Understanding how hardwood is made is easy, and, here, efficient. We’ve explained all the basics in this section and urge you to check them out. Knowing how hardwood is constructed provides you with an understanding of the hardwood floor right from its beginning. That’s important information because these are the materials you’ll be living with and walking on for years to come should you choose this flooring product. Knowing the different types that make up various hardwood floors also helps you understand and evaluate their performance aspects: why certain hardwoods are easier to install, why some wear better, longer, and why others are easier to replace. Plus, perhaps most important, understanding hardwood construction and materials can make you a smarter shopper, help you better determine hardwood flooring value and keep you within the parameters of your budget.Understanding hardwood sizes, species, and types
When we think of solid wood floors we generally are talking about a 3/4" thick plank that is 2 1/4" wide. This is the classic strip wood floor, although it is possible to find a narrower width or a slightly thinner gage. The strips are generally in random lengths from 12" – 84".The most common wood species used for solid strip floors are red oak, white oak, maple, cherry, white ash, hickory or pecan. And the three common types of wood floors are Solid, Engineered and Longstrip Plank.TYPE 1: Think solid and expansive
Solid wood floors are one solid piece of wood that have tongue and groove sides. When we talk about solid wood floors, we tend to think of floors that are unfinished, but it’s important to know that there are also many pre-finished 3/4” solid wood floors. And you should also be aware of the moisture factor. Solid wood floors are sensitive to moisture and because so they are used in nail down installations and are not recommended for installation below ground level, or directly over a concrete slab.
The good news is that these floors can be refinished, or recoated, several times, which adds to their appeal and to their long life in your home. In fact, there are solid floors that are over 100 years old that are still in good condition with rich patina and character – enhancing the beauty of the home. Because they’re a natural product, hardwood flooring will expand and contract in response to seasonal changes in moisture. In the winter heating months, moisture leaves the wood causing the floor to contract, which creates small gaps between each plank.
In the summer months, when the humidity is higher, the wood will expand and the gaps will disappear. If there is too much moisture it may cause the wood planks to cup, or buckle. Not something you want in your home. This is why it is important when installing a solid strip floor to leave the proper expansion area around the perimeter and to acclimate the wood prior to installation. This will help assure a lasting, beautiful application.