Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring adds life and value to any home. There are many types of hardwood and many styles to choose from. When selecting wood flooring for your home or commercial space, you will want to first consider the finish color. Choose either a natural or stained finish that best blends and coordinates with your home’s decor. Transitions to different flooring surfaces, such as carpet and tile, will have an impact on your overall interior design aesthetics. Light color wood finish will certainly brighten up a room, while dark colored finishes will add warmth and depth to your environment. Lighting, windows, and sun direction also play a role in choosing the right wood floor. After you have selected a general color scheme, you will want to decide on wood species. Some of the most popular species include Hickory, Oak, Maple, Walnut, Brazilian Cherry, Santos Mahogany, and Bamboo. There are well over one hundred wood species to choose from. American species, such as Red Oak, White Oak, North American Maple, and Hickory / Pecan, are among the most popular. Some of the most popular exotic species from around the globe include Brazilian Cherry, Brazilian Walnut, Santos Mahogany, Asian Walnut, and Bamboo.

Solid wood flooring, though it is decreasing in popularity, is the most prestigious. However, it can also be problematic in terms of defect and maintenance issues. Solid flooring is certainly worth the investment, but it does cost more, both for materials and installation hours and precision. The upside of solid wood is that it can be sanded and refinished multiple times, potentially lasting several generations, perhaps hundreds of years. Most solid wood floors are 3/4″ thick and should be used in installation surfaces either on grade or above grade interiors. Lower profile solid planks, particularly those approaching the 5/16″ thickness, are less stable, and can be difficult to install and maintain in most species and grades of wood. One of the many benefits of solid wood flooring is that it can be sanded and refinished many times. Bear in mind that solid wood responds to variation in temperature and humidity. As the seasons change, you may notice gaps between the planks, typically in the colder months, or cupping, typically in the summer months of high humidity and temperatures. Wood is most definitely wood – it moves with seasonal and interior environmental changes. If you are looking for worry-free wood flooring, you may want to consider engineered hardwood.

Engineered hardwood flooring products look and feel just like solid wood. In fact, engineered wood floors are real wood. The difference is that engineered wood is composed of multiple layers of hardwood, typically three to 14 layers, which are plies of hardwood bonded together. This “engineered” cross-ply construction adds immensely to a floor’s stability and durability. Engineered wood floors are able to withstand greater moisture content and temperature / humidity fluctuation. They will not expand and contract to the degree that solid wood flooring does, given a comparable interior environment. Unlike solid wood, they can be installed below grade, in many cases, and are a overall more simple to install and in a wider variety of applications. The wear layer, or ply “face” (top layer) of engineered wood flooring may be any of hundreds of varieties of species, styles, stains, and textures. Style and design options are virtually unlimited. Engineered wood can be sanded and refinished one to 10 times, but most often a “screen and recoat” process is sufficient to revive the aesthetic appearance – this does not remove any wood in the process, but only abrades the top coat of urethane to be replaced with a fresh coat. The screen and recoat process can be performed every 10-30 years or so.

When you think of hardwood floors, the old 3/4″ thick 2 1/4″ wide strip planks may come to mind. Hardwood floors have come a long way since the days where classic longstrip flooring was the norm. In addition to strip planks, interior designers and homeowners now have options limited only by one’s imagination, everything from acrylic impregnated wood to reclaimed oak or pine from 200 year old barns or structures.

Hardwood flooring installation best practices are varied yet particular. A professional installation crew will know exactly how to address every aspect of the project, including preliminary testing, and interior environment preparations. In some cases, depending on the condition and type of foundation and the type of floor being installed, some additional preparatory work may be required, e.g. moisture barrier application, concrete sealer, self leveling compound application, etc., to ensure that your particular wood floor performs perfectly in your home or commercial space.