Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Historic Value Of Antique Heart Cypress

(Above): Albany Woodworks specializes in beautiful reclaimed Antique Heart Cypress building materials.  This is an example of the Antique Heart Cypress and Sinker Cypress custom millwork available on our website installed in a customer's home.  The consistant quality of our building materials make them look original to the home. 

The stability of reclaimed heart cypress is one of the qualities that make it so desired. Also known as “the wood eternal," it originates from the virgin cypress swamp forests and marshlands of the Gulf South which grew for thousands of years before being harvested.  The natural resiliency and insect rot-resistance properties makes it a popular option for both indoor and outdoor applications.   Antique Cypress is unique in that it was harvested from Louisiana and other southern states hundreds of years ago to building warehouses and industrial facilities, an as a result is well-seasoned and very durable from natural aging. As new woods continue to become limited do to environmental issues associated with deforestation, reclaimed lumber is a sustainable resource that eliminates the need for new harvesting and protecting the nation's recreational areas for future generations.

The Bald Cypress and Red Tidewater Cypress, are two species of cypress trees that make up some of the planet’s most effective ecosystems. Consequently, safeguarding this kind of wetland area where the Cypress tree thrive is key in order to sustain a healthy natural environment.  Due to high demand in throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century, cypress forests were heavily harvested until few of the original giants of the forests remained. Antique Heart Cypress, ranging from a distinctive gold to a red or dark brown, has plenty of natural character and unique grain pattern.  It does best finished opaque to let the inner beauty of the wood shine, and is a well known option for companies and commercial spaces for grand furnishings and solid wood details.

The cypress forests of the south were very lucrative to loggers of the eighteenth and ninteenth century. The majority of cypress trees and shrubs blocking access to the swamp forests were removed manually, an loggers needed to be innovative in their methods to transportation the huge logs once they were harvested. With railroads scarce within the southeast US at the time, loggers would drift their own wood downstream because makeshift rafts to lumber mills when other forms of transportation were not available. The giant cypress trees were precut or 'girdled' ahead of time so the wood had a chance to dry out making it lighter in weight and easier to float down river.  However, these precautions didn't guarantee buoyancy and numerous logs known as 'sinkers' became waterlogged and sank to the riverbed below.  A few companies have made a business of rescuing these ancient logs from the bottom of rivers and ponds and dry it out to cut into lumber.  The result is Sinker Cypress, which has all of the same desirable qualities of Antique Heart Cypress, with the addition of a natural greenish-gray hue that is created by mineral deposits from its time underwater.  

These days, it is more the wealth of color and distinctive feathery grain of Antique Heart Cypress that make it so famously desired. The truly amazing builder Frank Lloyd Wright frequently utilized cypress within his designs. Wright’s buildings, appreciated for their simplicity of design and openess, often made use of the excellent style and dual functionality of cypress, extending Antique Heart Cypress beams throughout inside and outside areas without concern for the effect of the elements on this "eternal" wood. Antique Heart Cypress continues to be a favorite choice for flooring, doorways, cabinets, and stairparts because of its classic elegance.

While it may seem pricey to make use of old-growth wood rather than new-growth wood, the advantages pay off over the long life of the slow-aged Antique Heart Cypress. Old-growth wood is naturally durable and can be even more stunning as the cypress grow older. Since Antique Heart Cypress is reclaimed from old buildings and warehouses, there are often original nail holes along with original saw marks from when it was first milled.  This look is opted for in historic renovations with regard to the demand  for these types of distinctive characteristics which were found appealing by the home's original owners.  With the majority of the country’s wood currently being harvested from new-growth forests, there is a reason to understand and appreciate the value of reclaimed Antique Heart Cypress.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Just What Is Meant By "Wide Plank"

(Above): Albany Woodworks specializes in beautiful Wide Plank reclaimed Heart Pine flooring.  This is the Antique Heart Pine Wide Plank #1 Grade available on our website installed in a customer's home.  The consistant quality of our flooring makes it look original to the home.

From the Home Style Choices article Wide Plank Flooring:
You might think of wide plank wood flooring as something befitting a rustic cabin or a 200-year old historic home. It's true that these types of homes often have this kind of floor, but it doesn't mean that it can't be stylish in today's homes too.

As you'll find out below there's more to wide plank wood flooring than just pine boards fit for an old cabin. "Wide" doesn't discriminate among types of wood which means you can find wide plank floors in just about any type of wood, from softwoods to hardwoods, exotics to antiques. Wide plank wood floors aren't for everyone nor are they fit for every application. But they offer a refreshing alternative to the often-used narrow strip flooring and are certainly worth a closer look when considering wood floors.

Just What Is Meant By "Wide Plank"?
When it comes to flooring, "wide plank" simply means boards that are wider than about 3", give or take about 1/4". Anything narrower than that falls into the "strip" category of wood flooring.  Beyond that technical definition however, wide plank wood flooring usually carries with it a 'wider' implication. 'Wide plank' usually means boards that are anywhere from 5 to 20 inches wide. It's in these broader widths that wide plank wood flooring gains it's drama and distinction over the narrow strip floors.

"Wide" Isn't Biased - Lots Of Choices To Choose From
The nice thing about wide plank floors is that you're not limited to any particular type or form of wood. There are wide plank floors made from softwoods like pine and fir to virtually any kind of hardwood. It's also available in reclaimed and antique wood as well as exotic woods. Reclaimed wood is a good candidate for wide plank floors because it's often made from old growth trees. This kind of wood comes with the density that offers good stability (the measure of how much wood swells and shrinks) that's a needed feature with wide plank wood floors.

Are There Any Benefits To Wide Plank?
If you're in the market for a wood floor an appropriate question is whether wide plank wood floors offer any benefit over strip flooring. When floors were laid 150 years ago it made sense to use wider planks. The resources (larger, old growth trees) were plentiful, it took less time to lay the floor (fewer pieces) and using wider planks eliminated the effort of sawing larger boards into smaller strips.

In today's world however, the real benefit is mostly the aesthetic appeal that comes with a wide plank floor. It reflects a style choice that's still in the minority and from that standpoint, offers diversity.  There are also a few considerations you need to think about with wide plank floors because of their size. Understanding these points will help you make a more informed decision about whether they're right for your application.

Environmental Impact
One additional point to think about is the environmental impact. A lot of wide plank wood flooring is made from reclaimed lumber. That's wood that has been saved from the waste stream and put to good use again. Some of the very wide planks originated from the large trees harvested from virgin growth forests nearly a century ago that were used as beams in factories and barns. Reusing this wood saves existing timber stands.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Oldest Fossilized Forest Discovered: 385 Million Years Old

Scientists from Binghamton University and Cardiff University, and New York State Museum researchers, and have reported the discovery of the floor of the world's oldest forest in a cover article in the March 1 issue of Nature.

"It was like discovering the botanical equivalent of dinosaur footprints," said Dr. William Stein, associate professor of biological sciences at Binghamton University, and one of the article's authors. "But the most exciting part was finding out just how many different types of footprints there were. The newly uncovered area was preserved in such a way that we were literally able to walk among the trees, noting what kind they were, where they had stood and how big they had grown."

Scientists are now piecing together a view of this ancient site, dating back about 385 million years ago, which could shed new light on the role of modern-day forests and their impact on climate change.

(Above): William Stein, associate professor of biological sciences at Binghamton University, carefully places one of the world's oldest trees in the University's greenhouse.  Photo Credit: Jonathan Cohen, Binghamton University
The recent discovery was made in the same area in Schoharie County where fossils of Earth's oldest trees -- the Gilboa stumps -- were discovered in the 1850s, 1920 and again in 2010 and were brought to the State Museum. The Museum has the world's largest and best collection of Gilboa fossil tree stumps. For decades scientists did not know what the trees connected to the stumps looked like. 

That mystery was solved when Linda VanAller Hernick, the State Museum's Paleontology collections manager, and Frank Mannolini, Paleontology collections technician, found fossils of the tree's intact crown in a nearby location in 2004, and a 28-foot-long trunk portion in 2005. Mannolini, Hernick, and Dr. Christopher M. Berry, a paleobotany lecturer at Cardiff University in Wales, co-authored a Nature article reporting that discovery, as well as the most recent one. Working in conjunction with Stein, Mannolini also developed a sketch of the ancient forest.

(Above): Figure from the research paper in Nature describing the fossil forest. The circles represent tree bases with different shaded circles representing different types of trees. The black/gray circles represent the Eospermopteris trees that have been found in other places in the world in rocks of the same age (385-390 million years). The area inside the black ring is the diameter of the trunk with the outer ring indicating the extent of the roots.

Based on the new research, the team now believes that the area probably enjoyed a wetland environment in a tropical climate. It was filled with large Eospermatopteris trees that resembled weedy, hollow, bamboo-like plants, with roots spreading out in all directions, allowing other plants to gain a foothold. Scrambling among these roots on the forest floor were aneurophytaleans, acting much like ferns do today, and possibly climbing into the forest canopy as vines. The lycopsids, although seemingly rare, may also have been very important in certain places although perhaps not yet as specialized inhabitants of swamps.

(Above): The fossilized base of an ancient tree.

But what the research team believes is most important about this particular site is what it was doing to impact the rest of the planet. At the time the Gilboa forest began to emerge -- during the Middle Devonian period, about 385 million years ago -- Earth experienced a dramatic drop in global atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and the associated cooling led ultimately to a period of glaciation.  "Trees probably changed everything," said Stein. "Not only did these emerging forests likely cause important changes in global patterns of sedimentation, but they may have triggered a major extinction in fossil record."

For Stein, it all comes down to one thing -- how much we don't know but need to understand about our ancient past. "The complexity of the Gilboa site can teach us a lot about the original assembly of our modern day ecosystems," said Stein. "As we continue to understand the role of forests in modern global systems, and face potential climate change and deforestation on a global scale, these clues from the past may offer valuable lessons for managing our planet's future."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Benefits of Reclaimed Lumber

From the Green Business Website article The Benefits of Reclaimed Timber written by S. Stacey: 

Today, many varieties of wood which were once abundant and freely available are in very short supply. Some, such as the American chestnut, are to all intents and purposes extinct and not available for commercial use from natural sources. However, there is an alternative supply of wood in the shape of reclaimed timber.

Lumber can be reclaimed from an interesting and diverse range of sources. The most prolific supply is reclaimed from old buildings including barns, factories, and warehouses which contain large volumes of wood, often oak, chestnut and pine. This timber is often in sizable pieces making wood from these buildings the most flexible in terms of future use. Lumber can also be sourced from railway sleepers, fences and even storage vessels like wine barrels, beer casks and pickling containers. These produce wood with great depth of colour and unique patterning. Timber can even be reclaimed from old shipping pallets which can be made from exotic hardwoods due to the need for strength and durability. There is also a supply of timber which is recovered rather than reclaimed. This is lumber from trees which have toppled over, died naturally or fallen into rivers.

There are many important benefits to be gained from the use of reclaimed timber. We live in a world of diminishing natural resources, over-forestation and environmental concerns. Using reclaimed wood helps to preserve our forests by reducing the need for virgin timber. Generally, processing this wood has less impact on the environment than felling, transporting and processing new lumber and the varieties recovered can include those not available naturally.

The benefits are not just confined to helping the environment. Reclaimed timber is often from very old structures and vessels which were formed of wood from mature trees. Today, the demand for virgin timber means that trees grown commercially are rarely matured long enough to reach their full potential size. Thus, reclaimed timber can afford access to larger planks. The wood from mature trees is stronger and less prone to splitting, as is timber that has been exposed to the elements over a period of time. The wood in old buildings has expanded and contracted constantly over the years and has fully dried out, making it more durable and less prone to warping and splitting. Old wood also tends to have a dense grain making it more stable. One of the most important aspects of reclaimed timber is its character. Every section has a story and no two pieces are identical, giving depth and unique character to anything fashioned from the wood.

It should always be remembered that reclaimed timber is, itself, a finite resource. There are only so many old structures out there to source the wood from and eventually these too will become unavailable. In the meantime, reclaimed wood provides a valuable source of characterful material for producing furniture, flooring and architectural features.

Monday, January 19, 2015

100 Years of Wood Flooring, Part 1

From the 100 Years Of Wood Flooring article in the Spring 2000 issue of Hardwood Flooring Magazine, written by Kim Wahlgren:

For centuries, wood floors were the domain of only the wealthiest people in the world. Expert craftsmen labored for years on the same floor, meticulously cutting each intricate inlay or pattern by hand. The only other wood floors in existence were the rough, hand-hewn planks that formed the surface of some commoners' residences. Either way, each wood floor was the result of a painstaking hand-cutting process.

The wood flooring industry more closely resembling the one we know today began just before the turn of the 20th century. In 1885, the side-matcher was developed, creating flooring with a groove on one long side and a tongue on the other. This new milling allowed wood floors to be blind-nailed. The flooring was 7/8 inch thick, 2 1/2 or 3 1/4 inches wide, and most pieces were at least 8 feet long.

Thirteen years later, in 1898, the end matcher appeared. Until that point, all flooring ends of each piece had to be on joists, as subfloors were not commonly used. The mechanized manufacture of wood flooring prompted the suppliers to organize associations for the industry — the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association began in 1897, and the Oak Flooring Manufacturers of the United States, precursor to the National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association, traces its beginnings to 1909.

 As the 20th century began, several important changes occurred in the industry. The side-matcher could allow hollow-backing on the boards, making them lighter and allowing them to conform better to subfloors, which were beginning to be commonplace. Flooring dimensions slimmed down: 5/16-inch, square-edge flooring and 3/8- and 1/2-inch flooring were introduced, helping to decrease hefty freight charges. Central heating was coming on the scene and wreaking havoc with the wood floors, but the advent of the dry kiln gave flooring a better chance to succeed in normal living conditions.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

When It Comes to Wood Floors, Choose Wisely

From the April 2013 Realtor website article When It Comes to Wood Floors, Choose Wisely By Barbara Ballinger 

Rich wood flooring can spell instant warmth and patina in a home. Here’s an overview that can help buyers and sellers evaluate wood floors.
Just as with ties and hem lengths, wood flooring styles change. Colors get darker or lighter; planks get narrower or wider; woods with more or less grain show swings in popularity; softer or harder species gain or lose fans; and the wood itself may be older, newer, or even pre-engineered with a top layer or veneer-glued to a substrate to decrease expansion and contraction from moisture.

Here are key categories for consideration:

Solid Plank
This is what some refer to as “real” wood because the wood usually ranges from three-eighths to three-quarters of an inch in total thickness to permit refinishing and sanding. Thicker floors have a thicker wear layer to allow for more frequent refinishing and sanding, so they can withstand decades of use, says architect Julie Hacker of Stuart Cohen and Julie Hacker Architects. It also can be stained, come from different species of tree, and be sold in numerous widths and lengths:
  • Width and length: Designer Steven Gurowitz, owner of Interiors by Steven G., is among those who prefers solid flooring for many installations because of its rich, warm look. Like other design professionals, he’s seeing greater interest in boards wider than the once-standard 2 ¾ to 3 ¾ inches — typically 5 to 6 inches now but even beyond 10 inches. And he’s also seeing corresponding interest in longer lengths, depending on the species. Width and length should be in proportion. These oversized dimensions reflect the same trend toward bigger stone and ceramic slabs. The downside is greater cost.
  • Palette: Gurowitz and others are also hearing more requests for darker hues among clients in the northeastern United States, while those in the South and West still gravitate toward lighter colors. But Sprigg Lynn, on the board of the National Wood Flooring Association, says the hottest trend is toward a gray or driftwood. Handscraped, antique boards that look aged and have texture, sometimes beveled edges, are also become more popular, even in modern interiors, though they may cost much more.
  • Species and price: Depending on the preference of the stain color, Gurowitz favors mostly mahogany, hickory, walnut, oak, and pine boards. Oak may be the industry’s bread and butter because of the ease of staining it and a relatively low price point. 

  • Maintenance: How much care home owners want to invest in their floors should also factor in their decision. New pine is quite soft and will show more wear than a harder wood like mahogany or walnut, but it’s less expensive. In certain regions such as the South, pine comes in a harder version known as heart pine that’s popular, says Georgia-based designer Mary Lafevers of Inscape Design Studio. Home owners should understand the different choices because they affect how often they need to refinish the wood, which could be every four to five years, says Susan Brunstrum of Sweet Peas Design-Inspired Interior. Also, Sy says that solid planks can be installed over radiant heating, but they demand expert installation.
Engineered Wood
Also referred to as prefabricated wood, this genre has become popular because the top layer or veneer is glued to wood beneath to reduce expansion and contraction that happens with solid boards due to climatic effects, says Sy, whose firm sells both types. He recommends engineered, depending on the amount of humidity. If home owners go with a prefabricated floor, he advises a veneer of at least one-quarter inch. “If it’s too thin, you won’t have enough surface to sand,” he says. And he suggests a thick enough substrate for a stable underlayment that won’t move as moisture levels in a home shift.
Engineered boards are also a good choice for home owners planning to age in place, since there are fewer gaps between boards for a stable surface, says Aaron D. Murphy, an architect with ADM Architecture Inc. and a certified Aging in Place specialist with the National Association of Home Builders.

Reclaimed Wood
Typically defined as recycled wood — perhaps from an old barn or factory — reclaimed wood has gained fans because of its aged, imperfect patina and sustainability; you’re reusing something rather than cutting down more trees. Though less plentiful and more expensive because of the time required to locate and renew samples, it offers a solid surface underfoot since it’s from old-growth trees, says Lynn. Some companies have come to specialize in rescuing logs that have been underwater for decades, even a century. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Understanding Reclaimed Wood: How the Salvaging Process Works

(Above): Reclaimed wood is a sustainable and environmentally friendly material to use in new construction or remodeling. Learn where it comes from and how you can put it to good use.

From the Buildipedia article Understanding Reclaimed Wood: How the Salvaging Process Works:

When you use reclaimed wood for any part of a home improvement or remodeling project, you’re giving old wood new life – and helping to preserve forests by bypassing virgin woods for perfectly usable older wood that comes with a story. As many home- and business owners strive to be more earth-friendly, reclaimed wood products are becoming increasingly popular. What many people don’t know, however, is how the salvaging process works.

Sources of Reclaimed Wood
The salvaging process begins with reclaiming wood from a variety of sources, including:

Shipping and crating materials. Shipping crates are often made from exotic and tropical blends of Asian and European hardwood species. These woods are chosen because of their durability and ability to take a beating. The latest DIY fad is to upcycle wooden pallets – imagine the beauty of planing down wood from a shipping crate and discovering the inner splendor of exotic lumber.

Deconstructed buildings. Old houses, barns, warehouses, and water tanks often contain old-growth wood that’s still beautiful (and in many cases harder than new wood).

Old gym bleachers. The most damage Douglas fir bleachers have seen usually involves occasional carvings made by students.

Wine casks. Made from old-growth redwood, wine casks feature rosy stains that perfectly accent any space.

Shipyards. Retired boats make excellent sources of reclaimed lumber.

Prevention of Landfill Waste or Incineration
One of the goals of the salvaging process is to acquire the wood before it gets shipped to the landfill. This means scouting for lumber at shipyards, demolition sites, going-out-of-business sales, and building renovation sites. Often, salvageable wood is mixed with other waste, so it’s necessary to do some sorting. When this happens, the professionals separate the high-quality pieces of timber from the waste and recyclable materials. This process generally involves:
  • Sorting the wood by hand;
  • Removing nails and bolts from the wood;
  • Banding units of wood together; and
  • Taking the leftover metal, plastic, and nylon to the recycling center.
The mid-grade pieces of wood that don’t make the cut are re-purposed and made into usable items, such as pallets. Low-grade wood is used as firewood or becomes bio-fuel.

The highest-quality timber that’s salvaged is dried in a kiln to stabilize it. Once it’s dried, the lumber gets milled to remove its old, rugged exterior. This is when the lumber’s true beauty starts to appear, as you can start to see the different hues and characteristics of the original wood. The reclaimed wood is then packaged and shipped to those who seek beautiful new tabletops, paneling, flooring, decks, countertops, and more.

Interesting Facts about Reclaimed Wood
  • The process of producing reclaimed wood flooring uses 13 times less cumulative energy than that of producing virgin wood flooring.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that demolished buildings provide about 1,000,000,000 feet of usable lumber per year.
When it comes to reclaimed wood versus virgin wood, the choice is simple. There is no better way to acquire strong, old-growth timber or exotic woods and take care of the planet while beautifying a home or business.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Antique Flooring: Better with Age?

From the Home Advisor website: Antique Flooring: Better with Age? 
By: Marcus Pickett

While the idea of reclaiming and reusing salvage wood might be a new concept for some, it is a fact that antique flooring is becoming big business. Maybe it is the one-of-a-kind look that makes antique floors so popular; perhaps it is the environmentally-friendly aspect of reusing wood rather than cutting down living trees. Whatever the reason, reclaimed wood is growing in popularity. This popularity can be seen as both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, antique wood flooring is going to cost you more than your standard wood flooring project. On the other hand, you should wind up with not only a unique floor, but one that is highly coveted and, thus, highly valuable.

The Look of Antique Flooring
New lumber can be treated, stained, and finished to have a variety of different looks. One thing that new wood cannot do, however, is make itself old. Antique flooring has a rustic, weathered look that is difficult to impossible to mimic. Depending on how and where this wood was aged, the look of it can be dramatically different from both new lumber and other reclaimed lumber, as well.

How to Find Antique Wood Flooring
Antique wood flooring manufacturers reclaim wood from a wide variety of different places. The easiest way to salvage old lumber is to take it from a building that is set for demolition. Many times, condemned houses, sheds, or barns contain useable wood that has been worn and weathered. Before a structure is demolished, the wood that is fit to be saved can be taken.  If it meets the standards of those who reclaimed it, the lumber can then be sanded and refurbished to be used in a new structure.
Some antique flooring actually comes from trees that were meant to be turned into boards many years ago, but never made it to the mill. Logs were often sent from the woods to the mill by putting them into a river and letting them float down stream. Logs that were lost on this journey many years ago are recovered today by pulling them up from under the water. River reclaimed wood is exceptionally unique in appearance, and its rarity makes it a very valuable commodity.

Thinking about trying out antique flooring? Use this link for Reclaimed Lumber from Albany Woodworks

Basic Antique Flooring Facts
  • Although hardwood is the most "coveted" wood in modern times, antique flooring is usually a variety of pine. Many pine species were so heavily harvested in the past that they are not readily available anymore [except through the reclaimed lumber process].
  • Different grades of antique wood flooring are much the same as any other lumber. Stronger, knot-free boards are the highest quality and the most expensive. Likewise, especially long or wide boards are more expensive because they are hard to find and difficult to mill.
  • Antique flooring is available finished or unfinished and can be stained or clear coated for a more natural look.

Prices of Reclaimed Wood
Antique wood can get very expensive due to its rarity and the time it takes to make it usable again. How much more expensive will be a natural function of just how rare and how intensive the reclamation process is. As already mentioned, antique wood flooring should make your home more valuable and possibly even easier to sell ... and if you're going to install this type of flooring, the primary reason should be for your own satisfaction and enjoyment.

Friday, January 2, 2015

10 Tips On How To Keep Your Historic Wood Floors Shining

From Houston Houses & Homes Magazine, January 2014 Issue:

10 Tips On How To Keep Your Historic Wood Floors Shining
By: Marsha Canright

For those who love the warm tones of reclaimed antique pine flooring, or the rich hues of new exotic woods, nothing else is better underfoot.  Protecting the natural beauty of your wood floors requires simple care and is an investment in the value of your home.  In Houston and Galveston, prior to 1930, almost all homes and commercial buildings were built with Texas Long Leaf Yellow Pine, including the floors, ceilings, studs, beams and wainscoting.

"This handsome whiskey-colored wood came from the three-million-acre pine forests on the Texas-Louisiana border," says Bill Hynek, who has restored wood flooring in hundreds of Texas homes over the past four decades, including national landmarks like Bishop's Palace in Galveston.

Much of East Texas forest was cleared in the process but wood mills throughout the country are now reclaiming beams and joists from century-old buildings to create new flooring that cannot be produced any other way.  No matter what kind of wood floors you have, Hynek offers these simple tips to help keep them well-nourished and glowing for years to come.

1.  Keep dirt and sand off any wood floor.  The tiny abrasive particles will wear any finish over time.  Use a vacuum or dust mop regularly.  Keep a coarse doormat on the outside of exterior entrances to remove dirt and keep a more absorbent cotton rug inside the door to absorb moisture from shoes.

2.  Its not the type of wood but the type of finish last applied to your floors that dictates necessary maintenance.  If floors have a paste wax finish, they should be cleaned and rewaxed once each year after resealing the dry areas.  To seal dry areas, use a thin coat of a ung or linseed oil and follow with a paste wax like Treewax or Johnson & Johnson.  Apply a thin coat and when it dries, rub with a terry cloth.  Paste wax will dissolve the previous application, cleaning the floors and building up a modest patina.

3. If floors have a urethane finish, there are a few products, such as Bona and Swiffer, that will clean them.   Water and wood don't mix so never flood the floor.  Go with the direction of the boards to avoid streaking.  In 10 or more years, if you feel your urethane floors look beyond hope, you may wish to recoat them with a compatible urethane.  Consult a professional for assistance.

4. The most obvious damage to floors occurs from furniture.  Protect your floors from scratches by using compressed felt pads from any hardware store.  Also, remove metal or plastic protectors that may be on the bottom of your furniture.  Metal causes a black corrosion stain on wood and plastic skids will dry and break exposing the nail and damaging the wood floor.  Use furniture cups for heavy furniture like beds and pianos.  When possible lift furniture in place, don't slide it.

5. If you have big dogs, Hynek recommends a wax finish.  Dogs can't get a good grip on the floors and any urethane film finish will show more scratches.  However, urethane floors are more chemical resistant.  So, if your pets have accidents, urethane may be the best for you.

6. A urethane finish is much more susceptible to damage from direct sunlight and heat.  Make  sure you have adequate shading on your south side windows.

7. Sometimes it's what you don't do that will keep your floors looking good.  For example, never use water-based cleaners on wood floors that have a wax finish.  The cleaner will disolve the  wax allowing the water into the pours of the wood, swelling them and breaking the seal.  Save the Murphy's Oil Soap for urethane finishes and then only apply it with a damp applicator.

8. Don't put planters - even with a drip plate - directly onto a wood floor.  Condensation will form on the bottom of the pot or plate and the moisture will stain the floors even if you have a urethane finish.  Always put air space between the floor and the bottom of the pot.

9. Good maintenance won't protect your floors if you don't keep a constant moisture level in the wood.  If you're upgrading your central air and heating system, make sure you don't get one bigger than you need.  A unit that is too large will cool your house down quickly but won't recycle the air as often leaving the house more humid.  This can cause wood floors to cup.

10. Check your home's downspouts to make sure rainwater is directed away from your house and not underneath.  Also check that sprinklers are far enough from the foundation.  When moisture accumulates under your house it can wreck havoc with a wood floor.