Buying and Choosing Hardwood Flooring

There is nothing like having hardwood floors in the home. The texture and feel of the wood beneath your feet is a satisfying feeling. Possibly the main advantage is that it is seen by many as a permanent flooring option. This is true whether it is installed in a residential setting or in an office setting. Hardwood flooring adds style as well as structural strength to any room.

Another very attractive attribute is the wide range of choices it offers in terms of finish, surface, stain, and species, as well as installation options, which all plays an important part in how your flooring will look. In addition, hardwood flooring is also a very unique design element what complements and accents the decor. To the point that one advantage you will experience for years to come will be the compliments, you’ll receive about the beauty of your hardwood flooring.

Let’s face it – wood floors add warmth and elegance to any home. During the historical colonial era, pine and other soft woods were used as flooring, then in the late 17th century hardwoods such as oak, hickory, teak, and mahogany were all the rage. Today, hardwood flooring is available in solid, engineered, and laminated forms. Engineered and laminated hardwood flooring are not solid wood. In addition, when you look at solid wood flooring, it is divided into different grades each with different prices, which is enough to make your head spin. The purpose of this article is to help guide you through the basics of wood species, grades, types, and styles in hopes of making your purchasing experience as beautiful as the floors you want to install.

There are over 50 varieties of wood available in flooring, with over 50% of all sales being red oak. The reason for this is that its elegant, durable, and affordable. The next leading wood is maple, which is also relatively new to flooring. Other new and returning trends to the wood flooring industry are bamboo, cherry, white oak and cork, with a small portion of sales being in esoteric imported woods such as Brazilian cherry, Australian cypress, African padauk, and Burmese teak. In addition, reclaimed or antique pine flooring is making a resurgence in popularity.

The grade of the wood refers the beauty of the wood. This deal with how true the natural color of the wood is, the number of defects including knots and any blemishes in the grain. The grade also refers to the durability of the wood. It is important to understand that not every grade applies to all species of wood. Grades are listed as Clear, Select, or common or as First, Second or Third.

Clear/First: This wood is usually free from the majority of visible defects and discoloration. The gain of the wood is usually similar from plank to plank within a carton or box, and upon inspection, only minor visible imperfections will be found. This wood may also be sold as premium wood and usually at a premium price.

Select/Second: This wood can contain slight imperfections, and color variations as well as variations in grain within a carton or box. In addition, upon inspection, some major defects may be found on certain planks.

Common/Third: This grade should not be ignored, especially if you have a lot of square footage to install and you are on a tight budget. This grade will contain knots and color variations, and is often sold as “rustic” wood, Builders grade, and as Seconds. Many times, if the installer or homeowner opens all of the boxes or cartons, he/she can shuffle or blend the planks to create a floor that flows and looks as if they’ve installed Premium Flooring.

Engineered Wood

Hardwood and solid wood flooring are not synonymous. If this is the first time, you are hearing the term engineered wood, then do not think that is also an inferior form of wood flooring as this is not always necessarily true.

The majority of popular wood varieties, including oak, maple, cherry, as well as some of the more exotic varieties can be found in engineered wood. This form of flooring is also known as pressed wood flooring. Engineered wood is available in 3-ply and 5-ply versions, which mean that 3 or 5 layers of wood are bonded together. Engineered wood floors can be installed in wet areas such as bathrooms, and kitchens where moisture can be a problem because it yields little, to expansion and contraction. In addition, when installing a wood floor directly on top of concrete, it has to be engineered wood to ensure structural integrity.

Only after you have decided on the variety of wood, grade, and whether it will be solid or engineered, you can then decide on the style. Style refers whether the wood is parquet, plank, and strip.

Strips and planks are long, linear cuts of woods, with the difference in the two being the width. Strips are usually between 1 ” to 2 wide, while planks can range from 3″ to 8″ in width. It is recommended to use strips for small rooms to create the illusion of a larger room.

Parquet floors are a series of small wood pieces joined to create a geometrical design and can include several shades of wood to enhance the look of the design.

Take your time in selecting your acacia engineered hardwood flooring; ask questions of the retailer or supplier as well as the installer if you will not be installing them yourself. Hardwood floors can add beauty and warmth to your home for a very long time.

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