When choosing flooring materials made of wood, a few critical points should be considered.

A. Species

Different species have very different characteristics and benefits such as appearance of graining, physical properties cost and supply. Not all species are readily supplied and many species may be soft leaving a floor easily dented

 

B. Pattern:

Strip planks are usually the standard 2” to 3″ widths with random lengths. Strip pattern offers a formal look while at the same time being timeless in fashion. We see strip oak in 100 year old homes with regularity.

Plank widths are widths over 3” and may be fixed lengths or random lengths. Planks are appropriate when a traditional, colonial or country atmosphere is intended. Plank flooring is also linear, however it is wider in width. One can chose planks with plenty of knots for a rustic appearance.

NOTE: Both strip and plank offer a distinct linear pattern that can produce a larger, or longer, appearing room.

Longstrip & Longplank: Are always engineered hardwood (plywood construction) usually about 7 feet long and wider than 5”.

Parquet: From Square shapes of 6” x 6” to 12″ by 12″, Paraquet is available in an endless choice shapes and sizes.  The benefit of parquet is the different directions in which each filet is placed within the parquet pattern giving the tile excellent dimensional stability. With the different directions in placement, the filets shrink and swell in different directions with changes in Relative Humidity giving strength along with a consitant appearance with no cupping, gapping or crowing developing during seasonal changes. Parquet, along with inlays (borders, medallions, other species, etc.) and other custom designs, can give a wooden floor an elegant and exclusive look. Parquet offers a variety of design options, when linear appearance is not intended or desired.

Grading: If a clear or select NOFMA grade is chosen, it gives the room a more uniform color and a narrow modern look although almost a perfect linoleum, unnatural look.
Clear Grade has no knots and little graining giving an almost too perfect an appearance, leading to a very modern design. Select has color variations with small knots giving a more authentic wood look while lower grades simply allow larger knots and mineral streaks. The lower the grade the more wood characters are allowed. A lower grade does not mean lower quality, it simply means more character allowed. Common Grade has more, and larger, knots but also may be harder/denser and a touch more dent resistant.

Exotic Species, generally speaking, offer darker colors compared to North American species. Some species, such as American Cherry and Brazilian Cherry, darken faster than others from direct sunlight and age.

Lighter colors, especially maple or oak, are used in country or contemporary type interiors.

 

C. Construction:

Wood flooring is either Solid wood or Engineered wood (formally referred to as laminated wood). Solid wood flooring is one complete piece of solid wood from top to bottom. It must be nailed or glued down over a wood subfloor, but not suggested for installation direcly over concrete sub-floors without use of a moisture barrier system.

Engineered (also called laminated) wood floors are a construction of 3 or 5 layers of wood laminated together; however we are seeing imported products with 7, even 15 ply’s. Because of the cross-grain lamination construction, engineered floors are dimensionally and therefore suggested for installation on sub-floors, even below grade concrete.

 

D: Finish:

To make this easy, wood flooring is either site finished or manufacturer finished.  Products finished at the manufacturing plank offer more consistency in sanding and finish offering a smoother floor compared to site finished. Site finished characteristically have some sanding marks or drum marks and must be accepted due to human error factors.  Manufacture finish also offers harder finishes that are Ultra Violet Light cured with Aluminum Oxide within the finish for durability and scratch resistance. Site finished floors are just now being coated with finish hardeners and portable UV curing systems. Site finished offers various stain colors to choose from compared to manufacturer finish which offers 3 to 5 colors to choose from. Site finished flooring requires sanding and dust while manufacturer finish is completed once affixed to the sub-floor.

While many old timers still prefer to sand and finish on site, manufacture finish may be considered a higher quality finished product with far less mess and time requirements for installation.

 

Some will ask “What should I install in my house”? Time tested and proven wood flooring are North American Species, Strip or Parquet patterns, finished at the manufacturing plant. Oak and Maple still outsell all other species as they are timeless in fashion, readily available for future repairs should they be needed, and still beautiful after all these years.