There are several aspects to consider when selecting a quality Hard Wood Floor. Following is a brief step-by-step approach for a novice buyer. Start by selecting a specie and then find out what pattern, construction and finish. Different species have very different characteristics and attributes such as appearance (color, grain), properties (hardness, dimensional stability), workability (sanding, nailing, finishing), cost and availability.
Next Consider The Pattern (Type/Design) Of Your New Hard Wood Floor
- Strip: usually in the standard 2 1/4" or 3" width, and random length.
- Plank: usually between 3" and 8" wide, in fixed or random width and length.
- Longstrip & Longplank: usually about 7 feet long and 7" wide boards with strips glued together and on the next layer in this engineered construction.
- Parquet: usually a 12" by 12" square with an endless choice of geometric designs.
Many people chose strips for a more contemporary look. It creates a linear effect in a room, often promoting the illusion of a larger space. If a clear select grade (best) is chosen, it gives the room a more uniform color and a narrow modern look.
Planks are appropriate when a traditional decor, a country feel, or an antique colonial style is desired. Plank flooring is also linear, however it is wider in width. One can chose planks with plenty of knots for a rustic appearance.
Parquet, along with inlays (borders, medallions, other species, etc.) and other custom designs, can give a wooden floor an elegant and exclusive look. Parquet offers a variety of design options, when linear is not your preference.
Generally speaking, a dark colored specie (or a dark stained floor) gives a more formal, or traditional look. Some species, like American Cherry and Brazilian Cherry, darken faster than others from direct sunlight (ultra violet light) and from age. Lighter colors, especially maple or oak, are used in country or contemporary type interiors.
Then You Should Consider The Construction. Hard Wood Floors Can Be Solid or Engineered
Solid wood floor is one complete piece of solid wood from top to bottom. It must be nailed down (or glued down if 18" or shorter strips are installed) over a wood subfloor.
Engineered wood floors (also called laminated) is a construction of 3 or 5 layers of wood laminated together. Because of the cross-grain lamination construction, engineered floors are very dimensionally stable and do not expand and contract like a solid product. Engineered floors can be installed on any grade level with nail down, glue down, or floating methods. Engineered floors are most often pre-finished.
Finally Choose The Finish (Pre-Finished or Unfinished)
Pre-finished flooring comes with a durable and consistent factory finish. No sanding and no finishing is needed and the job is therefore completed more quickly, typically in one day versus four to six days for site-finished, meaning there is no need to move out. Pre-finished floors eliminate the dust, noise, and odor involved in the job-site finishing process.
Unfinished (i.e. site-finished) is the traditional wood flooring to many people. There are more options for colors, stains and types of finishes, which all contribute to the personalization of a solid floor.
Recommended Considerations For Any Exotic Wood Flooring or Local Wood Flooring
Wide Plank floors are also often used in contemporary settings. Like using large format ceramic tile for bathroom floors to make the room feel larger, wide planks also create the feeling of greater space. Many of the "exotic" or sub-equatorial species allow for wide or even super-wide plank widths and long lengths.
Custom floors offer the widest range of species, plank size, hand-scrape or other surface treatments, colors, and factory finishes in solid or engineered construction.
Also make sure your floor is made in the USA. Much of the flooring found at the big box stores is coming out of China, are made with sub-standard plywood, and contain toxic levels of formaldehyde.
Many of the parquet patterns, like a Versailles, are done in larger formats, like 36". Some of the smaller parquets range from 16" to 22". A custom parquet allows the size to be adjusted slightly to fit the room proportions, with or without a border of planking.
It's important to keep in mind that wood flooring has different grades; unfinished wood has explicit, legally binding, well defined grades with detailed explanations, used by many manufacturers; prefinished wood has descriptive, custom grades defined by each manufacturer's marketing and advertising departments with vague and persuasive words. Grades are defined by the size and number of natural characteristics found in trees and the lumber and veneer from them, such as knots, wormholes, mineral deposits, sapwood and heartwood, grain; and production factors such as board lengths, sticker stains and milling imperfections. Just as you can order beef and get filet mignon, pot roast and hamburger, you can get Walnut flooring and get Clear, #1 Common, or #2 Common (unfinished), or Prime, Standard, Country, or Cabin prefinished (or whatever descriptions a manufacturer may use).
One Final Tip About Bevel or Eased Wood Flooring
You can select either a beveled edge or a square edge for your hardwood floors. Today, most manufacturers refer to their beveled edge as an “eased edge” because the tapered edge has been reduced dramatically from the old fashioned grooved edges.
Beveled edges do serve a purpose, however. Manufacturers can produce beveled edge planks faster than square edge planks, which lowers their production costs — a savings they can pass on to the buyer. In addition, a beveled edge floor can be more forgiving when installed over irregular subfloors and uneven plank heights won’t abut each other — a situation called “overwood.”
Another benefit of a bevel or eased edge floor is it reduces the visible (and physical)impact of expansion and contraction of the boards/planks. A sand and finish on site floor will show gaps when the floor is in a contracted state. Walk on this floor in socks or bare feet and you will feel the sharp edges. Not so with the eased edge floor.
Unique Wood Floors is Here to Help
If you have questions or would like to learn more about how Unique Wood Floors can help you get the best price and make the right decision on your hard wood floor choice please give us a call at 952-994-9696.