Thursday, January 25, 2018

Tampa Hardwood Flooring Buyer's Guide


Beyond sheltering you and your family, your home is a large financial investment. Additionally, it represents you- your tastes and your lifestyle. So, it is important that you choose a company that can deliver a beautiful floor of the highest caliber. Below is what we offer, and what you should expect from any contractor:
  1. Our portfolio shows you the types of materials and kinds of projects with which we have experience, as well as the quality of homes in which we are accustomed to be working. Ask to see the portfolio of any craftsman.

  2. Visit our showroom. It displays a wide variety of species and designs, at a range of price points. For over a quarter of a century, we have been researching the best and most beautiful materials to be found on earth and have access to them all. A quality company will have a showroom, and will have a variety of products at a range of price points.

  3. Chris, the company owner will listen to what you want. He will explain to you and show you how you can get the perfect floor for you and your family. He will answer your questions as well as originate information pertinent to your specific needs and wants. A reputable wood flooring salesman will have a huge amount of product knowledge on species, types of materials such as solid and engineered, and a basic understanding of chemistry. He will explain to you in layman’s terms how these various factors will play into making your choice of product.

  4. An incorrectly installed or refinished floor could look beautiful now, but develop problems in the future due to incorrect procedures being done, or through the use of improper materials. By knowing and following industry standards, we ensure your floor will be long-lasting and we protect your warrantee. Our materials, equipment and techniques are state-of-the-art.

    We are longstanding members of the National Wood Flooring Association, the trade organization that sets the standards for the wood flooring industry, providing training and technical data to its members. Membership in this organization is a must for any wood flooring professional.

  5. Notice how long it takes for the estimator to respond to your initial call. A company that provides good service will get back to you quickly, and be happy to answer all your questions, including giving you some general pricing. We try to respond to any inquiry within 24 hours. Sometimes, we need to make many inquiries regarding the pricing and availability of materials, which can add time to the writing of your bid. However, when such is the case, Chris makes sure that he gives updates on his progress.

  6. A quality company such as Through the Woods will provide you with a written bid which delineates every major material to be used such as the wood product name, type of finish, etc., as well as all the specifics of all the work to be done, such as sub-floor preparation, areas to be installed, type of finish and trim.

    Our payment terms are well defined, and we do not ask you to pay for work in advance of its being completed. You may be asked for a deposit for materials when they are ordered.

  7. Check our references. We can arrange for you to view a completed floor or a job-site of a project similar to your own. People have different standards so you want to know that the person recommending any tradesman holds the same standards as your own.

    Ask our references about the level of service they received. Below are some questions that you could ask:
    • How easy was it to communicate with them?

      We feel that it is crucial that it be easy to talk to both the craftsmen, and company management. Our employees are willing and able to answer most of your questions. Management is easy to reach and responds quickly. We feel that you & your job are important.

    • Were the craftsmen polite?

      Our men are pleasant to be around. They have good manners and know how to conduct themselves in your home. Your house is not just a jobsite. It is your home. We treat your home and its contents with respect.

    • Did they clean up the mess that they made?

      Construction activities can create a mess. However, the messes should be tidied at the end of each day and gone when the project is completed. Our customers love that we are so tidy!

  8. Make sure that the company you hire takes the steps listed below to protect your home and family. Some of these points are required by law, but many companies are not in compliance.
    • Through the Woods runs a Drug Free Workplace. This program requires that employees be drug tested at the time of hiring and allows for periodic, random testing. It puts employees on notice that drug use is prohibited and monitored.

      We run background checks on prospective employees. We want you to be comfortable with the people who work in your home.

    • We carry the proper insurance. Any company should carry liability insurance. This type of policy covers damage that might happen to your home as a result of their work. For example, should a plumber cause a leak which damages your home, his liability insurance would pay for the repairs to that damage, an expense many plumbers could not afford.

    • If a company has employees, they should also carry Workers’ Compensation insurance. This type of policy protects your homeowner’s insurance should an injury or work- related illness occur on your property. We carry this important insurance.

    • Inquire as to whether the people who will be working in your home will be employees of the company, or independent contractors. A large benefit of hiring a company like ours, that uses employees, is that their prospective hires can be drug tested & background checked as a condition of employment. They can also be supervised. By law, an independent contractor cannot- he is independent.

    The majority of these points apply to the choosing & hiring of all specialty trades, not just wood flooring. Keep this list for your next home improvement project!

To request a free estimate, call us at 813.232.3985 or fill in our free estimate form.

A Plea To Tampa Home Rehabbers/Flippers

I searched for months for the perfect house for Norma in Seminole Heights. Born in Ybor City, she grew up in Seminole Heights and tells delightful tales of her childhood here. After rearing her family in South Tampa, she was ready to return, and we need her. She’s an artist and a Master Gardener. A warm and lovely person, she would be an asset to the neighborhood.

Norma wanted a special house, with a large porch, a nice size yard in which to create an oasis, and original features. At the age of 70, she didn’t feel able to do a great deal of construction work on her house and therein lays the difficulty. The majority of rehabbed houses did not meet her standard of quality in workmanship. Many poor bungalows had their porches enclosed. Others have had their wood windows replaced with vinyl clad. Norma’s grim response to these - “Keep driving.”

We saw several that look like they were in the last stages of leprosy. Painted with not a lick of prep, they will be peeling with a year, and now have yet another layer that will need to be scraped.

Looking in the windows, we cringed at wood floors swimming in finish puddles over horrid sanding gouges. We nearly wept when we saw historic fabric destroyed to make a pass-through from the kitchen to the dining room. It is a great feature in a 50’s ranch-style house, but appears as a gaping wound in the dining room wall of a bungalow. A house like this would be expected to stay on the market much longer than would one with a more period inspired kitchen.

An area like ours, in a period of Renaissance, is a magnet for investors. Many contribute to the neighborhood and in fact, fuel resurgence by their courageous investments. They respect the homes, the history and the future property owners by doing their homework in order to find out what these old houses really mean. They keep the historic fabric intact, don’t add oddball features appropriate to architecture from other decades, and rehab houses with an eye for quality.

The Seminole Heights Design Guidelines, aided in creation by people on our own neighborhood provide a wealth of information that can and should be used in or out of the historic district. They prescribe the handling of character defining features and historic materials that are highly desirable to someone wanting to purchase and live in an old house, and protect their investment.

My plea to rehabbers is that they should all do high quality, historically sensitive projects. In today’s market, it could mean the difference between the property selling, or sitting on the market, dropping in price, for months. Most importantly, our neighborhood deserves it.

To request a free estimate, call us at 813.232.3985 or fill in our free estimate form.

The Many Advantages of Wood Flooring

Wood flooring is beautiful in every home and creates a feeling of warmth and friendliness unsurpassed by any other type of flooring.

Suitable to all types of architecture and decor, wood flooring enables you to create or enhance any design scheme. There is a large choice of wood species from which to choose, each having its own color, feel and charm. Add that to today’s choices in stains and finishes, and the possibilities are endless and exciting.

We’re experts at helping you pick the perfect wood, stain and finish for your home or project. Call us for a free home estimate or to set an appointment to visit our showroom.

Because of wood’s ability to reflect light, a wood floor will brighten and “enlarge” your room. Should a room be too wide, or too narrow, you can change the perceived shape of the space by the way in which the boards are laid. The eye naturally follows the directional flow of the wood, adding “length”.

In addition to evoking a feeling of warmth, wood is an efficient thermal insulator- better than most structural materials. Given the critical condition of our energy resources, and the high cost of fuel, heat loss in the home is a large concern. Here in toasty Tampa, wood floors add comfort. You can kick off your shoes at the end of the day and feel refreshed as your feet touch the cool wood floor. Where beauty and insulating value are desirable, wood is always your first choice.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently conducted a study of pesticides used in gardens and homes and found that once tracked inside, these poisons accumulate on floors and other surfaces. While the poisons outside soon wash away, those tracked into your home may last for years. These poisons are then absorbed by your bare feet, by your children playing and your baby crawling on the floor.

The EPA suggests that wood flooring greatly reduces the amount of pesticides accumulating in your home because a simple mopping easily removes the poisons from your floors.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has received many complaints of toxic fumes in homes, caused by new carpeting. Sadly, after the carpeting has been in your home for a period of time, dirt and mold may accumulate in its fibers.

A noted authority on indoor air quality states, “Carpet holds large quantities of dirt, only some of which is removed by vacuuming or carpet cleaning. This dirt contains various allergic, irritating and toxic components. A wood floor is healthful in Tampa, with its high humidity and sandy soil.”

Additionally, the active ingredient often found in carpet shampoos (which frequently leave residues) is a known human carcinogen. Other common carpet shampoo components have been found to cause such effects as liver and central nervous system damage from long-term exposure.

A solid wood floor is more than just a covering; it adds strength and stability to the floor system. A wood floor is a safe and healthful floor.

A large majority of real estate agents surveyed stated that a home with wood flooring will sell more quickly and for a higher amount of money than a comparable home with any other type of flooring. Look through a Tampa newspaper or home sale publication and you’ll see “hardwood floors” listed as a top feature! They are in demand!

A sound investment here in Tampa, hardwood flooring can last the lifetime of your home, unlike other flooring materials which require replacement after about seven to ten years.

There are floors today, dating back to Renaissance Europe that are still structurally sound and beautiful. In comparison, the stone steps leading up to them are deeply worn and irregular. Here in Tampa, hardwood floors in historic homes are a prized feature. Because it is a permanent part of your home, your wood floor’s value increases as your home appreciates in dollar value.

US Forest Service statistics show that almost twice as much hardwood timber is added every year through new growth as is harvested. The forest from which your floor comes is replenished, not depleted.

A strong market for exotic woods will create an economic value for our endangered rain forests, which will encourage their protection. Currently, the majority of rain forest destruction is the result of forest lands being burned in order to convert the land to agricultural use. Maintaining the forests for selective cutting and natural harvesting (rubber, nuts, medicinal plants, etc.) makes far more sense than the burning of thousands of acres of these trees. By increasing demand for rain forest products, we will increase economic reliance upon the forests and promote their conservation.

It is estimated that 2% of the waste materials making up our landfills is rolls of used carpeting. This huge waste will take about 20,000 years for nature to digest. The life span of a hardwood floor can be well over 100 years and if it should ever be taken up and discarded, it’s biodegradable!

Many people love the look of antique woods, recycling old warehouses, barns, and other structures, giving these materials second lives.

Wood is a natural, earth-friendly, product.

Your grandmother probably spent many hours on her hands and knees, waxing her wood floors. No more! With today’s scientifically formulated finishes, you will spend little time keeping your floors shiny and clean. There are cleaning products specially created for wood floors which will ensure that they sparkle and have a long and beautiful life. Manufacturers have developed durable finishes, able to withstand your family’s active lifestyle and keep your floors looking great.

To request a free estimate, call us at 813.232.3985 or fill in our free estimate form.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Appearance of Wood Floors

The appearance of the wood is determined by its grade and its cut. All grades and cuts are equally strong and serviceable, but each affords you a different look.

We have many wood samples which show the variations described below. Chris is happy to show you examples of the choices shown and assist you in choosing the best one for your situation. He can bring samples to your home, or can visit our showroom, by appointment.

Grading for most species:

Clear: Clear wood is free of defects, such as knots and worm holes, though it may have minor imperfections. This grade is often used in contemporary architecture because of its smooth, clean look. It will have the least amount of board to board color variation of any grade. Clear is always available in oak but is not necessarily available in other species.

Select: Select wood has few defects, but contains some natural characteristics such as small knots and color variation.

Common wood (No. 1 and No. 2) has more natural characteristics such as knots and color variations than either clear or select grades, and often is chosen because of these natural features and the character they bring to a room. No. 1 Common has a variegated appearance, light and dark colors, knots, and worm holes. No. 2 Common is rustic in appearance and emphasizes all wood characteristics of the species.

Grading for Maple, Beech and Birch:

  • First: First grade wood has the best appearance, natural color variations and limited character marks.
  • Second: Second grade wood is variegated in appearance with varying wood characteristics of species.
  • Third: Third grade wood is rustic in appearance allowing all wood characteristics of the species.

What is the difference between plain sawn, rift and quartered lumber? The difference is the way they are sawed from the log. This difference, caused by sawing technique, will affect the lumber's appearance and properties.

Plain sawn lumber is the most common form of lumber because it is the fastest way to cut wood and it creates the least waste. Each plain sawn board contains more variation than the other cuts because grain patterns resulting from the annual growth rings are more obvious, but generally, you will see a cathedral grain pattern.

Plain Sawn Oak- The dark lines are annual growth rings

Quartersawing produces less board feet per log than plain sawing and is therefore more expensive. Quartersawn wood twists and cups less and wears more evenly than other cuts.
The sawing methods shown below create unique grains pattern in the board. Quartersawn boards usually show a heavy fleck pattern, which has given this cut in oak the appellation, Tiger Oak. Rift sawn is very straight grained
Quartered and rift sawn lumber are more stable because the expansion and contraction across the face of the board when exposed to temperature and humidity fluctuations, is much less than in plain sawn lumber.
Historic homes in Tampa Bay and in many parts of the United States very often feature highly prized, Tiger Oak floors.

Rift Sawn Oak- Here, the annual growth rings form a different pattern from plain sawn due to the angle at which the log is cut.

Quartersawn- The flecks of this quarter sawn White Oak call to mind tiger stripes. Each species of wood has its own distinctive and unusual graining when cut into quartersawn flooring.

To request a free estimate, call us at 813.232.3985 or fill in our free estimate form.

Green Hardwood Floors - Our Part

Until the energy crunch of the 80’s, we devoured our planet’s resources as though there is a limitless supply. We are discovering that our supply is finite, and that as stewards we must change our ideas of how to capture and utilize energy. We must reuse our waste so that it aids our survival rather than burying us and polluting our air and water.

In the face of global warming, we are realizing that our impact on the health of our environment has real consequences for each one of us.

Tampa Historic PreservationSustainable building has been defined as building that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Having walked on wood floors that are over 100 years old, I would say that wood flooring is a sustainable material. The best thing about wood is that is beautiful and timeless. A homeowner is not likely to curse earlier residents for having installed it, and feel the need to tear it out to cart it away to the landfill.

Over 10 million acres, almost 1% of African forests are lost every year. People, desperate to feed their families hack out plots for small-scale farming. Hundreds of them go to the forest each day to work their pineapple and cocoa farms.

In the Amazon and throughout South America, forests are burned for cattle grazing or large scale soybean farming.

In Indonesia and elsewhere in southeast Asia, island forests are being cut or burned to make way for giant plantations of palm, whose oil is used in food processing, cosmetics and other products.

We support sustainable forestry which promotes management practices that ensure long-term timber production while maintaining the ecological health and balance of the forest. Sustainable forestry is about prompt reforestation, protecting water quality, and wildlife habitat, maintaining cultural and historical sites, providing for recreational use, and generally respecting the forest ecosystem.

Woods produced through such practices are commercially more available now than ever before. On the 486 million acres of forestland in the United States classified as commercial, substantially more wood is added in new growth each year than is harvested. For hardwood species, from which most wood flooring is milled, 86 percent more wood is added annually in net growth than is removed through harvest.


Through the Woods was the only wood flooring contractor invited to attend Renew Tampa: Making Preservation Greener! — organized by the Tampa Bay Chapter of the American Institute of Architects’ Architectural Heritage Committee. The weekend conference promoted a greener architectural heritage by assisting participants in shaping tomorrow’s ideal environment, through architectural preservation and design that is environmentally sensitive.

At the recent National Wood Flooring Association’s yearly convention we spoke with many manufacturers about their products in our constant research for earth-friendly materials. This experimentation with low-VOC finishes is continuous as new products constantly hit the market.

We are also committed to promoting brands of wood that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a non-profit organization devoted to encouraging the responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC sets high standards that ensure forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable way.

In our research for green products and services, we have found many folks who are committed to ensuring that our planet will support life for generations to come.

Visit our Green Glossary to learn the basics of preserving our precious resources.

To request a free estimate, call us at 813.232.3985 or fill in our free estimate form.

Tampa Hardwood Flooring Buyer's Guide

HOW CAN YOU BE ASSURED THAT YOU WILL RECEIVE A HIGH QUALITY FLOOR? Beyond sheltering you and your family, your home is a large financial ...