Brush Up On Your Hardwood Flooring Options

Wire brushed hardwood flooring is a specialty option that’s popular with homeowners who want a rugged, worn and highly textured look and feel for their floor. The grain of a hardwood plank is created by the difference in density in the rings of the tree from which it is milled. When you look at a stump, which is a cross-section of a tree, you can see these rings easily. In a plank, the concentric circles are exposed at an angle, so they look more like curved or wavy lines.

Each season, a hardwood tree creates a ring of somewhat softer material and a harder ring of very dense material. The process of scouring the surface of each plank with a wire brush strips away a layer of the softer wood material, leaving the hardest wood exposed in slight ridges. This effect really brings out the grain. It also makes the planks slightly rougher, giving a little grip instead of a satin smooth finish.

Since there are many tiny grooves in the brushed flooring, it may not show incidental scratches as much as glossy, flat planks. On the other hand, these boards can’t necessarily be sanded and refinished in the same way as a traditional hardwood floor. Be sure to consult with our flooring specialists about how a wire brushed floor can be maintained to keep it looking old but beautiful over the long term.

How Hard Is Your Wood Floor?

In the hardwood flooring industry, we measure the hardness of wood on the “Janka scale”. This measurement system has been used in its current form for about 100 years and is still very useful today. Testing is pretty simple. According to, “The test measures the force required to push a steel ball with a diameter of 11.28 millimeters into the wood to a depth of half the ball’s diameter.” In the US, Janka are measured in pounds of force. Soft wood like pine might be just a few hundred Janka while a very hard wood such as rosewood might be several thousand Janka.

Is Harder Always Better?

A really hard wood is highly resistant to denting. But durability is not the only consideration in selecting your floor. You’ll also want a wood that you find visually appealing – and that fits your budget. Often, harder woods are from slower growing trees. This makes them scarcer and therefore more costly than softer lumber. There are coatings that can help woods that are lower on the Janka scale resist damage from foot traffic. So, don’t let the Janka number be your only consideration. After all, you probably aren’t going to be walking around with a ball bearing taped to your shoe to see if it dents your floor!

Hardwood Floors and Your Dog

Many pet owners find that having a dog indoors can really do a number on their hardwood floors. But man’s best friend doesn’t have to spell the end for your gorgeous flooring. There are ways to muffle the aggravating sound of clicking claws, limit scratches, and help keep your dog from slip-sliding away. Here are some tips for helping your dog and your wood floors play nice together:

  • Keep your dog’s nails short. Talk to a professional groomer or your vet about the best tools to use. The safest way to shorten a dog’s nails may be with a Dremel nail grinder. Use the Dremel gently and wear away the nails in stages over a period of several weeks so you don’t accidentally hit the “quick”.
  • Add vinyl or rubber nail caps available from companies such as Soft Paws. You simply glue the caps onto your dog’s nails and they can run around on your hardwood floors without clicking or scratching.
  • Put booties on your dog. This is a quick fix as long as you can train your dog not to pull them off. Choose a style with non-skid soles to keep your pet from slipping.

Finally, talk to your local hardwood flooring specialist about finish options that are most scratch and slip resistant. And remember, most surface scratches that just affect the topcoat on the floor can be buffed out. No need to yell at your dog about a few nail marks!

Wood Floors Add Value to Your Home

If you live in or around the D.C. Metro area, you know that housing prices are pretty steep. That may seem like a good thing if you are getting ready to sell your home. But whether you want to upgrade to a nicer/bigger place or downgrade to fit a tighter budget, you still need to get every penny your current home is worth when you sell. Otherwise, you might have to move pretty far afield to afford a new place. According to, flooring is one of the top ten aspects of your house that affects its perceived value. House shoppers are enamored with natural materials. The realty expert quoted in the article linked above states, “We’ve gone back to a real appreciation for historically true materials”. It doesn’t get any more historical than an original hardwood floor!

Of course, you probably don’t want to invest in a brand new wood floor right before you sell your home (save that money to get hardwood floors installed at your new place!) That being said, you will want to get your current wood flooring refinished or touched up to make it look its best. Thankfully, this is a lot easier than making old carpet look new again. Full thickness hardwood planks are designed to be sanded and stained to restore them to fantastic condition. That’s an affordable way to boost the sales price of your home. Buyers will fall in love with your floors from the moment they step across the threshold.

Look at Hardwood Floor Swatches the Right Way

We hate to say it, but the hardwood flooring industry has a serious swatch problem. Interior designers can easily carry around hundreds of fabric samples to show their clients. But physical flooring samples get unwieldy pretty fast. If you make them small enough to tote around, it’s really hard to picture how the material will look when it covers an entire floor. If you go with larger pieces of wood, each one can easily weigh in at a half a pound. It’s no wonder typical sample collections only offer a handful of choices.

Then there’s the cost. At a flooring store, you may be expected to pay for every sample you want to take home with you. Or you might be saddled with shipping and processing charges for “free” samples you order online. Sadly, many homeowners think they have to simply settle for a limited selection or shell out big bucks to look at all the options they’d really like.

At Residential Floors, we don’t think floor shopping should be that way. That’s why we feature the Design a Room app on our website (find it on our home page here). You can view literally hundreds of fine flooring samples in every imaginable wood grain and color. Every option is shown as a wall-to-wall installation in completely furnished rooms. Pick the room you want to see and choose the décor style that most closely matches your own home. Then, just start clicking to find the ideal floor. It’s like having an interior designer bring a whole truckload of sample hardwood flooring swatches right to your doorstep – only less messy!

Can You Put a Wood Floor Anywhere in Your Home?

We know it’s easy to get addicted to hardwood flooring. It’s like plastic surgery. Once you have one part of your house fixed up, you keep wanting to do more and more so it all matches. However, it’s important to understand that not all locations in the home are wood-floor friendly. Solid hardwood is gorgeous and has a very long lifespan (since it can be sanded and refinished several times over a 100 year period). Sadly, it typically can’t go in every single room in your home. Engineered wood won’t have the same longevity, but it has a wider range of applications. This type of flooring features a nice hardwood veneer layer over some form of composite wood (basically plywood). Composite material is engineered to be stable even in environments that have more moisture. In Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. metro area homes that have basements, engineered wood flooring over a moisture resistant barrier is the way to go. No matter how much you try to keep out seepage, below-ground floors are going to be damp compared to ground level floors or second story floors. The same holds true for coastal properties that get a constant supply of moist air from the ocean. Fortunately for you, we take the same great care in installing engineered floors as we do with solid hardwood. That means no one has to know the beauty of your hardwood floor is only skin deep!

Be Floored By Our Gorgeous Wooden Artwork

If you walk through the various parks and buildings in Washington DC, Virginia and Maryland, you should really look down once in a while. Chances are you’re walking on some wonderful artwork. Floor medallions made of stone, marble, metal and wood grace many tourist attractions in and around our nation’s capital. If you’ve ever been to the World War II Memorial, you might recognize this one. The National Zoo has brass inlays showing the animals in the various enclosures (see the elephants here). We can make your floor just as memorable with wooden medallions made from a wide variety of gorgeous exotic woods. The colors and grains are pretty amazing and we love working on classic or brand new designs. Learn more about our custom inlays and get some ideas for your very own floor artwork here.

You Should Never Walk on a Wood Floor

What? Never walk on your beautiful hardwood floor? Are we crazy? Are we expecting you to levitate around your house like David Blaine? Nope, we’re actually just making a point about the importance of the finish on your floor.

Typically, a properly maintained floor never has the wood fiber itself exposed to foot traffic. What you are actually touching with your feet as you walk is the protective urethane coating on top. When this layer starts to wear off, it’s time to get a screen and coat job done to restore or replace it. You should have this done every 4 to 5 years – or sooner for high traffic areas that are showing wear.

The advantage of doing an “S&C” on a regular basis is that you can avoid having your floor sanded and refinished (a process that will wear out your floor if it is done too often). If you take good care of your hardwood floors with regular maintenance, you might not need to have them sanded for 20 years! Learn more about our hardwood floor refinishing services for customers in the D.C. metro area here.

Go Green with Hardwood Flooring in March

St. Patrick’s Day is almost here. No doubt you’ll be enjoying the famous Baltimore, Maryland parade or joining the massive turnout in Washington, DC for the celebration (drink some green beer for us!) But you can also earn yourself some luck by making your home a little greener than it was last year. We make that easy with eco-responsible hardwood flooring options. At Residential Floors, we don’t believe the world should become tree-poor just to keep us in business. That’s why we have extensive contacts with suppliers in the sustainable forestry industry who strive to adhere to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) guidelines. Here are just a couple of those rules:

Environmental Impact

Forest management shall conserve biological diversity and its associated values, water resources, soils, and unique and fragile ecosystems and landscapes, and, by so doing, maintain the ecological functions and the integrity of the forest.

Community Relations and Workers’ Rights

Forest management operations shall maintain or enhance the long-term social and economic wellbeing of forest workers and local communities.

We believe “green” hardwood floors benefit both people and the planet. Contact us to explore your sustainable flooring options today!

Why Would You Refinish Wooden Stairs?

The cost of housing in the Washington, D.C. metro area is pretty steep, so it’s not surprising that two story homes are popular. When you can’t build out, you build up – and that means lots of stairs! As hardwood floor installers, we’re familiar with the “ups and downs” of home renovation. We often get the opportunity to design, install or refinish wooden stairs. Here are some common reasons people request stair refinishing:

  • The stairs were carpeted (perhaps for childproofing purposes) and the underlying wood has been damaged
  • Stairs are warped, dinged, split, or creaky
  • Stair treads are worn in the middle where they get stepped on over and over
  • Balusters don’t match the stairs (or are just plain ugly)
  • The rest of the home is being upgraded with hardwood floors and the stairs need a facelift too

We don’t recommend refinishing stairs as a DIY project. The process of sanding and staining balusters, in particular, is referred to in the home improvement industry as “The Marriage Breaker”. Have the job done by professionals so it really only does take a few days instead of a few months!