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Hardwood Flooring Basic Training

About Hardwood Floors

Hardwood flooring give as room a sense of permanence, stability and warmth. Ninety percent of realtors say that wood floors help a home sell faster and for more money. Even in a small home with minimal square footage, wood floors give a house a well-crafted, “high-end” appearance. Wood floors come in a large number of different species and colors, making design options virtually endless.

Forestry Preservation Facts

  • Today, there are more than 730 million acres of forest in the U.S. (more than 1 billion acres in Canada).
  • There are 70% more hardwood trees growing today than 35 to 40 years ago.
  • There are over 6 million new hardwood trees planted every year.
  • The U.S. is growing almost twice as much hardwood as it is currently using.

There are several ways hardwood floors are constructed these days, and depending on your home it is important to know just what type of hardwood floor you can install. Before choosing a hardwood floor, there are two key things to determine: subfloor and grade.

Subfloor

A wood floor is only as good as its subfloor, this means that knowing what type of subfloor you have is critical. There are two basic types of subfloors: wood and concrete. Wood subfloors are composed of various wood materials which are installed over joists in your home. Wood subfloors include ply-wood, tongue and groove decking, oriented strand board (OSB) and particle board. Concrete subfloors can not be nailed into, which limits your options to wood floors which can be glued or floated.

Grade

Flooring grade refers to exterior ground level in relation to your home. Most wood floors are built for on-grade, meaning the floor is level with exterior grounds, or above-grade locations. In below grade situations, such as basements where concrete subfloors are common your options are limited.

Construction

When it comes to construction, it's important to note that wood flooring comes in both pre-finished and unfinished varieties, although most flooring today is commonly sold as pre-finished.

Solid Wood Flooring

Solid hardwood is the traditional wood floor, constructed of a single piece of sawn lumber which is milled into a tongue and groove finished product. Solid hardwood floors most commonly are found in 3/4" thickness and are suitable only for nail down installations over ply-wood, OSB, and tongue and groove decking style wood subfloors on or above-grade. Recent innovations have brought about 5/16" solid hardwood floors, which are suitable for glue-down applications over concrete.

Engineered Wood Flooring

Engineered wood flooring is composed of multiple layers which are glued together in a cross-grain lamination. Typically these floors consist of a species layer followed by a multi-ply substrate made from another species of wood such as poplar. This process makes the flooring very resistant to expansion and contraction from temperature and moisture. As a result, these floors can be installed anywhere in a home and are suitable for both wood and concrete subfloors.

Long-strip Wood Flooring

A version of engineered wood flooring which has a unique composition, the top layer of long-strip floors are made of individual fillets or slats that are glued together to make the face of the plank. Long-strip floors are suitable for installations anywhere in the home and are also the most common hardwood floor which can be installed using the floating method.

Parquet Wood Flooring