Three General Types of Hardwood Flooring
Most hardwood flooring these days is made from American hardwoods such as white ash, white oak, red oak, pecan or cherry, or the newer exotic hardwoods, like African Teak, Tigerwood, Brazilian Cheery, etc. In general, however, there three common types of hardwood flooring are available – solid, engineered and longstrip.
Solid Hardwood Flooring
Comprising traditional solid hardwood floors is one piece of wood with tongue and groove sides. Most are made unfinished, but there are many pre-finished 3/4-inch solid hardwood floors. But they can be refinished and recoated over and over throughout their lifespan — around decades or even longer.
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Since it’s an natural product, hardwood flooring can contract or expand, depending on moisture changes from season to season. When it’s cold outside and warm inside, the wood may contract, sometimes leading to gaps between planks.
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As summer begins and humidity rises, wood floors can also expand, those gaps magically disappearing! With too much moisture, the planks can cup or buckle, which isn’t so great.
Solid Oak Flooring
Oak is often used in creating solid unfinished wood floors. There are so many different qualities you can choose from — careful what you’re buying. Clear oak, like a flawless diamond, is blemish and knot-free, making it very expensive. The cost can be lowered if you choose select oak or better oak, which are both with small visible knots, a tiny bit of dark graining maybe, and loads of character!
Engineered Hardwood Flooring
In certain areas of the home where solid hardwood is not advised, engineered wood flooring may be suitable. To make engineered wood, three or more thin sheets of wood, otherwise known as plies, are laid in directions opposite each other (called cross-ply construction) and then laminated together to create a single plank.
The cross-ply approach creates dimensionally safe hardwood floor that is not affected by moisture and temperature changes, owing to the counteraction of the wood plies that prohibit the shrinkage or expansion of the plank.
Versatility is another advantage of engineered hardwood. It can be installed almost anywhere, even above wood sub-floors and concrete slabs or in a basement.
Longstrip Hardwood Flooring
Longstrip hardwood floors are actually engineered floors, but the top, finish layer is made up of many thinner wood plies that are glued together, making a single plank. You will typically find at the center of a longstrip plank a softer wood material, which is used in making the tongue and groove.
The top layer may be practically any hardwood specie and is composed of many individual pieces which are often laid in two or three rows. Longstrip planks are good for any grade level and may be used over a whole variety of subfloors.