So you’re thinking about installing a hardwood floor, and you’ve just begun exploring the many options. You’ve noticed the authentic look and feel of a genuine, solid hardwood floor, but what exactly is solid hardwood flooring? and how does it differ from engineered or laminate flooring? Let’s take a look:
Solid wood flooring is made of planks or strips of wood that are cut directly from a piece of timber. As you can imagine, each plank is 100% one piece of wood, whereas engineered hardwood flooring may be made of multiple pieces of wood, bound together. This type of solid flooring, while naturally strong and beautiful to the eye, is also greatly affected by the presence of moisture and humidity. Because it expands and contracts when exposed to moisture, it is typically only used for first floor, second floor, or higher applications. The natural moisture in bathrooms, basements or anywhere below ground-level would likely warp the flooring, so, for this reason, it is not typically used in these areas.
To harvest each panel from a piece of timber, the flooring can be sawn in 3 main ways – flat sawn, quarter sawn, and rift sawn. Because each method cuts out the planks at different angles, they will produce uniquely different wood grain patterns. Each strip is cut to a set length and width and will also be sanded, finished and perhaps stained. They will often have tongues and grooves cut into them for piecing the strips together, or may also have grooves called “absorption strips” cut down the length of the bottom to help control expansion from moisture.
While the length and width of flooring strips may vary, each strip is typically cut to only either 3/4ths of an inch thick, or 5/16ths of an inch thick in some cases. The stronger and more durable 3/4ths thickness is often the preferred choice, but the thinner 5/16th of an inch thickness is used when the hardwood must be glued to a concrete floor, provided it is not in a basement or below the ground where moisture will warp the flooring.
Solid hardwood is the strongest, most authentic, and longest lasting option when it comes to hardwood flooring. Many home-owners and decorations choose solid hardwood because of its natural look and scent alone, but one of its biggest advantages is that floors can be sanded down and completely refinished multiple times, allowing the floor to last well over 100 years. Also because of its typical 3/4th inch thickness and locking grooves, a solid hardwood floor will add structural strength to a floor system.
A drawback of solid hardwood, however, is that it is more prone to wear and tear, and warping from moisture over time, especially if not properly installed or maintained. For areas where there may be heightened moisture or humidity, especially beneath ground-level, engineered or laminate flooring is often preferred.
For more information on solid…engineered, or laminate flooring, visit the experts, at Harman Hardwood Flooring.