Wood Flooring Specifications
Hardwood flooring has many important specifications and knowing what each of these specifications refers to helps to make better informed decisions when shopping for new floors.
Standard DimensionsWidth: Width is the extent from side to side. It refers to the breadth or wideness. Most common flooring widths range from 1-1/2" strip to 8" planks. Length: Length is the longest extent of a board, measured from end to end. Some flooring boards are available in random lengths, or anywhere between 12" to 96". Thickness: Thickness refers to the layer or the ply. Flooring layers usually have 1/4", 3/4", 5/16", 3/8", 1/2", or 5/8" thickness. In the case where a product has multiple plies, such as engineered flooring, the listed thickness refers to the total dimension of all plies.
Ply (pl. plies)
Ply is another term for layer, as in a layer of wood, typically used to describe engineered hardwood construction layers. Engineered wood is made up of multiple layers, usually with three or five plies. The first ply is the prime part of the material - a piece of wood that is the species you are buying like oak or maple. The other layers are made up of different species, or different grades of the same species, which are stacked and glued together under high heat and pressure. The layers are typically constructed with a method called cross-ply lamination to enhance the strength of the floor.
The benefit of having floors with more plies is that additional plies help resist denting. The cross-ply lamination technique creates a floor that is more durable. Floors with more layers are also less likely to be affected by changes in humidity levels and moisture because they resist the natural tendency of wood to expand and contract. Engineered floors are, therefore, more dimensionally stable and allow for flexibility of installation (floating or glue-down method below, on or above-ground level).
Wear layer refers to the top portion of a plank of wood flooring. Wear layer thickness is important when considering the number of times a product can be refinished, especially with engineered flooring.
For an engineered product, the wear layer is only as thick as the species layer on the product. Most manufacturers produce engineered products with enough wear layer to allow for one or more refinishes. Generally speaking, the thicker a wear layer is on an engineered product, the higher quality the product is. For solid floors, the wear layer is all of the wood above the tongue.
Edge design describes the way floor board ends are cut: square, eased, microbeveled and beveled.
Edges and ends cut at an angle less than 90 degrees, or a very distinct and deep v-groove. It is best when installing over irregular surface and reduce variations in height between planks.
Beveled edge detail allows you to emphasize each individual boards, which is perfect if you have chosen to install floors with character like hand scraped flooring or exotics, or for an informal and country decor.
The chamfered or beveled edge is at an approximately 45 degree angle, or a very shallow v-groove. Eased edge is considered to be less of an indentation than beveled edge flooring, which still helps draw attention to the individual boards without trapping as much dirt or dust in between. It also hides minor irregularities of the subfloor and uneven plank height.
Some manufacturers refer to eased and microbeveled edge as one and the same. However, a more detailed definition describes microbeveled edge as a slight, round cut edge on a flooring plank. It gives definition to the flooring plank and also helps reduce uneven plank height.
The edges of the floor plank meet squarely, i.e. no v-groove is formed when planks join. Square-edge creates a smooth and seamless appearance. It gives prefinished floors the look of traditional, site-finished flooring. Square-edged floors are ideal for contemporary and formal room settings.