October 27, 2012 All Flooring Solutions

Solid Hardwood VS. Engineered Hardwood?

Help me decide between solid and engineered hardwood.

With so many species of wood flooring available, and so many finish and texture options, how can you find the right one for your application? Are stability and hardness paramount in your choice, or are a certain color and design more important? The primer below can help you with the basics.

SOLID WOOD flooring is just that – wood strips that come in an array of board lengths and widths, as well as a variety of colors, finishes and species, plus grades from select to rustic. Wood strip is the traditional tongue-in-grove flooring in consistent, set widths that are nailed in place. Solid plank offers more random widths, but is also tongue-in-grove and nailed in place. Parquet flooring is comprised of many pieces are held in place with glues or mechanical fasteners, and provide a focal point in the center of a room or at its entry, as well as across the entire installation. Parquet is also commonly used as a border to define the boarders of a room or otherwise highlight a hardwood floor.

ENGINEERED WOOD consists of multiple plies of wood with the fashion species on top. It is installed like solid wood, but this manufacturing process is more productive and allows the wood species to go further. Engineered wood can be refinished over time, too, but be sure to ask about the thickness of the wear-layer ply. Because the core plies are dimensionally more stable, engineered wood can be used in damp areas like bathrooms, and below grade in basements, wine cellars and similar areas.

HARDNESS SCALE. The Janka harness test measures the ability of wood species to withstand denting and normal wear, as well as indicating the effort required to nail and saw the particular species.  The higher the number, the harder the wood. For example , ipe, a Brazilian walnut, rates 3684 on the Janka scale as the hardest wood, while Eastern white pine is the softest at 380.

MOISTURE CONTENT AND INSTALLATION. Solid wood absorbs moisture in the air, expanding when it does. When the atmosphere is dry, wood shrinks. This normal expansion and contraction means that solid wood is not a good idea for areas where dampness exists or where it may be exposed to water. Wood flooring needs to acclimate to its environment for three to four days before before it’s installed. Just let it sit in the room where it will be installed, unwrapped. (exceptions apply)

GRADES OF WOOD. No, Your wood flooring hasn’t gone to school, but it does get graded along a scale from select to rustic. Select has the most uniform color and clearest grain. Natural will have some variation in color and occasionally some small knots, while rustic grades, with the widest color variation from board to board, will also have larger and more frequent knots.

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