Ask An Expert: Trends, Beauty, And Care Of Hardwood Floors

By+Kelli Stopczynski

It’s the last thing you feel at night before you snuggle under the covers and the first surface your toes touch in the morning when you get out of bed.  It can make or break the look of a room or your whole home.  Let’s face it – flooring is a big deal.     

As hardwood floors become more popular, homeowners are tearing out carpet to find original hardwood they want to restore or opting to replace tile with timeless hardwood. Whether you’re looking for the latest trends in custom flooring or wondering if your outdated wood floor can be restored and updated (it can!), there are hundreds of ways to make a hardwood floor uniquely yours.  We called on the experts at Ideal Coatings for insight into how you can pull it off.
What’s Hot Now

The hottest trends in flooring in Northern Indiana and Southwest Michigan are in color, hardness and texture. 

“Designers are coming to us wanting deeper, richer colors,” explained Ideal Coatings co-owner Dean Yoder.  “Until about 8 or 10 years ago, everybody put in oak floors – natural color without a lot of flavor.” 

Now, customers who want traditional oak floors are opting for darker stains.  Ideal Coatings also uses toners in its finish to help hide the oak grain and accomplish a more contemporary look.

Newer homes are straying away from oak, choosing naturally darker woods like Brazilian cherry, maple and hickory, Yoder said.   

Another popular choice is the hand-scraped or hand-distressed floor.  To get that distressed vintage look, the experts at Ideal Coatings scrape each piece of raw wood (hickory, walnut, oak and pine are their most popular distressed floors) with a special tool to put lines and indentations in the wood before they stain and finish it.    

Making the Old New

Last year’s slow-down in new home construction still allowed Ideal Coatings’ experts to shine. The company stayed busy with remodeling projects, mostly re-finishing old oak floors. 

In some cases, homeowners replaced old gravity heating systems with forced air systems and were left with big holes in the floor.  Ideal Coatings repaired the holes with new wood that matched the original oak.  

“That’s the beauty of some of the older floors in the area.  They’re so easy to repair and blend and you’ll never see it,” Yoder added.

In fact, that’s his favorite part of the job.

“The other guys like to install, sand and finish.  But for me, it’s taking an old floor and making it brand new.  I’ve had tons of people ask me if their floor can be saved because of damage from pet stains, water marks and stuff like that.  To this day, I have never had to pull off of a job and say ‘this floor can’t be saved.’  I think it’s what gives me the biggest sense of satisfaction.”

The Benefits

One of the most obvious benefits of hardwood floors is their beauty. Ideal Coatings specializes in installing raw pieces of wood, then sanding and finishing them on the job site.

“It just has a much warmer and softer feel than your tile,” Yoder said

Hardwood floors also offer health benefits you won’t get with carpet floors.  If you have allergy issues, one of the first things your doctor will tell you is to get rid of the carpet in your home.  No matter how clean you try to keep it, allergens and dust become trapped in the fibers.  But you can physically see each speck of dirt on a hardwood floor, and it can easily be mopped up.

“We’ve torn and ripped out thousands of square feet of carpet and it’s the nastiest thing because they’re just so filthy,” explained Yoder. “Even the cleanest homes have dirty carpet.”

Installing or repairing hardwood floors is a much cleaner process than you might think. 

“We have the best vacuum dust containment equipment out there. We spent thousands of dollars purchasing vacuums so we can go into a home and be virtually dust free,” he added.

Keeping it Clean

Once a hardwood floor is installed, you shouldn’t have to do anything for the first 7 to 10 years other than keep it clean.  A simple process of vacuuming as needed and mopping with a phosphate–free cleaner once a month is enough maintenance to keep floors in optimum condition.  But Yoder warns some types of vacuums might damage a floor, so you should always check with a hardwood flooring expert before you buy a vacuum for new floors.

Phosphate-free cleaners will keep your floor’s original shine without dulling the finish.  You can also use water with a splash of vinegar to clean hardwood floors.

Yoder likes to tell his customers they can abuse their hardwood floors, spill drinks and food on them and let their children play on them.  Then his crew brings in the sander and smooths the floors down to fresh wood until all the imperfections are gone. 

Hardwood floors are very forgiving, versatile and beautiful.  Regardless of what you’re looking for, there’s a good chance you can find it and, with help from the experts, put your own stamp of personalization on it.

Ideal Coatings is located in Shipshewana, Indiana and is co-owned by Ervin Miller, Jr., Merle Miller and Dean Yoder.  For more information call 1-866-334-1526.