What type of wood flooring should I install in my home?
Are you confused with all the information out there about hardwood floors? You are not alone. Choosing a wood floor need not be a daunting task. Let me help by clarifying any misinformation you may have received.
In this article I will cover general information about un-finished, pre-finished, engineered wood floors and laminates. Not all wood floors are created equal and if in doubt consult your local wood flooring contractor.
Remember, there are many factors in choosing a specific type of flooring. Later I will discuss wood floors in further detail and cover such topics as: proper flooring with radiant heat, hardness and the Janka scale, flooring design, staining and dyeing floors and more!
By now, you have probably been given advise at home shows, your local do-it-your-self-store and finally from friends and family. Let’s cover the basics and always remember, the quality of a flooring job is only as good as the flooring which is being installed.
Unfinished Wood Floors
Before pre-finished and engineered hardwood floors all floors were laid onsite and finished onsite. A solid unfinished wood floor laid onsite is usually 3/4″ thick. The width will vary depending on the specs for the job. When installing using the traditional process, the customer has a better selection of wood to choose from as well as the option to include intricate patterns, in-lays and borders. The end product is smooth without beveled edges and the color options are limitless with the traditional installation. The solid wood floor can be refinished many times lasting up to 100 years depending on wear.
Pre-finished Wood Floors
Pre-finished wood floors definitely have an appeal because they are factory finished. The consumer need not deal with the sanding process or the odor from stains and polyurethanes. Therefore, this may be a good alternative for those with allergies or other health issues.
The installation of a pre-finished product is more time consuming because the boards have the color and finish applied and more care needs to be taken during the fitting. Unlike floors that are finished on site, pre-finished wood flooring have beveled edging which can trap dirt and dust.
Be sure your pre-finished floor is a solid product and ideally ¾” thickness. A properly manufactured solid pre-finished wood floor often can be sanded up to 7 – 8 times depending on wear.
Some common brands of solid pre-finished wood flooring are Mercier, Mirage, Bruce, Hawa, and Owens to name a few.
Engineered Wood Floors:
When dealing with engineered floors you should understand plies and wear layers. Engineered hardwood flooring is constructed in a factory with layers of wood veneer glued and heat pressed together. Thickness can range from 1/4 inch up to 5/8 inch, having 3-9 layers or plies. The more plies, the more stable the flooring. The top layer or the wear layer thickness can range depending on the manufacturer. The wear layer thickness is important as it dictates how many times the floor can be sanded and maintained.
The engineered product is either unfinished or prefinished with either stain color or clear finish. Depending on the thickness, you may get one or more sanding out of an engineered hard wood floor. There are many different brands of engineered wood flooring on the market and understanding the difference is crucial for your investment and satisfaction.
When choosing an engineered wood floor it is best to look for a 9 ply product with the thickest wear layer. Some common brands are: Mercier, Ashawa Bay, Bruce and Kahrs.
Laminate flooring is compressed sawdust that is glued together. The surface of this flooring product is merely a photographed image of a finished hardwood floor. A laminate floor is not a solid wood floor and cannot be sanded or refinished. If a laminate floor is worn or damaged it becomes a throw away product.
It is to the consumers benefit to install a solid wood floor that will bring years of beauty and sustainability.
Wood Floor Design
Wood floors are available in a multitude of sizes and species. The complexity of your flooring job can range from in-lays, medallions, and custom borders to a plain strip flooring or a wide plank floor. The options are endless. Stay tuned for more on flooring design options.