No other type of flooring offers the warmth, beauty, and value of hardwood. Wood flooring enhances the décor of any room, and provides timeless beauty that will increase in value throughout the years. Hardwood floors are affordable. Over time, wood floors maintain their value. When other flooring options look worn and need to be replaced, wood floors will still look beautiful and timeless.
Wood floors have come a long way over the last few years. Today, there are more styles, colors and species of wood flooring available than ever before. Whether you’re looking for traditional oak, exotic handscraped, rustic pine, or trendy Bamboo, there is a color and style to fit your décor.
Choosing the style that is best for you is an important decision, and will be based on a variety of issues including your lifestyle, your decorating style, and the area in which you live.
THE BASICS ABOUT HARDWOOD
To get to the basics of hardwood flooring, we must first understand one basic fact; all hardwood flooring comes from what was once a living tree. As with all living things, each living tree has characteristics similar to trees of the same type as well as characteristics that are unique to each individual tree.
There are many different species that a hardwood floor can be made from.
Today's wood floors come in more than 50 species, both domestic and exotic, spanning the spectrum of color options, hardness, and price ranges. No matter what the look you want to achieve, there are a variety of species to select from. The most common hardwood floor in the United State s is made from Oak. Some of the other species of hardwood floors are made of, Maple, American Cherry, Brazilian Cherry, Hickory / Pecan, Ash, Beech, Northern White Oak, Southern White Oak, Northern Red Oak, Southern Red Oak, Swedish Oak, Merbau, Jarrah, Teak, Cypress (Australian), Mahogany, Padauk, Purpleheart, Walnut (American Black), Pine, and Antique Heart Pine.
To further add variety and choice, hardwood flooring can be sold as solid or as engineered, of course
in a variety of different thicknesses, widths and lengths.
SOLID HARDWOOD FLOORING
This type of flooring is manufactured as one complete piece of solid wood. The most common thickness solid hardwood is ¾” thick. Solid flooring gives you a great opportunity for customization. Your choice of species, stains and finishes all contribute to the personalization of a solid floor. This is an excellent choice in most areas of a home on the ground level or above. Solid hardwood flooring can be, installed by nailing, or stapling it to the existing subfloor. Solid hardwood flooring is susceptible to moisture and temperature and will expand and contract.
ENGINEERED HARDWOOD FLOORING
Engineered wood flooring product consists of layers of wood pressed together, with the grains running in different directions for dimensional stability. Engineered floors come in a variety of different thicknesses, widths and lengths.
These floors are less affected by moisture than solid engineered floors. Engineered flooring is perfect for those areas of the house where solid wood flooring may not be suitable, such as basements, kitchens, powder rooms, and utility rooms. Because the grains run in different directions, it is more dimensionally stable than solid wood.
Engineered hardwood floors can also be installed by floating. A floating installation, as the name implies, is not adhered to the existing subfloor, it is assembled as one unit and is held in place partially by gravity and partially by floor and wall moldings. This method of installation allows for the floor to expand and contract at its own rate vs. being attached to the house and being force to expand and contract as does the house it is attached to.
Advances in wood flooring during the past few years mean that you now can have wood flooring anywhere in your home. Where in you home you plan to install the hardwood will determine the type of wood flooring you can use.
STYLES OF WOOD FLOORING
Strip flooring is linear flooring that is usually 2 1/4", 1 1/2", or 3 1/4" wide. It creates a linear effect in a room often promoting the illusion of a larger space.
Plank flooring is also linear, however, it is wider in width. Common widths of plank flooring are 3", 4", 5", and 6".
Parquet flooring is a series of wood flooring pieces that create a geometric design.
Floor finishes are something to consider when shopping for a hardwood floor. There are two basic
methods of finishing the surface of a hardwood floor. The oldest method is to sand and stain the floor
on site. The newer method is to purchase hardwood flooring that has been stained and finished at the
factory. As in every decision we need to make, there are benefits to either finishing method
STAIN AND FINISH ON SITE
The one benefit that a stain and finish installation has over a prefinished installation, is that it allows for extra customization. As an example, custom colored stains could be mixed to achieve a more unique color.
Prefinished installations have many benefits over the stain and finish on site installation. A prefinished hardwood floor is sanded, stained (when applicable) and finished using state of the art finishing methods, in a controlled environment that would not be available on site. The quality and consistency of a prefinished hardwood is far better than is obtainable on site.
Hardwood flooring is priced based on all of the above factors. The type of floor (solid or engineered), the width and thickness, the species of wood, the grade of the wood, the finish applied to the woods surface.
WHY IS ALL THE ABOVE INFORMATION IMPORTANT IN DETERMINING WHAT HARDWOOD FLOOR IS BEST SUITED FOR YOUR NEEDS?
Depending on the amount of traffic your floor will get and the room you want to have the hardwood, all of the above is important to help you what you can expect from the floor after it is installed. Remember that hardwood flooring is considered an investment.
A good hardwood floor will increase the value of your home and will bring years of warmth and comfort. The information you obtain prior to purchasing your hardwood could increase your chances of making a good investment.
ALL HARD WOODFLOORS
While specific finish types may require different maintenance, some guidelines apply to the care of all hardwood floors. First, before furniture is placed onto the hardwood floor, floor protector pads should be installed on the bottom of all furniture legs. Also, rugs should be placed at all entrances to the area (check with the finish manufacturer for when these can be placed. Most should not go down on the floor for at least seven days, and sometimes more than 21 days after the finish is applied).
Also, be aware that area rugs may cause color differences in the floor due to differences in light exposure.
Consumers should expect that their floors will shrink and expand with changes in humidity, sometimes leaving small cracks between boards. To minimize the changes, it is recommended that consumers use some kind of humidity control in their homes. Routine basic maintenance includes sweeping, vacuuming and/or dust-mopping to remove dirt and grit. (Use only vacuums that have a special hard-surface setting.) The more that dirt and grit are allowed to accumulate, the more it will be tracked over the floor, leaving scratches. Some manufacturers recommend lightly damp-mopping a floor, while others do not. Regardless,household dust treatments should never be used.
WHAT TO USE?
For pre-finished wood floors, consumers should follow the directions of the flooring manufacturer as to which cleaning products to use. This is extremely important, because not following those directions may void the manufacturer's warranty of the wood floor.