Things You Should Know About Selecting Hardwood Flooring
Select a species of wood that is produced here in the U.S… Exotic wood used for floors may be from outside of the Untied States, which are not cut from managed, renewable resources, and therefore, may take away jobs from our own economy and help in perpetuating global warming.
The most common hard wood floor product is red oak. Its standard width is 2 ¼ inches. It’s the cheapest and most highly produced and stocked flooring available. To obtain that exotic look, chose something else, especially different sized widths of flooring. You may even be able to use different types of wood on the same floor, if you use very wide planks for your installation. Try white oak, cherry, walnut or even hickory for a unique look and feel.
All grades of flooring (such as the clear grade) look good in single pieces. Try to obtain a photo of a completed floor with the material you are looking at. It makes a huge difference. The select grades usually do NOT have all the common characteristic marks of a “real” wood plank, such as grain patterns and knot holes. These natural characteristics are what bring out the warmth of a real hardwood floor.
Prefinished flooring is very convenient and usually faster and less messy then refinishing a floor. Today’s prefinished floors can be installed in a single day, and the furniture moved back in that evening. If you refinish a floor, it is usually a three day job, at least, and has all the drawbacks of the dust and clean up that a prefinished floor avoids. Three days may be the minimum requirement for a refinished floor to dry, as well. Remember, however, that the warranties for prefinished floors that seem to be “lifetime”, or 50 years, are for wear though only. Prefinished floors are tough and durable, but NOT THAT tough.
If you’re worried about wear and tear on a new, prefinished floor, you may want to consider a textured type of flooring for those high traffic areas. You can now buy pre-distressed, hand scraped and even reclaimed flooring that will fit the bill for any high wear, high traffic area in your home. These types of materials can be used anywhere, of course. They show very little wear. They have a lot of character, and are used in many luxury homes to draw attention and are a definite conversation piece.
Please remember that many laminate “wood” floors have no wood, whatsoever, in them. They are essentially a picture of wood glued to the core. Laminates definitely have their place in the home, however. Places like below ground level basements where higher humidity and concrete floors are used are a perfect place for such material. Engineered flooring, as it may be called, can even be glued down to a cement floor. However, the most common use of laminate wood flooring is to apply a vapor barrier on top of the concrete, then a base of some type of underlayment that provides a cushioning effect as well as a noise reducing effect, and then the laminate is “snapped” together to complete the installation.
Whatever type of prefinished flooring you chose to use, remember the above facts when you are shopping for these products. They are usually omitted from the sales brochures and salesmen’s conversations.