Hardwood Flooring Types, Options - Construction
Need Help Choosing Wood Floors? Type Of Subfloor Plays A Role
Understanding how your home was built and the sub floor type will often dictate what type of hardwood floor you should be seeking. Our illustration on the right gives us an idea where some products can and cannot be used. The brown area represents the soil line and red common floor joist systems.
Considering most home construction in the United States uses plywood over floor joist systems, the preferred choice is traditional ¾ inch solid hardwood. Providing they are taken care of properly, these products will provide the best longevity as they can be refinished many times over. Multiple color changes are possible, but requires very knowledgeable professionals for optimum results.
Engineered hardwood flooring is often chosen with those that have a concrete sub floor system, or those homes on slab with no basement below. By no means does this limit engineered products to concrete only. Others reasons they are chosen with wood subfloors include better performance with radiant floor heating systems and the need for lower vertical height flooring. With both engineered and solid many wonder how many times their floors can be sanded.
Throwing in another motive for using engineered with wood sub floors may just be a result of product availability and not the sub floor requirement. Let's say you found a style or look to die for and it's only available in the engineered form. Trying to duplicate with a solid ¾ inch hardwood is possible. Even so, chances are great the costs and inconvenience will rule out doing so, not to mention getting the desired result.
Both solid and engineered flooring can be obtained prefinished or unfinished with the latter requiring sanding and finishing. Times have changed with styles as common strip flooring is no longer the only choice. Wider plank floors, hand scraped and distressed floors have seen great demand the last five to eight years. For more we suggest visiting remodeling with hardwood floors and what kind of hardwood species one can obtain. Related to styles we can include types of floors designed for those wishing to do the work themselves. Lock and fold floating hardwoods, found at every home center these days have become extremely popular. However, you will find more variety and better quality with a full service hardwood flooring dealer.
For the more discriminating buyer, upgraded styles can be chosen in the form of adding hardwood borders or medallions, both hardwood and stone. The options continue with custom hardwood floor designs, custom hand scraping, or distressed appearances. Even more are high end parquet patterns and herringbone.
Prefinished Hardwood - Micro Bevels
If you're new to hardwood floors you may be wondering "why can't I get a hardwood floor without all those ugly dirt catchers?" For the most part, many retailers don't offer prefinished square edge products with exceptions being longstrip floating type floors shown on the right. The majority are square edge, but there's a preference among some not to have all those little pieces that make up the floor, common in longstrip type construction. One benefit to micro beveled floors many don't consider is their ability to trap dirt or grit that will scratch any hardwood floor. Some manufacturers produce micro bevels and others offer a larger version often called eased edges. Another advantage of micro beveled or eased edge floors rarely discussed is they won't show seasonal movement compared to a sanded and finished floor. If you're seeking that flawless appearance year round and cannot afford to keep your home's interior relative humidity constant, these types of hardwoods are the answer, providing they're installed correctly or the product is milled with quality in mind. You may find some manufacturers offering square edge solid 3/4" hardwoods. However we urge you to do a thorough investigation before making that purchase. Common complaints include overwood and/or sock catchers. Micro beveled floors are abundant because prefinished manufacturers cannot produce a true square edge from a solid 3/4" product. Beveled styles are produced to mask imperfections in milling. In other words, adjacent pieces of hardwood after installation will have slight vertical height differences.
Our Little Secrets Many Don't Tell You. Random Length² or One Size Lengths?
All manufacturers are different. Some may offer random length or one set length hardwood. Random length is defined as each piece being different in size between the shortest and longest. For example, one may say 12" - 60" random length. This means the shortest pieces will be 12" and the longest 60" with the others being different sized in between. Random lengths offer a more traditional look. Some products may be manufactured in one length only, but to an untrained eye will look similar to a random length hardwood floor if installed properly.
Some confuse one length hardwoods as being too uniform in appearance. One length products should be installed randomly. Creating the random look begins with using different sized boards at the starting area. They should be cut randomly with no particular measurement used. Once starter boards are cut and full length pieces are installed adjacent to them, a random look appears as shown in the first illustration below.
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