The Tongue and Groove Store | Blog
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“On time and under budget!” said no one ever of the building/remodeling process.  The holidays are already a stressful time of year, shopping, wrapping, baking, volunteering, add in a remodel and it can become downright overwhelming.  Unforeseen delays can quickly dash your dreams of dishing up the holiday magic in your newly remodeled home.  If you find yourself in the middle of a remodel that seems to be dragging on as the holidays rapidly approach here are a few tips to survive the season and retain your sanity.

1.)  Keep Your Cool.  You may have done all the proper planning months in advance so your project would be complete in time for Thanksgiving, yet that has come and gone and here you are.  If only your contractor would’ve done (fill in the blank) this would be done by now!  Why I oughtta give him a piece of my mind!!!  I assure you, your contractor wants your job to be complete just as badly as you do.  However, a good contractor will never sacrifice the quality of their work just to hit a deadline.  Taking your frustrations out on your contractor is not a good idea.  Unforeseen problems are frequent in the remodel business and often slow progress.  You’ve hired someone to do the job and you want to ensure it is done right, cut them some slack and let them do their thing.

2.) Be Realistic.  Instead of visions of sugar plumbs dancing in your head, you have visions of a Pinterest and Houzz -worthy home.  But as you look around, you realize the trim mouldings haven’t been installed and the window dressings can’t be hung, the light fixtures are still in boxes!  Christmas will surely be ruined!  Stop, calm down and assess the situation for what it is.  How much work is remaining to be completed and how much time is there to complete it?  Sit down with your contractor and run through the punch list.  If it is clear, that the project won’t be wrapped up see if you can establish a new timeline to wrap up construction.  Target finishing up the most important items first and forego the finishing touches.  If you’re working on a kitchen remodel, can the cabinets and countertops be set?  Will the oven/cooktop be functional?  So, you may have to live without the crown moulding for Christmas, at least the food will be hot and you’ll have a functional prep space.

3.) Hold Off On the Decorating. Remodeling can be dirty business.  Fine dust particles seem to escape even the best cordoned off areas.  Hold off on putting up the tree and decking the halls until the project is either complete, or you and your contractor reach a mutual pause date.  When establishing the new timeline with your contractor, give yourself enough time to do clean up and reposition furniture or appliances so you have a functional space.   You may want to skimp on the decorating since your contractor will want to wrap up the project in the near future.  Be prepared to take down your decorations promptly so the project can resume without further interruption or new obstacles in the way.

4.)  Remember the Reason for the Season.  It is majorly disappointing that your project isn’t going to be done as you originally thought.  However, the holidays are a time for families to gather and enjoy laughs and time together.  It isn’t about crown moulding, light fixtures or backsplashes.  Perhaps, the Grinch said it best, “Maybe Christmas,” he thought “doesn’t come from a store. “Maybe Christmas, perhaps means a little bit more.”

Grinch picture

Saunas provide a great way to relax and may offer additional health benefits.  Many of our customers choose to add saunas to their home or cabin and often have questions about what type of wood is best to use.  Western Red Cedar is the most popular choice when it comes to sauna material.  It is naturally moisture resistant, which means it will hold up well over time, stays cool to the touch and emits a pleasant aroma.  Many sauna manufacturers use clear cedar, which does not contain knots.  The primary reason for this is that the knots in the wood are harder than the surrounding grain.  This harder wood is more susceptible to heating up and could burn or cause discomfort when it contacts your skin.  However, actual instances of this occurring are pretty rare and many consumers choose to build their sauna out of knotty grade cedar.  Should you decide to go this route, you will want to ensure that all knots are tight and sound.  Knots unsound in nature may become so loose they fall out, exposing the vapor barrier behind.  The primary benefit to using a knotty grade cedar in the sauna is that it is significantly less expensive than clear cedar.  Homeowners can save thousands of dollars by finishing their walls and ceilings in knotty grade cedar.  Consumers that are still concerned about the knots heating up use clear cedar to build their benches.


Cedar T&G Sauna

Eastern White Cedar is also an option.  However, White Cedar does not contain the same naturally occurring resins as Red Cedar, making it more susceptible to rot and decay.

Redwood is also a popular sauna material.  Redwood has many of the same properties as cedar, and even considered more moisture resistant than cedar.  However, the higher concentration of tannins and pheynols, the resins that make up the moisture resistance, actually cause the wood to blacken when exposed to body oils and sweat.

Aspen is the most popular alternative to Western Red Cedar.  Aspen is also moisture resistant and stays cool to the touch.  It emits no aroma and is hypoallergenic.  Hotels and other commercial saunas are often constructed of Aspen in consideration of those that may have Cedar allergies.

When deciding which specie to use in your sauna you’ll want to consider the following:

  • Budget. Can you afford to splurge and go with a clear grade lumber, or does compromising and installing knotty grade walls and ceiling with clear grade benches better suit your budget?
  • Beauty. Do you prefer the longevity Redwood has to offer or are you more disposed to the looks of Cedar or Aspen?   Will it bother you if the Redwood darkens to a blackish color?
  • Senses. Are you sensitive to smells or do you have an allergy to cedar?  If so, you’ll want to look for an alternative specie.

The seasons are a changin’.  Cooler air has moved in and some of us have even turned on the heat.  Changing temperatures and humidity levels can create some frustrating problems for our hardwood floors.  Hardwood Floors Magazine published a great article on this very topic.  View the full article here:

Nearly every wood floor will have some seasonal separation between the individual boards – gaps – throughout the floor during the fall and winter months. When the air in the building is heated, the relative humidity levels drop. When this happens, the wood loses moisture as it equilibrates to the drier conditions and boards begin to shrink. As a result, gaps begin to appear between boards. This is a normal phenomenon and is directly related to the reduction of moisture in the surrounding air.

Once seasons change and the interior heating systems are turned off, or when supplemental humidification is introduced and the indoor environment regains moisture, most of these seasonal gaps will disappear.

All solid flooring, including properly specified, manufactured, and installed wood flooring should be expected to have seasonal gaps between boards during the dry months when no supplemental humidification is added.

The width of the boards, the species, and how it’s cut from the log can all affect how much solid wood flooring is affected by this change in moisture. In general, how much solid wood flooring shrinks is directly proportional to its width. For example, in identical scenarios, an 8” wide plainsawn plank of white oak flooring will shrink twice as much as a 4” plank of the same cut and species.

Seasonal gaps between boards are more prominent with solid wood flooring products than with engineered wood flooring products. The structural composition of engineered wood flooring inherently allows it to be more dimensionally stable than solid wood flooring. Although engineered wood flooring is more dimensionally stable than its solid counterpart, it will still react to these low humidity levels but will show itself differently. When the relative humidity levels remain below the manufacturer’s recommendations for long enough, engineered flooring will begin to dry cup. When this happens, the wear layer loses moisture (same as its solid counterpart) and begins to shrink across its outer face, which can exert enough force on the core material to pull the edges of the plank upward. This causes a cupped appearance across the width of the board.

Seasonal Gaps

Solid Flooring with Seasonal Gaps

dry cupped flooring

Dry Cupping on Engineered Flooring


The effects of these seasonal fluctuations can be compounded in some new construction scenarios. Energy-conscious homebuyers and homebuilders have, in recent years, demanded tighter, more energy-efficient homes, which can inadvertently become detrimental to wood building components and their ability to perform, if not properly addressed. This construction practice, by design, prevents warm or cool air loss, but also seals in the new home’s moisture. Moisture from the entire building process is not allowed to dissipate quickly enough. This moisture comes from many sources including hundreds of gallons of water used in the placement of concrete, masonry, thin-set, tile mortar, drywall, plaster and many other building components. This will often cause wood flooring and wood subflooring to take on this moisture. When the home dries out and finally finds equilibrium in the home (often 6-12 months after the home has been moved into), the flooring and/or subflooring materials shrink, and again result in what could then be considered abnormal gaps. If the environment remains at these conditions, the gaps will likely never completely close back up in the humid months.

For more information, view the full article by, Brett Miller, Vice President of Education and Certification at the National Wood Flooring Association.

The popularity of HGTV, Houzz and other home improvement outlets along with social media have increased our desire to achieve a magazine quality home.  Most of us start out with a general idea of how we want our space to look once it is finished, however with all the different design trends and products available it can be difficult and time consuming to achieve.  Before you give up on your dream home, you may want to consider hiring an interior designer.  If you’re like me,  the list of reasons not to hire a designer is the first thing to enter your mind.  I can’t afford that! What if I don’t like what they come up with?  How do I convey my vision to my designer?  Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with lots of different designers and I am now convinced that interior designers are not just for the wealthy.  Here are some things to keep in mind when considering hiring an interior designer.

Budget – Yes, hiring an interior designer will cost you some money up front.  However, in the long run they are often able to save money for their clients by getting it done right the first time.  I can’t tell you how much money I’ve spent painting and repainting rooms the wrong color.  You go in thinking it’s pretty straightforward – off-white, beige or grey, yet once you step back it looks yellowy, or pinky, or blue or…just all wrong.  More than one designer we work with have told us stories of clients purchasing furniture, only to have it delivered and find out it doesn’t fit in the room properly.  Interior designers measure everything, and I mean EVERYTHING.  They do this to ensure that everything fits and flows together properly.   You will also want to thoroughly discuss your project budget with your designer so there are no surprises down the road.

Relationship – The relationship between an interior designer and a client is an intimate one.  It has to be.  The designer has to understand YOUR likes and YOUR dislikes.  They need to understand how you will be using the space they are making over.  Remember, they are working for YOU and will tailor the design to meet all of your needs.  It is important that you and your designer are able to build a rapport with one another.  Throughout the design process you will have to communicate back and forth often, and the designer will want to spend some time in your home, taking measurements etc.  You have to be honest with your designer too.  If you are afraid to speak your mind, you risk ending up with something you don’t love.  The designer works for you, you aren’t going to hurt their feelings if you tell them you don’t love the color, or style of something they suggest.

Background – When choosing an interior designer, ask them to show you their portfolio.  Find out what kind of projects they have done in the past and if they have any areas of specialty.  Some designers prefer to focus on one area of the home such as kitchens and may be able to offer even more expertise in these areas than their competitors.  A good designer will also have a list of references you can contact.

Professionals – While we all aspire to be a Joanna Gaines, the reality is many of us are not.  It took me a lot of failed projects to realize I just don’t have what it takes.  It’s okay, I’ve come to terms with it.  An interior designer, is a professional.  They do have the keen eye it takes to arrange a living room picture perfect.  They know how to hang your artwork and organize your shelves.  Good designers, make this process look easy but the truth is they spend hours, sometimes even days coordinating the fine details of your space.  Their ability to create a haven in your home comes from years of experience, as well as continually keeping up with changing design trends.

 Building or remodeling is a big deal.  It takes a lot of time and a lot of hard earned dough.  I think we are all striving to get the biggest bang for our buck.  Not everyone needs an interior designer.  However, a lot of us can benefit from a little guidance and fine tuning they have to offer.  It is at least something to consider, especially if you are going for that Pinterest worthy home.


T&G wood ceiling and white washed shiplap create a cozy feel in this cabin retreat


After installing a new hardwood floor, you will typically need a transition moulding to complete the job.  Transition mouldings are used to create a smooth transition between different rooms or different surfaces.  Transition mouldings come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and determining which moulding you need can be confusing.   I’ve broken down the five most common flooring transitions and their uses.

T-Moulding is used to in doorways between adjoining wood floors.  Hallway to bedrooms is a common example of where you would want to use a T-Mould.  This type of moulding can also be used to transition between different types of hard surfaces that are the same height.





Reducer is used to provide a smooth transition between a hardwood floor down to a  floor or low pile carpet of a different height.  You will want to avoid using a Reducer in a floating application, as a floating floor needs room to move and a Reducer would not allow for the necessary expansion gap.

Threshold Mouldings are used in situations where a hardwood floor is meeting up with a second floor of a different height. Instead of a gradual slope, like a Reducer, a Threshold has a rounded off square edge appearance. Thresholds are perfect when butting a hard surface floor up to a high pile carpet and are also often used when hardwood floors are meeting up with a sliding glass door track. A Threshold will overlap the hardwood floor and create a defined transition to this second surface.

A Stair Nose is used to trim the front edge of a step when you are using flooring pieces (vs a tread) to cover stairs.  The Stair Nose butts tight with the flooring to create a seamless transition to the edge of the step.

Stair Nose

Quarter Round is used to trim the expansion gap between the wood flooring and the wall.  Typical Quarter Round measures 3/4 x 3/4.  Some homeowners prefer a lower profile moulding called a Base Shoe, which measures 1/2 x 3/4.  Base Shoe is also commonly used to trim the small gaps created by the baseboard and hard surface flooring.


Quarter Round


Selecting the right type of transition moulding, will not only give your floor that polished look, it will also provide a safe way to traverse different types of flooring and height changes.  Make sure all mouldings are secured properly.



Hurricane Damage

Damage left by Hurricane Irma

In light of the recent disasters caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, we’ve had several people wondering how this will affect lumber pricing going forward.  Obviously there is a significant amount of lumber used in new home construction and prospective builders fear a surge in lumber prices will price them out of building their dream home.  Unfortunately, according to most economic forecasters it is still too early to tell what affect, if any, the hurricanes will have on the lumber market.

Typically, lumber prices do rise following natural disasters, however the increase is primarily concentrated in the storm ravaged areas.  However, “there are other factors in play right now,” states NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) economist, Dave Logan.  “The wildfire outlook is uncertain at this point, and duty rates on Canadian lumber are being reevaluated and will not be finalized until mid-November.” The lumber duties have been on NAHB’s radar well before Harvey and Irma and the group is calling for legislative action to postpone duties on Canadian lumber.

Although, the outlook on lumber prices is still uncertain, economists believe there will not be much impact on prices through the medium term.  However, economists are forecasting an increase as much as 10% on roofing materials as a result of Hurricane Harvey.  These increases will be felt nationwide and could be long-lasting.  For more information, check out the full article here

Regardless of what building material prices do, our thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by the hurricanes this season.


Natrual wood beams and shiplap

The natural wood beams add a touch of warmth to this all white kitchen.

Farmhouse design is making a big impact on current home interior trends.  We’re seeing more and more customers back away from the minimalistic approach by incorporating farmhouse elements that bring some warmth to the space.  Classic shapes, rustic simplicity and natural materials come together to create a modern farmhouse feel.  We’re seeing key elements of farmhouse design being incorporated in various areas of the home.


Wood Beams

The addition of wood beams to a room can instantly add warmth and charm.  Natural wood tones soften the space and add a touch of coziness.  Homeowners are using wood beams in their white on white kitchens with steely appliances to add a touch of warmth.  The various sizes, species and finishes available add up to limitless possibilities.

Barn Doors

Sliding barn doors can come in a wide array of colors, textures, species and finishes.  They range from very rustic to modern and sleek.  Not only is a sliding barn door reminiscent of farmhouse décor, it is also quite functional.   The sliding track system of the door can help save space.  Alternative uses and locations for barn doors include room dividers, tv covers, and doors to under the stairs storage.

Knotty Alder Sliding Barndoor

This farmhouse kitchen is accentuated by the Knotty Alder sliding barndoor

Wood Planks

Accent walls with reclaim style wood tiles and planks are cropping up in all sorts of décor.  We’re seeing them used In all rooms of the home including the living room, bathroom and bedrooms.  There’s just something nostalgic about rough wood.


How could we forget the shiplap?  Shiplap is the quintessential ingredient for a happy farmhouse.  Ceilings, walls and accent walls covered in shiplap and in every room of the home.  Kitchens, baths, living areas, bedrooms, offices, porches and mudrooms are all popular spaces for shiplap.  Paint it for clean lines and a modern twist, or leave it completely natural and knotty for a more rustic look, either way this is one element you definitely don’t want to leave out.


Shiplap ceiling and accent wall




Del Mar Engineered Flooring

Del Mar Engineered Flooring

The air has felt crisp these last few mornings in MN.  A little indication that fall is right around the corner and the perfect time to start planning for fall projects.  Flooring is one of the biggest interior fall projects we see.  In fact, September, October and November are the busiest months for flooring sales across the board.  Hardwood floors have long been popular with homeowners, they add value to the home, look beautiful and are generally easy to maintain. Thinking of putting down hardwood flooring?  Here are some things to consider beforehand. (more…)

Aristotle said, “in all the things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” We couldn’t agree more, which is why we are so in love with our Salvage Plank Pine. This rough sawn pine has been salvaged from a remote homestead. Our unique machining process, tongue and grooves all four sides of the material, while preserving the original patina and rough sawn texture of the wood. Our matte finish seals and protects the wood without the shine.

The material comes in mixed widths ranging from 4” to 8” and is tongue and grooved on all four sides, minimizing waste. Sometimes our customers have concern that the mixed widths will make the product difficult to install. Don’t overthink it, is the best advice we can give. We discourage our customers from trying to run a pattern. Trees don’t grow in a pattern, so why are we trying to over complicate the situation? Let’s celebrate and embrace what nature has given us. You’ll install an entire row of one size and then either repeat the size on the next row or choose a different width. You will use one size for an entire row, never mixing different sized planks within the same row.

Our end-matched design makes installation even easier, eliminating the need to end on a stud. Fasten the material by nailing through the tongue each time you cross a stud. The end pieces will tongue and groove together and hold each other in place. When you reach the end of a row and need to make a cut, the off-fall piece can be used as the starting piece in the next row that size is used, virtually eliminating waste.

One of the other qualities I love about the Salvage Plank Pine, is that it isn’t too dark. Reclaim material tends to drift to the darker end of the spectrum, the Salvage Plank Pine has a much lighter effect. That makes it a great option for anywhere in the home including ceilings, walls and even in smaller spaces such as mudrooms or bathrooms. The natural finish of this material is simply stunning and is not something that can be replicated through finishing techniques. Salvage Plank is inviting a little piece of nature into your home.

A rising trend among homeowners is to add a decorative touch of wood to their home’s exterior. Consumers are seeking out non-structural beams to look like large timbers to bring dimension and distinction. Consumers often end up spending a small fortune by bringing in large, full thickness timbers to get the job done. The Tongue & Groove Store has a more economical option available with their miter lock beams. The miter lock joint makes it virtually impossible to distinguish between a solid three or four-inch-thick beam and one with a hollow center. The beams come in a variety of widths and species, so you can achieve the desired end look. Customers can purchase 2, 3 or 4 sided beams, depending on what the application requires.

We are also seeing an increasing number of customers looking for tongue and groove for their entryway ceilings, similar to the photo above as well as for other under-eave applications. Cedar is the most popular choice, as it is naturally moisture resistant. However, with our factory finish, other species would work just as well. The third and final trend we’ve seen is to apply a tongue and groove shiplap or centermatch (flush edge) product to the front of the home, generally near the entryway, replacing traditional stonework and adding a softer touch.

The Tongue & Groove - Miterlock Blog Pic