DIY Hardwood Floor Blog
Information About Wood Floor Vent Covers 0
In this article:
- Self-Rimming Cover
- Flush Mount Type
- Louvered or Register Style
- Egg Crate or Grate Style
- The Linear Style
- For Toe Kicks and Stair Risers
How many vent holes does your wood floor have? Think about it. Your floor is one of many systems that must work together to transform a house into a comfortable home. The two systems that work together in almost every room are the floor and the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. Most HVAC ducts run underneath the floor and come up through an opening or vent.
If you’re going to invest thousands of dollars on a new wood floor, don’t just cover the hole with the cheapest vent cover. You want a cover that accents the floor or blends in seamlessly.
To make sure you purchase the right wood floor vent cover for your room, we’ll go over the design and material options available. It’s a design choice, not an afterthought.
What are Floor Vent Covers?
Vents are the holes in the floor that allow heated or cooled air to pass into the room from your HVAC system. Covering the opening is the job of a wood floor vent cover. For this article, we’re going to concentrate on wood floors. Every floor with a vent, whether it’s vinyl, engineered wood, or concrete, needs a cover.
Is there a difference between a register and a vent cover? Technically speaking, yes. Although most people use the terms interchangeably, a register allows you to open, close, and adjust the vent. A vent cover is always open. It’s like the difference between a screen door and a glass door. Most wood vent covers are not adjustable, so they are not registers.
Wood floor vent covers serve three purposes, to protect, diffuse, and accent:
- Covers protect people and objects from falling into the vent. They must be sturdy enough for someone to walk on it.
- Vent covers diffuse and direct the airflow into the room from the HVAC system.
- They must be attractive and should accent the floor’s design.
You can find metal or wood vent covers, depending on the look you want to achieve.
The most common type you see in newly built homes is the thin metal type with a small lever that opens and closes it. Typically, they have small fins pointing in two or three directions to direct the airflow. These inexpensive builder registers are weak and unattractive. They just cover the hole.
That’s not to say metal covers are bad. There are quality metal covers. The finishes can be copper, brass, or nickel and come in a wide variety of patterns. They accent the floor and overall design of the room.
A much better option is a wood cover. They come in standard sizes or can be custom-built to fit any size opening. The advantage of wood is that you can find one in the same species and color as the floorboards. They make the vent unnoticeable.
Types of Wooden Floor Vent Covers
Whether wood or metal, there are different types of vents, depending on how they install. Each type affects the final look of the floor.
A self-rimming cover has a rim or flange that extends out beyond the hole, holding the cover in place. The rim prevents the cover from falling in. Also called a drop-in cover, the edges overlap the floor by 7/8″ on each side and install in the existing opening by dropping it in. It neatly conceals the cut edge of the finished flooring.
The disadvantage is that the vent cover is not flush with the floor; it sits slightly raised on top. Typically, vent locations are in inconspicuous places, out of the way of foot traffic, and it’s usually not an issue.
Wood floor vent covers can be as small as 2” by 10” or up to 6” by 14” for older, industrial spaces. When measuring, the outside dimensions will be larger than the HVAC duct opening. Be sure to use the exact opening dimensions when ordering.
Flush Mount Type
To guarantee a flush-fitting wooden floor vent cover, manufacturers require a floor thickness between 5/16” to 3/4”. Otherwise, it will stick up and become an unsightly tripping hazard. If you’re installing new flooring, the flush mount model is an excellent choice. They lay flat with the surface of wood flooring, providing a smooth and seamless look. These vent covers come in many prefinished colors and a variety of unfinished wood like fir, oak, and hickory.
For the best fit, install flush mount floor vent covers at the same time as the floors. The reason is each side of the frame has a groove to match the tongue and groove of 3/4” flooring. But they can be added later too.
Some smaller, narrower models don’t use a frame like the regular flush mount. They fit into smaller openings and are easier to install in pre-existing floors.
Louvered or Register Style
As we talked about earlier, most metal vents are the louvered style. They feature small parallel slats or louvers running from one side to the other. They channel the airflow in two directions.
For louvered style, wooden vent covers can be flush mount or self-rimming. You can have custom vents made up to 200 inches and as wide as 15 inches. For strength and durability, it’s best to stay at 8 inches or narrower for wood covers.
Egg Crate or Grate Style
Egg crate wood floor covers consist of wood strips in a crisscross pattern creating perfect squares across the face of the cover. It’s both beautiful and strong. Also called yacht decking, it’s reminiscent of wood hatch covers on old sailing ships.
The egg crate style can be flush or self-rimming.
The Linear Style
Think of the Linear Style as half of the egg crate pattern. It has only one set of slats running parallel to the length of the cover. Typically, these are for narrow but longer vent openings. Manufacturers can custom build them up to 300 inches long for commercial applications.
For Toe Kicks and Stair Risers
Two other areas you may need an attractive wooden vent cover are toe kicks and stair risers. Sometimes, vents exit underneath or above a cabinet, or from under a stair. You can find toe kicks under the recess of the cabinet, dishwasher, an island, built-in bookcase, or stair.
Vertically mounted, they are typically narrow and long to fit under cabinets or stair steps. Flush mounted, and grate style is the best choice for these covers.
Alternatives to Wooden Floor Vent Covers
Are you looking to accent your floors? Look at decorative vent covers made from metal. Some have simulated wood paint. Others are more artistic, using geometric patterns and the metal’s natural color.
The metal finish can be steel, cast iron, copper, or brass. The patterns are almost limitless. You can find grids, decorative swirls, and designs inspired by Victorian architecture.
A metal floor vent cover makes a decorative counterpoint to a natural wood floor.
Sizing, Airflow and Other Considerations Before Ordering
In most cases, a vent is a standard size opening, 4” x 12”. However, you must measure before ordering. Here are the three dimensions you need:
- Length of the vent opening
- Width of the vent opening
- Thickness of the floorboards
The bottom of the vent should not touch the sub-floor and fit neatly inside or over the opening.
Will There be Enough Airflow?
Vent covers made of wood will be thicker than metal, possibly reducing airflow. However, the linear style can increase the airflow because it’s more open. It’s best to discuss your HVAC system with a professional before deciding on a model of a vent cover.
Before you buy any cover, consider these questions:
- Is one side of the opening against the wall?
You may need to cut one side if you are using a self-rimming style.
- Are the edges of the floor uneven?
A self-rimming vent will cover those rough edges. A flush mount cover may not be the best option.
- Do you want the vent to blend in or stand out as an accent?
If you want a wood floor vent cover to blend in, select the same species, and stain color to match. If the design purpose is to act as an accent, go with something in the opposite color palate or look at upscale metal vent covers.
Don’t Just Cover, Add Elegance
If you are going to install a beautiful hardwood floor, why use a cheap metal vent cover? They dent easily and stick out like a sore thumb. By investing a few extra dollars, you can install wood floor vent covers that add style and sophistication to any wood floor. They will last for the life of the floor and create a unique finished look that no cheap builder vent can match.
An excellent source for solid white oak vent covers is Easiklip. They come in four shades, Rustic Smoke Stain, Rustic White Bleach, Natural Oak, Greywash, and Gunstock. They are flush mount style and compatible with Easiklip’s 3/4” solid oak floors. They can cover 3"x10" or 4"x10" vents.
- Ramkrishna Bhattacharjee
Everything About Wood Floor Wax Removers and Stripping 0
In this article:
A hardwood floor is the most popular choice for homeowners across North America. Waxing floors has been a natural way to preserve the wood since the mid-1800s. In wealthier homes, craftsmen would hand scrape intricate parquet floors then seal them with wax to protect against moisture and spills.
We’re not talking about floors with a polyurethane finish, that’s not wax, and you should never wax that finish. Instead, we’re talking about wood floors that have wax as their protective coat
Wax is still a popular topcoat that brings out the beauty of each plank. However, despite regular cleaning, wax can collect fine dirt and become dull over time. Reapplying wax rejuvenates the floor, but eventually creates a hazy build-up. The wax needs to be removed using a wood floor wax remover and reapplied to make the floor look new again.
In this article, we’ll cover what wax is, how to use it, and the best wood floor wax stripper to use without damaging your floor.
Why Wax Hardwood Floors?
Floor wax typically contains two types of wax, carnauba, and beeswax. Carnauba is a hard-yellow substance derived from a Brazilian palm tree. Beeswax is a by-product of processing honey and is naturally soft. By combining the two with a solvent, they form a thick paste, or a liquid if it has more solvent. After applying the wax, the solvent evaporates, leaving the hardened wax behind, sealing the wood.
There are two reasons to wax a wood floor. First, the wax is impervious to water. It protects the wood from spills, preserving the finish and stain of the wood. Because you have time to mop up spills, wax prevents accidental staining.
Secondly, buffing wax leaves a pleasing satin shine that makes the floor look spotlessly clean. There are also colored waxes in various tints of brown that can add a deeper color than clear wax alone.
Other benefits of waxing floors include:
Covering minor scratches - Wax diminishes or eliminates the appearance of light surface scratches and scuffs marks.
Extends the Life of the Floor - Waxed floors have more protection. They can last many last years longer than unwaxed floors with regular maintenance.
However, floor wax is not permanent or as hard as polyurethane. Wax does wear off and can become dull. If buffing doesn’t bring it back to life, it’s time to use a wood floor wax stripper to remove the old wax and apply a fresh coat.
Finding the Best Wood Floor Wax Remover
Before you go hog-wild throwing strippers all over the floor, check to see if it’s wax on the floor or something else. The National Wood Flooring Association has a pdf brochure that you can download, called “Maintenance and Recoating of Hardwood Floors.” In it, they offer three suggestions to determine if there is wax on the floor. Be sure to test an inconspicuous area.
- Add a few drops of mineral spirits on a clean, white rag. Rub an out of the way area. If a smear of yellow or brown color appears on the cloth, then it’s probably wax.
- Use a piece of screen or sandpaper for sanding the floor lightly. If residue balls up, it’s wax.
- If white spots appear after putting two drops of water on the floor (about 10 minutes), the finish is probably wax. Afterward, remove the white spots by gently rubbing them with a soft cloth or synthetic pad dampened with wax.
There are homemade floor wax removers and commercial, ready to use products. The National Wood Flooring Association suggests using mineral spirits to remove wax. There are less toxic alternatives, but most solutions use water, which isn’t suitable for a wood floor.
A Solvent That Dissolves Wax
Most wood floor waxes use mineral spirits to dissolve the wax to make it soft enough to apply. Therefore, your best hardwood floor wax remover is mineral spirits.
Yes, strong solvents like acetone and lacquer thinner will remove wax. Unfortunately, they will remove any other finish and could adversely stain the floor. Don’t use them!
You may see a homemade recipe that uses hot water with ammonia or vinegar and detergent. Again, the hot water will soften the wax but will end up ruining the wood. Water-based floor strippers are not the answer. The water will seep into every crack, causing crowning, cupping, and staining.
Beware of Commercial Wax Removers
You can buy commercial wax removers, but most of them are too harsh for wood floors. Always read the label carefully before buying one.
You need a product specifically for hardwood floors. If you buy a wax remover for linoleum or vinyl, it could seriously damage the floor’s finish.
Here are three products that you should avoid.
Trewax Instant Wax Remover is not the ideal stripper for wood floors. Why? When people asked, “Can I use your wax stripper on my hardwood floor?” The company’s response was, “As this is a water-based product, it should only be used on sealed/finished wood. Using on unsealed/unfinished wood can allow the product to soak into cracks or crevices and cause lifting or swelling. We recommend testing in a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure desired results. For questions or more information, please contact email@example.com.”
If you are searching online, do not get this product confused with their other product, “Heavy-Duty Floor Stripper.” They are not the same, and it would be even worse to use this product on a wood floor.
Here is another wax remover not meant for wood floors. The label clearly states, “This product is not intended to be used on unprotected wood surfaces.” Yet, websites are recommending it because they get a commission.
This product is for furniture, railings, and molding. It could make the floor slippery.
Beware of wrong information. Websites promote these three products as usable on wood floors. Read the label. Don’t rely on websites alone. Check with a flooring store, a paint store, or reviews on the internet.
So, what can you use for wood floor wax stripping?
Go with mineral spirits, plain and simple.
The NWFA’s Method to Strip Floor Wax
Wax removal is a big job if you have a large floor. There are no shortcuts to getting on your knees and removing the wax one section at a time. Plan on 4 to 6 hours for an average living room and kitchen.
Before you get started, here are the items you’ll need:
- Odorless Mineral Spirits
- Knee Pads or Knee Cushion
- Rubber Gloves
- Face mask or respirator
- Old painter’s clothes
- Broom & Dustpan
- Microfiber Cloths
- Bucket & Mop
- 0000 Steel Wool
Before you begin the stripping, you must do a bit of prep work.
Remove everything from the floor, then dry-mop (with a microfiber pad) or vacuum using a dust brush attachment. Remove any dust and any loose wax from the floor.
Now it’s time for some good old-fashioned wood floor wax stripping.
Step 1 - Fill a spray bottle or a plastic condiment squirt bottle, as you use for ketchup, with odorless mineral spirits. Despite the name, mineral spirits are not odorless. They give off VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), so open the windows and keep the room well ventilated while you’re working. If you’re sensitive to VOCs, be sure to wear a respirator.
Step 2 - Spray the solvent along the floorboards in a 4-foot by 4-foot area. Make it easy to reach from a single position. Moisten the cracks to dissolve the wax there too. You’re going to work one small section at a time working from the far corner until you are out of the room.
Step 3 - While the solvent is still wet, use a green kitchen scrubber or 0000 steel wool to scrub the area. Scrape or rub in the direction of the wood grain. Once the wax is loose, wipe it up with a rag.
Step 4 - Repeat wetting and wiping until the rag shows no more discoloration from old wax. Now, move on to the next bit of the floor and keep going.
Some experts recommend that you finish by mopping one time with hot water and dry it quickly with towels or rags. If there is no standing water and you can have a fan turned on to speed the drying, it should not be an issue.
Tough Stain Removal
On an older floor, you may have some deeper stains. Wet the stain with the mineral spirits. Carefully scrape using a putty knife or scrub with a toothbrush. Wipe it with a clean cloth and repeat, as necessary.
When you’ve finished stripping the floor, it should be clean, dry, and ready for a new coat of wax.
This video from Zeorez shows how the pros do it, with good before and after pictures.
What type of Wax Should You Use?
Not all floor wax is alike. Do your research and read the label. The wax must be suitable for a wood FLOOR, not just wood.
Furniture polish works for wood, but if you put it on the floor, it creates a slippery, dangerous skating rink. A couple of other waxes to avoid are water-based or acrylic waxes. They can damage unfinished hardwood floors.
Also, don’t use “No-Buff” wax. It’s slightly stickier than the other waxes and collects dust and dirt faster.
There are two types of wax appropriate for wood floors, solid paste, and liquid. The liquid is thinner because it contains more solvent. It applies faster and dries faster but may not save you time. You’ll need multiple coats to get the same protection as paste wax.
Here are a few waxes that will do a great job on wood floors.
- Trewax Paste Wax contains Brazilian carnauba, the hardest natural wax. Reviewers love the finish but complain about the new container. Apparently, the wax can dry out after an extended period. Cover the surface of the unused wax with a piece of plastic wrap before covering the container and storing it.
- Lundmark Liquid Paste Wax with Carnauba Wax is a liquid floor cleaner and wax combination that contains carnauba wax. The manufacturer claims it’s for “Parquet, Plank, and all Finished Wood Floors.”
- Holloway House Pure Wax is a liquid wax that you apply straight from the bottle. Customers say it has a beautiful shine, but you’ll need more than one coat on the wood.
Caution: Some websites use “Wax” interchangeably with “Reviver,” “Polish,” and “Restorer.” They are not the same thing. These products are for wood floors that already have a polyurethane finish, not bare wood.
Waxing Techniques to Achieve the Best Results
Remember, you can use wax on a hardwood floor previously treated with a penetrating wood sealer, lacquer, shellac, oil, or unfinished floors. Never on urethane-finished planks.
Applying Liquid Wax
If you plan to use liquid wax, you’ll want to gather a few supplies.
- A new, non-shedding sponge mop or flat applicator
- A pail wide enough for the mop, lined with a garbage bag to hold the wax
- Rubber gloves to protect your hands
- A dust mask for added protection
- Eye protection because splashes can happen
Here are the 4 steps to apply liquid wax:
Step 1 – Pour some wax into the bag-lined bucket.
Step 2 – Dampen the mop, but not so much that it drips.
Step 3 – Apply in short even strokes along the wood grain. Start from the far corner out to the door.
Step 4 – Allow the wax to dry before applying another coat. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions.
As liquid wax is thinner, expect to apply two to three coats, then buff the floor after it’s dry.
Applying Paste Wax
- Putty knife
- Lint-free cloths
It just takes 2 steps to apply the paste wax:
Step 1 – In a kneeling position, scoop out about one tablespoon of wax and put it in the center of a lint-free cloth.
Step 2 – Spread a thin layer of wax over a 2 x 2-foot area, starting in the far corner. Rub the wax firmly into the wood in the same direction as the grain.
You’ll know the wax is dry when it becomes hazy. Now it’s ready to buff.
Buffing the Final Coat
If you want to combine exercise with polishing your floor, you can buff it manually. Use a mop with a terrycloth head or other soft material. Rub/buff the boards in the same direction as the grain, working your way out of the room as you did when applying the wax.
You can save time and energy by renting an electric floor buffer. It’s only going to cost about $30 for a day, and it’s well worth it.
You’ll want clean new pads for the buffer. Ask the dealer what they recommend for buffing wax on a hardwood floor.
Once you’ve buffed the floor, try not to walk on it or move furniture for at least eight hours. Give it time for the wax to harden fully.
Don’t Wax Your Hardwood Floor If…
Use wax on wood floors that don’t have polyurethane or varnish on them. Wax works over natural or stained wood, but not with a synthetic topcoat. It won’t bond properly and will look unfinished as a result.
It’s becoming harder to find wax products due to the popularity of prefinished wood and polyurethane finishes. It’s no wonder since the synthetic finishes are more durable than wax.
If you are considering installing a solid hardwood floor, look at Easiklip’s line of prefinished floors. They are ready to walk on the moment you install them, and there is no waxing required to maintain them.
- Ramkrishna Bhattacharjee
How to Choose the Best Hardwood Flooring Nailers 0
Flooring nail guns all shoot cleats and staples into floors, but they may have slight differences or offer distinctive features from one model to the next.
Sure, you can nail every board by hand like craftsmen used to, but why? A hardwood flooring nailer is super-fast.
- Bill Grover