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The Ins and Outs of Hardwood Floors: An Interview with Matthew, Owner of Pittsburgh Hardwood Refinishing LLC

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

My company is a wood refinishing company servicing Southwestern Pennsylvania. I specialize in refinishing and restoring hardwood and softwood floors using a dustless sanding system. This will be one of the cleanest renovation jobs you'll have done in your home. I use one of the industry's best finishes on your floors to restore them to their original beauty. I also do refinishing on kitchen cabinetry and wood furniture.

What are the main decisions that people need to make when it comes to choosing new hardwood flooring?

There are so many brands, species of wood, and types of hardwood floors that the best way for someone to choose a new floor is to do their research first and then go to a store specializing in quality wood floors. A store like Lumber Liquidators has a great selection and knowledgeable employees to help homeowners make the right choice.

What type(s) of hardwood floors (and finishes) work best for high-traffic areas (and why)?

Most of the species of wood used for floors will stand up well to traffic. Pine is one of the softest woods used for floors and will show more indentations than other types of wood. The real key factor to consider is a quality finish that wears well and doesn't fade over time. In a pre-finished new floor most of the brands out on the market use a very durable type of finish that holds up quite well to traffic. Over time any floor or finish will show markings from traffic, furniture being moved, and just general wear and tear from everyday use. As to an existing floor being refinished/finished on site in the home, again, a high-quality brand and proper care is paramount to longevity of the finish.

What are some of the most popular hardwood floors for homeowners in the Pittsburgh area?

Oak flooring was laid over the subfloor in most of the homes built prior to 1980 in the Pittsburgh area. A lot of newer homes built still use oak; and in some custom homes, I have seen Brazilian cherry, hickory, and teak being installed. Bamboo is finally making its way into the flooring market. The real benefits of bamboo are twofold. First off, it is a very hard and durable wood and with the right finish will remain beautiful for many years, and secondly, the plant itself is a fast-growing plant with the ability to harvest a bamboo forest every 7 years, as opposed to 25-plus years for other woods.

A side note here as to species of wood and harvesting practices: You will read on the Internet pros and cons of all species of wood harvesting. The best way to be as environmentally conscious minded as you can be is to: a.) restore, refinish, and renovate what you have in a home, and b.) research and talk to knowledgeable employees at wood floor specialty stores.

Can you explain how to properly maintain hardwood floors so they last longer and still look good?

Here's where too much Internet research can lead to confusion and a lot of bad information. What I have found over the years is that the best way to keep your floors looking new is to keep all debris off the floors. Several times a week go over the floors with a microfiber type of dust mop. Never use a wet mop method as too much water is generally bad for all wood. If the floors have had something spilled on them and it dried, clean with a very diluted mixture of oil soap and water, ratio of 1/4 cup oil soap to 1 gallon of water, and use sparingly and wipe with a cloth. There are several wood-cleaning products on the market that will actually leave a cloudy build on the floors. I personally have used an extremely diluted mixture of oil soap and water for years in my homes and never noticed any of the negative effects about which you may read on the internet. Rugs at entrance doorways will help to reduce amount of debris tracked into the home.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to install hardwood floors but has a limited budget?

Refinish the floors that are in the home already when possible, that is the least expensive way of having wood floors. If you need to add wood or in new construction again, do the research and go to a store specializing in wood floors.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

I can be reached through email, phone, and through my website I provide in-home consultations as that is the only way I can determine what methods and at what cost will work for your wood floors.

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