Take my word for it, your ash won’t shrink.
It’s 26 per cent more stable than oak, making it the most stable domestic wood to put on your floor to combat the dry Edmonton climate.
Stability (the way a species of wood responds to moisture or the lack of it) is one of the key factors to consider when choosing a hardwood floor says Leona Cook, part-owner of Edmonton’s Touchwood Flooring Ltd.
In the Lower Mainland, improperly chosen wood tends to cup as it squeezes together from moisture absorption. Here in northern Alberta the enemy is shrinkage, and gaps between boards tend to appear in the winter months if unstable species are not properly humidified.
|Kenton Friesen, Business Edge|
|Leona Cook of Touchwood Flooring with wood design craftsman Steve Logan.|
Hardwood flooring has been around for centuries, and, when chosen and installed correctly, can last far more than a lifetime.
For proof, take a stroll through some of the old warehouses downtown.
Original maple flooring, complete with rustic dings and scrapes from decades past, have not only survived the last 90 years, but are being refinished as a key feature in stylish loft conversions. Most hardwood floors accept from six to eight refinishings.
|Photo courtesy Touchwood Flooring|
|A little imagination can help hardwood flooring come to life.|
Chances are, if you live in a home built in the 1940s or 1950s, you can pull back the rug in your living room and find polished hardwood flooring smiling at you from its hiding place. It is probably oak or maple, thin-stripped and clear-coated.
Sometime between then and now hardwood flooring became unfashionable. Wood started moving from the floor to the walls in thin veneers that quickly evolved into fake panelling.
By the time that panelling began to appear on the sides of station wagons, a decor wake-up call was in order.
Now the pendulum is swinging back to putting quality woods on the floor, giving homeowners the enjoyment of clean, quality flooring that makes a gentle statement about their fashion sense.
Cook has documented the return. “We install an average of about 500 to 1,000 sq. ft. of hardwood per house,” says Cook. “That’s up from an average of 250 to 500 nine years ago when I started in this business.”
Rather than just doing a feature room, customers are asking for foyers, hallways, kitchens and nooks. Fanatics or those concerned about allergies are even putting hardwood in their bedrooms.
And she sees the trend continuing, with prices for wood and installation increasing from the current installed price of $8 to $10 per sq. ft.
Pushing the industry forward are huge advances in pre-finished products, which are sanded to precision, varnished and coated (often with a polyurethane) right in the factory.
When pre-finished tongue-and-groove boards arrive at the construction site, installers simply have to fit them to size and tack them onto the floor. It’s a relatively clean and quick process when compared to the traditional method of installing the wood and then sanding, varnishing and coating it on site.
Cook says another advantage is the superior hardness of the finish that can be baked on in the factory. She compares it to the difference in durability between a factory-painted car and a repainted one.
Model Hardwood supplies Touchwood with more than 700 different styles of pre-finished hardwood, (including eight different wood species, four kinds of finishes and four widths of boards).
Combine that number with traditionally finished walnut, black cherry, mesquite, purpleheart, padauk and a plethora of other woods, and there’s enough selection to boggle the mind.
Locally, oak and maple remain the favourites alongside the newcomer, birch, which is being chosen for its economy and bright features.
All those colours and grain variations almost demand to be combined into pieces of functional art.
Steve Logan, Touchwood’s special projects manager, spends his days creating one-of-a-kind medallions and flooring centrepieces for discriminating customers. A boat builder by trade, the New Zealander used to spend his days Down Under customizing the interiors of yachts and powerboats.
While travelling the world several years ago, Logan fell in love with a Canadian girl who happened to be a good friend of Cook’s.
With few boats to build in land-locked Alberta, he turned his attention to installing hardwood flooring.
About a year ago, Logan started crafting his specialty pieces and by last April had built up enough demand to leave installations and focus on creating patterns.
“Anything is possible,” says Logan. He takes pride in helping customers walk on their imagination.
He has taken the same creativity and applied it to claddings, making conversation pieces out of stairwells.
“Your floor’s a living thing,” says Logan with a smile.
Sure beats having things living in your floor covering – oh, to be rid of those cursed dust mites . . .