Wood Flooring: What You Need To Know

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Hardwood flooring is one of the most popular types of floors available. Hardwood floors are beautiful, durable and good for your health. The elegant look of a hardwood floor can add warmth and character to any room in a home. The natural characteristics of wood add depth and a visual appearance that many other types of floors try to duplicate.

hardwood flooringWith the demand for hardwood flooring growing manufacturer’s are enhancing their ranges to meet this demand, with better quality finishes and superior construction techniques. Hardwood floors come in a wide variety of wood species, colours and widths. Besides the classic hardwoods (like red oak, cherry, maple, ash, hickory, walnut, birch) many manufacturers now offer exotic hardwood species from all over the World (like mahogany, pecan, beech, chestnut, cypress and teak). Exotic hardwoods give homeowners the chance to better express their own personal decorating tastes with a more unique looking floor. With so many different types of hardwood flooring now available it is sometime hard to choose which is best suited to you.

Different Types of Wood Flooring

Solid wooden floors are made with each individual piece made from one piece of wood. They have tongue and groove sides and come in either pre-finished or unfinished styles. These floors can be sensitive to moisture and therefore it is not recommended to install them below ground level, or directly over a concrete slab. They are installed only by nailing them down to the sub floor. These floors can be refinished several times, which adds to their long life and appeal. Some solid hardwood floors can be found to be over 100 years old and yet are still in good condition.

All solid wood floors will react to the presence of moisture or changes in humidity. In the winter heating months, a lack of humidity leaves the wood causing the floor to shrink a little, which can leave gaps between each plank. In the summer months when the humidity is higher the wood will expand and the gaps will disappear. This is why it is important when installing a solid strip floor to leave the proper expansion area around the perimeter and to acclimatize the wood prior to installation. If there is excessive humidity or if moisture (caused by wet basement or a water leak) becomes a problem it will cause the wood planks to cup, or buckle.

hardwood flooringEngineered wood floors – These floors are made by gluing several plies of wood together. The centre core is generally a softer wood material and is used to make the tongue and groove. The top layer is the hardwood finish layer and it is glued on top of the centre core. This top ply called the finish layer can be constructed of almost any wood species. Other softer wood plies are attached underneath the core.

Wood always wants to expand in a certain direction. In the presence of moisture solid wood planks will expand across the width of the planks, rather than down the length of the boards. To avoid this problem, manufacturers of engineered planks place each ply in the opposite direction of each other. This is called cross-ply construction.
Once the wood layers are glued together the plies will counteract each other, making it more stable. It helps stop the planks from growing or shrinking with changes in the humidity. Engineered wood floors are designed for the floating installation and can be glued together or some now come with a click system.

hardwood flooringVeneer wood floors are very similar to laminate floors. The only difference is that the top wear layer is a thin piece or real hardwood instead of a photographic image as in laminates. Veneer flooring is usually around 8mm in thickness with the top hardwood layer being around 0.7mm. Advantages of a veneer floors are that they are fast and easy to install yet you have a real hardwood floor.

Hardwood flooring will enhance the visual appeal and style of any room. You may be surprised at just how much hardwood floors will transform your living spaces. Adding a high quality hardwood floor will add lasting value to your home. Whether you’re renovating your home or upgrading it to sell, you can never go wrong with hardwood.

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