In the last two posts we’ve looked at the selection, grading and planing of hardwood flooring. Now we’re at the final stage of manufacturing and taking a closer look at the finishing process, when protective coatings and sealants are applied to hardwood and engineered wood flooring.
Finished or Unfinished?
Some lines of hardwood floors are sold as unfinished, which means no sealants, stains or coatings have been applied after the planing and milling process. While these types may be less expensive initially, you’ll need to hire a professional to stain and seal the hardwood for longevity and optimum appearance.
Although the finish is not as tough as manufactured finishes, unfinished wood flooring can be customized to your exact specifications. These include sheen level, stain, and textures.
Finishing Hardwood Floors
Stain and/or sealant is applied to planks for prefinished hardwood flooring. Semi-transparent stain absorbs into the wood for deep, uniform color and, where applicable, clear sealants are applied on the outermost layer to create a barrier against moisture and allow for easy cleaning.
After years of wear this stain can be removed with heavy duty sanders and reapplied for a fresh new look. The ability to refinish your flooring remains one of the most important benefits of solid hardwood, although high end engineered wood flooring products can also be refinished once or twice in a lifetime depending on the wear-layer.
Finishing Engineered Wood Floors
Engineered wood flooring presents a layer of solid hardwood affixed to a tightly designed plywood core. Stain and sealants are applied to this top layer in the same way as prefinished hardwood floors.
A specialized process, called acrylic impregnation, creates the highest levels of durability and quality in engineered wood flooring. During this finishing process a mixture of liquid acrylic and your choice of stain is actually forced or impregnated into the top layer of wood, creating a beautiful finish as well as supporting the cell structure of the flooring.
Consumers find that acrylic impregnated brands last much longer, result in less fading and are more resistant to dents and damage. Because the stain penetrates deeply into the wood, this finish remains uniform for a greater length of time. And liquid acrylic helps to bolster the strength of this product, fighting against heavy traffic and constant wear. Opt for this type of engineered wood flooring in hallways, kitchens and living areas where your family will best appreciate the strength and appearance.
Once hardwood or engineered wood floor planks have been finished and packaged they will head to your favorite retailer. Make your selection from the wide range of species, profiles and finishes, looking for a product that will suit all of your needs.
Now that you know how hardwood flooring is made, it should be easier to choose high quality products that will look fantastic in your home.