wood floors offer a rich, warm feeling to any home. They
also add value to the home. You can choose from a square
edge natural maple for a contemporary feel or a hand-scraped
hickory for a more rustic look. As each species has its
own unique characteristics, take your time looking at a
variety of samples to determine which one is most appealing
to you. Do you prefer a wood with knots and mineral streaks
or one that is more "clean" looking?
Maybe the uniqueness of an exotic species intrigues you. And
don't forget, if you are concerned about environmental issues
with wood flooring, but love the look, there are environmentally
friendly "green" products now available with cork
Solid and Engineered
Wood floors are available either solid or engineered. Which
type you choose will depend on the location of the flooring
in your home and the type of subfloor that you have. Solid wood
floors are just like the name implies - each piece is a solid
piece of wood all the way through. Advantages to solid wood
are that your floor can be customized with a variety of species,
stains, medallions and borders, and you can sand and refinish
the thick wear layer several times. Solid wood floors require
a wood subfloor for a nail down installation and because they
are more susceptible to moisture than engineered, they should
be installed above the ground level (above grade).
Engineered wood floors are 3-5 thinner layers of wood bonded
together with an alternating ply direction. The top layer is
a hardwood veneer of the species you have chosen. Advantages
to engineered wood flooring are that because it is more dimensionally
stable it adapts more easily to varying degrees of temperature
and humidity (less cupping or warping of the boards), they can
be installed below, at, or above grade, and finishes are factory
applied where conditions are more stable. Engineered wood floors
are installed over wood or concrete subfloors and sometimes
over an existing floor. They are available in glue down, staple
down and floating floor options.
Finishes and Finishing
Most popular now are urethane and aluminum oxide finishes.
With urethane, there are multiple coats applied with a clear
appearance. Aluminum oxide is the fourth hardest known substance
and therefore a long wear warranty is typically provided with
this finish. For the original wood floor finish look, wax is
still available, but is not as popular as it once was - maybe
because of the continued maintenance that doesn't fit our busy
lifestyles. For commercial applications, an acrylic impregnated
finish is a low maintenance option.
There are two places to have your wood floor finished - on
the jobsite or at the factory. If done on the jobsite, the floor
will need to be installed, sanded, and then finished. This can
take 2-3 weeks and will create some mess. However, you have
a limitless number of colors and stains to choose from, your
floor can be sanded perfectly smooth, and you can create additional
beauty with medallions, borders, and different patterns. A factory
finish is one that has been prefinished before making it to
your home. Installation is usually only 1-1 1/2 weeks, does
not create a mess, and the finish is factory controlled and
therefore superior. Although you will have limited colors and
styles with a prefinished floor and it may not turn out perfectly
smooth, there are many selections to choose from now.
Sizes, Edges, Styles
wood flooring is available in strip (typically 1 1/4 - 2
1/4" in width), plank (typically 3 - 8" in
width), and parquet (a patterned floor in many shapes and
There are also different edge options available. An eased
edge offers a slight bevel between the strips of wood. These
grooves are often referred to as dirt control channels because
they give the dirt somewhere to go other than on top of your
floor. A square edge is flat and smooth across the surface.
No matter what you are looking for, there is a real wood floor
style for you. There are traditional oak, pecan, and hickory
floors. These species and many others can be found distressed
or handscraped. If you have not seen these yet, take a look.
An old and worn appearance is obtained by using chains, torches,
ice picks, scrapers, hammers, etc. Or, check out the exotic
hardwoods and the environmentally friendly products. They all
have interesting and unique personalities and one is sure to
complement your home perfectly.
and "Green" Products
With the current understanding of forestry management, the
popularity of exotic hardwoods has been growing during the past
decade. Exotics are from overseas - Brazilian Cherry, Australian
Cypress, Teak, Merbau, and many others. These naturally colored
floors can be quite beautiful and dramatic and are generally
harder and more durable. As the color will naturally deepen
with time, be open to your installation varying somewhat from
the sample you selected.
are our environmentally friendly wood floor options - cork
and bamboo. Cork is actually the bark from a cork oak tree
that is mostly found in coastal regions in Portugal and Spain.
The trees can be reharvested every 9-11 years and have a life
expectancy of 100-150 years. As well as providing your home
with an unusual look, cork is cushiony and quite resilient,
antimicrobial, and even contains a natural insect repellent!
The selection process can be quite fun with all of the looks
to choose from.
Bamboo is also a product that is regenerated fairly quickly.
It is actually a grass that is grown in China and takes 4-6
years to reach maturity for harvesting. On average, bamboo is
harder than red oak. Like cork, bamboo is available in a variety
of stains. To have a positive influence on our environment,
consider these two renewable resources for your home.
Purchasing Your Wood Floor
Now that you have selected your amazing real wood floor, it's
time to make the purchase. Whether the purchase is made by you
or your builder or installer, you will probably want to know
what is being purchased and why. The wood itself will be purchased
by the square footage amount needed to cover plus a waste factor
of 5-10%. The waste factor is dependent upon factors such as
width of plank, layout of the floor and location (more angles,
more waste). Depending on the type of installation and finishing
method, there will be items needed such as glue, visqueen, stain,
etc. Good items to have on hand after your floor is installed
is a touch up kit and the manufacturer recommended cleaners.
And lastly, you will need transition pieces or moldings. Do
not expect them to match your floor perfectly. They will blend
nicely, but the shade will vary due mostly to shade and grain
variation in wood.