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
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
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
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
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