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The Ultimate Guide to Hardwood

Learn more about all the options you have when choosing hardwood for your home.

Thu, 5 Aug 2010|

In the world of flooring, nothing offers the natural beauty and warmth of hardwood. It's also durable and easy to maintain, but how do you know what style is right for you? I'm Lacey Howard and I'm here to help you become a savvy hardwood shopper. Solid wood is the classic strip flooring measuring three quarter inches thick by two and a quarter inches wide. True to the name, solid hardwoods are constructed from solid pieces of wood with tongue and groove sides. The strips can be installed as finished or unfinished, but, because of solid hardwood's sensitivity to moisture, this type of flooring is nailed down and should not be used below grade. Engineered hardwoods are made from plies of wood stacked in opposite directions and laminated together, creating cross-ply planks. This construction makes engineered hardwood less susceptible to moisture, and able to be installed as floating floors in concrete basements. Because the top layer is all you see, many more types of domestic and exotic species are affordable when using engineered wood. These floors can be refinished only a few times. Long strip plank also uses plies of wood glued together, but in larger sections. Each plank looks like an entire pre-assembled section three rows wide and several planks long. This type of flooring is designed for floating installation, and is easily replaced when it's damaged. Here are some keywords you should know to shop smart. Just like with other lumber, grade levels tell you about knots, imperfections, and color variation. The higher the grade, the more it costs. Parquet is a style of wood floor laid in a geometric pattern. Strips of wood range one and a half to three inches wide. Planks of wood range three to six inches wide. Species of wood flooring number in the dozens. Domestics include oak, maple, and cherry. Imported includes merbau, teak, or wenge. Urethane provides the finish that protects wood from wear and water splashes. Urethane simplifies maintenance and does not require waxing. Traditional wood floors are sanded and finished in your home. Don't wanna deal with the mess? There are lots of prefinished options. When choosing a finish, keep in mind that lower glosses work best in active rooms. High-gloss finishes accent formal dcor. Whether you go with strip or plank widths for your wood floor, you'll also need to choose a style of edge, beveled or square. Beveled or eased edges taper off, helping to hide minor irregularities such as uneven subfloors and providing a more casual, cottage-y look. Square edges line up dramatically for a uniform surface board to board and a more formal look. One last thing to remember when shopping for hardwood floors is the Janka hardness test. These numbers are a good guide when comparing species. Higher numbers indicate harder woods. I hope this overview of wood flooring has helped narrow down the choices that might work best in your home.