Hardwood has a natural elegance and beauty that adds a warmth ambience to any home. It is also versatile in terms of styling as it can easily blend with most interior designs. Sturdy and durable even for places with lots of traffic and entertainment, the luxury quality and look of the wood flooring adds value to your property.
Hardwood is the general term for 3 different flooring materials namely solid, engineered and jointed:
• Solid hardwood
It is the real wood that comes in one piece in variety of types, patterns and colors. It is cut from different species such as Canadian maple, white oak, red oak and birch, all having their own graining patterns that give them different personality. Canadian maple has closed grain and soft texture with white color sapwood and reddish brown heartwood. White oak is light brown that adds the traditional wood look to your space. Red oak is reddish brown in color which hides the wear and tear over the years. Birch is known for its straight grains that make your space more stylish with creamy yellow sapwood and reddish brown heartwood.
Solid hardwood lasts forever and can be refinished many times. As an organic material, it expands or contracts under influence of environmental factors such as humidity and temperature which might lead to warping and gaping. It is applicable in almost any room except basement and highly humid areas such as laundry room and bathroom. It is the most expensive option among the three.
• Engineered hardwood
This is a high tech product that has a thin layer of real wood on top and bottom of a multi-ply stacked core. It has a criss-cross pattern in the core that provides resistance against expansion or contraction in response to environmental changes. It is resistant against moisture and can be applied even in finished basement. To refresh the natural look and feel, it can be refinished at least once.
• Jointed hardwood
This product is the in-between option where natural beauty of solid hardwood is combined with resiliency and anti-humid quality of the engineered wood. It is made from hardwood scraps to form rigid flooring that helps conserve natural wood resources and environment. It has a better resistance against humidity and temperature fluctuations compared to solid hardwood.
Hardwoods are graded according to Janka Hardness Test and the result determines the strength of the wood against high impact stress.
They have different textures due to the procedure that is done on their surface. Cashmere texture is result of intense sanding to reveal a soft and silky surface that has no distress marks. Wire brushed texture is resulted from abrading with steel brush to achieve a rustic look. Hand scraped texture results in unique looking surface that is timeless.
They also have different finishes from glossy to matte and semi-gloss in between. The glossy finish is a polyurethane coating that is water-based and UV-cured with added aluminum oxide to enhance durability. It reveals the natural color of the wood and prevents darkening. The semi-gloss finish is UV-oiled coating that is synthetic oil combined with aluminum oxide to become resistant against scuffing. It is easily cleaned and does not need re-oiling. The matte finish is resulted from natural oil coating that penetrates the wood fibers to enhance hardness and natural beauty. Regular oiling eliminates the need for re-sanding.
There are molding accessories available to accommodate any interior design. A reducer molding makes the transition to height-different floors smoother while quarter round molding covers the remaining space between a floor and a wall. T-molding is built for doorways but square nose is used to finish the flooring edge at landings while stair nose is used to finish the edge at stair cases.
Installation methods are varied as well with nail or staple method being suitable for solid hardwood but engineered wood can also benefit from this method depending on the edging and substrate type. The glue or adhesive method only applies to engineered wood with a substrate that cannot be nailed or stapled. The floating method is also used for engineered wood that has click locking feature. It is the most modular method that allows you to disassemble the flooring throughout the years.
Cleaning is effortless for all hardwood types but depends on the type of finishing material. It is always recommended to follow the instruction given by the manufacturer. Sweeping, vacuuming and mopping are all accepted methods to prevent grit build-up. The post installation cleaning with a no-rinse cleaner is a must to clear the dust and debris. Spills should be removed immediately but frequency of regular cleaning really depends on the foot traffic.
Choose a type of hardwood you can afford and enjoy the luxury feeling, unique beauty, great resilience and high value that it brings to your home.