Is Hardwood Flooring Right For You?

Hardwood flooring has been the latest craze in flooring and decorating for practically forever. From cozy beach cottages to swanky city apartments to grandiose suburban dream-homes, it seems like everyone is jumping on the hardwood bandwagon, and demand hasn’t slowed down since it began.

Still, after installing hardwood flooring for thousands of homes, our expert handymen don’t think that hardwood is perfect for everyone. For one, it requires a LOT of maintenance. There are also other, much lower-maintenance alternative flooring that can make your home stand out from the crowd. Here is a quick guide to decide if hardwood flooring is right for your home:

1) Do you have large pets? While a kitten or two probably won’t do much damage to the floor, dogs (especially the larger breeds) can scratch up the surface quickly. Unlike cats, dogs can’t retract their claws and end up leaving microscopic scratches everywhere they walk. This could leave a high-traffic area or a sharp corner covered in scratch marks. And if you let your dog go outside regularly, be prepared for additional upkeep as dogs can track mud and dirt through the house.

2) Do you have young children? Having children shouldn’t automatically preclude you from choosing to put in hardwood floors. Still, they will require additional maintenance with kids running around. Children will often run through the house with their outdoors shoes still on, and are harder on floors than most typical adults. If you have kids, be ready to mop several times a week at minimum.

3) Like wearing heels or throwing fancy dinner parties? Now, it would seem that you would be perfect for the elegance and style of hardwood flooring, BUT… High heels and formal mens dress shoes have much harder bottoms than typical shoes, and will cause your flooring to crack, chip, and dent much faster than under regular use. Moreover heels are generally very narrow and concentrate the force of your foot into a small area, making it much more likely that your floor will get the kinds of dents and dings that require regular resurfacing. If you still want wood floors, make sure you put runners and rugs in high-traffic areas, and be ready to spend money on refinishes once every few years, or more often, depending on how often you throw parties.

ELIMINATING MILDEW IN YOUR BATHROOM AND HOW TO PREVENT ITS RETURN

Once mildew arrives in your house, it can take hold and begin to spread quickly. Ironically, the advances in better home insulation have had the side effect of allowing mildew and mold to grow more readily, particularly in poorly ventilated areas, so newer homes are often subject to the invasion of the various fungus that cause these problems. Prime areas for moisture to collect and to provide fungi with an ideal breeding ground are crawlspaces, basements, attics, kitchens and, of course, your bathroom.

The first and most important step in mildew mitigation is to increase ventilation, especially in your bathroom, where water is run regularly and collects most frequently.

Leave the bathroom door (and windows, if possible) open after you shower or bathe, and always use the exhaust fan. If you don’t have an exhaust fan, it’s important to have one installed.

Once mildew has taken hold in your bathroom, it can be nearly impossible to eliminate it or to prevent its return. However, this can be accomplished with the following preventive measures:

First, clean walls thoroughly with a mixture of 50% bleach and 50% water. Allow all surfaces to dry thoroughly and then re-paint with a fast-drying primer followed by the application of a specially formulated bathroom/kitchen paint. This paint will contain a mildewcide ingredient. Oftentimes, you can request that a mildewcide agent be added to the paint there in the store.

Mildew will also form inside caulking, so it’s important to remove old caulk and replace it with a mildew-resistant form of grout. Pay particular attention to the areas around the tub and shower enclosure where water can collect and stand for a longer period of time.

Keep in mind that, depending upon how long mildew has been present, there may be moisture damage to the wood and framing as well, and these are issues that must be addressed.

If all of this seems intimidating or too complicated for you to handle as a do-it-yourself project, your local Handyman Matters office is always willing to step in and tackle these repairs and restorations for you. Call 1-800-FIX-MY-HOME or go to www.handymanmatters.com to find the phone number of the office nearest you.

 

PREVENTING ELECTRICAL MALFUNCTIONS IN YOUR HOME

An estimated 47,700 home structure fires in the United States every year, all due to some form or electrical failure or malfunction. It’s imperative for every property owner to take the precautions necessary to prevent needless damage and injury resulting from such disasters.

Though some of the below tips may seem like no-brainers, check to make sure you aren’t guilty of any of these infractions:

  • Never remove the grounding pin (the third plug) to make a plug fit into a two-prong outlet.
  • Don’t nail or staple electrical cords to walls, floors, or other objects.
  • Extension cords are designed for temporary use; don’t utilize them as permanent household wiring.
  • Replace missing or broken wall plates so that wiring and components never remain exposed.
  • If an appliance is repeatedly blowing a fuse or trips a circuit breaker, unplug it and have an electrician check out the problem.
  • Outlets in the kitchen, bathroom, workshop and laundry rooms should always be equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters, and these need to be tested on a regular basis.
  • Check electrical cords regularly to make sure they haven’t become frayed or cracked. Also, they should not be placed under carpeting or rugs.

And when working outdoors, take care to keep yourself and all equipment a safe distance—at least ten feet—from power lines and service connections. Check for power lines before setting up ladders or using long tools. Additionally, never use electric tools in the rain or if the ground is wet.

For additional information on preventing electrical hazards, visit SafeElectricity.org.

Your local Handyman Matters office can send out a craftsman to do an assessment around your home to determine if there are any potential electrical hazards that need addressing, and they can assist you with making any necessary corrections. Call 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code on our website to locate the office nearest you.

How to Maintain Your Hardwood Floors to Last a Lifetime

Wood flooring has been a must-have addition to any luxury home for as long as people have been building luxury homes. The elegance added by a hardwood floor simply can’t be overstated. Unfortunately, as with most things beautiful and luxurious, hardwood floors need a lot of maintenance to keep up their great looks. Here is a how-to to make sure your hardwood floors stay clean, shiny, and beautiful:

  • Clean Often and Clean Right: The single most important thing to do to keep your wood floors shiny for years is to clean them often. It isn’t enough to just mop and vacuum once a month. Particles like dust and dirt can do some major damage to your wood flooring if left to their own devices, so experts recommend you clean your floors weekly.

When cleaning, use a cleaning solution that is specifically made for your type of hardwood floor. Using non-wood-floor cleaners can cause the cleaner to not bond or improperly bond with your flooring’s finish which could lead to peeling. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that the old wives tale of using vinegar to clean wood floors is a major no-no. Vinegar is highly acidic and will dull the finish on your flooring faster than just about anything else.

When vacuuming your wood flooring, make sure you have the brush set to the “Floor” setting to prevent the spinning bristles from damaging your floor. Similarly, make sure you use a broom with soft bristles to keep from scuffing it up.

  • Repairing Wood floor damage: Repairing a lightly damaged wood floor is a lot easier than most people think. For most minor scuffs, a simple rub-down with some water or hardwood-cleaner will do the job. More persistent or deeper scratches that don’t penetrate through all the way to the wood can be repaired with a procedure called “buff and pad”. This is an extremely simple procedure: simply rent a floor buffer from your local hardware store (or get a trained handyman to bring over theirs), buff-sand the affected area, and apply a couple of coats of wood finish. The whole process will last just a couple of hours and leave your floors looking brand new. For deep dents and pockmarks caused by furniture or heels, you might need to go through with the more expensive and difficult sand-and-refinish process. Sand down the finishing material on your wood floor all the way to the wood, then refinish it with wood sealer and finisher (follow the directions on the finisher closely for best results).