With a little basic understanding about the different types of wood floors you can be better prepared and more confident in your selection. Wood floors are produced in both solid and engineered planks and strips and come in a wide variety of wood species. To help determine which type of floor will work best for your situation depends upon the location within your home and the type of subfloor.
Solid wood floors are one solid piece of wood and are generally 3/4″ thick. Solid Hardwood Floors are produced from the finest domestic and exotic hardwoods including red & white oak, American cherry, hickory, maple, and Brazilian cherry, and are available in several widths. Because solid hardwood floors are more susceptible to humidity and temperature changes than engineered wood floors they should only be installed above grade over approved wooden subfloors and must be nailed or stapled down. Solid wood floors can generally be recoated and refinished several times.
These floors are produced by laminating several hardwood plies together to form the planks. Most engineered floors can be glued-down, stapled-down or floated over a variety of subfloors including wood, dry concrete slabs and some types of existing flooring. Engineered hardwood floors have cross-ply construction which reduces the expansion/contraction of planks caused by variations in humidity and allows these floors to be installed on any level in the home.
Today wood flooring is also offered in a variety of hardwood species that are not found in North America. These floors offer many unique and visually striking appearances that are distinctly different from the North American hardwoods. Many of these exotic species are photosensitive and may change color over time. Please refer to sample panels for the level of photosensitivity of each product.
Unfinished floors require several days to install, stain and finish the flooring. Prefinished floors are less messy and can be installed and completed the same day. A factory-applied finish like exclusive Scotchgard™ or CrystalShield™ finish with aluminum oxide is extremely durable and could not be duplicated with a job-site finish.
Knowing where the floor will be installed is essential. Before choosing a floor, determine if the room is above, on or below ground level (grade). Hardwood Floors can be used in most areas in the home including rooms below, on or above ground level. Solid wood floors are approved for above ground-level installations only. These floors perform better in humidity-controlled environments.
Is your sub floor concrete or a type of wood substrate? Engineered floors are ideal for concrete slabs. For remodel projects you may want to consider Engineered Hardwood floors that can be floated directly over the existing floor which eliminates the mess and additional costs of tearing out the old floor.