Chicago Handyman: 7 Lessons on Wood

  1. Species: Did you know that there are 82 individual species of hardwoods and an additional 115 subspecies? The mighty American White Oak has 10 subspecies and nearly as many as compared to the 16 individual softwoods on the planet. The vast majority of wood species used in the Midwest are: Balsa, birch, cherry, maple, white & red oak. Domestic, foreign or exotic species are generally chosen based on a specific application, climate condition or aesthetics.
  2. Grade: Most trees have standardized grades within which they are rated. It’s important in custom cabinet making or finished flooring to determine a woods grade. The higher the number the clearer the woods finished appearance.
  3. Cut: Plain sawn is the most common type of cut. Because growth rings are parallel to the board’s surface it results in the grainy pattern we see most often and is an extremely cost-effective way to cut. Quarter sawn is a more expensive type of cut. Achieved by slicing logs into triangular quarters resulting in perpendicular rings to the board’s face. This produces straighter gains with a more consistent coloring.
  4. Pattern: In flooring we commonly see strip or plank style. But parquets in various patterns as do making intricate cuts to create borders or designs.
  5. Color: Selecting the right woods for your particular application and by examining individual board color patterns for proper pre-layout will certainly achieve the finished look you were hoping for regardless of the stain you choose. But keep in mind that while darker colors look luxurious they also make a room or cabinet look smaller and show wear sooner than natural finishes.
  6. Protection: It’s surprising for most of our customers to learn the high cost of floor or cabinet refinishing verses the low-cost of maintenance. The 1st and best protection is to apply 3 coats of polyurethane to protect the wood from the elements and daily usage.
  7. Cleaning: Techniques vary dependent upon the age and condition of the wood but nothing beats a soft broom sweep or terrycloth towel. Never use vacuum with a beater bar, ammonia based chemicals, oil, soaps or large amounts of water. Grease or spills should be spot cleaned with a tightly wrung out damp rag.

Typically those high traffic areas need professional attention every 6 to 12 months (depending upon usage) so give me a call @ 1-847-636-0771 to schedule a free estimate.