Enough has been said about the ability of a wooden flooring to enliven a drab interior or its ability to add elegance and style to a room. The durability and eco- friendliness of the wooden floorings too are its well known characteristics.
But when it comes to the details about the floorings and the terminology used by experts most of us are lost. Here is a brief overview about the properties of wood and the species of woods commonly.
Properties of wood:
Wood is known to add strength and stability to the floor system. It is durable and long lasting and occasional sanding gives the flooring a new like appearance. While selecting a hardwood floor it is imperative that the decision is a well informed one as re doing the floor is a cumbersome as well as a costly affair. While choosing the flooring it is necessary to consider the suitable texture, grain and color as well as the dimensional stability, durability and ease of maintenance. The availability and the cost too are the other predominant factors playing a pivotal role in this decision.
Factors affecting the appearance:
Hardwood is the preferred choice of flooring mostly due to its aesthetically appealing characteristics. There are various factors which contribute to the look of the wood. A few of the factors are:
Heartwood or Sapwood: The amount of heartwood or sapwood in the flooring batch affects the finished appearance of the flooring. The harder central portion of the tree, known as the heartwood gives the flooring the darker color. Whereas sapwood is the layer that lies between the heartwood and the layer just below the bark. Floorings using more of heartwood are more durable and dimensionally stable. Heartwood is prone to lesser wood movement than sapwood.
Wood grain and Texture: Wood grain pertains to the annual growth rings. These could be fine or coarse and you could have a choice between straight, spiral or curly. The amount of figuring on the wood and the direction of the grain decides how the wood is going to be sawed or sanded. The finer nuances of the structure of wood is defined as texture. It sometimes combines the concepts of density and degree of contrast between springwood and summerwood in the annual growth rings. The various kinds of grains and textures like the figures, medullar rays, tangential grains, radical grains or interlocked grains add and enhance the beauty of the flooring.
Types of Saw cut: The way that the lumber has been sawed not only makes a difference to the appearance of the wood but it also affects its durability and cost. The wood is either plainsawn, quatersawn or riftsawn. Plain sawing is the most popular method that of wood sawing as it provides the widest boards with minimum waste. Preferred by most due to the variety of figuring produced in plain sawing and its economical costs, many prefer the quarter sawn due to its low tendency of twisting and cupping. Quarter sawn wood also wears out evenly. Rift sawing accentuates the vertical grains and minimizes the flaky effect often seen in quarter sawn. But the waste generated by this procedure is more making the wood more expensive.
Moisture content and Dimensional Stability: Moisture content and dimensional stability are interrelated. Wood is liable to change dimension when it gains or losses moisture. It is necessary to acclimate the hard wood to the area in which it is to be used. The moisture stability and the dimensional stability differs according to the species of wood being used and the way it has been sawed. A plain swan tends to swell and shrink more in width than quarter sawn flooring. While installing a wooden flooring it is important to be educated about the normal behavior of wood in relation to moisture. If proper precautions are not taken the flooring can develop cracks. To avert such mishaps it is best to stabilize the environment where the flooring has been installed, through temperature and humidity control.
Hardness and Durability: These are the obvious reasons why wood is the preferred flooring material. This again depends on the species chosen by the user.
Machining: The density, hard mineral deposits and the tensions in the wood decide the ease or difficulty of machining. These can cause fibrous or fuzzy surfaces.
Nailing: Denser woods when nailed may lead to splitting of the wood or the inability to secure fasteners. These woods also offer higher nail withdrawal resistance.
Finishing: Water based urethane finishes are increasingly being used as they are dry faster and are more durable. They also inhibit the color change that is natural to certain woods. These finishes also tend to leave wood lighter in color.
A few of the most common species of wood used for flooring:
Ash White: Very similar to white oak, white ash has more of a yellow tinge. It has bold, straight and open grains with moderate wavering. It has good machining qualities and is resistant to splitting. It stains well, is hard and remains smooth under friction.
Beech: A popular choice for factory floors, Beech wood is troublesome while working with hand tools, but has good machining qualities. The mostly closed straight grains and fine uniform texture add to its appeal.
Yellow Birch: A common flooring choice, the yellow birch has excellent holding capabilities. The wood is very attractive with straight, closed grains and medium figuring. It is hard, stiff, strong and has excellent shock resistance.
Black Cherry: This wood is very light sensitive and changes color upon exposure to light. As it is moderately hard it is considered unsuitable for the whole floor, but is used in borders and accents to accentuate the look of the flooring.
Heart Pine: This wood is usually considered as an antique wood. it is mostly procured from the timbers of the 19th century warehouses and factories or from the sunken logs from the bottom of the rivers. The dense wood is naturally resistant to insect infestation. Surface and penetrating finishes, both are very effective on this wood.
Hickory: This combination of hardness, strength, stiffness and toughness is probably found in no other wood. The moderate definition and the rough texture and the pronounced differentiation of color in the heartwood and sapwood makes this wood unique.
Maple: Used mostly in bowling alleys and athletic, this wood is very dense and strong. commonly used in floorings as the end-grain block, it has a great amount of resistance to shocks and abrasions. The end- block usage results in high - wear surface.
Oak: The white and red oak are the most popular wood for flooring. These are easily available in all types, sizes and styles of flooring. The red oak has more than 200 American sub species. They can be machined easily and have a good holding ability and are resistant to splitting.
Teak: It has the unique quality that it does not cause any rust or corrosion when metal is in its contact. It has excellent dimensional stability and provides moderate ease in working with hand or machining tools.
Brazilian Cherry: Very light sensitive it darkens rapidly when exposed to light. A very hard wood, it has a good holding ability.
Though the above are not all, but just a few of the wood species used for flooring. The room, the traffic and the use are the most important factors which should be considered while deciding the kind of wood which you can use to enhance the beauty of your living space.