Hardwood is the ideal floor material but far from your only choice. Top grade red oak is very durable, has little or no knots and is visually appealing. Natural maple has more color variation and comes with small tight knots. Maple can be had up to 6” wide and is 12% harder than red oak, the reason it is so popular for gym floors and bowling alleys. Rustic ash has larger and more numerous knots and great color variation. A less ‘formal’ wood it works best in family rooms. These constitute the primary hardwoods. Cherry, birch, beech and walnut are also alternatives. Hickory has varying grain patterns and produces a visually attractive floor and is even harder than maple. Good flooring can also be made from pine, and second to cherry being even softer. Not very dimensionally stable it is found in ‘country’ style applications. Downside it does not wear well because it is softwood. Cracks can appear in seams during seasonal weather changes as it contracts and expands. Exotic woods include Brazilian cherry, amendoim, Santos mahogany, tiger wood, kempas, timborana, teak, chestnut, Brazilian walnut, rosewood and merbau. These are all imported species.
Eco Friendly & Sustainable Hardwood Flooring
An up and coming material increasing in popularity is bamboo, a grass that produces a very attractive and durable floor. A ‘green’ flooring material grown in sustainable groves, and can be harvested every 5 to 10 years.
Cork is another material considered a ‘green’ material and harvested from the bark of cork trees that re-grows back shortly after harvesting. Cork is easy on the feet, ultra durable and uniquely attractive. Cork is also moisture resistant, offers a good thermal and sound insulation and is softer, providing more comfort from falls or dropped items. Cork is hypoallergenic, resists mold, mildew and bacteria, and is fire retardant.
Hardwood Flooring Construction
Construction is solid, engineered or laminate.
Laminate – Used for high traffic areas, is usually the most inexpensive and is a melamine substrate covered with a photograph of wood, printed on paper and protected by multiple coats of a protective finish. Laminate is a very dimensionally stable product. A budget product, but attractive, this flooring holds up well, is the simplest wood flooring to install, but the downside is that when worn it needs replacement as it cannot be refinished, on the upside is that it will last 20 years or more.
Engineered Hardwood Flooring – This is a real wood layer with a plywood, MDF or lumber core. They are very dimensionally stable and can be installed nearly anywhere in the home. As the hard wood top layer does not extend through the material they can be only refinished a few times before the substrate shows through. The engineered products where designed for installation over concrete and are more resistant to moisture.
Solid wood floor – This has the advantage of being refinished up to seven times and give a century of service. They are solid wood and add strength to the structure. Solid planks need to be acclimated before installation. Solid wood can be installed on the first floor and upper floors. Never install in a basement as moisture may cause them to expand causing buckling. Unlike engineered or laminate you cannot put solid flooring on concrete; you need to install underlayment sheets to attach the solid floor. Solid wood is nailed or stapled, and never glued. Solid wood is the most expensive construction for hardwood floors.
Professional Hardwood Flooring Services in Charles Town & Eastern Panhandle of Berkeley & Jefferson Counties in WV | Winchester & Frederick County | Round Hill & Loudoun County | Fairfax County VA
Finishes can be smooth or glossy. A growing popular finish is hand scraped giving a warm ‘old worn look’ a great idea for remodeling an older home. Flooring can be obtained unfinished with staining and finishing added after installation. Planning and knowledge of materials are important; they all have their idiosyncrasies, methods of installation, pros and cons. Contact a flooring company such as Mike’s Custom Flooring for advice or to install it for you.