Basic knowledge about hardwood styles and personalities
Everyone has his or her own personal sense of style. Knowing this about a person can tell you many things about them. This applies to everyone’s sense of hardwood style.
There are several species and finishes of hardwood. Knowing all of these makes it easier for you to shop with confidence.
In this section, you will learn about the wide varieties of hardwood styles on the market today. There are several design options available to you where you can create a hardwood floor that will fit your personality and lifestyle.
An example of personal touch is the inserting of decorative medallions, running boards diagonally or creating a boarder. These are just a few of the design options that are offered.
Before we jump into the designing of your floor, you need to know how to select the type of hardwood that will be right for you and your home.
The first decision you need to make is rather you want a PRE-FINISHED or UNFINISHED floor.
Pre-finished hardwood has already been sanded, stained and finished and is ready for quick installation in your home. Some pre-finished floors can provide a harder and more protected surface than some unfinished. They are offered in a wider variety of wood species than unfinished and can save hours of labor and cleanup. However, unfinished floors allow you to have a completely custom job. You still choose the wood species and then it is sanded, stained and finished after installation. With an unfinished floor, you have the chance to level the floor completely after installation.
Also, with a pre-finished floor, you receive an extended factory finish warranty, which is not always offered with an unfinished floor.
The location of where your hardwood floor is going to be installed is an important factor. There are limitations on where some floors can be installed, especially for ¾” solid wood floors. These are more susceptible to moisture and are not recommended in basements or directly upon a concrete slab.
Different styles of hardwood evolve from the different species available. The most popular species of wood are red oak, white oak, maple, white ash, hickory, pecan and cherry.
Each species has its own unique texture and graining. The grain on each board is determined by how the wood has been cut.
There are two types of cutting processes. “Rotary Cut” is the first, which displays a large and bold graining pattern. “Sliced Cut” is the second, which displays a more uniform pattern.
Each species has multiple selections of colours and finishes. It is important to shop carefully and choose the one that you like best keeping your cabinetry, decor and furniture in mind. Also, some darker woods tend to give up a very formal vibe, where light colours can sometimes be more casual.
There are also several different types and colours of finishes. Lower gloss level finishes are better suited for rooms where more activity will occur. This is because they help minimize the appearance of dirt and scratches. If you are looking for an elegant look, we recommend a high gloss finish.
Today, we no longer have to wax and scrub our hardwood. The manufacturers of pre-finished floors have developed techniques where we can quickly apply durable urethane- based finishes to keep your floor looking great. They use ultra violet lights to apply the urethane to pre-finished floors. This process only takes a few minutes and is affordable and affective.
Recently, hardwood manufacturers have started to add small chips of Aluminum Oxide to the floor’s finish, which dramatically increase the life of the urethane finish.
For pre-finished floors, there are six to ten coats of ultra violet cured urethane applied to the wood’s surface. This process is hard for someone to do on site for unfinished floors.
This is why many flooring mechanics, retailers and builders are recommending pre-finished floors over unfinished floors. It’s quick, easy and effective.
Factory Pre-finished hardwood finishing comes in many forms:
UV-cured – Factory finishes that are cured with Ultra Violet lights versus heat.
Polyurethane – A clear, tough and durable finish that is applied as a wear layer.
Acrylic-urethane – A slightly different chemical make up than Polyurethane with the same benefits.
Ceramic – Advanced technology that allows the use of space-age ceramics to increase the abrasion resistance of the wear layer.
Aluminum Oxide – Added to the urethane finish for increased abrasion resistance of the wear layer, which is becoming extremely popular on the better grade wood floors.
Acrylic Impregnated – Acrylic monomers are injected into the cell structure of the wood to give increased hardness and then finished with a wear layer over the wood.
There are also several flooring finished methods for unfinished floors. If you want a custom stained floor, a floor to match your existing trim, then an unfinished, job-site floor is what you need.
Another advantage of this type of install is that if you are concerned with unevenness or warping of the floor, the on-site sanding process will smooth out the floor completely. However, this can get messy, but can be cleaned with an extensive cleanup.
Job-site hardwood floor finishing methods include:
Water Based Urethane – Water is used as part of the chemical make up of the polyurethane finish.
Solvent Based Urethane – Oil is used as part of the chemical make up of the polyurethane finish.
Moisture Cured Urethane – A similar chemical make up as solvent based urethanes, but this finish needs the humidity (moisture) in the air to cure.
There are several different widths that boards are offered in. The narrower of the boards are referred to as “strips” and the wider, “planks”. The width of each board can visually impact the room where it is installed. Narrower boards tend to visually expand the room, while wider tend to visually decrease. We recommend narrower in smaller rooms and wider in larger rooms.
All floors have different edges. Hardwood floors are available in either a beveled or a square edge.
Most hardwood manufacturers today refer to their beveled edges as an “eased edge”. This is because the tapered edge is reduced from the old grooved edges.
Beveled edges can be produced by the manufactures faster than square edges, this lowers their production costs. Beveled edge flooring is also more forgiving when installed over irregular subfloors and you will not have the problem of overwood, which is an uneven plank height.
To help you understand hardwood edges, here’s a summary of today’s types:
SQUARE EDGE. The edges of all boards meet squarely creating a uniform, smooth surface that blends the floor together from board to board. The overall look of this floor gives a contemporary flair and formal feeling to the room.
EASED EDGE. Each board is just slightly beveled. Some manufacturers add an eased edge to both the length of the planks as well as the end joints. Eased edges are used to help hide minor irregularities, such as uneven plank heights. Eased edge is also called microbeveled edge.
BEVELED EDGE. These products have a very distinctive groove in them. Beveled edge planks lend themselves to an informal and country decor. With the urethane finishes applied at the factory today, the beveled edges are sealed completely, making dirt and grit easy to be swept or vacuumed out of the grooves.
The rating system of the hardness of different wood species is listed below. These ratings were determined using the “Janka Hardness Test”, which measures the force needed to embed a .444 steel ball to have its diameter in each piece of wood. The higher the number, the harder the wood. This should be used as a general guide when comparing different species of wood flooring. The construction and finish of each species also plays an important role in the durability and ease of maintenance in each species.
WOOD SPECIES HARDNESS RATING
Douglas Fir: 660
Southern Yellow Pine (shortleaf): 690
Southern Yellow Pine (longleaf): 870
Black Cherry: 950
Black Walnut: 1010
Heart Pine: 1225
Yellow Birch: 1260
Red Oak (Northern): 1290
American Beech: 1300
White Oak: 1360
Australian Cypress: 1375
Hard maple: 1450
African Pedauk: 1725
Santos Mahogany 2200
Brazilian Cherry: 2350
Understand the different families of hardwood should help you decide if this type of flooring is right for you and your home. We hope you have found this section useful and that you were able to learn some very important facts about hardwood.