurethane or aluminum oxide finished floor. Also, an oil finished floor can be spot treated, unlike the others, which require the entire floor be sanded and finished, or damaged boards replaced.

Naturally (see what I did there), I am a big fan of these products. I appreciate their beauty and the fact that I can actually feel the wood. 

If you might be interested in a distressed, oil finished product, give us a call or send us an e-mail. We would be happy to help you in creating the beautifully serene space you desire.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It’s election day here in San Diego. No doubt everyone has the state of the economy in mind while filling in those bubbles. I definitely do. I have been trying everything possible to cut costs in my household and I imagine many of you are doing the same. So, perhaps you have refrained from spending money on improving your house but you’ve noticed your hardwood floor looking as sad as the jobs report. Or maybe you just got a great deal on a San Diego home with hardwood floors, but they look battered and bruised. Don’t despair! A sand and finish may be just the answer.

First of all, it isn’t just a solid hardwood floor that can be sanded and refinished. Engineered floors are a popular choice with current homeowners because of their stability and quick installation. A quality engineered wood floor can be sanded once or twice, depending on the wear layer.

Second, if you have an older floor or you pulled up carpet to find hardwood flooring underneath, then you should consult a professional (such as your San Diego sand and finish expert, CW Woodworks Flooring) to confirm that the floor can be sanded.

So, you ask, what does this process entail? A sanding removes a layer of wood from your floor. This removes the existing finish and hopefully light scratches and other injuries to your floor. Then, a coat of finish is applied. If you decide you want to change the color of your floor, then a stain would be applied prior to the first coat of finish. After the first coat is dry, then another coat is applied, followed by a third when the second is dry. The result, a rejuvenated floor!

What about the cost? A sand and finish costs about 1/3 of that of a new hardwood floor.

For even greater savings, if your floor is not in bad shape, or if you have a distressed floor, and you just want to improve the look a bit, then you can opt for a screen and recoat. This process takes less time as it involves merely abrading the surface to in order to add a topcoat of finish.

Keep in mind that a sand and finish or screen and recoat will not fix deep gouges. There is also no guarantee that stains can be removed. Also, the process does take some time and the floor cannot be walked on while the finish is drying. Some people find the finish to be noxious and we recommend that people with sensitivities not stay in the home during the process. And no matter what anyone promises or does, there will be dust! There is no way to contain all of it. You may want to protect precious items and some cleaning may be required upon completion of the job. I don’t mean to scare you away, just want to inform you of what to expect. Besides, if I wanted to scare you, I would say “the economy.”

If you decide you would like to have your floor sanded and finished, please call CW Woodworks and we would be happy to provide you with a consultation.

Now, go vote!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I had no idea how long it would take to organize my closet. I started in spring and suddenly, it's summer! Time for long, sunny days spent relaxing by the pool or laughing with friends and family at weekend barbecues. It's also time for lots of bored children running around the house. Sometimes, those children don't run, they skateboard or chase the family pet, or drag the hardest and heaviest toy they can find down the stairs and across the living room, all of which can be quite painful for a hardwood floor. Because kids will be kids and they should be kids for as long as possible, you have to consider their sometimes destructive ways when considering the purchase of a hardwood floor. Here is some information to aid you in your quest for a suitable hardwood floor:

    1.  Species- The hardwood flooring industry uses a number known as a "Janka rating" to describe the relative hardness of a wood species. The number is derived from a test which measures the amount of force required to imbed a steel ball halfway into the piece of wood. The higher the number, the harder the wood, and the more likely it is to survive the abuse from your children and pets. The woods tested range from approximately 400 to 3700. Red Oak, which serves as a hardwood flooring standard, has a Janka rating of 1290. Cherry and Douglas Fir are relatively soft, coming in at under 1000. Brazilian Cherry and Santos Mahogany are harder, coming in at over 2000.

    2.  Surface/Wear Layer- In searching for a floor that can coexist with your rambunctious children and pets, consider the surface or 'style'. Hardwood flooring that is smooth may show signs of wear and tear sooner and more obviously than a distressed floor. There are varying levels of distressing from very light to heavy (think Old World). If it already looks timeworn, then those gouges from dropped toys to scratches from pets won't look so out of place! This isn't to say you can't have smooth floor if you prefer that look. The finishes are continually improving. If you select a floor with a thicker wear layer, then you can get more sandings out of it. A sand and finish can make an old floor look (nearly) new again! Just remember a smooth floor requires a bit more care.

    3. Color- Remember that a floor that is too light or too dark will not hide all the dirt, dust, and stains. You would be better served choosing a shade that is in between. And if you have pets, their fur will stand out on a floor that is either darker or lighter in color. I myself have a dog with golden brown fur, and the fur "drifts" are all too obvious on my mocha stained floor.

Above all, remember that no hardwood floor will look perfect and new forever. All hardwood floors can dent, scratch, and stain. Yes, you can and should take precautions such as using rugs at exterior doorways (grit and sand are some of the worst culprits). You should also maintain the floor according to the manufacturer's recommendations. However, don't let the appearance of your floor become more important than your enjoyment of it, or the life you live upon it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring is here! Ah, how I love the scent of light rains, blooming flowers, and household cleaner. Yes, I am tackling the annual chore of removing clutter and freshening up my home. I have scrubbed the refrigerator and tossed all those science experiments hiding in the corners. I have thrown tattered old hand towels into the rag bin and gathered old clothes and linens for donation. I am now taking a break to plot a course for navigating my unruly closet.

Perhaps you too are in the midst of spring cleaning or maybe you have it all completed (may I borrow some motivation?). Maybe you are just beginning to jot down your spring cleaning to-do list. Whatever stage you are in, you are probably contemplating an interior design change as well. I myself am ready to use this Crate and Barrel gift certificate I received to purchase some new pillows and accessories. But for some of you, there are bigger ideas powering the light bulb  over your head. Perhaps it isn't pillows you desire, but a new hardwood floor.

Unlike pillows or linens, a hardwood floor is a very significant purchase and one that you will live with beyond the spring season. That being said, I would like to offer a few things to consider before selecting your hardwood floor.

    -What kind of  'look' are you going for? Traditional? Contemporary? Do you want light or dark wood? Do you want something trendy or something that allows for design freedom? If you need help deciding, look at what you already have in your home; your furniture, your accessories, even your wardrobe. These will give you an idea of what styles and colors appeal to you. You can always peruse some design magazines (I am fond of Architectural Digest and Luxe Interiors and Design myself) for some inspiration.

    -Do you want a square edge or beveled floor? Smooth or Distressed? Smooth, square edge floors generally work in contemporary spaces while distressed, beveled products offer more character.

    -What species do you want? Some species, such as oak, have a pronounced grain, while others, like walnut, have a more subtle grain. Although all species have color variation, some are more extreme than others. Are you concerned with hardness? If you have two young kids and a dog, then a softer species like American Cherry or Walnut may not be for you.

    -What type of product and installation is practical for your specific project? A solid floor can only be installed over plywood. An engineered product can be glued to a concrete subfloor or floated.

These are just a few tips. It is a good idea to discuss your selection with a hardwood flooring professional (hint, hint, I'm at your service!)

Good luck to you with whatever your spring cleaning duties may entail, whether it is dusting or decorating. If you don't hear from me soon, please, send a search party into my closet.