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Although there are about 125 species in the genus Acer, the tree most commonly used maple flooring is rock maple, sometimes called hard maple. Many species are found in Asia, but rock maple is native to North America. Brazilian maple is also used for hardwood floors.
Maple is a strong, dense wood, which is the reason maple flooring is often chosen for gymnasium floors and bowling alleys. It is a very hard wood, with a Janka rating of 1450; even harder than oak. Maple is a beautifully colored wood. The heartwood shades from almost white to a pale reddish brown, and the sapwood is a creamy white. Maple does not stain well, so maple flooring is usually installed in its natural color.
Some maple, such as fiddleback or bird's eye maple, has an intricate curling grain pattern. Highly figured maple is seldom used for flooring, as it is quite rare and equally expensive. Maple flooring usually has a close grain, often with a slight curving appearance.
Rock maple is an eco-friendly flooring. It is a renewable resource and biodegradable. Antique maple flooring is often salvaged and reused in new installations. Some reclaimed maple flooring can add LEED points to a design.
Like most hardwood floors, maple flooring is responsive to changes in temperature and humidity, including seasonal variations. Floors may develop squeaks and even show tiny shrinkage cracks between boards during winter, when the air is dry. Using a humidifier in the building will minimize these seasonal changes.
Maple flooring should be held in the room where it will be installed for a minimum of 72 hours before work begins. This lets it begin its acclimation process, which will continue through a year of seasonal environmental changes. Manufacturers recommend holding the indoor environment to a temperature from 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (12.8 to 23.9 degrees Celsius) with 35 to 50 percent relative humidity during installation. Maple flooring can be installed over radiant heating sytems.
Sweep and dust mop maple flooring regularly, since grit can damage the finish. Damp mop occasionally. If it becomes necessary to wet mop a maple floor, dry the surface with towels at once. Use cleaning products recommended by the flooring manufacturer that are compatible with the finish.
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