Hardwood remains at top of consumer preference survey, but..
Year after year, hardwood remains at the top of the consumer preference surveys, and retailers report that sales continue to climb. However, selling hardwood, despite its its popularity, is no easy task. While wood flooring is a desirable, natural product, it reacts to temperature and moisture and can easily sustain damage. In order to avoid product and installation problems consumers must understand the unique characteristics of wood and its proper installation applications along with being educated in care and maintenance.
An important aspect for consumers is to deal with companies who are knowledgeable and have understanding of proper hardwood application and care. Salespeople must prepare homeowners and business-owners for natural expansion and contraction so they won't be surprised by slight gaping, squeaks or cupping. Making sure that customers have realistic expectations is a big part of the success of selling hardwood. When sales people fail to give homeowners a clear picture of normal changes in wood from one season to another, salespeople get complaint calls.
Homeowners can also unwittingly cause significant damage to hardwood floors. Improper cleaning or spills left too long can cause water damage. Grit from dirty floors can cause premature wear. High heels can create pockmarks. Pets can cause scuffs, and furniture can create scratches and gouges. Even when salespeople work hard to inform consumers of the proper care for hardwood flooring, they don't always listen or fully remember. Then when a problem occurs, once again the flooring company is called in to address the issue.
There is nothing more challenging when a particular type of hardwood floors that a consumer is wanting is not educated in all aspects of the wood species, proper application, and care. Consumer unrealistic expectations and complex installation issues make thorough sales training crucial. All of my sales personal and installers here at Schindler Carpet & Floors go through extensive teaching and training and proper installation applications with various manufactures and distributors.
A flooring sale does not end when the salesperson shakes hands with the homeowner. Installers can also make or break a wonderful hardwood experience with a flooring company. Nationwide there is a dearth, lack of seasoned experienced-skilled installers. The number one problem that we have in this industry is the lack of qualified professionals to install hardwood floors. It is important for the consumer to research companies who have great reputations that are certified with the BBB, have certified-skilled installers and carry proper insurance to cover any issues caused by the installation.
The days of hardwood being just for floors are over – these days, you can use hardwood any place that calls for a bit of class and elegance. Hardwood is one of the most versatile, if not the most versatile, material
in home improvement that one could ask for.
When used in countertops, hardwood makes a great cutting board (of course), although extra care must be taken to make sure that the porous surface doesn't hold too much
So, what else do you need to know about this emerging trend in countertops?
- Do not clean the countertops with a toxic oil substance; because hardwood is porous, toxicity from the oils can leech into the food, causing untold amounts of sickness.
- Choose the wood for your countertop carefully. Hard maple, teak, and tigerwood are just a few of the many woods that are suitable for this elegant and timeless look.
- Worried about bacteria? A mild water-bleach solution – made with one part bleach to four parts water – will kill whatever infectious critters happen to be on your wood.
- Cleaning the hardwood countertops is easy: just wipe it clean with damp rag after each use. No need for harsh chemicals or elaborate cleaners!
- Think twice before chopping vegetables or other goodies on the hardwood countertop – if it's not specifically designed for cutting purposes, it will be treated with a polyurethane cover. Needless to say, this covering is toxic, and can easily leech into foods. If you're going to cut food on such a countertop, be sure to put down a cutting board first.
The top 5 don'ts of home improvement
When it comes to home improvement, many experts from many walks of life will have different opinions on what you should, and shouldn't, do. But there are some things that all home improvement professionals agree should not be done.
Here – in no particular order – are the top 5 don'ts of home improvement (in no particular order of importance):
- DON'T remodel when a full demo job is needed. If the foundation of the house is shoddy, or there is some other irreparable damage done to a house as a result of time or natural disaster, it's better to demo the entire house and start all over again than it is to simply do what amounts to a “patch job” of remodeling one room or another.
- DON'T get too crazy with “themes.” While you may think that an “under the sea” theme is cute for your bathroom – and there's no question that, in theory, it certainly is – it will look ridiculous if the rest of your house is, say, Colonial or Craftsman themed.
- DON'T ignore safety. This may seem self-evident, but you'd be amazed how many people cut corners to save a few dollars…which only ends up costing them more money to repair the issues created as an end result.
- DON'T underestimate the importance of a subfloor. You may think you only need a subfloor in a cooler climate, or in a basement or other damp area, but in reality, the subfloor is essential to prevent buckling hardwood. In addition, a proper subfloor will aid in both insulation (keeping things cool in the summer and warm in the winter) and soundproofing.
- DON'T forget the permits. It may be annoying to have to deal with the proverbial red tape of your local government, but it's better to spend a few hundred dollars in necessary permits than a few thousand dollars in unnecessary fines!