Which type of wood floor is right for me, solid or engineered?
Solid wood flooring is exactly what the name implies: a solid piece of wood from top to bottom. The thickness of solid wood flooring can vary, but generally ranges from 3/4” to 5/16”. Solid wood can be used in any room that is above grade (above ground). One of the many benefits of solid wood flooring is that it can be sanded and refinished many times. Solid wood floors are ideal in family/living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, and even kitchens and powder rooms. About the only place you can’t use solid wood flooring is in the basement, but there’s a solution for that area too.
Engineered wood floors are real wood floors that are manufactured using multiple layers of wood veneers. The layers that you can’t see can be of the same species, or of different species. The grain of each layer runs in perpendicular directions, which makes it very dimensionally stable. This means that the wood will expand and contract less than solid wood flooring during fluctuations in humidity and temperature.
Engineered floors can be nailed or stapled to a wood subfloor, or glued down to a wood or concrete subfloor. This makes engineered wood floors ideal for slab and basement installations, but they can be used in any room above, on or below grade. While this type of flooring can be sanded and refinished, it cannot be done as many times as solid wood flooring.
Which wood species is right for me?
Choosing the right species of wood flooring for you is strictly a matter of your style, budget and personal preference. More than 50 domestic and imported species of wood flooring are available to achieve a unique look.
- Do you like light woods like ash or maple? These species generally make a room appear more open and airy.
- Do you like medium woods like hickory or oak? These species generally make a room appear more warm and cozy.
- Do you like dark woods like walnut or mahogany? These species generally make a room appear more stately and refined.
Imported species can offer even more color options.
Once you decide on a look, you should consider how your floors will be used. Are you a retired couple living alone, or a busy family with young children and pets? Each wood species is rated for its hardness and durability using something called a Janka scale.
The Janka scale gives a good indication of how likely a wood is to dent or show other wear. For example, domestic black cherry is ranked at 950 on the Janka scale, while Brazilian cherry is ranked much higher at 2,820, nearly three times the hardness of the domestic species. The domestic black cherry would be a good choice for the retired couple since their floor will see less traffic, while the Brazilian cherry might be a better choice for a busy family with young children and pets.
My room is 400 square feet, but we’re being told to order 450 square feet of flooring. Is this really necessary?
Yes. As a general rule, you should plan to order 10% more flooring than is needed for the installation. Much of the material will be cut to fit the exact space, and once the boards are cut, they likely cannot be used elsewhere in the room because the end tongue or groove will have been removed. Once that happens, that board can no longer adjoin with another board, so there is some waste involved.
You may need to order slightly more or less depending on the room. For example, if you need to work around stairs, a bay window, a fireplace, and a closet, you may need to have more than 10%, but if the room is square with no interruptions, less than 10% may work. Your contractor is your best resource for helping you estimate the material that will be needed to complete the job. Find a professional in your area here.
I’ve seen different finish sheens on wood floors; some are shiny and some are not. Which is better?
It really is a matter of preference. If you choose to install a site-finished floor, you can choose any sheen that you like. Gloss finishes offer the most shine, and will reflect the most light. Semi-gloss finishes offer some shine, and will reflect some light. Satin or matte finishes offer the least shine, and will reflect the least light.
Generally speaking, the less sheen, the less you will notice small scratches and other wear that is normal with wood floors. If you choose to install a factory-finished floor, you will be limited to the sheen available for the material you select. All sheens will offer the same protection for your floor, so it truly is a matter of which look you like best.
I’m concerned about pets scratching my floors. Is there anything I can do to prevent this?
There are several things you can do to minimize scratches from pets on your wood floors. Place scatter rugs at all doors to minimize the amount of dirt and grit being tracked in, especially if your pet likes to dig. Your best defense, however, is to trim your pet’s nails regularly. If scratches occur, as they might whether pets live in the home or not, keep in mind that the scratches most likely will be in the finish only, and not in the wood. If this situation occurs, consult with a professional wood flooring contractor for specific recommendations about how to repair the scratches, and minimize them in the future.
How long after I order my floors will it take before they are installed?
That depends. Site-finished floors will take longer to install than factory-finished floors since the finish needs to be applied, and dry, on site.
Depending on the type of finish used, you can expect that there will be multiple coats applied, and that each coat will need to be sanded before the next coat is applied, and also will need to dry thoroughly before the floor can be walked on. In addition, all wood flooring, whether job-site finished or factory-finished, will need to be delivered to the job site and allowed to acclimate for a period of time before the installation can begin. This can take several days depending on the material being used.
This is a very important part of the installation process because the wood must reach equilibrium moisture content (EMC) with the job site conditions to ensure a long-lasting, high-quality installation.