Installing & Finishing
Installing solid-wood strip flooring is a fairly straightforward process. It all starts with a clean, sound subfloor, over which a layer of building paper is laid. This protects the subfloor from water damage and prevents squeaking. The strips are nailed to the subfloor, one-at-a-time, by means of a hammer-operated or pneumatic nailer. 1/2-in. to 3/4-in. expansion gaps are left at all the walls. With prefinished flooring, the installation is com- plete as soon as all the strips are nailed down and the base molding is installed.
Unfinished flooring, however, must be sanded smooth with powerful sanding machines, then finished to protect the wood. If you’re getting new cabinets, it’s a good idea to have unfinished flooring installed and sanded before the cabinets go in. The standard finish for kitchen floors is polyurethane. Available in oil- and water-based formulations, polyurethane forms a durable clear layer that seals the top of the wood. An experienced do-it-yourselfer can rent a nailer and install a prefinished floor with little trouble, but an unfinished floor is a different story; a novice can easily damage a floor with a drum sander, and it can be difficult to apply an even finish over an entire floor. For most homeowners, a professional installation is worth the cost: about £2 to £3 per sq. ft.
Maintaining it Well
Because dirt abrades the finish, the best thing you can do for your wood floor is swept or vacuum it frequently When it needs a more thorough cleaning, mist the floor with a non-oily non-ammonia cleaner or a light vine- gar-and water-solution, and wipe it with a slightly damp mop or a broom wrapped in toweling. Be careful with cleaners. Soaps and detergents that leave an oily residue may make it impossible to re-coat the floor. Your flooring or finish manufacturer will probably recommend a detergent that you can use for damp-mopping. Never use wax on a polyurethane floor. Re-coating a polyurethane floor is a maintenance procedure that involves “screening” the floor with a buffer screen so that a new coat of polyurethane can adhere to the existing finish. This is different from refinishing the floor, which involves removing the old finish and a thin layer of wood with sanding machines before a new finish is applied. Re-coating does not remove deep scratches or other damage from the flooring or the kitchen appliances; it should be done every two years or so.