What are some characteristics that I need to be aware of when picking out a wood floor?

What are some characteristics that I need to be aware of when picking out a wood floor?

Wood flooring is one of the most classical flooring options. We had wood floors before we had carpet, so it can be found in many old homes. As time has passed, people have changed what kind of flooring they like in their homes. Our options for flooring have continued to change over time to include waterproof flooring, bamboo, cork, laminate and others. Wood has also been changing over the years. With newer technology, you are now able to customize a wood flooring by sanding & finishing it in your home or having it made the way you want it. Companies have created unique finishes and colors in different species to give you options that you would have never had 20 or 30 years ago.

When selecting a wood floor, one of the basic features you will need to be aware of is the JANKA score. This score is a way that manufacturers can define the hardness of a species of wood. One the bottom of the scale is fir and pine wood which rates at 660 to 870. White Oak, which is becoming more popular, is rated at 1,360. European white oak is becoming more popular in prefinished wood flooring as an entry and mid-range cost range. Hickory/Pecan is rated at 1,820 as a harder wood. As you go up in the hardness scale, the pricing of the wood tends to go up. At the top of the scale is Strand Woven Bamboo & Eucalyptus which ranges from 4,000 to 5,000. Exotic species tend to range higher in the JANKA score.

The next thing that you will notice is that wood comes in solid or engineered planks. Engineered planks come in different thicknesses, different cores, and thickness of surface veneer. The surface veneer is the wood species that you see and is finished. Less expensive planks tend to be thinner and the veneer is thinner. As you increase in the quality of engineered planks, the core gets to be better quality, and the veneer will be thick enough to sand at least one time to refinish the flooring later in life. This allows for more exotic woods to be used without having to pay for a solid board which would be a lot more expensive. Engineered wood planks also don't have issues with curving and are more structurally sound than solid planks. It also allows for larger and longer planks than solid wood. Solid wood can't be installed and are not manufactured beyond 5" wide.

When installing the two types of flooring, solid wood will usually be installed over an underlayment and stapled or nailed into place. Engineered wood planks are usually glued into place. This also allows for installations over concrete floors easier because it is more structurally stable and doesn't have natural bends in it as solid does. It can be installed on wood subfloors as well. Solid wood can be installed using adhesive. It takes more work than solid, but it can be done and it will be just as solid to the floor as a nail in installation. If installed correctly, a solid wood floor installed using just adhesive can be sanded and refinished. Just as a standard installation though, solid is nailed in and engineered will be using adhesive.

Another thing that you will notice is the surface texture of wood flooring. Some of the four basic types of textures are smooth, hand-scraped, distressed, and wire-brushed. There are combinations of some textures and some other custom textures such as saw cuts. You will find these different textures on engineered and solid. Smooth textures in wood are the most classic look. It looks the closest to sand and finish wood floor. The difference is that prefinished wood floors will have a micro bevel on the edges of the surface. This makes the finish stronger and less likely to chip. The other textures vary in how they look are to look random. Depending on what look you want in your home would depend what texture you would like.

The next thing that has changed in the last few years is that Semi-gloss finish is not as popular as it used to be. This is the amount of shine you see in the floor. The problem with this is that semi-gloss finishes show scratches earlier and wear faster because it shines the most. Satin and Matte finishes are becoming more popular because they don't show the wear as early because they don't reflect light the same as semi-gloss. The other benefit of a lower sheen on wood flooring is that you can see the color of the wood more because it doesn't reflect as much light.

One of the last things that have changed is how wood is finished as well. Two of the newer finishes are oil finishes and thermal treated wood. Instead of traditional finishes, oil finishes fill the pores of the wood and seal in its color. Acids and chemicals are used to color the wood and oil is used to seal and preserve the plank. Once installed, you will need to clean and re-oil the wood flooring to keep it looking new. It hides scratches and wear since it doesn't reflect any light. When you do get a scratch, you can cover it over so that it isn't noticeable by applying oil over it. The newer process is thermal treated wood. They take a wood veneer and bake it at an extremely high temperature with oxygen being removed from the air so it doesn't catch fire. The benefit of this process is that the color on the veneer is baked through the veneer and it hardens the wood so it is harder to scratch. When it does scratch, the color is through the veneer so that the scratches are not as noticeable.

Now when you go to the flooring store you can expect a variety of wood floors to purchase. All of these textures, finishes, and types of wood will all have a factor in the pricing. Take time to learn what will be the best flooring for your home and lifestyle. These differences reflect individual preferences and building styles. The different options all need to be taken in consideration to fit how the floors will be treated and lived on. There is no one better option than another. Ask yourself questions about what you will need in your home and what you will be able to care for before you make a purchase.

Looking for additional flooring help? Contact us at BPS Southeast in Rutherfordton, NC. We are flooring experts that serve Western North Carolina.