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Wood Floorings - How To Select
There are several aspects to consider when selecting a wood floor. Following is a brief step-by-step approach for a novice buyer. Start by selecting a species and then find out what pattern, construction, and finish it is.
Different species have very different characteristics and attributes such as appearance (color, grain), properties (hardness, dimensional stability), workability (sanding, nailing, finishing), cost and availability. Visit technical data to compare different species characteristics. Visit our store to learn more about each species and compare the different characteristics.
#2: Pattern (Type/Design)
Strip: usually in the standard 2 1/4" or 3" width, and random length.
Plank: usually between 3" and 8" wide, in fixed or random width and length.
Longstrip & Longplank: usually about 7 feet long and 7" wide boards with strips glued together and on the next layer in this engineered construction. View manufacturer specific information.
Parquet: usually a 12" by 12" square with an endless choice of geometric designs. Below are several popular styles:
Many people chose strips for a more contemporary look. It creates a linear effect in a room, often promoting the illusion of a larger space. If a clear select grade (best) is chosen, it gives the room a more uniform color and a narrow modern look.
Planks are appropriate when a traditional decor, a country feel, or an antique colonial style is desired. Plank flooring is also linear, however, it is wider in width. One can choose planks with plenty of knots for a rustic appearance.
Parquet, along with inlays (borders, medallions, other species, etc.) and other custom designs, can give a wooden floor an elegant and exclusive look. Parquet offers a variety of design options when linear is not your preference. Visit our custom design section.
Generally speaking, a dark-colored species (or a dark stained floor) gives a more formal, or traditional look. Some species, like American Cherry and Brazilian Cherry, darken faster than others from direct sunlight (ultraviolet light) and from age. Lighter colors, especially maple or oak, are used in country or contemporary type interiors.
#3: Construction (Solid or Engineered)
Solid wood floor is one complete piece of solid wood from top to bottom. It must be nailed down (or glued down if 18" or shorter strips are installed) over a wood subfloor. It cannot be installed below grade.
Engineered (also called laminated) wood floors is a construction of 3 or 5 layers of wood laminated together. Because of the cross-grain lamination construction, engineered floors are very dimensionally stable and do not expand and contract like a solid product. Engineered floors can be installed on any grade level with nail down, glue down, or floating methods. Engineered floors are most often pre-finished (see #4). View manufacturer specific information.
#4: Finish (Pre-finished or unfinished)
Pre-finished flooring comes with a durable and consistent factory finish. No sanding and no finishing is needed and the job is therefore completed more quickly, typically in one day versus four to six days for site-finished, meaning there is no need to move out. Pre-finished floors eliminate the dust, noise, and odor involved in the job-site finishing process.
Unfinished (i.e. site-finished) is the traditional wood flooring to many people. There are more options for colors, stains, and types of finishes, which all contribute to the personalization of a solid floor.
Select by species and then find out what pattern, construction, and finish are available.