Kentwood has answers to many commonly asked questions about hardwood flooring, including questions about:

Choosing and buying a hardwood floor

1.What are the benefits of hardwood versus other types of flooring?

Hardwood has been a popular flooring material for centuries and continues to be the flooring material of choice for many good reasons.
It’s durable – well-made hardwood floors can last a lifetime and longer. While the initial cost may be higher than with other types of flooring, hardwood’s longevity makes it an excellent long term investment.
It’s comfortable – real wood has a natural warmth that no artificial material can replicate and makes a very comfortable living surface.
It’s uniquely beautiful –hardwood has a beautiful appearance and, as a natural material, every piece will be completely unique.
It’s a great Investment – real hardwood adds value to your home.
It’s authentic – real wood has special value and appeal over artificial materials
It’s sustainable – wood is a naturally renewable resource

2.What’s the difference between solid and engineered and laminate floors?

In a solid wood floor, every board is made from a single solid piece of hardwood. This is the most traditional form of hardwood flooring. It is installed over plywood subfloors using nail down installation.

In engineered flooring, every board is made from several layers of wood, with valuable hardwood used only for the surface, or ‘wear’ layer. The other layers may be plywood, common softwood or even high density fiberboard (HDF). Engineered floors are generally more stable than a solid floor, and they are more versatile too, as they can be installed in practically any situation with a variety of different installation techniques.

Laminate floors are made with entirely manufactured materials and contain no real wood (although the main component of many laminate floors is HDF, which is a wood-based product). Laminate floors have an image of wood (or other material) imprinted onto the surface, to give the appearance of a wood floor.

3.What is a Janka rating?

A Janka rating is a guide to the hardness of any given wood species. The Janka rating indicates how many pounds of force are required to embed a small steel ball into the surface of the wood to a depth of half the ball's diameter. The resulting number is used as a rating to indicate the hardness of the wood; the higher the Janka rating, the harder the wood.

4.How important is the hardness of the wood?

Many people choose a wood species based on its hardness, thinking that a harder wood will be more durable and resistant to wear and damage. While this is true to some extent, the fact is that all hardwoods can be dented and scratched, even with the toughest finish. So it’s more important to choose a floor based on its visual appearance.

5.What are the different installation options?

There are four basic installation techniques for hardwood flooring.
Nail Down – the boards are fastened to a plywood subfloor using cleats or staples
Glue Down – the boards are glued to the subfloor with a special wood flooring glue
Floating – the boards are glued to each other, but not to the subfloor below. The entire floor ‘floats’ on a cushioned underlay.
Glueless – a popular variation on floating installation in which the boards have a specially designed joint system that allows the boards to be ‘clicked’ together without glue or fasteners.

6.Which species makes the best flooring?

Again, all hardwoods used for flooring are suitable for the purpose, so it’s better to choose a species and color that suits your individual lifestyle and tastes. For example, generally speaking lighter colored floors and heavier grained woods like oak will be more forgiving of daily wear (dust, footprints, etc) and will require less maintenance than darker floors and clear grained woods like maple. Exotic woods tend to be less tolerant of changes in climate than domestic woods.

7.I live in a strata building and want to put hardwood in my suite – anything I should be aware of?

Many strata councils have regulations regarding the installation of hardwood flooring. One of the most common is that an acoustic underlay, such as Kentwood Kuiet, be installed under the wood flooring to minimize sound transmission between floors. Check with your strata council to find out what specific requirements they may have.

8.I have infloor radiant heating in my house – can I install hardwood flooring over it?

Most styles of Kentwood engineered floors are approved for use over radiant heat. (Solid wood floors, and certain wood species such a jatoba and maple, are not suitable for use with radiant heat systems.) There are some special considerations when installing over radiant heat and the temperature of the floor must be kept within recommended levels to avoid damaging the floor. For more information, read the Special Instructions for Installations over Radiant Heat brochure, available in the Literature section.

Living with a hardwood floor

9.Why is the temperature and humidity of a house so important with wood flooring?

Keeping the temperature and humidity at recommended levels is one of the best ways to ensure the health and happiness of your hardwood floor. Wood is a natural material that reacts to changes in its environment, and your hardwood floor will react to changes in your home. So it is important to keep temperature and humidity at recommended levels at all times, even when the home is unoccupied. The recommended levels are temperature at 60 to 80 degrees F (15 to 26 degrees C) and humidity at 30 to 50%.

10.There are gaps between the boards of my floor which weren’t there before – what is causing that?

Typically, ’gapping’ occurs when the humidity in the house falls below the recommended level. The floor boards dry out and shrink slightly, creating gaps between the boards. This often occurs in the winter when the heating system is working, drying out the air. It can usually be cured by increasing the humidity in the home.

11.Do I need to have a humidifier in my home if I have hardwood flooring?

The need for a humidifier depends very much on the climate in which you live and the heating conditions you choose for your home. Humidifiers are seldom necessary in temperate climates, but in cold, dry regions they are very helpful in keeping the humidity levels at a comfortable level. In such cases, the installation of a humidifier has the added benefit of making the home more comfortable for people and pets as well as the hardwood flooring!

12.My floor makes noise when I walk on it – is that normal?

A certain amount of noise is normal in many hardwood floors. Because wood expands and contracts with changes in heat and humidity, the floorboards continually build up small amounts of stress at various places in the joints which are released with small noises, usually when the floor is walked on. That noise – the good ‘crackle’ of a real wood floor – should be random and occasional.

If your floor is making a noise that is regular, constant and always occurs in the same place, you probably have an installation issue. Have your installer examine the problem.

13.My flooring looks lighter in color than the sample I viewed in the store. Is that normal?

Yes, this is normal. Most types of wood change color when they are exposed to daylight, and hardwood flooring is no exception. The change is most obvious on natural colored floors, and some species change color more than others. Usually, the color becomes deeper, richer, and more even. Over time, your newly installed wood flooring will ‘age’ and the color will deepen. You may want to periodically rearrange furniture and area rugs so that the entire floor area gets exposed to light and colors evenly.

Cleaning and maintaining a hardwood floor

14.How do I clean my Kentwood floor?

Kentwood floors are factory finished with an advanced polyurethane finish that is both durable and easy to care for. (NOTE: a few styles of Kentwood products are finished with oil based finishes. These require a different care & maintenance routine.) Basic cleaning involves two simple procedures.

Sweep or vacuum the floor frequently to remove loose dust and grit. This is very important to the long term performance of the floor and its finish. Small particles of loose grit act like sandpaper on the surface, wearing it down over time and dulling the gloss. Regular sweeping or vacuuming will help keep these harmful particles off the floors. (Having mats at entryways is a good way to keep grit off the floor as well.)

Day to day wear will ‘dull’ the floor as dirt and oils get deposited onto the surface. To clean these away, use a cleaning solution specially formulated for prefinished hardwood floors, like Kentwood’s Therapy Spray Cleanser. Follow the product instructions.

15.The finish on my floor is really worn down and dull looking. What can I do to restore it?

If the finish has become dull simply from daily wear, a cleaning with Kentwood Therapy Spray Cleanser should be enough to bring back its luster.

If the dullness is the result of fine, tiny scratches in the finish, then you may want to consider a ‘recoat’. This should be done by a professional hardwood flooring technician. Your dealer can recommend someone for this. For more details, see the ‘REPAIRING AND REFINISHING A HARDWOOD FLOOR’ section.

16.Can I use vinegar and water to clean the floor?

An occasional cleaning with a vinegar and water solution is okay, particularly if there is a greasy residue on the surface of the floor. However, vinegar is an acid and if used over an extended period of time it may alter the gloss level of the floor.

17.What kinds of products should NOT be used on a Kentwood floor.

The following products should not be used on your Kentwood floor:
- detergents, oils, waxes, polishes, bleach, scouring agents
- ‘all in one floor cleaners’
- oil soaps
These products will either damage the finish, or leave residues that will dull the appearance of the floor.

18.Can I use a steam cleaner on the floor?

No! Steam cleaners should never be used on a wood floor. The combination of heat and moisture and pressure could be very damaging to the wood. For similar reasons, never use a wet mop or cloth when cleaning the floor, always use a damp mop or cloth only.

Repairing and refinishing a hardwood floor

19.Something scratched the surface of the floor and left a white mark. Can it be fixed?

Scratches that show as white lines are usually superficial abrasions into the finish on the floor surface. The best treatment for these is a product called 'Tibet Almond Stick', available from your Kentwood dealer.

Deeper scratches that penetrate the finish and go into the actual surface of the wood itself may need a touch up kit, consisting of a colored marker and spot finisher. Your Kentwood dealer should be able to provide you with this,

20.I dropped a heavy object on the floor and it left a dent in the wood. Can this be fixed?

Unfortunately, there is no real remedy to repair a dent in the wood. The only real solution is to replace the damaged board.

21.Is it possible to replace a damaged section of the floor?

Usually, yes. It depends on the extent and nature of the damage. If the damage is just to one or two boards, they can probably be replaced. This is a job for a professional installers. (It’s also an excellent reason to keep a few spare boards that were left over after the installation.) The new boards will probably be lighter in color than the others but they will ‘age’ to match the rest of the floor in time. Likewise the new boards may appear to have a slightly different gloss level than the surrounding boards. Replacing a whole section of flooring is more difficult as a new order of flooring may not look exactly the same as the previously installed batch. Consult your dealer to see if the product specifications have changed since the original purchase.

22.Can my floor be refinished?

A hardwood floor can usually be refinished in two ways. A buff & recoat is an effective way to refresh a floor on which the finish has become scuffed and scratched over time. It involves a very thorough cleaning followed by a new coat of polyurethane finish. (Sometimes a bonding agent is required to ensure the new coat of finish adheres to the old one.) With a buff & recoat, the floor’s original finish is not compromised in anyway and the finish warranty remains in effect.

If the finish has been completely worn away or otherwise damaged, it may be possible to have the floor refinished. This involves sanding away the entire finish until the hardwood is exposed, then applying several layers of new polyurethane finish to the entire floor.  Whether a particular floor can be refinished – and how many times it can be refinished – depends entirely on the specific style of flooring.  To find out if your syle of Kentwood floor can be refinished, consult your dealer.  Once a floor has been refinished, the original finish warranty is no longer valid. Both of these procedures should only be performed by qualified professional wood flooring refinishers.

Kentwood and the environment

23.What is Kentwood’s environmental position?

At Kentwood, we believe that responsibly manufactured, premium quality wood floors represent an excellent choice for today’s environmentally-conscious homeowner. Not only are our wood floors made from a natural, renewable material, they also outlast and outperform most other floor coverings, making them an excellent long-term, low-maintenance choice. A well-made, well-maintained wood floor can last a lifetime, and longer. To ensure that our products meet our standards for quality and sustainability, Kentwood has a wide ranging corporate environmental program that guides every aspect of our product development and manufacturing operations. Its basic principles are: - ensuring the long term sustainability of the world’s forests by promoting responsible forestry, both within our company and throughout the industry - producing only high quality products that deliver high value, long term performance to our customers - encouraging environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient practices in our manufacturing facilities, in our corporate operations, and in our customers’ homes - supporting organizations that promote responsible forestry and land use programs

24.What is LEED?

LEED (which stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) is a program developed by the US Green Building Council to encourage environmentally-responsible building design, construction and operation. Buildings that qualify for the program are given a LEED Certification based on how many credits the project earns. There are four levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Credits can be earned in a variety of different categories that cover all aspects of a building’s design, construction and ongoing operation after occupancy. Until recently, the LEED program has been applied only to commercial, public and multi-unit residential projects, but it will soon be extended to single family homes as well. The LEED program has won a lot of support among developers because it offers a comprehensive, third party validation of a project’s green features and verifies that the building is operating exactly the way it was designed to. Many styles of Kentwood floors are ‘LEED compliant’, meaning they can contribute towards points in certain categories. For example, LEED points can be earned by using wood products made from an FSC® certified source, so any FSC® certified Kentwood floor would be LEED compliant.

25.What is the Lacey Act?

The Lacey Act is America’s oldest national wildlife protection statute, enacted in 1900 to protect endangered birds and animals. It has been amended many times since it was originally signed into law. A new amendment, passed in 2008, makes it an offense to trade in products made from illegally-sourced agriculturally-based products. This includes many textiles, pharmaceuticals and paper products, as well as the obvious wood products like flooring or decking. The newly-amended Lacey Act also requires US companies to document the source of the woods they sell or use for manufacturing.

Kentwood has always had a firm commitment to sustainable forestry and environmental responsibility and has worked closely with our manufacturing partners to utilize legally and responsibly harvested material for all our products. Accordingly, compliance with the amended Lacey Act is in line with already-established company policies.

26.What is formaldehyde? Is it harmful?

Formaldehyde is an important organic compound that exists naturally in food, the environment, and our bodies. Formaldehyde is biodegradable, meaning that it does not accumulate in the environment and since humans metabolize formaldehyde quickly, it does not accumulate in the body. In fact, the average person processes about 1.5 ounces of formaldehyde each day as part of normal human metabolism.

Formaldehyde is an essential component in making common consumer items including medicines, vaccines, paper towels, furniture, cabinets, insulation and other building products. However, as with many substances, excessive exposure to formaldehyde may pose some risk to human health, and accordingly some government bodies are taking steps to limit or reduce the amount of formaldehyde in some products. California’s new CARB program is one example.

27.What is CARB?

CARB is the California Air Resources Board, an government organization charged with improving air quality in the Golden State. In 2007, CARB approved a measure to reduce formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products. As this measure is implemented, all products made from composite wood products which are to be sold within the state of California must meet the strict formaldehyde emission limits set by CARB, which will be the world’s toughest standard for formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products. In the flooring industry, formaldehyde is commonly present in the glue used to make plywood and engineered flooring.

Accordingly, Kentwood engineered floors that are sold in California will conform with CARB regulations and be marked with a special label declaring them to be ‘CARB Compliant’. The US Federal government recently charged the EPA with creating a similiar standard nationwide. Kentwood anticipates no difficulty in complying with this future regulation.

28.What is GREENGUARD?

GREENGUARD is a low emissions certification program owned and managed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), one of the largest and most respected product safety organizations in the world. GREENGUARD has two certification levels: GREENGUARD and GREENGUARD Gold.  At this time, all of Kentwood's GREENGUARD certified products have achieved Gold status.  GREENGUARD Gold certification complies with CA 01350 but under stricter certification requirements than any other emissions program.  It also establishes a very low Total VOC level and sets emissions for specific VOCs at 1/100th of the US Federal Government’s Threshold Limit Value (TLV) for occupational exposure. 

In UL’s words, GREENGUARD Gold certification is “designed to define low-emitting materials suitable for environments where people, particularly children and sensitive adults, spend extended periods of time, in particular schools and healthcare facilities.” 

GREENGUARD Gold certification is also recognized by LEED as a qualifying attribute for low emitting materials credits. For more information visit ul.com/gg