Home Help: Care key to keeping hardwood floors looking good

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Home Improvements: A guide to hardwood flooring

Solid hardwood flooring is just that -- a solid plank of hardwood milled into a piece of flooring, usually with a tongue and groove on the edges and ends, so that the pieces fit together on all sides.

While it comes in a variety of thicknesses, 3/4-inch is the most common produced in the U.S. and is usually nailed to a wooden subfloor. Thinner profiles, such as 5/16 inch, can be glued directly on to a surface such as concrete. Widths typically range from 2 1/4-inch strip to 8-inch and wider plank.

Favorite U.S. species are red and white oak, hard maple, ash, hickory and pecan, walnut and cherry.

In all cases of hardwood flooring installation, a clean, moisture-free surface is essential to eliminate future problems with movement or moisture.

Care and maintenance of hardwood flooring is easy; often just a matter of common sense. Follow these simple guidelines and your floors will last a lifetime, providing the warmth and feel only real hardwood can offer.

- Water is a hardwood floor's worst enemy. Clean up spills immediately. Do not use a damp mop or oil-based soap. Always check with the flooring manufacturer for recommended cleaning products.

- Sweep hardwood floors regularly. Dirt and dust can grind into the finish. Consider doormats at every entrance and rugs in high traffic areas.

- Sunlight can be harmful and can drastically change the color of the wood. Consider sheer drapes, curtains or blinds to limit direct sunlight.

- Shoes can also cause damage. High heels can dent. Small stones can scratch. Consider leaving shoes and the grit of the outside world at the door.

-- ARA

Decorating Tip: Complement your curtains

The hardware that accompanies drapery might not be at the forefront of your mind as you shop, but there’s a vast array of options available. Here are some tips:

- Determine beforehand what kind of theme or overall look you’re trying to achieve. Some drapery hardware is well suited for contemporary designs while other types will be more at home amongst traditional or rustic décor.

- Hardware can be hidden from view to provide a greater focus on curtains or placed ostentatiously out in the open to serve as a counterpoint.

- Curtain rods are the single largest piece of hardware, and the rod you choose will help determine the types of end caps, brackets, rings, tiebacks and more.

-- Home Depot

Home-Selling Tip: Appraisal can be useful

Consider obtaining a formal written appraisal if you have unique property, if there hasn't been much activity in your area recently, if co-owners disagree about price, or if there is any other circumstance that makes it difficult to put a value on your home.

-- Century 21

How To: Save energy in a rented home

When a home’s not your own, it’s hard to make major energy-efficient changes. But there are easy ways to lower costs.

- Change your lighting. Replace incandescent bulbs and fixtures with compact fluorescent light bulbs.

- Turn your appliances off -- all the way. Some equipment continues to use electricity even when it's “off.” So plug electronics into a power strip, and switch it off when you aren't using them.

- Use cold water. If laundry facilities are included with your rental, switch to cold water for your full loads of laundry.

- Purchase an Energy Star air conditioner that's properly sized.

- Adjust the thermostat with the season.

- Coordinate with roommates. To keep housemates on the same page, set up house rules about common issues like turning lights off when leaving a room or using power strips.

-- Alliance to Save Energy

Did You Know …

The National Kitchen and Bath Association has a helpful glossary of terms at www.nkba.org/consumer_tools_glossary.aspx.

Garden Guide

Crabgrass is an annual warm-season plant. The tiny seeds sit on the soil surface and, as the cool season grasses begin to brown out, they are exposed to the sunlight and begin to germinate.

If you prevent crabgrass from producing seeds, the problem goes away.

One solution that avoids using weed killer or having to pull each plant up by hand is to continue to cut the lawn.

Even if it is mostly brown straw, cutting the lawn will prevent the crabgrass from going to seed. It will take a couple of seasons, but eventually you will see less crabgrass.

-- Peter Coppola is a principle master gardener from Burlington, Mass.

Backyard Buddies: Keep a balance of birdseed

Many commercial birdseeds contain more white millet than any other ingredient. This is good for ground-feeding birds, but won’t attract perching birds that prefer oil sunflower.

A good birdseed mix will contain enough millet for ground-feeders but also contain sunflowers.

Ground-feeders will benefit from the perch-feeders kicking out the seeds they don’t like, but the perch-feeders won’t be discouraged by a lack of variety.

-- Cole’s Wild Bird

GateHouse News Service