Hardwood Features & Benefits
There are many aspects to consider when choosing hardwood flooring. The type of construction, finish and installation methods are all decisions in which you will be involved. There are hundreds of choices in style and color with today’s options, even spanning into exotic hardwoods. Most wood floors are available in several grades in a wide range of prices.
- Your floor’s appearance will depend greatly on the species of tree from which it’s made as well as the stain you choose.
- The species are wide and varied, including Cherry, Oak, Maple, Hickory, Pine, Ash, Cedar, Walnut, Brazilian Cherry, Doussie, Iroko, Beech, Birch, Red Oak, Jarrah, Merbau, and Rosewood.
- Oak is by far the most popular in the U.S.
- Each species has its own identifying grain pattern, color, and texture. The pronounced grain and natural golden color of oak, for example, would never be confused with that of the reddish tone of cherry.
Talk with your design consultant to see what species are offered for your home.
There are two constructions of wood commonly sold – Solid and Engineered. Deciding on where you will install your floor will help determine which type of wood flooring you should choose. Solid wood construction is generally used when installing over a wood subfloor where the hardwood will be nailed to the subfloor. Engineered wood construction is generally used when the floor is installed in basements or over slab concrete where the hardwood floor needs to adhere to the subfloor with glue, staples or a “floating” system.
Engineered Hardwoods are made of multiple layers of wood stacked in a cross grain and topped by a finished layer of hardwood. These layers are bonded together under heat and pressure giving an engineered wood floor extreme strength and stability. The thickness of the hardwood layer is such that it can usually be refinished one to two times. Because engineered hardwood is not a solid plank, sometimes home buyers wonder if it is “real wood.” The answer is yes… it is the real deal!
Solid Hardwoods are most likely those you are more familiar with. This is a solid plank of wood with a typical thickness of ¾” or more, which allows for refinishing several times. Solid hardwood tends to be slightly less stable than engineered products, particularly in areas of high humidity such as basements or slab foundations.
Below, you’ll find a chart which will allow you to compare the features of Engineered Hardwoods to that of Solid Hardwoods. Talk to your design consultant about the specific options offered by your builder.
|Species||Nearly unlimited variety||Unlimited variety|
|Sizes||Up to 5/8″ thick
Can be refinished typically 1-2 times
2″ to 8″ plank widths
|Usually 1″ thick
Can be refinished several times
2″ to 8″ plank widths
|Gloss Level||Choose from standard high-gloss to a satin or low-gloss finish.||Choose from standard high-gloss to a satin or low-gloss finish.|
|Installation Options||Can be installed in most any room including concrete slab or basement.
Glued, stapled or floating depending on the subfloor.
|More susceptible to humidity and, thus, should be installed above ground level.
Combination of a glue and nail down installation.
|Finishes||Pre-finished or Site-finished are both available||Pre-finished or Site-finished are both available|
|Edge Styles||Square, Micro, Beveled, and Eased edges are a few of the design options available in edge styles||Square, Micro, Beveled, and Eased edges are a few of the design options available in edge styles|
Wood styles come in strips, planks, or parquet tiles with a variety of edge treatments including square, micro, and beveled edges. You can choose from a wide range of stains to complement your décor and from two types of finishes: urethane or wax. Both finishes can be enjoyed as soon as the floor is installed. Keep in mind that, although unfinished wood floors can be less expensive to purchase, they are considerably more work to install and the finish may not last as long unless it is recoated every five to seven years.
The technology of modern protective finishes has come a long way, making wood flooring more practical than ever. Urethane finishes are the most popular today because their ultraviolet light-cured finish allows for easier maintenance and longevity. Most finishes also contain aluminum oxide that enhances durability. Still, because of the nature of the material, wood is susceptible to scratches, dents and dings from high heels, household accidents and such.
In this day and age, there is little need for sanding and refinishing a wood floor. Instead, you can just reapply the urethane finish every ten to fifteen years – which will revitalize the shine and make the floor appear new again. Wood floors should only be sanded or refinished if they suffer severe damage, or if you desire a new color.