What is solid wood flooring?
Solid wood flooring is a made of wood from the timber of solid woods, or of softwood like spruce or hard pine. Common species used are Oak (red and white), Maple, Cherry and Ash. It is one solid piece of wood with tongue and groove sides and comes in a wide variety of traditional and exotic species.
How is solid wood flooring sold?
Solid wood flooring is usually sold in strips or planks that are pre-finished or unfinished. They are usually 3/4" or 19mm thick, but can be found in many other thicknesses. Strip flooring is usually 2 ¼" – 3" wide and plank flooring is usually wider than 3 inches.
What is the difference between solid wood, engineered wood, and laminate floors?
Solid woods are one solid piece of wood with tongue and groove sides and come in a wide variety of traditional and exotic species. They are very sensitive to moisture and temperature changes and cannot be installed in basements or bathrooms. Engineered wood is usually slightly more expensive because it is manufactured with a core that reduces expansion and contraction from humidity and temperature changes. It can be used in basements but not bathrooms. Laminates are actually constructed of several layers of different materials that are pressed together under a very high pressure with an image laid on top that gives it the appearance of wood, ceramic tile, stone or even brick without using those products. The floor is made to be very durable and resistant to scratching but cannot be sanded and refinished like wood floors can. However, laminate flooring can be installed in basements and in most cases are the least expensive of the three choices.
What is hardwood and what is softwood?
The terms hardwood and softwood are very misunderstood. They do not correlate to the hardness of the wood though hardwoods do tend to be denser and therefore sturdier than softwoods. The distinction actually involves how the plant reproduces. Hardwood trees are considered angiosperms, and produce seeds that have a covering such as apple or acorn seeds and lose their leaves in cold weather. Softwoods are considered gymnosperms and they produce seeds that do not have a covering and keep their leaves year round such as pine trees, whose seeds grow in hard cones. The fact is that softwoods can make beautiful flooring as well.
What factors determine the color and grain of my wood flooring and what choices are available?
Solid wood comes in a wide variety of traditional and exotic species. There are different shades from different species that can be light, medium, or dark. Different appearances also result from the different ways the woods are sawn. There are four different saw methods: flat-sawn or plain-sawn which shows a vertical grain, rotary cut which creates dramatic and sometimes wild graining, off-set rotary cut which gives a sliced appearance, and sliced-cut which reveals finer graining.
What are the differences in the grades of wood flooring?
Grade is what determines the appearance of the wood. It does not have to do with the strength and durability. There are six common grades – Clear, Select, Common (No. 1 and No. 2), First, Second, and Third. These all have different levels of allowable characteristic and imperfections such as knots, mineral streaks, pin holes, and so on. Check with your manufacturer to find out what grades they use and what characteristics are allowed in these grades. Grades can also vary from the country of origin in which the material is from.
What are the advantages of solid wood flooring?
Solid wood flooring has natural beauty with characteristic and texture that is hard to achieve in other floors. It is available in a variety of domestic and exotic species with different stains, gloss levels, edge details, and textures. It adds to the perceived value of your home and is safe for families with allergies. Solid wood provides excellent insulation and adds strength to your home's structure. It has incredible longevity and can last a lifetime if properly maintained. Solid wood floors can be sanded and refinished several times making them appear new again.
What are the disadvantages of solid wood flooring?
Solid wood is extremely susceptible to moisture. It cannot be installed in basements or bathrooms as high moisture levels and pooling liquid can cause great damage to your floor. It is also sensitive to temperature changes and should be installed in a controlled environment.
Is hardwood flooring considered to be a healthy choice for the environment?
It is a common belief that harvesting wood for flooring has an incredibly negative effect on the forests they are harvested from. However, wood is being replanted and renewed continually and we actually are gaining volume in our forests yearly in the United States. Harvesting mature trees also helps the ecosystem by allowing sunlight to reach the forest floor which stimulates new growth. Look for wood products with the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification. Manufacturers who have produced products with FSC certification have taken extra steps in managing forests responsibly.
Will solid wood increase the value of my house?
Yes, as with most natural flooring, solid wood flooring will increase the perceived value of your home.
Which type of solid wood is the hardest and most resistant to wear?
Some of the more popular species of wood that are used for flooring and are extremely durable are Hard Maple, Red Oak, Cherry, Ash, and Birch. You should refer to the Janka Hardness Rating to find out how durable a specific species it.
What is the Janka Hardness Rating?
The Janka Hardness Rating applies to both engineered and solid wood flooring and measures the amount of force that it takes to push a steel ball into the wood to a depth of half the ball's diameter. The higher the Janka Hardness Rating, the more durable and resistant to damage the floor generally is.
What is the average lifetime of a solid wood floor?
Properly maintained solid wood floors can last over 100 years.
What are the different finish types for wood flooring?
There are several different types of finishes. Polyurethane is a very common finish that can also be stained for color variation. Acrylic Impregnated is very durable and is impregnated into the floor. Ceramic has recently begun being used for an incredibly durable finish but is hard to remove for repairs. Aluminum Oxide is becoming more and more popular and is also incredibly durable but difficult to remove for repairs and re-finishing. Wax finish is the easiest to remove or repair but often the easiest to scratch or scuff.
Is there a difference between planks or strips in the same box when purchasing solid wood flooring?
Yes, solid wood flooring is a product whose design is created by nature. There are many natural variations that can occur such as differences in grain and color. It is recommended that you purchase extra flooring in case you don’t like the way one piece matches the rest.
What are the differences between edge designs for wood flooring?
There are square edges and beveled or micro-beveled edges (also knows as eased edges). On a square edge, the sides of each plank or strip are square and sit firmly together leaving no groove. A beveled or micro-beveled edge, has a slight angle on the top edge of the plank or strip which forms a V shaped groove when it comes together with another plank or strip on either side. A micro-beveled edge makes a slightly smaller groove than a beveled edge. These edges can help mask slight sub-floor imperfections but can be felt when walked on.
What is the difference between unfinished and prefinished wood flooring?
Unfinished hardwood flooring is sanded, stained, and sealed once installation is complete to your exact specifications. It can also be sanded flat if your subfloor is slightly uneven. Unfinished wood should usually be left to a professional installer as proper application and protection of the work area is essential. Prefinished wood is finished in a factory before being sold making installation much easier. However, many people dislike that it has beveled edges which tend to hold dirt and debris. These beveled edges, called micro bevels, are used to help mask slightly uneven subfloors. Prefinished hardwood floors also come in square edge construction but in order to eliminate "over wood", the subfloor must be consistently level. Prefinished floors are also slightly more expensive upfront, although costs tend to even out with solid wood installation costing more.
Why does my wood floor look slightly different than the sample I saw at the store?
Your floor may look slightly different than the sample at the store did. As a tree grows, it absorbs minerals and other elements, which can change the color of the wood. Even wood from the same tree will often have color variations as wood on the outside of the tree will be lighter than the wood from the center. You should always be expectant of slight variations when purchasing a natural product.
What are hand-scraped and distressed floors?
Hand-scraped and distressed wood floors add texture and a unique feel to the surface of the floor. Simply said, these type of floors look "aged" and have an "old world" look and feel. Hand-scraped hardwood flooring is usually done by hand leaving a unique random pattern, but can also be done by machine, leaving a more uniform appearance. Distressed hardwood floors can have the "scraping" features of hand scraped, but usually have more imperfections such as dents, dings, and tear outs, giving distressed flooring a very worn look.
What is parquet wood flooring?
Parquet flooring is a wooden floor made from many pieces of wood fitted together like a mosaic or puzzle. It can be made from different types of wood with varying grains to create unique patterns. Any type of wood can be used to make parquet. It can be found in both solid and engineered wood flooring.
Does wood flooring have good acoustics?
Yes, it helps to provide excellent acoustics which is why it is often installed in churches and auditoriums.
Is my wood floor defective?
There are many natural imperfections in your flooring that are not considered to make your flooring defective. Anytime you buy a natural product you should expect variations and characteristic in it.
Your floor is not defective if it dents or scratches, as no flooring is completely resistant. Your floor may have gaps or peaks in it due to expansion or contraction and not be defective. If you notice either of these after installation your floor was probably not allowed to acclimate properly. Your wood floor may make popping or squeaking noises or sound hollow which are all not defects and probably related to an uneven subfloor installation error, or improper underlayment.
Things that are possibly considered defective are planks and strips that are not the right size, have edges that aren’t square, have high moisture content upon arrival, have cracks or splits in it, or the tongue and groove doesn’t fit together.