It is truly amazing today how many new colorations, wood species, and widths are available to homeowners. Besides the common North American hardwoods (such as oak, maple, hickory and ash), many hardwood floorings now offer exotic hardwood species from all around the World. Red oak is still one of the the most popular and commonly used hardwood floors. If you are looking for ways to really express your own personal interior decorating tastes with a more unique looking wood floor you need to go see the exotic wood floors offered by many of the hardwood flooring brands.
There are two general types of hardwood floors: Solid and Engineered.
Solid – Solid wood floors have been used for centuries and never seem to loose their charm and warmth. We generally think of solid hardwood floors as a 3/4″ thick plank that comes in a narrow 2 1/4″ strip and has to be finished on the job-site. This is the classic hardwood strip floor.
Unfinished solid oak floors come in several different qualities. These qualities are clear, select and better, #1 common, and #2 common. The clear has no visual blemishes or knots and is extremely expensive. The select and better quality has some small knots and very little dark graining, while the #1 common and #2 common have more knots and more dark graining. When buying an unfinished solid wood floor make sure you know which quality you are buying.
Solid wood planks are cut out as a solid block right from the tree. The wood blocks are then sawn into solid flooring planks with tongue and grooves edges. The planks are then either pre-finished at the factory or placed into unfinished bundles of varying lengths.
All solid wood floors will react to the presence of moisture. In the winter heating months, the lack of humidity can cause solid wood floors to contract which leaves unsightly gaps between each plank. In the summer months when the humidity is higher, the wood planks will expand and the gapping will disappear. If there is too much moisture present, the wood planks may cup or buckle. This is why it is so important to leave the proper expansion gap along all vertical walls and to acclimate the solid wood planks prior to installation. (Engineered wood planks are not nearly as effected by humidity as solid wood floors.
Engineered – Engineered hardwood floors are often confused with laminate floors by consumers. Engineered hardwood floors are not laminate floors, so be careful when shopping for a new floor. They are constructed differently from solid wood floors and offer some advantages over solid wood floors.
Put simply, these floors are constructed by putting several plies of wood on top of each other and then gluing them together to form a solid plank. These planks range in thickness from ¼ inch to just over a half inch. Thanks to advancements in manufacturing technology, engineered wood floors can be used in almost any room in the home. This includes installing over dry, concrete slabs and some types of existing flooring. Therefore, homeowners can enjoy the beauty of a real hardwood floor in areas they thought not possible before with solid wood flooring.
Most engineered wood floors are prefinished at the factory, which eliminates the mess, extra time and vapors associated with applying the finish coats on the job-site. prefinished wood floors are ready to be walked on right after the installation is completed. No long waiting for staining and applying coats of finish. Most factory applied finishes are UV-cured with ultra violet lights which creates a much harder finish than a job-site finish. In addition, the manufacturer can apply more coats of finish as well giving added protection.
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