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Hardwood Flooring: Construction, Styles and Finishes

Here you'll find information on the different hardwood constructions, their styles and finishes used to protect them. You'll learn what all this means to you and how it will affect your overall decision on which hardwood floor you choose.

Solid Hardwood Flooring
Solid hardwood flooring is just as it sounds. A solid plank is milled with a tongue on one side and a groove on the other. Solid hardwood floors are typically designed for nail down installations over wooden sub floors and come in a variety of thicknesses and plank widths.

Because wood is so porous, it absorbs and releases water. This causes the wood to expand and contract as it takes in and releases the moisture. If you've ever seen gaps between planks or a buckling wood floor, moisture is likely the culprit. This is also why it's not advised to install solid wood floors over concrete, as moisture from the slab evaporates into the underside of the wood.

If you live in a coastal or particularly humid area with wide fluctuations in temperature, you might want to consider an alternative to a solid wood floor.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Engineered hardwood flooring is made using plies of a more common wood (like birch) and a premium wood wear layer on the surface. Intense pressure and adhesives hold the wood plies together and when made correctly, an engineered wood floor can be very stable and perfect for installations over concrete slabs. Engineered wood flooring isn't as susceptible to seasonal expansion and contraction, while also allowing for installations in different rooms with different sub flooring types.

Some engineered wood floors can be floated and many even have a click locking mechanism. This technology allows for a simple wood flooring installation that can be performed by any do-it-yourself floor installer.

Click Engineered HDF Hardwood Flooring
A recent innovation, click engineered HDF core flooring combines the best characteristics of laminate flooring and real hardwood. On the surface is a thick wear layer of wood, but the core is made of recycled HDF. The core is very dense and very hard, providing great impact and moisture resistance. These floors can be found with a click locking mechanism and are designed for floating floor installations. These types of floors can be installed over wood or concrete, and when upgraded underlayment is added, you get a quieter floor and an excellent insulator.

Styles

Some hardwood floors have square edges, some have beveled edges, some have defined lengths and some have random lengths. Some are high gloss, others are medium gloss hardwood, these are all mostly aesthetic and chosen based on personal preference. One of the more popular styles of hardwood today is hand scraped hardwood flooring.

True to its name, hand scraped wood flooring is actually scraped by hand before being finished. This means that each board is unique and in every case, you're actually getting a one-of-a-kind floor. Handscraped hard wood can be a little more expensive, but a lot more work goes into adding that rustic appeal. This is also the case with wire brushed or distressed hardwood. While you get the look of an aged floor, you get the performance of today's superior finishes.

Finishes

Over the years there's been many type of finishes applied to hardwood flooring; lacquer, acrylic, ceramic, polyurethane, etc. The most widely used is polyurethane and the more coats the better. The more finish coats that are applied, the more the surface of the wood is protected. In addition to polyurethane, aluminum oxide is added and in some cases, UV curing, a process in which the finish is hardened with UV rays. IFLOOR uses twice the industry standard on finish coats and aluminum oxide, making for the most durable hardwood flooring in the world.