Hardwood 101: The Basics You Need To Know

If you’re considering hardwood floors for your next flooring project, there are many things to consider! With the variety of choices, including the species, construction type, and finishes, it can be a bit overwhelming. It is also important to not only consider the look of the wood but also the durability and fit for your application. Learning about the product is the best way to get exactly what you want! Here are some things to consider in your search.

Construction Varieties

When you’re trying to choose the best flooring for your project, you first want to consider how its constructed – Engineered or Solid. Engineered hardwood will have a top veneer and then additional layers to make up the body. Higher quality Engineered products will utilize harder species of wood in the center, like oak or hickory, while cheaper options will use softer wood, such as Poplar.

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Engineered hardwood can generally be glued or stapled to the subfloor. Some may shy away from this option since it’s not one solid piece of wood, but it is more structurally sound than solid wood and is the best option for areas with higher moisture content. Also, If you are installing on a concrete subfloor, it is also your best option. There are some exotic species that can be installed on concrete, but they do require special adhesive.

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Solid hardwood is made up of one single piece of wood instead of layers. It is generally 3/4” thick and is usually nailed or stapled to the floor during installation. There are select species that can also be glued or floated, but it is not the norm. Solid wood will also give you the most flexibility for future refinishing, but higher quality engineered wood with a thick veneer will also give you flexibility.

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Popular Species

While you may think that every kind of tree is suitable for flooring installation, there are only some species that can take on the demands of constant foot traffic. It’s also good to know that today’s harvesting practices are much more sustainable to support growing forests. Here are the popular options you may want to use for your favorite room.

Oak (Hardness: 1360) – Oak has a classic look and grain, and it is also one of the most economical options because of the supply available.

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Hickory (Hardness: 1820)- Hickory is a great choice if you want something that is very durable and comes in a variety of colors and wild grain styles.

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Maple (Hardness: 1450) – Maple will give your space a clean and modern look. It’s has very subtle graining and consistent color.

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Walnut (Hardness: 1010) – If you are looking to make a statement with your floor, walnut may be it. It has high variation and wide beautiful grain patterns.

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Popular Finishes

Once you’ve considered the wood construction and species, next you want to find the right finish that works best for your room’s purpose. The most popular options are: A Site finished hardwood, Factory finished Polyurethane hardwood, or Factory/Site finished Oiled hardwood. A hardwood that is finished on the jobsite can provide near unlimited color options since stain is mixed and applied on site, but it will not provide the same durability as other options. A factory finished polyurethane hardwood will provide maximum durability for your floor and is the most common choice. In general, it will also provide a higher shine, but there are matte options available as well.

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One of the newer trends is Oil finished hardwood. Oil finished hardwood has a softer sheen and gives hardwood the most natural look. It does require a bit more upkeep from day to day, but it is the easiest to repair if damage or wear occurs.

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Because of all of the different options available, pricing can vary significantly. Engineered hardwood, because of the layering technique, generally comes out to be a little less expensive than the solid variety. The species, and whether or not it is readily available or more difficult to harvest, can increase your cost as well.

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Oak and other domestic species are more readily available, while some other types of woods, like walnut, hickory, or even European woods, can be more expensive. Another factor is the size of the board. Wider boards generally require higher quality wood and additional manufacturing, which can make them cost more.

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Whatever type of wood flooring you end up choosing, you can be sure that it will instantly add to the value of your home. Contact our team to learn more about hardwood and the options that are available!

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