What You Need to Know About Hardwood Flooring

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Hardwoods are becoming very popular in American homes today. There are many types of construction, finishes, installation methods and refinishing techniques. In this article, we will discuss each of these in detail so a consumer can make an educated decision on what hardwood option is appropriate for their home or office.

This article will help you determine which floors are best for your particular situation and help you avoid some common homeowner mistakes when buying hardwood flooring.

Wood Floor Construction

Solid – These floors are a complete piece of solid wood from top to bottom. They generally are 3/4″ thick, however, new technology in milling is allowing for a 5/16″ thickness as well. All solid products react to moisture. In the winter, moisture leaves the wood causing the floor to contract or leave gaps between each board. In the summer when humidity is in the wood, it will cause the wood to expand and if there is too much moisture it can cause it to bow.

Engineered – are products that have 2, 3, or 5 layers of wood laminated together to become one board. These products will arrange in thickness from 1/4″ to 9/16″ and widths from 2 ¼” to 7″. Engineered floors have layers of wood that have a cross-graining lamination process resulting in a product that is dimensionally stable and not affected by moisture as greatly as solids. Engineered floors become very stable so they do not expand and contact like solid products. Installation options are nail down, staple down, glue down, or float.

Longstrip – Is similar to engineered products, but these products are “Long” planks – approximately 84″ in length – and have individual sliced cut slats that are glued together to make up each plank. Longstrip boards can have as few as 17 slats per board or as many as 35 slats per board. Longstrip products are designed for a floating installation, but certain manufacturers also recommend glue down and/or staple down.

Parquet – are floors with many unique patterns, but generally are 12″x12″ squares. Six 1″ fillets are assembled into 6″x6″ squares and then four of these are quarter-turned to make the 12″x12″ square. Patterned parquets are very elegant and can add a special feature to your wood floor.

Parquets are a glue-down installation either on-grade or above-grade.

Wood Finishes

UV-cured – Factory finishes that are cured with ultra violet lights versus heat.

Polyurethane – A clear, tough, durable finish.

Acrylic Urethane – A slightly different chemical make up than polyurethane with the same benefits.

Ceramic – Advanced technology that allows the use of ceramics to increase the abrasion resistance of the wear layer.

Aluminum Oxide – Added to the urethane finish for increased abrasion resistance of the wear layer.

Acrylic Impregnated – Acrylic monomers are injected into the cell structure of the wood to give increased hardness and then finished with a wear layer over the wood.

Wood Installation Methods

Nail Down – Typically used with the 3/4″ solid products, however there are adapters available for thinner products as well. 2″ nailing cleats are used with a wood flooring nailer and mallet to attach the flooring to the subfloor.

Staple Down – Staples are used versus nailing cleats to attach the wood flooring to the subfloor. A pneumatic gun is used to drive the staple into the wood flooring and subfloor. This procedure is easier than the nail down for do-it-yourself installations.

Glue Down – Mastic or adhesive is spread on with a trowel to adhere the wood flooring to the subfloor.

Floating – Floating refers that these floors are not mechanically fastened to the subfloor. There is a thin pad that is placed between the wood flooring and the subfloor. A wood glue is applied in the tongue and groove of each plank to hold the planks together.

Wood Refinishing

Most of the UV cured urethanes that are used today are durable enough that it should take many years before you have to refinish your hardwood floor. The days of heavy, destructive floor finishing equipment are gone. Find a company that uses sanding equipment that is lightweight, maneuverable, and very house friendly; then you don’t have to worry about your furniture, baseboards, or walls with the equipment.

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