MANY considerations must be
given when selecting a hardwood floor. The following will help with your
selection process. Here we will attempt to share the many types, sizes,
colors, application methods, and the variety of wood floor species on
the market today. This information is a general, overall foundation in
helping you start your search. Always look at several product lines,
make comparisons as to wear warranties, thicknesses, type of
construction, type and number of finish coats, as well as the many other
considerations we will outline herein. See Styles
& Trends in Hardwood Flooring.
The following Go2 directory is listed in the order of the selection
process. ALL subtitles are detailed on this page. Many LINKS at this
page will take you to our parent site
HardwoodFloorsOnline.com, use the
back button to return.
by asking yourself some simple questions:
What type of subfloor
will the floor be installed over?
This will mandate the thickness and type of floor, glue down, nail
down, or floating; each product and manufacturer specify differently.
Some application may not fit your specific subfloor, traffic zones,
and may cause early wear, or warranty concerns.
Where do I want a wood
One-Of-A-Kind designs are installed. A popular area for
medallions, feature strips, accents and/or borders. Making a
statement in this area is becoming more often than not. Using
walk off mats outside and if there is no design, area carpets
inside will help in keeping wear down. Foyers tend to be more
formal than not, being for show to guest as opposed to everyday
use by family members.
The area can determine type of product best for the traffic, size, and
use of the room. Some rooms work well with wood floors, and other do
rooms; this is the number
one place for wood floor installation in new construction. The
ease of care, using both rooms as one, and the flow of traffic
make this a very popular area for wood floors. NOTE: Kitchen wood
floors should be screened (lightly sanded) and recoated as needed,
say every 8-18 months, depending on the amount of traffic and
cleaning habits. Good cleaning habits are very important part of
maintaining a wood floor, high traffic or not.
Bathrooms - a working day to day bathroom would not
fair well with wood floors, due to continued moisture exposure. On
the other hand a guest bathroom would be fine.
Bedrooms - Often this sets
a semi-formal decor, with area carpets being used. Regular
maintenance is required. NOTE: Rolling furniture, chairs, TV
stands etc., can damage the finish very quickly, if used day to
day. Make sure the floor is protected and/or the rollers are not
made of metal or other damaging materials.
Is this a high traffic
The finish and color will be affected by this. Darker colors tend to
show traffic quicker, where as natural wood colors of oak and maple do
not. High traffic areas need special attention when it come to
recoating. Screening (light sanding) should be a part of the
preventative maintenance program for your wood floors in these areas.
Application of 1 or 2 coats as needed (every 8-18 months) is a good
sound way to protect your investment. Make sure the finish being
applied is compatible with what is there and is of the shine that will
work well in that area. Satin or low shine urethanes tend to show less
traffic patterns than do the higher gloss finishes. Walkoff mats are
strongly suggested for these areas, ie- working areas of a kitchens,
entry ways, entries/doorways from the outside.
What type of wood do
you like or will fit the area?
Some types are more traffic friendly than others; Is this species to
"grainy" or busy looking ? Some species are harder than
others. Maple is harder than oak; has less grain, yet maple can not be
stained. Remember, the type of finish and number of coats can also
determine how well your floor will fair in high traffic areas.
What color will work
with the decor?
Some darker colors make rooms look smaller, show traffic patterns
quicker. Lighter, or natural color of wood floor species can give an
open, airy feeling, making the room appear larger. With today's color
trends this is of the most popular selections now being made by the
consumer, in home and office alike.
Who is helping you make
Builders tend to stay with they same product that has worked before
for them, decorators tend to use color as the number one reason for
choosing a particular product, which may not be suited for the area.
Whether a prefinished or job finished product, have a sample of the
wood floor material to make comparisons with other products and other
materials, such as the fabrics, paint colors and textures being used
in the room.
Who will maintain these
That person needs to know the product as does the purchaser, most of
time that is the same person, but not always. Knowing The Dos
& Don'ts and Maintenance
Procedures is very important. Make sure that information is
provided to you and is a part of your contract. After the floor is
installed, and this material is provided to you, this is a good time
to purchase a wood floor cleaning kit, right from the get go !
All these question, as
well as many others, are very important parts of the process in
choosing the right hardwood floor for you. Not knowing all the answers
could cause you concerns down the road. Most importantly, as we go through the selection
process getting an experienced, and knowledgeable contractor who knows
wood floors is one of the best things you can do.!
DO NOT depend solely on your general contractor or
design consultant. In the end, an improper installation will only cost
you the home owner, over and above, whether its more money, more down
time or having to involve an attorney, or ALL of the above. Make sure
you are dealing with a reputable wood flooring retailer/contractor.
The reason for the above
questions is to determine what floor is right for the conditions where
they will be installed; what conditions they will subjected to; and
last but not least, is this the right floor for you?
Some floors are more pleasing than others, but may not work in your
conditions, or may not work well with the traffic they will receive.
The color you like may be OK with the decor, but bad for wear
patterns. The type of wood, say pine for example, (not a hardwood),
does not stain well and is softer than oak causing it to
"dent" more. Many factors should play a part in your
decision about the choices you make when it comes to hardwood floors.
This listing of what is
available, as to sizes, the many colors, type of application and
species we hope will help you in making an educated choice. Remember
manufacturers products vary from one to the next.
Hardwood Floors can be broken into
A pre-finished product that through a high pressure treatment, acrylic
and color are forced in the pores throughout the thickness of the
wood. The "finish" is inside the wood, creating an extremely
hard surface. These floors are highly resistant to abrasion and
moisture and appeal most often to commercial installations, but can be
used residentially. The many styles available are the same as
Engineered/Laminate wood flooring
flooring is produced by bonding layers of veneer and lumber with an
adhesive. Laminate wood flooring is available in pre-finished and
unfinished. These products are more dimensionally stable and are ideal
for glue-down installation or float-in installation above grade, on
grade or below grade, including basements and humid climates. Laminate
wood flooring is produced in:
Strip - thicknesses of 5/16", 3/8", 1/2" or 5/8"
and in widths of 2" and 2-1/4"
Plank - thicknesses of 5/16", 3/8", 1/2" or 5/8"
and in widths of 3" to 8"
Parquet - one-piece wood tile available in 9" x 9" or
8" x 8" and other patterns
Prefinished wood flooring
Pre-finished flooring is factory sanded and finished flooring that
only needs installation. Comes in many colors, species and sizes.
Solid wood flooring is completely lumber. It is available in
unfinished and pre-finished. Solid wood flooring is produced in:
Strip - in thicknesses of 1/2" or 3/4" in widths of 1-1/2,
2" and 2-1/4"
Plank - in thicknesses of 1/2" or 3/4" and widths of 3"
Parquet - geometrical patterns composed of individual wood slats held
in place by mechanical fastening or an adhesive.
Unfinished flooring is a product that must be job-site sanded, stained
if desired, and finished after installation. This has been the
American staple in hardwood floors for many years. Commonly called
"Strip flooring", this product has not changed for many
years as to size, cuts & grades. A 3/4" thick unfinished
strip floor can be sanded from four(4) to six(6) times in it's
Category having 3 Sub-Categories of:
wood pieces forming a pattern/design-thicknesses of 1/4"-
5/16" 1/2" & 3/4" mostly glue down.
board face widths 3" & up to 12" with thicknesses from
1/4", 5/16", 3/8",5/8", 9/16" and
3/4", glue or nail down.
usually considered the "hardwood floor", face width sizes
of 1 1/2", 2 1/2" and 2 1/4", with 1/2" and
3/4" thicknesses, glue or nail down
NOTE: As a rule 3/4" products are mostly nailed (larger parquet
patterns are both nailed and glued)
about your wood floor:
Now that we know that they are
many, many products to choose from, let's get a little more specific
in the decision making process. These requirements should always be
in the equation of what type of floor is right for you, your
conditions, and your budget. Most importantly, this will educate
you, and your contractor about what is required for proper and good
The following list of
requirements should be covered and/or included in specifications and
contracts before the final wood floor selection is made. Never
assume the top grade or cut is being used.
What will it be. Is this on the manufacturer's recommendation of the
product you want use? The manufactures specifications should be
followed as well as if not in conjunction with industry guidelines.
Over concrete slabs, lets say, 1/8" of deviation in 10 feet is
the norm. Plywood subfloors should not contain more than 4 % +/- of
moisture than the flooring being laid over it. NEVER allow a wood
floor product to be laid over "particle board, chip board, wood
composite products" . !
What type of installation method is required ? What is the nailing
schedule (how far apart are the nails placed) or what type of
adhesive is needed (always use manufacturers adhesive products-if
not warranties may be voided). Has the wood floor material been
properly handled prior to installation ? Has it acclimated at the
job site( In HVAC conditions- those that are normal for the area
under regular living conditions?), Are the moisture contents of the
wood floor products and the subfloor compatible? Whether you, your
architect, builder, or designer helps in the decision making about
your wood floors, you must do your homework. The following are
additional details you must consider, or have specified when knowing
what hardwood floor will be installed.
Type of Installation?
There are Three(3) INSTALLATION METHODS
for Laminated/Engineered Wood Floors include:
- using Manufacturers recommended adhesive
or Stapled (all 3/4" material) - as per manufacturers
specifications of nailing schedule.
Make sure the above specifications
are spelled out, this will ensure the product information is correct.
This is very important as everyone involved in the process ( you, the
architect, designers, builder/contractor and there associates) may not
have the same specification details as you or the person helping you
specify the job. Today there are a great number of products available,
from thicknesses, widths, styles, colors, patterns, and varieties.
Remember all manufacturers have their own "trademark"
colors, sizes & styles. For instance natural oak colored floors
has more than 30 names throughout the industry. If it's an unfinished
product, to be job finished, the sky is the limit on color.
Finally, check several
retailers/contractors, there samples, and Showrooms, (Visit our
Photo Gallery for Design Ideas) . Ask for a sample that can be
used to take to the areas that will receive the hardwood floor. Listen
to input from your contractor, and design consultant. The floor you
like may not suit the area. The color may not work with the overall
scheme of the decor. Always ask questions, if in doubt, not sure, ASK
! Its much better the know ahead what to expect, than after the fact
and the floor is in place. The more specific information shared
commonly among ALL participating parties, the less chance of
misunderstandings and problems will occur.
Ask these simple
questions to your wood floor and/or general contractor:
Always know the above
specifics, have them in writing, and if possible have a sample
and/or brochure about the product.
Checkout your contractor, get
references, is a license required ?
Get a written and properly
executed contract !
How long will the job take?
From delivery of an unfinished product, acclimation, through
installation, finishing and molding installation, the time table
can be 4-6 weeks for this part of the process.
What are the warranties and
guarantee? , get it in writing as a part of the contract. Most
contractors warrantee their work for 1 year, although they DO NOT
warrantee the product. Look to the Manufacturer through their
representatives (Distributors to Retailer) for ALL concerns about
At what stage is the job ready
(see JOB SITE CONDITIONS) - This should be closely scheduled with
general contractor and/or other trades.
Will the contractor be doing the
work himself? If not who.
Request a walk through with the
contractor (general and wood floor) and/or person who estimated the
Make sure any concerns are dealt
with in a timely manner.