Hardwood floors are one of the most important design elements in your home or business. No matter what your lifestyle, wood floors add value and comfort to any décor, but with all the choices available today, selecting the right floor can be daunting.
The following pages will help you discern the various choices available to you, and help you choose the right floor for your home or business.
•Environmental Benefits of Wood Floors
Wood flooring is the most abundantly renewable flooring material available. Sustainable forest management makes it possible to harvest wood without any serious impact on the environment, because trees are a renewable resource that can be replaced time and time again.
Check out these environmental facts about wood floors:
- Average annual net growth for hardwoods is greater than average annual removals (Source: US Department of Agriculture Forest Service)
- Indoor air quality is better with wood floors (Source: US Environmental Protection Agency)
- Wood is a carbon neutral product that produces oxygen during its growth cycle and stores carbon during its service life (Source: University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Solid Wood Flooring Life Cycle Analysis)
- Wood floors use less water and energy to produce than other flooring options (Source: University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Solid Wood Flooring Life Cycle Analysis)
- At the end of its service life, wood flooring can be burned as fuel or recycled (Source: University of Wisconsin Wood Products Program Solid Wood Flooring Life Cycle Analysis)
- Wood floors last hundreds of years, so won’t need to be replaced as often as other flooring options (Source: National Association of Home Builders)
- While it takes most hardwood trees 40-60 years to mature, the inventory planted today won’t be needed for 100-plus years (Source: National Wood Flooring Association)
•Species of Wood
Wood Floor Species
Wood floors come in a variety of colors that will fit any décor. Today’s wood floors come in more than 50 species, both domestic and exotic, spanning the spectrum of color options, hardness, and price ranges. No matter what the look you want to achieve, there are a variety of species to meet your needs.
Other things can influence how a species looks as well, including grain and cut.
Types of Grades
The appearance of the wood determines its grade. All grades are equally strong and serviceable, but each affords you a different look.
Clear wood is a flooring product with minimal character marks that provides a uniform appearance.
Select wood is a flooring product with natural heartwood/sapwood color variations that also includes knots, streaks, etc.
Common wood (No. 1 and No. 2) has more natural characteristics such as knots and color variations than either clear or select grades, and often is chosen because of these natural features and the character they bring to a room. No. 1 Common has a varied appearance,
light and dark colors, knots, streaks and wormholes. No. 2 Common is rustic in appearance and emphasizes all wood characteristics of the species.
First grade wood has a uniform appearance, natural color variations and limited character marks. It is similar to a select grade.
Second grade wood is varied in appearance and features knots and some variation in color. It is similar to a No. 1 Common grade.
Third grade wood is rustic in appearance allowing all wood characteristics of the species. It is similar to a No. 2 Common grade.
Type of Cuts
The angle at which a board is cut determines how the finished product looks. Wood flooring is either plainsawn, quartersawn or riftsawn.
Plainsawn is the most common cut. Characteristics are its pleasing appearance, and varied grain appearance. It is easier to produce from log.
Quartersawn is more expensive than plainsawn. Characteristics are greater wear resistance, less tendency to cup and twist, less shrinkage in width, and uniform grain appearance with ray flecks. Ray flecks appear in flooring that cuts across the wood’s ray cells, which creates a shimmering flake figure spread over the wood.
Riftsawn is more expensive than plainsawn. It’s similar to quartersawn without the ray flecks.
Types of Wood Floors
Advances in wood flooring during the past few years mean that you now can have wood flooring anywhere in your home or business. Where you want to put it, however, will determine the type of wood flooring you can use.
There are two types of wood floors available on the market today: Solid and Engineered.
Solid wood flooring is exactly what the name implies: a solid piece of wood from top to bottom. The thickness of solid wood flooring can vary, but generally ranges from ¾” to 5/16”. One of the many benefits of solid wood flooring is that it can be sanded and refinished many times. Solid wood flooring can be installed above or on grade.
Engineered wood floors are real wood floors that are manufactured using three to nine layers of different wood veneers. The sub layers can be of the same species, or of different species. The grain of each layer runs in different directions, which makes it very stable. This means that the wood will expand and contract less than solid wood flooring during fluctuations in humidity and temperature. The top layer of engineered wood flooring consists of high-quality wood. While this type of flooring can be sanded and finished, it cannot be done as many times as solid wood flooring. Engineered wood flooring can be installed above, on or below grade.