Wood flooring is timeless. It enhances the warmth of any home and complements the decor of any room.
Like a fine piece of furniture, wood flooring increases in value and becomes more beautiful with time. In a national survey, 90 percent of real estate agents said that houses with wood flooring sell faster and for more money.
Wood is a natural resource, renewable and recyclable. Buildings, barns, ships and other structures made of wood often find a second life in wood flooring, cabinets, walls and ceilings. And leading allergists agree that wood floors are the perfect choice for a healthy home.
The state-of-the-art technology and almost limitless choices of today’s stains, finishes, styles and designs make wood flooring one of the most practical, easy-care and versatile floor coverings today. Maintained properly, wood flooring should never have to be replaced.
Wood flooring comes in a wide variety of wood species, surface finishes and widths. Oak is the most popular wood flooring and readily available. Other standard hardwoods include: cherry, maple, walnut, pine, poplar and ash. Many wood flooring manufacturers now offer exotic wood species from all over the globe. Exotic wood flooring offers consumers a flooring product that is a cut above the rest, making a statement about their taste and lifestyle. With so many different species and types of wood flooring on the market it is sometimes difficult to select which floor is best suited to your needs.
Different Types of Wood Flooring
Solid wood flooring is one solid piece of wood that has tongue and groove sides. Solid hardwood floors are available in either prefinished or unfinished. Solid hardwood floors are susceptible to moisture and it is not recommended to install directly over a concrete slab or below grade. This hardwood floor should be for nail-down installations only. You can usually refinish a solid hardwood floor several times before it is sanded down to its tongue joints. A solid hardwood floor can last over 100 years and still look good condition.
The presence of moisture will warp all solid wood flooring. If there is an abundance of moisture it may cause the wood planks to buckle or cup. That’s why it is critical when installing a solid hardwood flooring to acclimatize the wood before installation and leave the appropriate expansion joint around the perimeter.
Engineered wood floors – Engineered hardwood is in fact produced with three to five layers of hardwood. Each layer is stacked in a cross-grain arrangement and glued together under heat and pressure. As a result, an engineered hardwood floor is less likely to be affected by humidity and can be installed on all floors of the home. A hardwood finish layer is bonded on top and another softer wood ply is bonded below the center. The top finish layer can be constructed of almost any hardwood specie, finish or color.
Factory Prefinished Wood Flooring
Most factory finished hardwood has several coats of wood finish applied to the surface. Most hardwood floor manufacturers are applying 6-10 coats of a ultra-violet (UV) cured urethane. These finishes remain on the surface of the hardwood and form a protective coating. Surfaces finishes are popular today because they are durable, water-resistant and require minimal maintenance. Various gloss levels are available.
The most common finishes are:
- Oil-modified urethane offers the amber tones of an oil finish and can be used in a home where lower levels of traffic are likely. It is easy to apply and dries in about eight hours.
- Moisture-cured urethane provides excellent abrasion resistance and good chemical resistance on hardwood surfaces that are exposed to high abuse. Performs well as sealer or finish and is more durable and more moisture resistant than other surface finishes. Moisture-cure urethane is extremely difficult to apply and it has a very unpleasant (toxic) odor. A respirator is a must when applying. Moisture-cure urethane comes in non-yellowing satin or gloss finish.
- Waterbased Urethane is formulated to provide a high gloss finish with outstanding color and gloss retention and also resists yellowing. It ensures an outstanding appearance year after year even in harsh environments. They have a milder odor and dry in about two to three hours.
- Penetrating Stain and Wax – This finish soaks into the pores of the hardwood and hardens to form a protective penetrating seal. A rich blend of oil and resin gives hardwood floors a soft, satiny sheen.
Unfinished Hardwood Floors
Unfinished hardwood floors means that you begin with a bare hardwood floor and than the floor is sanded, stained, and finished in the home. The process does take several days, and is pretty messy but your floor will be finished to your specifications.