Cabinets and Hardwood Floor Installation

For homeowners who are building a new home or completely renovating an old one, the kitchen can be an especially challenging area. There are just so many options to consider! For our customers, the choice to put in hardwood floors is an obvious one. But should we install the floor before or after the cabinetry?

The Home Renovations section at has a great in-depth article about just this topic. Putting in the cabinets first means you might save a little money on a few square feet of flooring. But installing the floors first means you can redo the cabinets again in the future using a different footprint or outline without having to worry about extending or reshaping the floors underneath. Read the full Q&A article to discover more pros and cons of each method. Or, just contact us to talk through your options. While wall-to-wall wood flooring is usually a great idea, we’re happy to offer you specific advice based on your construction or renovation project.

Top 3 Floors for Bathrooms

As much as we love wood floors, we have to warn customers that installing wood in the bathroom is usually a bad idea. That little fan in the ceiling just can’t remove humidity fast enough, and there’s always going to be water splashed on the floor. So, what options do you have that are more water resistant?

Sheet Vinyl
This is a low-cost option that is super-easy to clean. Unlike laminate tiles, it has no seams. This means there are no crevices for water to penetrate or where mold can grow. Of course, this isn’t the most attractive choice. The feel underfoot can also be a little unpleasant. Since you’re unlikely to wear shower shoes in your own home, you’ll need to get used to the sensation of vinyl underfoot.

Stone and ceramic are fantastic choices for bathroom floors. You’ll need to make sure the grout is very well sealed to make it mildew resistant. But the texture, look and feel of these floors is amazing. Stone floors are lovely if you have older, rustic, or distressed wood floors throughout the rest of your home. Ceramic or porcelain tile goes well with more modern and glossy wood floors. An under floor heating system can be installed beneath tile, keeping your toes toasty.

Stained and stamped concrete that’s sealed to make it waterproof is a newer option for bathroom floors. It looks very trendy, but will also stand the test of time. It can be colored to look like an abstract painting or mural, or stained to appear like faux marble or other materials. If you are renovating your bathroom and want to have a walk-in shower, the concrete could go across the whole floor.
To learn more about your bathroom flooring options and get a free in-home evaluation and quote, contact Residential Floors today!

Take Your Floors from OK to Parquet

Do you have one of those apps on your smartphone that teaches you a new vocabulary word each day? Here’s one for you: “parquetry”. These are the block patterns used in wood flooring made up of angular geometric shapes such as squares, diamonds, and triangles. They often feature multiple species of wood or different stains to add even more visual interest to the floor.

Isn’t Parquet Passé?

That depends on who you ask. A plain checkerboard pattern might look a little dated. But there are also many modern designs you could choose for your floor. You could even use parquet as an accent rather than for the entire home. For an even more customized look, talk to our pros about designing a medallion or other decoration to add flash to your floors.

Wood Floor Finish Options: Oil & Water

The most common type of wood floor finish we deal with in the residential flooring industry is polyurethane. This is a surface sealer that forms a durable topcoat to protect natural or stained wood. Polyurethane comes in oil and water-based varieties. These products are available in a range of finishes from a glossy shine to a soft satin. Here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of oil vs. water:

Oil-Based Topcoats

  • Bring out the rich texture of wood and deepen the color, turning lighter wood a nice honey color
  • Thicker formula requires fewer coats
  • Has hard finish
  • Tends to level out more evenly
  • Dries slowly (five hours between coats plus an overnight drying at the end)
  • Pretty intense fumes
  • Solvents used in cleanup

Water-Based Topcoats

  • Only change the color of wood very slightly, leaving the existing stain or unstained wood looking close to its original state
  • Fast drying (about two hours between coats)
  • Low fumes
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Cleanup is done with water
  • May be more expensive than oil-based products

Both types of finish require regular maintenance to stay looking their best. Give us a call to learn more about our hard buffing and screen and coat program!  301-990-7775

Buckle Up! This Hardwood Floor Is Unbelievable

At Residential Floors, we love seeing some of the great-looking antique wood floors in homes throughout Maryland. But we have to be honest. Not every wood floor ages gracefully. Just because a floor is 50+ years old doesn’t mean it is invincible. Poor installation technique or lack of maintenance can wreak havoc over the years.

Below we’ve included a youtube video provided by contractor Bill Connelly. You can see hardwood floors that have an incredible amount of…texture. The buckling has raised the floor in peaks that are half a foot high in some places. This level of extreme damage may indicate that there was flooding at some point with no remediation. If you are looking at buying a home with hardwood floors that have this much buckling, it’s likely that the whole floor needs to be replaced. Fortunately, we can make even a complete floor remodel affordable with our payment plans!

Are Your New Hardwood Floors Splitting?

This is a pretty common problem with “budget” floors. Over at, a couple of unhappy homeowners tell their stories about having to get their floors replaced. One commenter had her floors re-installed 3 times and still had issues with splitting and cupping. Some of the suggested causes are very instructive:

  • “In reflective light; do you see small round bumps along the edge? If so, maybe too much compression is causing the brad/staple to go too deep. This causes the tongue to break which, in turn, raises the wood surface at the nailed area.”
  • “If the splintering is along the edge lengthwise and about one inch in length, I suggest it is due to hitting the flooring together with the mallet.”
  • “It sounds like you need a good site-finished floor.”

Are You Disappointed In Your Current Hardwood Flooring Company?

Our hearts go out to excited homeowners who are just trying to finish construction so they can move into their brand new residence. Unfortunately, issues with cheap floors and inexperienced installers are quite common. When the supplier and the manufacturer each blame the other, customer satisfaction suffers.

At Residential Floors, we take responsibility for your total customer experience. We won’t sell you a low-grade floor with known quality issues. Plus, our Metro DC area installers are part of our company – not subcontractors. If something went wrong with one of our floors, we would have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. That’s fine with us! Our motto is “Dedicated to Perfection”. We pride ourselves on ensuring that every floor is installed the right way the first time. For a no-charge in-home consultation, contact us today.

What You Should Know Before You Repair a Wood Floor

A couple of weeks ago, we blogged about some of the stranger things homeowners do to cover up damage to their hardwood floors. We’re not necessarily opposed to quick fixes and DIY projects. But we do think homeowners should understand what they are getting into up front. You really need to know a lot about your particular hardwood floor before you can repair it. For example:

  • Is the finish oil or water based?
  • What type of wood is it?
  • What stain will most closely match the existing color?
  • How old is the wood?
  • Was it glued or nailed down?
  • Are the boards tongue-and-groove or beveled?
  • How many times have the boards been sanded?

All of this information is important so you don’t accidentally cause more damage to your floor by trying to cover up a deep scratch or repair a broken board.

Regular Maintenance Keeps Your Floors Looking New

Taking your car for a tune-up is smarter than waiting for it to break down completely. In the same way, preventive maintenance is good for your wood floors. Hard buffing every few months will fix very shallow scratches. An occasional screen and coat to redo the urethane finish will correct minor scratches that don’t penetrate down into the wood. Sanding and re-staining is your best option for dealing with deep scratches – and it’s something you should only do a few times during the life of your hardwood floor. Finally, a broken board is a real job for the pros. There are a dozen little details that have to be perfectly matched so you don’t end up with a patchwork effect on your floor.

To get a quote for repairs or to sign up for our maintenance program, contact us today.

Can You Fix Scratches in Your Hardwood Floor?

Does your hardwood floor have an unsightly, deep scratch that catches your eye every time you enter the room? Homeowners love to share tips online about how to fix scratches in wood flooring. Here are some of the questionable practices we’ve found in DIY forums.

  • Rub a brown crayon or an almond over the wood
  • Sand the wood, mix the sawdust with some glue, and use it to fill the scratch
  • Get a cheap furniture marker at the hardware store to color in the scratch, then slap on some epoxy finish
  • Replace the scratched board with a brand new board
  • Tear up the old board, flip it over, sand it, re-install it bottom side up, and stain it to exactly match the surrounding wood!

Many of these tips can just make the problem worse. You may end up with a sticky, blotchy spot, a broken board, or a dark mark from stain that obviously doesn’t match. There are floor repair kits that are specially designed to help with minor repairs. But it’s always a good idea to ask for an expert opinion before you do it yourself. Otherwise, a simple fix could turn into a real job for the pros. Next week, we’ll cover some of the things you really need to know before you try to repair a scratch on a hardwood floor.

Termites and Hardwood Floors Part 2

Last week, we took a look at some creepy crawlies that have the potential to damage hardwood floors. If subterranean termites have invaded your home, they may very well decide to chow down on some flooring. But this damage can be difficult to spot. You won’t see these insects on the surface of the wood. They tunnel within the wood itself so their soft bodies aren’t exposed to dry air. They’re also picky eaters, choosing the soft part of the wood and leaving the hard areas of the grain intact. One clue you can look for is areas where the wood appears blistered or darkened.

What’s In Your Wood?

There’s another kind of termite that’s even more dangerous to hardwood flooring – drywood termites. These insects don’t require soil or much moisture to survive. They live in dry lumber and eat both soft and hard areas of the wood. With these termites, you will see small holes in your floor with little piles of droppings around them.

How worried should you be about these bugs? According to entomologists at the University of Maryland, drywood termites are not native to this area. This means if you have a drywood infestation it probably arrived with the flooring. To avoid this problem, you should have your hardwood floors provided by a company you trust to choose only high-quality, termite-free lumber for your home.

Termites and Hardwood Floors

Do hardwood floors make your home a target for termites? This is a fear that keeps some homeowners from choosing this highly durable and beautiful option for their flooring. So, let’s explore the facts. Termites love to munch on all kinds of wood – but they have to get inside your home before they can start chowing down on your floor. This is why pest professionals will tell you that having the frame of your home constructed of pressure-treated lumber is important. So is keeping mulch and other potentially damp wood materials like a woodpile away from the foundation of your home.

The subterranean termites that live in Maryland and surrounding areas live in the soil – not in wood. This means they would have to tunnel in through a pier and beam foundation or creep up into wood siding on your home (if there is “wood to ground” contact). From there, they could make their way through the wood frame to reach your home interior. That’s a process that takes time, so you have the opportunity to catch them in the act before they get to your floor. Your wood flooring is at highest risk if:

• You already have a substantial infestation inside your home
• Flooding or a serious water leak has left a lot of moisture in your floor

Having an annual termite inspection is a very good idea to protect your investment in your home and in your wood floors. Next week, we’ll explore termites some more – including a surprising fact about unwanted “hitchhikers”.