HARDWOOD FLOORING: HOW DO YOU CHOOSE?
When it comes to choosing the type of wood floor for your home, there's more to choose from than just the type (i.e. Oak, Cherry, Walnut, etc).
Our previous post highlighted some differences in hardwood, laminate, and luxury vinyl planking; however, this time we want to give you a deeper look inside the types of hardwood flooring - like natural wood, oiled wood, and engineered wood - that you can choose from and the recommended maintenance for each.
It's hard to beat the look and feel of natural hardwood floors, though many new products give it a run for its money. Hardwood flooring is constructed from all types of trees and can be domestic (from the US) or exotic (anywhere else in the world). When choosing which species of wood you would like to install, it is important to consider the amount of traffic that area of your home handles and choose a wood based on its hardness rating (known as the Janka Rating). This rating is decided by the amount of pressure and dings/dents the flooring is able to withstand.
Natural variances in wood are unavoidable and you should be aware prior to choosing your flooring and having it installed. For example, when choosing a light oak floor, it is very possible that there will be some noticeably darker planks when your flooring arrives. This is in no way a defect, but rather the natural coloring of the wood. It's also important to take into account the color, grain and texture (some floors have a natural texture, while others are hand-scraped to apply a texture). Of course, applying a stained finish to your wood floor will change the look and appearance of the wood.
INSTALLATION & MAINTENANCE
Hardwood can be nailed down or glued down, but is not able to be installed as a floating floor. The length of the installation process depends on how much prep work needs to be completed and the amount of square footage being installed. For example, if you are having 1200 ft of flooring installed and have other flooring that needs to be removed, it's possible that removal and prep could take a week, and then the installation process will begin. The subfloor needs to be smoothed prior to installing the wood so that there are no uneven surfaces or transitions once the wood is in place.
When selecting your hardwood floor, you have the choice of a finished or unfinished product. A finished product already comes with a stain applied prior to installation. If you choose to go with an unfinished product, you can have your installer apply a finish when the installation is completed, or you can apply one yourself.
It is important to note that prior to installation of your wood floor, the wood should be delivered to your home in order for the wood to acclimate. Even in more stable climates like San Diego, wood needs to acclimate to the environment it is being placed in to prevent warping, expansion and other issues with it once installed. Because of the thickness of natural wood planks, solid hardwood floors are able to withstand four to five sand-and-finish procedures, which only need to be completed every 10 -15 years.
OILED WOOD FINISH
We’ve placed oiled wood into its own category because it takes a special product to give this hardwood flooring its own unique finish. Because it is a natural hardwood, the tones of wood can vary and you shouldn't be surprised to find different color planks, even if you've chosen a lighter product. What makes this product unique is the oil finish that is applied after the installation. The oil becomes an integral part of the wood to help strengthen, seal, and protect it.
INSTALLATION & MAINTENANCE
The installation process is similar to that of a non-oiled hardwood floor, and the timing will again depend upon how much prep work needs to be done and the amount of flooring being installed. Oiled wood requires at least two coats of oil after it has been installed (although more can be applied if you desire a higher gloss finish). Depending on the amount of use your floor gets, along with routine maintenance, a new oil coating needs to be applied every year to two years.
Oiled hardwood floors can also be refinished, however with proper care and maintenance, they should not need to be finished often. Check with the flooring manufacturer to determine which cleaning products are the best for the oiled wood you have chosen for your home.
The term “engineered” sometimes leads people to believe that this isn’t a real wood floor. Engineered wood floors are most definitely still real wood; however they are created with a different process than solid hardwood floors. The natural wood planks are layered on top of wood composite, with the grains facing in different directions, strengthening the wood.
INSTALLATION & MAINTENANCE
This type of flooring can be installed in a floating fashion, meaning that the planks connect to each other and don’t touch the subfloor underneath. Typically, a sound underlayment is installed to make the floor more soundproof. There is a limit to the amount of soundproofing available if this is installed on a 2nd story.
Engineered wood is not waterproof, so be cautious in the areas you decide to install this type of flooring. This type of flooring can also be refinished, however it is not able to undergo as many treatments as solid hardwood.