Hardwood Flooring

 
Hardwood Flooring Buying Giude
 
The beauty of natural hardwood floors never goes out of style. They offer a durable, solid surface suited to any room in your home. While hardwood floors have been around for centuries, much has changed in recent years. New finishes, better construction and a wider variety of available sizes and materials have made them more luxurious, functional and affordable than ever. With so many options to choose from, you’ll want to carefully consider your needs before you buy. The following questions will help you begin to assess what solution is right for you:
 
  • What type of hardwood flooring is ideal for your home?
  • Is there a certain style you wish to achieve?
  • Is solid, engineered or click wood best suited to the area?
  • Will you be installing the floor or hiring a professional?


 

Types and Materials


 
Solid Wood: Solid wood flooring is created by cutting the entire strip of wood in one whole piece directly from a tree. Solid wood floors are commonly found in older homes and usually consist of long thin strips of wood that have been nailed into a wood subfloor. Because of their durability and timeless beauty, they remain a popular choice for new installations as well. Since solid wood reacts to fluctuations in humidity, this type of flooring expands and contracts as moisture levels in your home change. Be sure you follow the proper installation methods to prevent buckling or gapping.
 
  • Suited best for installations at or above ground level; install over a wood subfloor
  • Thicknesses range from 5/16 to 3/4 inches; typical widths include 1-1/2, 2 and 2-1/4 inches
  • Can be sanded and refinished several times for lasting value and performance
  • Available as either prefinished or unfinished pieces in a wide range of wood varieties
  • Can go over concrete, but proper preparation and planning need to be done first

 
Engineered Wood: Engineered woods have increased in popularity due to both their low price and remarkable ability to handle fluctuations in humidity without shifting or changing. Engineered wood consists of several thin layers of solid wood fused together with heat, glue and pressure. Cross-grain construction alternates layers opposite one another, so each individual layer expands and contracts in different directions with little to no visible change. Because engineered wood is resistant to humidity changes, it is suited to a wider variety of installations and can even be installed over concrete slabs. Since only the top layer is visible, manufacturers can use a variety of less expensive woods to create the core layer and use more costly woods on the surface. This gives you the benefit of more luxurious materials at an affordable price.
 
  • Engineered floors can be installed at, below or above ground level
  • Can be placed directly over a concrete slab giving you more installation options\
  • Engineered wood floors with thick top layers can be sanded and refinished several times
  • Usually come pre finished for simple, hassle-free installation that allows for immediate use

 
Click Wood: Click wood refers to an installation method rather than a type of wood flooring. Click wood "floats" over the sub floor without any nailing, stapling or heavy troweling of adhesives. Similar to how laminate floors are installed, floating hardwood floors can be installed over most existing sub floors, including vinyl and concrete, without demolition mess. Best suited for the DIYer.
 
In addition to selecting the type of wood, you’ll also need to choose which type of flooring you prefer. Hardwood flooring comes in three styles – strip, plank and parquet. Strip flooring consists of long, thin pieces with an interlocking tongue-and-groove. It is the most common type of solid wood floor. Classic strip flooring measures 2-1/4" wide, but newer varieties give you more width options. Plank flooring is similar to strip flooring but is much wider with widths up to 8" or more. It also has tongue-and-groove edges and often comes prefinished. It is available in both engineered and solid wood. Parquet flooring is a series of large, square wood tiles that feature geometric patterns held together by glue or other fasteners. They are also available in both solid and engineered wood.
 
  • Strip flooring usually measures between 5/16" and 3/4" thick with widths from 1-1/2" to 3-1/4"
  • Plank floors made from engineered wood can replicate the look of strip flooring by combining several long,
    thin strips on the top layer of a larger piece.

 
For additional information, view our Hardwood Basics I and Hardwoods Basics II videos and download our Hardwoods and Hardwood Options PDFs.
 

Features


 
Square, Beveled or Eased Edges: Floors come with 3 basic edges - square, beveled or eased. Beveled and eased edges help hide irregularities in the subfloor. Square edges provide an even, uniform look with clean lines. Beveled edges have a slightly deeper indent while eased edges taper off more gradually.

Wood Varieties: Wood flooring comes in a wide range of wood varieties, including standards such as oak, maple or pine as well as more unusual varieties from around the globe such as Australian cypress or Brazilian cherry. Choose the style and color that best suits your existing décor. 
 
Hardwood Hardiness or Janka Scale: Refer to the manufacturer as well as store signage to view how hard each hardwood floor is in comparison to the other.


Bamboo Flooring


There are three styles or looks of Bamboo flooring including Vertical, Horizontal and Stand Woven.
 
Vertical
 
  • Vertical bamboo is created by fusing bamboo stalks vertically resulting in consistent linear lines for a modern appearance. (Image)

 
Horizontal
 
  • Alternating layers of bamboo are fused together maintaining the distinctive growth joints of bamboo for a natural appearance. (Image)

 
Strand Woven
 
  • Strand Woven Bamboo is created by compressing shredded bamboo fibers under extreme heat and pressure forming a durable and hard flooring material.
  • Increased hardness and resistance to denting
  • Graining mimics hardwood (Image)

 
Common terms:

“Natural” Bamboo:  Bamboo in its original color
“Carbonized” Bamboo: Bamboo is heated to caramelize the sugars in the stalk resulting in a darker shade
 

Installation


 
Hardwood floors come in 3 different types of construction or formats including solid hardwood flooring, engineered tongue & groove or click together wood. Each one has distinct advantages and installation requirements, so take the time to understand which one is best suited to the room or rooms where you will be installing the floor. If you plan to install the floor yourself, you may want to consider selecting flooring with features such as a prefinished surface or floating installation like click wood for added convenience.
 
Keep in mind that while many installations are simple and straightforward, some floor types require more complicated installs that may be better left to professionals. Hardwood flooring can be installed by a trusted Home Depot service provider. For more information on installation services, click here.
 
There are four basic types of installation – nail down, glue down, staple down and floating/click. The type of installation is largely determined by the type of wood and flooring style you select. Keep the following tips and hints in mind:
 
  • Engineered floors often utilize a simple floating installation, which is the fastest installation method.
  • Solid wood should be acclimated to the room several days prior to installation.
  • An expansion gap allows for changes in solid wood floors due to fluctuating humidity.
  • Add molding to walls to hide the expansion gap for a more uniform appearance.
  • Factory finished floors can be walked on immediately after installation is complete.