Wood flooring is an interior floor covering that is long-lasting, aesthetically pleasing and affordable. According to the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), “in a national survey of real estate agents, 90% said houses with wood flooring sell faster and at higher prices than houses without wood floors.” That being the case, who wouldn’t want a wood floor? Before racing and buying wooden floors, we need to understand what’s available and remember that not all wooden floors are created equal. Wood can achieve a rich look and actually raise the value of your home.
Solid wood flooring from a single piece of timber is machined with planers at a lumber mill. There are three types of flooring in solid wood. Strip wood flooring is often considered as the “traditional wood flooring”. The thickness of the boards ranges from 5/16″ to 3/4″ and range in width from 1″ to 3.” Planks in 1/2″ and 3/4″ thick are available.
A wood floor is defined by the species and grade. Characteristics differ by species, one of the more important of solid wood is its durability. The durability of wood is measured by the Janka Hardness Rating. Check out the American Hardwood’s guide for more information on species commonly used for flooring.
Solid hardwood can be sanded down and refinished to clear up any scratches, dents, or marring that occur over the years. However, it is important to remember that aluminum oxide is an industry standard in a pre-stained wood’s finish. Aluminum oxide is a very durable wear surface, protecting the floor from damage – however, it is very difficult to completely remove from existing flooring during the refinishing process consuming time and money.
Engineered wood is made of a real wood lamella, or surface layer, atop a substrate of an engineered wood constructed to increase dimensional stability. The substrate can be one of several different pressed and glued methods, similar in construction to plywood or fiberboard. This is a serious advantage in climates with varying temperature and humidity, for example, Northern Michigan☺. Engineered wood will absorb less moisture, resulting in less expansion and contraction which helps cut down or eliminate squeaks and gaps that form over time in your floor. The thickness of the lamella varies through product lines, the thicker lamella can typically be sanded and refinished.
Wood floor can be installed with cleat nails, staples, glue, or floating by adhering boards together. Prior to installation, wood flooring should be allowed to acclimate in the installation area. A period of 3-7 days will allow the wood to achieve a balance of moisture between the surrounding area and itself. The substrate should be prepared with a leveling compound for low spots and sanding high spots (for wood subfloors).
After installation be sure to care for your floor. Wood and water don’t mix well so spills should be wiped up as soon as possible. Take care to keep your floor free of dust and sand as they can be abrasive and scratch or mar the surface, a vacuum with the agitator off or sweeping regularly help protect from damage.
Damage to the finish of your floor can sometimes be repaired with a professional cleaning agent. Consult with the floor’s manufacture prior to any deep cleaning to ensure your warranty isn’t voided and the product is cared for as intended. As with all hard surface flooring, your furniture should have protective pads to prevent scratching. Rugs should be placed in high traffic areas like entryways and halls, as well as in front of sinks to prevent water damage. Keep an eye on humidity level as well as temperature, even with engineered wood, to help maintain the wood dimensionally.