Making Hardwood Flooring
Solid Hardwood Floors
Solid hardwood floors have the simplest manufacturing process of any type of flooring. Boards of wood
are cut from logs, and then dried out in kilns to reduce their moisture content. They are then milled at the factory,
churning out planks in the common 3/4" thickness as well as other sizes, generally with tongue and groove edges for easy installation. From
there, you just need to install them!
Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Engineered hardwood floors are manufactured in one of three ways. Rotary–peel engineered
hardwood floors begin as logs soaked in water. The outside layer of wood is then peeled from the log with a sharp
blade, which circles around the log until it reaches the center. This creates a wood veneer, which is then pressed flat
under high pressure. Rotary–peel engineered hardwood floors generally have an appearance similar to that of plywood.
A common problem with this process is the wood cupping or curling back to its original shape.
Sliced engineered hardwood flooring is treated using a similar process as rotary–peel floors. The
difference is that instead of being sliced off using a circular method, the wood is sliced from the very end of the log.
This process creates a finer–grained appearance more similar to hardwood than plywood. The edges of sliced–peel
planks can sometimes splinter or crack.
The third process, known as dry solid–sawn engineering, involves keeping the planks in a
low–humidity environment and slowly drying them. The veneer layer of wood is then cut out in a manner similar to that
of solid plank construction. This style looks the closest to solid hardwood, and is not susceptible to the problems that
rotary–peel and sliced–peel engineered floors might face. Solid–sawn engineered planks are more stable and
will hold up better in the long run, making this the most dependable type of engineered hardwood floor.
Once the veneer layer is taken, two, three, or five thin sheets of wood are glued to each other to form a plank. Each
sheet is stacked in the opposite direction of the one below in a process called cross–ply construction, which offers increased
dimensional stability and resistance to the effects of moisture. Sometimes these planks are spliced together in rows of two
or three, creating longstrip planks. This type of hardwood flooring is easier to install, and can be installed in multiple
areas of the home. You can also find solid–sawn engineered planks as floating floors.
Unfinished Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood floors are sometimes left unfinished, especially solid hardwood floors. They
must be sanded and finished during installation, a process which may require you to leave your home for a period of time
depending on what type of finish you apply. If you prefer to skip that step, make sure you choose prefinished floors.