Hardwood Part I: Solid Hardwood
We’ve been in this game a pretty long time, and have got to admit that hardwood flooring choices is an information overload! Fear not, friends, we’re going to tackle the most important things to know about hardwood so you can get them out of the way and onto the best part: choosing the styles and colors! In order to make all this information easy to understand, we’re going to present the blogs in a series. This first series gives you information on solid flooring, of the two types of flooring available in the category of hardwoods.
First, let’s clarify that word type. When we say type, how the floor is made, not the cut, color, shape or kind of lumber. With that in mind, those types are solid hardwood and engineered hardwood. Solid is exactly what you might think it is; hardwood flooring that’s cut from the source (trees) and consists only of that material, like oak or Brazilian cherry. Engineered hardwood flooring is made of layers of wood glued together. Most engineered floors contain a compressed layer of wood fibers and resists expansion and contraction.
That’s enough for now about engineered flooring; here’s the scoop on solid hardwood. Solid flooring tends to expand and contract with weather and humidity. For this reason, solid woods are great for living rooms, hallways and bedrooms. It is best not to use solid hardwood flooring in bathrooms or in basements. Basements or anything under ground level are called below grade. Areas at ground level and up are called grade or above grade.
Solid flooring is available in plank form, with ¾” being the most common width found in solid flooring, but widths such as 5/16” and 7/16” are available as well. Solid woods can be finished on-site or come pre-finished; it can be sanded and refinished with urethane or polyurethane coating over and over. The advantage of pre-finished solid flooring is tougher when coated at the factory and lasts much longer. Pre-finished woods can typically last anywhere from 5-35 years as opposed to on-site finishing which only has a life of about 3-5 years. Plus, you don’t have to deal with chemicals and smell, so pre-finished engineered hardwood is a great choice!
Okay, on to materials! Solid flooring comes in a huge array of lumber types, from oak to cherry to more exotic hardwoods like Tigerwood or Acacia. As you may know, all woods have varying degrees of hardness. A great source of information on this is available on the Armstrong Flooring website. Knowing the hardness of the lumber is vital to deciding where you want to use certain types of solid flooring. For example, you probably would want to choose a harder material in higher traffic areas; a bedroom (unless it’s a child’s!) won’t require such a hard type of wood.
An aesthetic advantage of solid hardwood is that it will naturally age with time, which enhances the beautiful look. Both types can be finished with scuff-resistant and easy-to-clean coatings. Solid flooring can be glued, nailed, or lock together. Then there’s the matter of the underlayment, which goes under the material you’ve chosen. Solid hardwood floors can have a variety of noise resistant underlayments that can reduce foot noise, feel more comfortable, or both!
Finally, when it comes to colors, gloss level of the finish and ways to install hardwood to achieve a certain look, the possibilities are almost endless. Dark wood, light wood, red wood, exotic and domestic are all things to consider. Is it a large area or a small powder room? A popular trend is scraped hardwood; which creates a rich, texture to your floor, as opposed to a smooth look and feel. Scraped floors also highlight the natural imperfections of the tree.
So there you have it. Hopefully we’ve given you enough information to create some initial impressions of solid hardwood. It takes time, browsing and working closely with an expert designer to complete the process; that’s why we invite you to come in and be treated to a design experience that’s like no other!