Buying a hardwood floor is an important investment. Before you invest, you should ensure that the floor you choose meets your needs perfectly. This section is our tool to help you make a sound choice. It's important to choose your flooring with care. You can't change it as easily as you can rearrange your furniture - you should be thinking long-term for this once-in-a-lifetime purchase!
Among the wide array of possible floor coverings, hardwood provides some incomparable qualities. It's natural, environmentally friendly, attractive, warm and easy to maintain - giving any homes's decor a rich and distinctive feel while increasing resale value. Hardwood flooring also helps create a healthy home environment by eliminating the allergens associated with dust-trapping carpet.
Hardwood flooring is the easy choice for your needs - it's suitable for most every application and environment. Hardwood flooring is divided into broad categories by manufacturing methods. There are two main types of hardwood; choose the one that's right for you:
This what it sounds like - solid hardwood, no backings, and is always installed by nailing.
Can only be installed on to a wooden subfloor (typically plywood or OSB), and can only be installed above grade (anywhere that's not below ground level)
A technological masterpiece, this hardwood combines a real wood surface with a solid plywood base or some kind of High Density Fibreboard. Created for environments with varying humidity, engineered flooring is more stable than solid hardwood flooring. Boards can be glued directly to concrete (even with a radiant heating system) or on an acoustical membrane. They can also be stapled to a plywood subfloor. This type of flooring is ideal for condominiums, basements, or commercial use. Some are also made to be installed in a floating system - like laminate.
Not all engineered is created equal
There are four points to help you evaluate the quality of engineered flooring:
- the thickness & construction of the plywood or HDF layer
- the number of plies (layers)
- the cutting process used for the hardwood surface
- the thickness of the hardwood layer
The thickness and construction of the base (plywood or HDF) is important as it control the stability of the egineered floor. A thin base, or one that is made poorly will not work in a dry climate (which we have here in Saskatchewan).
The number of layers also helps with stability - the more, the merrier!
Cutting the surface layer of hardwood is an integral part of the process. There are three methods - rotary peeled (think of a pencil sharpener), sliced (slicing cheese) or dry-sawn. Of the three, only dry-sawn works well in our climate. It looks real, and it dosen't have any stress added to the floor, unlike the other two.
Last but not least would be the thickness of the hardwood - a thin layer of wood cannot be resanded. It can be recoated! So the floor can still last for as long as you take care of it, but you wouldn't be able to change the color down the road.
Once you have anyalyzed all of the different types of hardwood, and taken a real look at your expectations of what type of system will work for you - now the hard (fun) work starts! There are many choices to make: the color, the width, shine!
Each species of wood has a different grain, color and texture. Oak and maple are the best-known and most popular species, followed by white oak, yellow birch, hickory, walnut, and the list goes one! Some consumers are attracted to the warmth and richness of more high-end exotic species. Personal taste and preference lead us to choose one species over another. Yes - they have different hardnesses and stabilities - but the differences are so minimal, it's the look that makes the decision between species!
For solid hardwood - we suggest up to a 3-1/4" width. For engineered, we have up to 7-1/2" wide! The extra stability allows the really wide engineered to work in our climate
Most of the suppliers that we work with have 2-3 different glosses. The lower the gloss (lower shine) shows less marking, dents, and character marks.
Here is a video from the NWFA (National Wood Flooring Association) on how to install your floor. Make SURE that you read and follow any specific information from the supplier that you bought the floor from!
Solid Hardwood vs Engineered Flooring
Hardwood vs Laminate Flooring
Here's a quick video on how to clean a polyurethane floor.