Hardwood Floors Hardwood Floor Types

The two types of wood flooring are called solid or engineered

The difference between solid and engineered hardwood flooring is a common question many consumers have when making the decision to beautify their living space with hardwood. While there are differences between solid and engineered flooring, the biggest factors in making the choice between the two will be your personal tastes and needs.

 

Solid vs. Engineered Hardwood Flooring: Construction

A common misconception between solid and engineered flooring is that engineered flooring is “fake” and contains no wood. Both types of flooring contain hardwood. The difference is in how the planks are constructed.

Solid Hardwood Flooring.

Solid wood flooring is any type of hardwood (whether it is strip or plank flooring) that is cut entirely from one solid piece of wood.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring.

Engineered flooring consists of several different plies of wood glued together with the grains running in different directions. The surface can consist of either a very thin veneer or a thicker piece that can typically be sanded.

Laminated Wood Flooring.

Engineered flooring is often called laminated because of the multiple layers. However, laminate flooring is not actually real wood at all. It’s a photographic image of wood that is made to simulate real wood or stone and covered with a thick melamine layer. Always make sure you’re buying a real wood floor!

 

Solid vs. Engineered Hardwood Flooring: Characteristics

Because of the difference in construction, solid and engineered flooring will behave differently.
Knowing where you can use both types will help make choosing between the two much easier.

Solid Hardwood Flooring.

Solid wood flooring is more susceptible to moisture and temperature changes. In the colder, dryer months the wood may shrink, resulting with minor gaps between each board. These minor gaps will close back up in the spring and summer months when the wood expands. Due to the expansion and contraction of solid wood, it can only be installed at or above ground level. Controlling your year-round indoor humidity levels will minimize any movement. The most common type of solid hardwood flooring is ¾” thick and will allow most species to be fully sanded 5-7 times and much more with some of the denser exotic species.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring.

The construction of engineered wood flooring allows for greater stability when it comes to changes in temperature and humidity. Having the grain going in different directions, on each layer, allows for the wood to somewhat counteract itself when it comes to expansion and contraction. Engineered flooring can be installed below, on or above ground level. To give yourself options for long=term maintenance, make sure the wear layer of your engineered floor is at least 3/16” thick, providing enough thickness for 1-2 full sandings if needed.

 

Solid vs. Engineered Hardwood Flooring: Cost

Because of the differences between solid and engineered hardwood flooring, solid wood flooring is typically more expensive than engineered wood flooring. Both types look great when installed, and it is getting harder and harder for people to tell the difference.

Protect your investment. Buy a good quality flooring product, solid or engineered, and use a high-quality, recommended professional hardwood flooring contractor.

 

Solid vs. Engineered Flooring: Which Should I Choose?

The range of styles and looks for both solid and engineered hardwood flooring gives you many different options that will fit any budget. However, while cost is important, consider how each type of flooring will behave in your home. Here are some questions to consider when making your final choice:

Where will my floor be installed? The location of your floor will be a strong limiting factor in floor choice. Solid wood flooring can only be installed at or above grade. Anything below grade will require engineered flooring.

What installation type can I use?  Your existing subflooring may have an impact in your choice. Engineered flooring is more versatile and can be installed over many existing wooden and concrete sub-floors. Solid wood flooring is typically nailed to a wooden subfloor.

How often can I update my floor?  Solid wood flooring allows for multiple re-sands throughout its lifetime, giving you the opportunity to change the look of your floor by keeping it updated with current styles, trends, and colors. Engineered hardwood flooring has limited re-sanding options.

With the advances in flooring technology, the look of solid and engineered hardwood floors are almost identical. While some may prefer the “prestige” of solid wood flooring, the practical applications of each will lead you to a more informed choice. Whatever you choose, proper care and maintenance are required to keep your floors looking great for years to come.

No matter what your floors are made of, we have effective floor cleaning systems that help protect and beautify your investment. Find the floor cleaner that best suits you.The two types of wood flooring are called solid or engineered

The difference between solid and engineered hardwood flooring is a common question many consumers have when making the decision to beautify their living space with hardwood. While there are differences between solid and engineered flooring, the biggest factors in making the choice between the two will be your personal tastes and needs.

 

Solid vs. Engineered Hardwood Flooring: Construction

A common misconception between solid and engineered flooring is that engineered flooring is “fake” and contains no wood. Both types of flooring contain hardwood. The difference is in how the planks are constructed.

Solid Hardwood Flooring.

Solid wood flooring is any type of hardwood (whether it is strip or plank flooring) that is cut entirely from one solid piece of wood.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring.

Engineered flooring consists of several different plies of wood glued together with the grains running in different directions. The surface can consist of either a very thin veneer or a thicker piece that can typically be sanded.

Laminated Wood Flooring.

Engineered flooring is often called laminated because of the multiple layers. However, laminate flooring is not actually real wood at all. It’s a photographic image of wood that is made to simulate real wood or stone and covered with a thick melamine layer. Always make sure you’re buying a real wood floor!

 

Solid vs. Engineered Hardwood Flooring: Characteristics

Because of the difference in construction, solid and engineered flooring will behave differently.

Knowing where you can use both types will help make choosing between the two much easier.

Solid Hardwood Flooring.

Solid wood flooring is more susceptible to moisture and temperature changes. In the colder, dryer months the wood may shrink, resulting with minor gaps between each board. These minor gaps will close back up in the spring and summer months when the wood expands. Due to the expansion and contraction of solid wood, it can only be installed at or above ground level. Controlling your year-round indoor humidity levels will minimize any movement. The most common type of solid hardwood flooring is ¾” thick and will allow most species to be fully sanded 5-7 times and much more with some of the denser exotic species.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring.

The construction of engineered wood flooring allows for greater stability when it comes to changes in temperature and humidity. Having the grain going in different directions, on each layer, allows for the wood to somewhat counteract itself when it comes to expansion and contraction. Engineered flooring can be installed below, on or above ground level. To give yourself options for long=term maintenance, make sure the wear layer of your engineered floor is at least 3/16” thick, providing enough thickness for 1-2 full sandings if needed.

 

Solid vs. Engineered Hardwood Flooring: Cost

Because of the differences between solid and engineered hardwood flooring, solid wood flooring is typically more expensive than engineered wood flooring. Both types look great when installed, and it is getting harder and harder for people to tell the difference.

Protect your investment. Buy a good quality flooring product, solid or engineered, and use a high-quality, recommended professional hardwood flooring contractor.

 

Solid vs. Engineered Flooring: Which Should I Choose?

The range of styles and looks for both solid and engineered hardwood flooring gives you many different options that will fit any budget. However, while cost is important, consider how each type of flooring will behave in your home. Here are some questions to consider when making your final choice:

Where will my floor be installed? The location of your floor will be a strong limiting factor in floor choice. Solid wood flooring can only be installed at or above grade. Anything below grade will require engineered flooring.

What installation type can I use?  Your existing subflooring may have an impact in your choice. Engineered flooring is more versatile and can be installed over many existing wooden and concrete sub-floors. Solid wood flooring is typically nailed to a wooden subfloor.

How often can I update my floor?  Solid wood flooring allows for multiple re-sands throughout its lifetime, giving you the opportunity to change the look of your floor by keeping it updated with current styles, trends, and colors. Engineered hardwood flooring has limited re-sanding options.

With the advances in flooring technology, the look of solid and engineered hardwood floors are almost identical. While some may prefer the “prestige” of solid wood flooring, the practical applications of each will lead you to a more informed choice. Whatever you choose, proper care and maintenance are required to keep your floors looking great for years to come.

No matter what your floors are made of, we have effective floor cleaning systems that help protect and beautify your investment. Find the floor cleaner that best suits your floor.

TYPES OF REAL WOOD FLOORING

TYPES OF REAL WOOD FLOORING

Solid wood flooring is made of one piece of wood from top to bottom and can be used in any room that is on or above ground. One of the many benefits of solid wood flooring is it can be sanded and refinished many times.

Engineered wood floors are also made of real wood, but include multiple layers, with the top layer made of high-quality wood. Because engineered wood floors expand and contract less than solid wood flooring, they are ideal for basement installations. While this type of flooring can be sanded and refinished, it cannot be done as many times as solid wood flooring.

Composite engineered wood flooring contains real wood on the wearable surface only. The backing and core material may be made up of any type of composite material.

OPTIONS

Wood floors are manufactured in almost any width. Some of the most popular styles are strip, plank, and parquet. Each style is available in a variety of species, colors, and widths, so choosing the right one is a matter of preference. Strip flooring is less than 3” wide and often makes a room appear larger. Plank flooring is equal to or greater than 3” wide and often creates a more casual look. Parquet flooring varies in size and generates a geometric, non-linear look.

SPECIES

Wood flooring is made from hardwoods, softwoods, domestic lumber, and a variety of imported lumber. Each wood species has unique visual characteristics and maintenance needs. Visit our species gallery to learn more.

APPEARANCE

Many factors impact the appearance of wood flooring, including its grade and saw cut. Wood grades are determined based on the physical characteristics of the wood. All grades are equally strong and serviceable, but each looks different. Additionally, the angle at which a board is cut determines how the finished product looks and performs as well.

TYPES OF REAL WOOD FLOORING

TYPES OF REAL WOOD FLOORING

Solid wood flooring is made of one piece of wood from top to bottom and can be used in any room that is on or above ground. One of the many benefits of solid wood flooring is it can be sanded and refinished many times.

Engineered wood floors are also made of real wood, but include multiple layers, with the top layer made of high-quality wood. Because engineered wood floors expand and contract less than solid wood flooring, they are ideal for basement installations. While this type of flooring can be sanded and refinished, it cannot be done as many times as solid wood flooring.

Composite engineered wood flooring contains real wood on the wearable surface only. The backing and core material may be made up of any type of composite material.

OPTIONS

Wood floors are manufactured in almost any width. Some of the most popular styles are strip, plank, and parquet. Each style is available in a variety of species, colors, and widths, so choosing the right one is a matter of preference. Strip flooring is less than 3” wide and often makes a room appear larger. Plank flooring is equal to or greater than 3” wide and often creates a more casual look. Parquet flooring varies in size and generates a geometric, non-linear look.

SPECIES

Wood flooring is made from hardwoods, softwoods, domestic lumber, and a variety of imported lumber. Each wood species has unique visual characteristics and maintenance needs. Visit our species gallery to learn more.

APPEARANCE

Many factors impact the appearance of wood flooring, including its grade and saw cut. Wood grades are determined based on the physical characteristics of the wood. All grades are equally strong and serviceable, but each looks different. Additionally, the angle at which a board is cut determines how the finished product looks and performs as well.

TYPES OF REAL WOOD FLOORING

TYPES OF REAL WOOD FLOORING

Solid wood flooring is made of one piece of wood from top to bottom and can be used in any room that is on or above ground. One of the many benefits of solid wood flooring is it can be sanded and refinished many times.

Engineered wood floors are also made of real wood, but include multiple layers, with the top layer made of high-quality wood. Because engineered wood floors expand and contract less than solid wood flooring, they are ideal for basement installations. While this type of flooring can be sanded and refinished, it cannot be done as many times as solid wood flooring.

Composite engineered wood flooring contains real wood on the wearable surface only. The backing and core material may be made up of any type of composite material.

OPTIONS

Wood floors are manufactured in almost any width. Some of the most popular styles are strip, plank, and parquet. Each style is available in a variety of species, colors, and widths, so choosing the right one is a matter of preference. Strip flooring is less than 3” wide and often makes a room appear larger. Plank flooring is equal to or greater than 3” wide and often creates a more casual look. Parquet flooring varies in size and generates a geometric, non-linear look.

SPECIES

Wood flooring is made from hardwoods, softwoods, domestic lumber, and a variety of imported lumber. Each wood species has unique visual characteristics and maintenance needs. Visit our species gallery to learn more.

APPEARANCE

Many factors impact the appearance of wood flooring, including its grade and saw cut. Wood grades are determined based on the physical characteristics of the wood. All grades are equally strong and serviceable, but each looks different. Additionally, the angle at which a board is cut determines how the finished product looks and performs as well.

Wood Floor Finishes and VOC

Wood Floor Finishes
The Lowdown on Low VOC Finishes

An increasing amount of information is available to the public on air quality issues, including the possible negative effects of off-gassing of volatile chemicals. Indoor air quality has become important to many designers and specifiers, including those that specify wood flooring.

In construction, the maximum concentration of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) is often specified by LEED, the U.S. Green Building Council, and many other federal and state/provincial authorities. The maximum allowable limits for VOC emissions include all the materials that can give off VOCs including paints, carpets, millwork, etc., and may limit the type of finish that can be used on the floors so that it fits within the specified limits.

VOCs are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids such as paints, varnishes, cleaning agents, cosmetics, degreasers, and hobby products. If the end-user has chosen safe indoor air quality as a priority, it is important to educate them about other potentially harmful products that they may be using already, and perhaps suggest more favorable options.

Traditionally, the most popular finishes used in floor finishing contained VOC content as high as 750g/L. Government regulations have required manufacturers of finishes to change formulations to become more VOC-compliant over the last few years. These regulations vary from state-to-state and can be as high as 550g/L and as low as 275g/L. In order to achieve compliance, many manufacturers have had to substitute different components than what was traditionally used. The effect has been that finishes have become more expensive to produce and, in some cases, the ease of application has been compromised.

Choosing a finish becomes a real balancing act with many factors to consider. Typically, the end-user’s main concerns are appearance, longevity, maintenance, and air quality. There are many types of finishes that may be beneficial in some respect and a hindrance in others.

Conversion varnish, a film-forming finish that is durable and easily maintained, offers incredible clarity and enhances the color of the floor. Conversion varnish and varnish finishes fall within their own category for VOC regulations in most states. VOC levels may fall within the limit of 725g/L. VOC restrictions have limited the use of these finishes in some parts of the U.S.

Moisture-cured urethanes are usually applied in commercial settings such as roller rinks and gymnasiums. They offer excellent clarity and depth, are extremely durable, and easily maintained. The solvents used in this type of finish are dangerous and require adequate ventilation, the use of a respirator, and other safety precautions. This finish falls
within the wood coating category and may have levels around 550-700g/L.

Although conversion varnishes and moisture-cured urethanes are higher in VOCs at the time of application, an argument can be made that, due to their durability, this type of floor finish will not require refinishing as often as other types of finish.

Oil-modified polyurethane (OMU) is one of the most widely used finishes. This type of finish is amber in color and forms a thick film build that enhances the depth and color of the flooring. It will continue to amber out from the effects of oxidation and UV rays, so the floor will take on a yellowish cast as the floor ages. OMUs historically have been the most popular finishes that flooring contractors have used due to ease of application, flow, and leveling properties. For these reasons, contractors that have been using OMUs for a long time may be reluctant to use other types of finishes. Floor finish manufacturers recognize that many contractors prefer to use this type of finish, so have had to constantly tweak their formulations to comply with the VOC laws that vary from state to state. VOC regulations have limited use of some of these finishes in some parts of the U.S. VOC levels vary from
>275 up to 550 g/L within this product category.

Waterborne urethanes are very common finishes used in our trade. The reason for their popularity is largely due to using water as a carrier instead of solvents, so their VOC levels are inherently lower. Their appearance is similar to the finishes already discussed, and
they don’t amber out to the same degree. Some of the waterborne finishes have been limited to use in some parts of the U.S. due to VOC regulations. VOC levels vary from 0 to 450 g/L within this product category.

Natural oils and hardwax oils have seen a real increase in popularity. Many of these products state that they contain 0 g/L VOCs. Natural oils and hardwax oils use oils such as linseed or vegetable oils. These finishes have a distinct appearance that suits wide plank rustic flooring, which has become a very popular look. These finishes have a very low luster look that brings out the natural character of the wood but offers little to no sheen. This type of finish does not have a visible film and protects the surface of the flooring by bonding itself to the wood fiber. VOC levels can vary depending on the product and manufacturer.

There are a number of factors that contractors and end-users must consider before choosing any finish. The trick is to educate everyone involved as to what options are available in order to achieve the best balance between the look the end-user wants, the suitability of the finish to their lifestyle, and the impact on indoor air quality.

Kjell Nymark is Technical Advisor at the National Wood Flooring Association in St. Louis. He can be reached at kjell.nymark@nwfa.org.