Selecting and Purchasing Hardwood
Hardwood flooring offers a wide variety of design options. From standard plank types to hand cut intricate patterns the clean, sharp look and feel of hardwood evokes a sense of comfort, warmth and beauty.
Solid Wood flooring comes in three basic types:
Strip flooring accounts for the majority of installations. Strips usually 2-1/4 inches wide, but also come in widths ranging from 1-1/2 inches to 3-1/4 inches. They are installed by nailing to the subfloor.
Plank flooring boards are at least 3 inches wide. They may be screwed to the subfloor as well as nailed. Screw holes can be covered with wooden plugs.
Parquet flooring comes in standard patterns of 6″ x 6″ blocks. Specialty patterns may range up to 36″ square units. Parquet often achieves dramatic geometric effects of special design patterns.
Solid wood floors can be installed on a concrete slab as long as the floor is on or above ground level. They can be sanded and refinished over several generations of use.
Solid wood flooring expands and contracts with changes in your home’s relative humidity. Normally, installers compensate for this movement by leaving an expansion gap between the floor and the wall. Base molding is the traditional “cover-up” for this gap.
Made of several layers of different woods or different grades of same wood stacked and glued together under heat and pressure. Engineered wood flooring is less likely to be affected by changes in humidity and can be installed above, on, or below ground level. Some engineered wood floors with thicker top layers can be sanded up to three times. Some can’t be sanded at all.
A plywood base topped with a layer of veneer. Plies and thicknesses vary, but three-ply, 3/8 inch flooring is most common. (Remember that solid hardwood floors, at 3/4 inch, are twice as thick as wood laminates.) The veneer topping of wood laminate floors (commonly 1/8 inch thick) can be sanded and refinished (in rare cases, three times.) Most manufacturer warranties cover the finish for five years.
Usually 1/2 inch thick, plastic laminate flooring consists of a fiberboard center wrapped in top and bottom layers of high-pressure laminate — a tougher version of the same material used in many kitchen countertops. These floors cannot be sanded or refinished and must be removed when they wear out. They usually come with 10- or 15-year manufacturer warranties against fading, stains and wear.
Hardwood flooring is as popular as ever, and now there is pretty much every style at every price point.