There are many types of prefinished hardwood flooring products on the market today, which makes it very important for interior designers, decorators and homeowners to determine their particular performance, style and installation requirements. Selecting the type of prefinished wood for the floor is usually a matter of personal preference. The inherent color and grain of the tree is going to show through any finish applied. However, some woods are harder than others. The harder types of wood usually look better in heavy-traffic areas.
There are essentially two types of wood flooring constructions: Traditional solid oak and engineered products. Engineered wood floors, available in three-- and five-ply varieties, consist of wood pressed together with the grains running in different directions. This makes it more dimensionally stable than solid wood, meaning the floor will expand and contract less during changes in humidity and temperature. Engineered products are built to withstand moisture, which makes them applicable for many commercial applications.
Most engineered wood floors are factory-finished and backed by extensive warranties covering both finish and structural integrity. By comparison, warranties for unfinished products vary by flooring contractor or installer because they are not finished under controlled conditions.
Site preparation is simpler because many prefinished engineered woods are longer and wider than individual solid hardwood planks, allowing installers to gain more coverage in less time. The installation of factory-finished floors is quicker and heater than that of unfinished wood, which requires many labor- and time-intensive steps of sanding, staining and finishing. Factory-applied finishes also offer the benefits of greater consistency and durability.
Several finish options are available in pre-finished products, including ultraviolet cured urethane, water-based urethane, moisture-cured urethane, seal and wax. Although the finishes on the market today are all good, end users' specific needs may dictate the best finish. That is why experts advise designers to consult with their flooring contractor concerning which finishes are available for their product of choice.
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