You Know How A Home Is Built. Here’s How A Hardwood Floor Is Constructed.
Knowing how hardwood floors are built can be very advantageous. It enables you to understand the characteristics this material right from the start.
Remember that these are components you will be living with, and on, should you choose to have our hardwood floors installed in your home.
Knowing the many hardwood choices and the methods of construction also helps you appreciate and examine their performance aspects: why certain hardwood floors are simpler to install, for instance.
Plus, perhaps most significantly, understanding hardwood floor construction can make you a smarter shopper, help you better understand how hardwood flooring increases your home value, and keep you within your home designing budget.
So please read further, and we’ll do our level best to help you appreciate how hardwood floors are constructed, the various types of construction procedures, and the advantages and disadvantages of each for you and your home.
To Start, Be Aware Of These Hardwood Sizes, Species, And Types
When we contemplate hardwood floors, we are typically thinking about a 3/4″ thick plank that is 2 1/4″ wide.
This is the classic strip wood floor; however, it is possible to find a narrower width or a slightly thinner gage. The strips are normally in random lengths from 12″ – 84″. Nowadays, many hardwood floors come in wider planks of 3 1/4″, 5″ or greater.
The most typical wood species used for solid hardwood floors are white oak, red oak, maple, cherry, white ash, hickory, or pecan.
And the three common forms of wood floors are Engineered, Solid, and Longstrip Plank, each of which we will now look into.
Type 1: Designed for stability and moisture control
Engineered hardwood floors are usually manufactured with 2, 3, or 5 thin sheets or plies of wood that are joined together to form one plank.
These wood sheets are fused on top of each other but in the opposite directions. This is called cross-ply building, which creates a wood floor that is dimensionally stable and less affected by moisture than a 3/4″ solid wood floor.
In the dampness, solid wood planks will always inflate across the width of the planks, rather than down the length of the boards.
The benefits of cross-ply construction allow the plies to counteract each other, which will stop the plank from growing or shrinking with the changes in humidity.
The other benefit for you is multipurpose. You can install these floors over homes built on concrete slabs, in your basement, and anywhere else in your home.
Most engineered floors can be nailed down, glued down, stapled down, or floated over a wide variety of sub-floors and some varieties of existing flooring.
Engineered floors are between 1/4″ to 9/16″ thick, and vary from 2 1/4″ to 7″ in width. The widths can also be combined, such as 3-5-7-inch planks fitted side by side. By differentiating the board widths, you can change the total look of the floor and create a genuinely custom look for your house. The lengths range range from 12″ – 60″ in length.
Because engineered wood floors are composed of multiple layers of wood, the top finish layer can be an entirely different wood species. A variety of exotic or domestic hardwood species are available such as Oak, Hickory, or Cherry. You’re free to choose the one that suits your style.
Type 2: The Floor That’s Solid Yet Expands
Solid hardwood floors are solid wood planks that have groove and tongue sides. When we talk about solid hardwood floors, we tend to think of floors that are site-finished, but it’s helpful to know that there are also many pre-finished 3/4″ solid wood floors from which to choose.
You should also know of the moisture factor.
Solid hardwood floors are reactive to moisture and because so they are used in nail down installations and are not recommended for installation in basements or directly over a concrete slab.
The great news is that these floors can be recoated, or refinished multiple times, which adds to their attractiveness and to their longevity in your home.
There are solid hardwood floors that are over one hundred years old and still in pristine condition with rich patina and character – enhancing the beauty of the home.
Because they’re a natural material, hardwood flooring will expand and contract in response to seasonal changes in humidity. In the winter heating, moisture escapes the wood making the floor contract, may cause gaps between some planks.
In the summer, when the humidity is high, the wood will expand, and the gaps will disappear. If there is too much water content, it may cause the wood planks to cup or buckle. Not something you want in your home.
This is why it is crucial when installing a solid strip floor to leave the proper expansion area around the perimeter and to acclimate the wood prior to installation. Our flooring professionals can help you understand acclimation times prior to installation. This will help assure a lasting, beautiful floor that you’ll enjoy for many years.
Consider Oak, For All Its Choices
Oak is the most common choice for solid unfinished wood floors, and there are several different characteristics of oak for you to choose from. These qualities are: clear, select and better, #1 common, and #2 common.
The clear hardwood option has no visual blemishes or knots and is more expensive while the select and better quality has some small knots and very little dark graining.
The #1 common and #2 common have more knots and more dark graining.
So be aware of that when buying unfinished solid oak flooring and make sure you know which quality of wood you are buying.
Type 3: Longstrip Offers You Unique Possibilities
Longstrip plank floors are similar to Engineered floors and have several wood plies that are glued together. The center core is mostly a softer wood material and is used to make the tongue and groove. A hardwood finish layer is glued on top of the core.
The top layer can be almost any hardwood species and is made up of various smaller individual pieces that are laid in three rows.
Longstrip planks are roughly 86″ in length and 7 1/2″ in width. They generally have between 17 and 35 pieces that make up the top layer of each board.
This gives the effect of fitting a board that is three rows wide and several planks long. Each longstrip plank looks like a whole section that has already been pre-assembled for you. This alone can create a unique look all your own.
Longstrip planks are developed for the floating fitting, but most can also be glued-down or stapled down. Because these floors can be floated, they are tremendously multipurpose – they can go over a wide variety of sub-floors and on any grade level.
Like engineered floors, longstrip floors come in a wide variety of domestic and exotic hardwood species.
Longstrip plank floors have another benefit. When damaged, they can be substituted with relative ease. That’s an important consideration for active homes.
Those are the fundamentals of hardwood flooring construction. We hope that the information we’ve presented here leads you to a better understanding of how this attractive and versatile product is created and makes you a better, smarter, more educated customer.