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Quick and Dirty Guide to Wood Flooring
By M J Plaster
If you've always longed for hardwood floors, you're in good company. While
soft wooden floors date back to the Colonial era, hardwood floors first burst
on the scene in the late 17th century. If you only know that you want hardwood
floors gracing your home, read this quick and dirty guide so that your head
won't spin when you talk with your contractor. This ten-minute read will
guide you through the basics of wood species, grades, types and styles.
With over 50 wood species available for wood flooring, red oak accounts for
more than 50% of hard wood flooring sales. Its popularity stems from its
elegance, durability and cost-effectiveness. Maple ranks second in popularity
for new wood flooring. Newer trends indicate a growing appetite for bamboo,
cherry, and white oak. Some of the more esoteric imported woods used in hardwood
floors include Brazilian cherry, Australian cypress, African padauk, and
Color options are plentiful. If color is a priority, and you want the natural
beauty of the wood to shine through, select a wood species that most closely
matches your color preference.
Grade refers only to the beauty of the wood, not to its durability or
serviceability. Not every grade applies to every wood species. A wood species
is graded as Clear, Select or Common, or it is graded as First, Second or
Third. Clear/First, Select/Second, Common/Third grades are not identical,
but they are close enough to present a shared consumer definition. The six
basic wood grades include:
-Clear or First free from most visible defects and discoloration,
contains only minor visible imperfections
-Select or Second may contain slight imperfections, such as color
-Common or Third contains knots and color variations, often classified
as "rustic" wood
Solid vs. Engineered Wood
Many people believe that hardwood and solid wood are synonymous. They're
not. If you're hearing the term engineered wood for the first time, you most
likely think that it is somehow inferior to solid wood. That's not necessarily
Solid wood is milled from one solid ¾" piece of wood. Solid hardwood
floors expand and contract more than engineered woods and are particularly
susceptible to moisture. As the wood expands and contracts, it may buckle
or it may leave gaps. Two common methods of counteracting these gaps include
beveled edges and leaving expansion gapsgaps between the wood and the
wall hidden by the base molding.
You'll find most of the popular wood species, such as oak, maple, cherry
and others available in engineered wood. Sometimes called pressed wood,
engineered wood comes in 3-ply or 5-ply versionsthree or five bonded
layers of wood. Engineered wood floors succumb to little, if any expansion
and contraction and are perfectly suited for rooms susceptible to moisture.
If you want wood floors in the bathroom, the kitchen or in any room where
moisture accumulates, consider engineered wood for its greater stability.
If you plan to lay a wood floor directly over concrete, you must install
engineered wood to maintain structural integrity.
Once you've determined the species, wood grade and decided between solid
and engineered wood, you can move on to the fun stuffthe style. Common
wood styles include:
Strips and planks are long, linear cuts of woods. The main difference is
the width of the wood. Strips range from widths of 1 ½" to 2 ¼",
while planks range from widths of 3" to 8". Consider strips if your goal
is to create the illusion of a larger room. Series of small wood pieces create
parquet's geometrical design. Parquet floors complement large, airy rooms.
Select your hardwood floors with care; they can add beauty and warmth to
your surroundings for a very long time, even a lifetime.
M J Plaster is a successful author who provides information on shopping online
for wood flooring
bamboo flooring. M J Plaster has been
a commercial freelance writer for almost two decades, most recently specializing
in home and garden, the low-carb lifestyle, investing, and anything that
defines la dolce vita.