Flooring FAQ Will new flooring create uneven floor heights between rooms?
It can. If you are replacing a vinyl floor with wood, the new floor height will be different, and you'll notice it at doorways. In the kitchen, you could also notice the new height at counters. To minimize this effect, you might want to go with thinner flooring. If you are removing wall-to-wall carpet and padding to install a wood floor, the finished height will be close to the carpet height. To compensate for height changes, doorways might require a transitional element like a wood saddle. Most flooring dealers can supply these along with your flooring. Will I have to remove molding to install a new wood floor?
You will need to remove baseboard, although you can reuse it. As shown in the top illustration, there must be some expansion space between the edge of the floor and the wall. This space is covered by the baseboard and shoe molding. If your new floor will extend through a doorway, you won't have to remove the jamb and casing, but they have to be cut off so the flooring can slip underneath. What's the difference between strips and planks?
Any wood flooring narrower than 3 inch qualifies as strip flooring. The most common strip flooring size is 21/4 in., but 15/8-inch-wide strips are also available. Plank flooring is any material wider than 3 in. How do I prevent gapping?
Gaps in solid-wood floors are inevitable because wood expands and contracts with changes in humidity; narrower strip flooring simply has smaller gaps. Engineered flooring offers greater dimensional stability than solid wood, so you can expect little or no gapping with this material. Can engineered flooring be sanded and refinished?
The top, or wear, layer on better grades of engineered flooring is at least 1/8 inch thick. This provides enough wood for at least one sanding. But because the wear layer is so thin, it's best to have a professional do it. Is an eased or flat edge treatment best?
Manufacturers usually offer both edge treatments. Eased edges, which have a tiny bevel, or roundover, at the top, allow a wood floor to appear flat, even if adjacent strips or planks are not level with each other for some reason. A slightly uneven subfloor and moisture-related expansion or contraction of individual boards are two common causes of level discrepancies. While eased-edge flooring is the most forgiving wood flooring you can install, it does look different from flat-edged flooring. And the miniature depressions where eased edges meet are definitely dirt traps. To decide if this edge treatment is right for you, compare sample floors at a supplier and discuss your installation details with an experienced dealer. What's the best finish?
Factory-applied finishes are superdurable and should provide years of wear. Polyurethane is the most popular finish for flooring installed unfinished. It's available in water- and oil-based formulations. Water-based products dry quickly — you can apply a second coat in just three hours. But because of the fast drying time, it's difficult to go back and correct mistakes without leaving lap marks. Oil-based polyurethane takes up to 24 hours to dry, and it gives off fumes that many people find offensive. But it can be worked when wet, which means you can go back and correct mistakes. Polyurethane provides excellent durability, and it's not difficult to apply. While gloss poly offers slightly more wear resistance than satin versions, it also shows scratches more distinctly. You can apply polyurethane over a stain treatment, but make sure than the stain and clear finish are compatible. Is it easy to dress up a wood floor?
There are many decorative possibilities (photo). For more geometric punch, install strip or plank flooring in a herringbone pattern, or change direction. In larger spaces, such as a living or dining room, contrasting borders are popular. This highlight can take the form of wood strips stained to a different tone, but more elaborate treatments are also possible. Some manufacturers even allow you to combine engineered wood flooring with compatible simulated-stone or tile flooring. Inlays and medallions are other decorative details that definitely pump up the personality of a floor.

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