Hardwood is an attractive and practical option when it comes to flooring. Homes with hardwood flooring hold their value better, sell faster, and fetch higher prices. It is the most versatile floor covering there is. Wood flooring goes with contemporary, traditional, and all styles in between. Designers rate natural materials as superior to man-made materials in beauty, prestige, style, maintenance, and durability.
There are a variety of woods and finishes available to complement the style of any room. Oak and maple are the most popular woods, but some homeowners are investing in exotic woods like brazilian cherry and purpleheart to give their home a unique look. Texture, grain, and color are also important to factor in when you are choosing your new flooring.
Each hardwood has its own unique appeal and all our woods can be used in different floor designs. Lavitech can even design features specifically for your home, giving your hardwood floor true distinction. Different finishes and edging can also help to make your wood floor truly unique.
Oak flooring, like all hardwood flooring, comes in several grades and variations. After making your initial choice as to whether you are going to go with white oak or red oak, you will have to choose from a range of standardized grades: Clear Oak, Select Oak, Common Oak, and Common Oak 2. The main distinction among the grades is the amount of variations and manufacturing imperfections found.
Clear oak is the grade with the fewest imperfections and is usually cut from the heartwood. Common oak 2 will have the most imperfections–knots, variations and tone. This does not necessarily mean clear oak is ‘the best’. One home owner may prefer a blemish free clear oak floors, while another may be more charmed by rustic oak flooring with all its markings and variations.
Maple is similar to oak, spruce and ash. It is creamy white with straight as well as swirling granules. This material is widely used for flooring because it is very resistant to scrapes and scratches and possess bright reflective colors. There are two main types of Maple – Soft and Rock. There is a third type known as Brown Maple which comes from an outer cut of the same tree.
Ash is a lighter colored wood floor, ranging from light tan to dark brown colors which look great in any style home. Ash hardwood floors are durable and shock resistant. This makes them good choices for high traffic areas, or areas that are susceptible to things being dropped, like kitchens. Ash flooring is easy to install and isn’t difficult to work with. It takes stains and finishes well too. There is a wide variety of stains that you can choose from if you are looking for a particular finish, or you could have it installed in its natural color with a clear protective finish.
Hardwood Flooring can be divided into two categories – Engineered and Solid
Engineered flooring is manufactured in a manner similar to plywood : three or five thin sheets (plies) of wood are laminated (glued) together in a crisscross formation for strength. A top layer (veneer) of hardwood is added as a finished top layer.Engineered flooring is available as strips or planks. Strips are 3″ or less in width. Planks are over 3″ wide.
Engineered floors are very stable and can be installed on any grade level. Although engineered wood floors are manufactured through a laminating process, they are not the same as a laminate floor.
Solid floors are cut from one piece of wood and milled to standard specifications. The flooring can be installed as planks or strips.
A longstrip board is constructed of individual slats glued together end to end to form strips. The strips are then installed as tongue and groove.
Parquet flooring is normally a 12″x 12″ square consisting of narrow strips of wood. The parquet tiles, often of varying finishes, are arranged in geometric patterns.
Some wood flooring is pre-finished, others will require finishing and sealing. Many wood fl
oors can also be refinished. A surfacePenetrating stains have in essence become part of the wood and are permanent. Check the manufacturer’s specifications about refinishing. stain can be removed and re-stained.
Glue Down Hardwood Floors
Glue downs are installed by trowel spreading adhesive on the subfloor in a predetermined area. Usually professionals will measure out three feet, or enough for twelve rows to cover, using a three inch wide board as an example. Each and every individual board is placed one at a time into the adhesive until the glued area is covered. Not all products can be glued easily. Gluing solid 3/4 hardwood is difficult, but new technology is making it easier.
Thickness will vary from 14 inch to 5/8 inch depending on the manufacturer. During manufacturing the bottom sides of many products are milled with relief cuts. This ensures the flooring can bend to minor irregularities in the contour of the subfloor, while at the same time increasing the bonding contact with adhesive.
Nailed Down Hardwood Floors
Installing methods for hardwood floors have changed considerably over the years. With the advent of pneumatic fasteners, now flooring can even be stapled. Insuring you have a suitable subfloor is the most important part for a successful installation, otherwise your floor will be spongy, creaking and popping.
How long the installation takes depends on the width of the boards chosen. For a standard 400 square foot room, common 2 1/4 strip flooring will take 10 to 12 hours for an experienced installer.
Floating Hardwood Floors
Floating hardwood floors are designed to lay on top of a cushioned underlayment and are not secured to any subfloor. In recent years easier types of floating flooring have been created. Click Together flooring can be installed by the floating method but without glue.
Manufacturers will vary in that the design is slightly different, but all click floors have one thing in common: a mechanized system milled into the boards that allow the floor to stay in place by tongue and groove once they are connected.
Lock and Fold flooring is another fairly new product. No clue or tapping is required. Boards are placed on a cushioned underlayment connected one by one with adjoining pieces actually folding over to create a secured connection or fit.
T-Molding: Most commonly used between tiled surfaces and wood floors. Also used for connecting to existing wood floors
Reducer, One Sided Reducer, Flush Reducer: Used with floor coverings of lower vertical heights such as vinyl, or concrete. Sometimes used around fireplaces and other fixed objects while becoming more of a design aspect than anything.
Overlap Reducer: Used mostly to connect floating floors to other floor coverings with lower vertical heights. Also used to transition carpet and floating floors.
Bi-Level Reducer: Used for transitioning solid 3/4 hardwood floors to lower vertical heights such as ceramic tile. Can also be used with carpeting.
Baby Threshold, Threshold: Used at sliding door areas where expansion is needed. Can also be used to transition with carpeting.
End Cap, Square Nose: Similar functions as a baby threshold.
Overlap Stair Nosing, Bull Nose: Used with some floating floors on steps and landing areas where expansion area is needed.
Flush/Square edge Stair Nosing, Bull Nose: Used for transition when placing plank or strip on stairs, landings, or step downs.
Quarter Round: Used against baseboard, toe kicks, and other fixed objects.
Shoe Molding: Similar function as quarter round, has a less pronounced appearance.
Wall Base, Baseboard: Installed on finished wall where expansion space is needed.
Care and Maintenance
Surface finishes like polyurethane require only simple care. Just dust, mop, sweep, or vaccum regularly. When cleaning no longer restores shine, recoat the floor with a surface finish. The frequency of recoating depends on the amount of traffic. Never wax a surface finished floor and never use vinyl or tile floor care products on any wood floor.
Depending on traffic, a properly maintained wood floor should need waxing only once or twice a year. Be careful not to over-wax a wood floor. If the floor dulls, try buffing instead. Avoid wax buildup under furniture and other low-traffic areas by applying wax half as often as in higher-traffic areas.
If the wax finish is discolored or has dirt built up, use a combination liquid cleaner/wax made specifically for wood flooring. Make sure it is solvent rather than water-based. Spread the liquid cleaner/wax with a cloth or fine steel wool and rub gently to remove grime and old wax. Wipe the floor clean, let it try for about 20 minutes and buff.