Heating a Wooden Floor

One increasingly popular method for heating houses is to install underfloor heating. This actually has a history going back many centuries; Ancient Romans used hot water to heat some buildings. Modern floor heating methods commonly use heated water or electrical wiring. These methods, particularly heated water, and quite effective with wooden floors.

Heating floors with water though pipes, known as hydronic heating, has many advantages. One is the near silence of the system; unlike air conditioners or fan systems there is no noise. There is also no draft, as the air is not being circulated. This helps prevent the spread of germs. Furthermore, underfloor heating is quite efficient. There is very little heat lost as the building and contents are heated directly. Heat naturally rises, so a heated floor gently warms everything upon it.

Water running through pipes beneath the floor can be heated with gas, electricity, or solar means. These systems are best installed when a house is first built, or when a floor is being replaced. But once installed they will faithfully and safely function for the life of the house.

Hydronic heating is particularity good when installed under engineered wooden floors; these engineered boards suffer very little from heat expansion. If a floor has already been installed it is still possible to electrically heat rugs and obtain results similar to the underfloor systems.

Timber Moisture and Stability

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Freshly cut timber still has the moisture inherent in all trees. Over time most of this moisture evaporates; this is part of the correct preparation of building timber. Ideally the timber should reach a point where the water content is in balance with its environment; at this point the timber will be stable.

Problems occur when the drying timber changes shape. Newly cut timber will bend and warp as it dries. This alteration in shape is often slight, but it is enough to cause a floor to be uneven, or for a door to become stuck. Timber can further warp if the environment has extremely high or low humidity. The timber will absorb or lose moisture and change shape.

Water content of timber is measured as a percentage, but the math for this is not the usual method used for percentages. The weight of the wood without any moisture is calculated and used as a reference point. The amount of moisture beyond this is expressed as a percentage. Hence a piece of wood that would be 1 kg when dry, but then weighs in at 1.2kg, would be calculated to have 20% moisture content. This is 100% wood and 20% water.

If the environment has a stable humidity, and there is no other water exposure, timber should reach an equilibrium point and cease to change shape. This is true whether the wood it 10 or 50 years old. Ideally, wood should have about 9- 14% moisture content. This will provide a stable material in average Australian conditions.

Measuring the humidity of your house is recommended if you have wooden floors. A stable humidity means a much more stable floor. If there are issues with higher or lower humidity it is often a simple matter to use air conditioning or indoor plants to alter the situation.

Simple Hacks

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– Floorboards sometime creak when we walk over them. In extreme cases the board must be re-nailed. Often the sound can be removed by putting Talcum powder in the cracks between boards.
– Noticeable cracks between boards can be filled with wood glue and sawdust. Use the same type of wood that you already have on the floor, and use sandpaper to make your own sawdust. Fill the crack with the glue and sawdust mixture, and then leave for several days. Then sand the area till it is flush with the surrounding floor. Re-varnish if necessary. Always wear eye and breathing protection when sanding and vanishing.
– Scuff marks on the floor, ones that are on the surface and do not penetrate into the wood, can often be removed with a magic eraser (melamine foam).
– Toothpaste with a damp cloth is mildly abrasive and can remove many stains, including permanent marker ink.
– Light scratches on wood may have only penetrated the surface finish. Adding a little more of the finish over the scratch can often remove the mark.
– Some scratches can be rendered invisible by applying a solution of 1 part vinegar and 3 parts canola oil.
– Pet and urine stains can be cleaned with bicarbonate of soda. Else, mix bicarbonate of soda with vinegar and wash the area. Several applications might be necessary.
– Occasionally a scratch can be concealed by walnut oil. Simply rub a walnut on the scratch and see if there is an improvement; it’s cheap and worth a try.
– Small dents and bruises in wood can sometime be removes with a damp cloth and a steam iron. Place the cloth over the dent and apply the iron. This takes several minutes; keep moving the iron around to prevent burning. The moisture and heat should cause the dented wood to expand, and the bruise should be noticeably reduced. Unfortunate this process tends to discolour stained and polished floors; use only on raw wood.

Prevent scratches by using felt pads and rugs under furniture.

Cleaning Hard Floors

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Sydney Engineered Flooring Cleaning

The nature of engineered floors makes them a little different to other hard floors. They pre-cut pieces tend to lock together tightly enough to prevent water leak issues, and they are less prone to moisture warping than most other floors. Hence, damp mopping will solve almost all cleaning situations. We recommend microfiber cloths, and microfiber mop attachments.

 

The top layer on engineered flooring is a thin veneer. As long as this is not compromised the floor will last for years. Avoid abrasive cleaning measures and there should be no problems.

 

Sydney Laminate Flooring Cleaning

Floors should be brushed with a light broom.

Mopping with hot water is effective. The mop should only be damp. Add some mild detergent or baby shampoo if the floor is especially dirty. Let the surface air dry.

Stubborn stains might require dilute vinegar or window cleaner. Immediately clean this with hot water.

 

Sydney Bamboo Flooring Cleaning

Sweep these on a regular basis; grit will cause abrasion of the surface. Removing shoes when inside is also a good idea. It is also good to put pads and felt coasters underneath all furniture, especially chairs. These coasters can be fixed into place with Bluetac.

Mop with a solution of one part vinegar diluted in 4 parts water. Use a slightly damp microfiber cloth/mop for cleaning. Dry as quickly as possible.

Avoid oil based cleaning agents- these are usually not suitable for bamboo.

 

Sydney Loose Lay vinyl Cleaning

Sweep floors as often as practical, or use a soft vacuum attachment.

Clean with warm water and detergent; find a detergent of cleaner designed for vinyl. Use a damp microfiber cloth. Do not saturate the cloth as water can get in between the vinyl tiles.

Rinse the floor well to remove soap scum. This causes dirt to stick to the floor. Dry the area afterward.

Wax the floor as per instructions on the bottle. Polyurethane coated floors do not require this was treatment.

Removing Indoor Air Pollution

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Our homes contain chemicals and airborne pollutants from many sources. Some are introduced from furniture and flooring, though these then to dissipate over time. Other pollutants come from cleaning products, are tracked into on shoes and clothing, or occasionally come from accidents such as spills or burnt cookware. Regardless of the source the removal of the contaminants is important for our health.

 

General Rooms.

  • Air rooms our when the house is new. Opening windows and airing the house once a week is probably a good idea. Use a few fans to circulate air.
  • Have indoor plants. These effectively clear most airborne pollutant and chemicals, and they are very cheap to maintain.
  • Use an air filter system. Avoid any filter products that produce ozone.
  • If you have new carpet installed, let it air for a few days. Wooden flooring is preferable here as it tends to have already been sufficiently aired.
  • Use an Ultra Violet (UV) wand for cleaning hard surfaces.
  • Uses safe heating methods that do not produce gas or CO2. Consider underfloor heating.
  • Use safe cleaning products, and never mix chemical.

 

Kitchens:

  • Install exhaust fans above stoves and other cooking equipment.
  • Use cookware at moderate temperatures. Some cookware, especially non-stick Teflon, will produce toxic gasses above a certain temperature.
  • Check the smoke point when cooking with oil, especially stir frying. Different oils break down at different temperatures. Beyond these temperatures they produce toxic gasses and ruin the flavour of the food.
  • Find environmentally safe cleaning products. Vinegar and bicarbonate of soda cleans most surfaces. Use microfiber clothes which do not require solvents or chemicals.
  • Indoor plants for the kitchen can be good.

Sydney Bamboo Flooring

Many modern flooring options are better for the environment. Bamboo can grow and be replenished in only 7 years, where hardwood always took several decades. Bamboo flooring does use some chemicals when manufactured, but it uses far less than many artificial floors and far less than many carpets. The chemicals have dissipated by the time the bamboo flooring is installed.