General Types of Hardwood Floors
Majority of hardwood flooring today is made from American hardwoods, like red oak, pecan, maple, or white ash, or the newer exotic hardwoods, like Tigerwood, African Teak, Ipe and the rest. However, generally speaking, there are three common hardwood flooring types available in the market – solid, engineered and longstrip.
Solid Hardwood Flooring
Comprising traditional solid hardwood floors is one piece of wood with tongue and groove sides. Most of them are made unfinished, but there are a lot of pre-finished 3/4-inch solid hardwood floors. Their advantage though is that they may be refinished and recoated several times throughout their lifespan — which can be ten years or more.
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As a natural product, hardwood flooring expands and contracts with moisture as the seasons change. When it’s cold outside and warm inside, the wood may contract, sometimes leading to gaps between planks.
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As summer starts and humidity increases, wood floors can stretch out, and those gaps instantly disappear! With too much moisture, the planks can cup or buckle, which isn’t so great.
Solid Oak Flooring
Solid unfinished wood floors are often made of oak. There are many different qualities to select from — know what you’re buying. Clear oak is like a flawless diamond – no blemishes or knots – and thus can be very pricey. 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
Engineered wood flooring can be used in parts of the home in which solid hardwood is not advised. 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.
This “cross-ply” type of construction produces a hardwood floor that is very stable and resistant to moisture and temperature changes, thanks to the wood plies that counteract each other, hence preventing plank expansion or shrinkage.
Versatility is another advantage of engineered hardwood. It goes great practically everywhere, including in your basement or over sub-floors and concrete slabs.
Longstrip Hardwood Flooring
Longstrip hardwood floors are basically engineered floors where the top, finish layer is constructed with many thinner wood plies, all laminated together and making a single plank. At the core of a longstrip plank is often a softer wood material and is used for 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 can be installed on any grade level and above a whole range of subfloors.