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Knowing the Basics About Installing a Hardwood Flooring

Installing a hardwood floor in your house is a very important decision and a significant investment. Before you decide to commit to this investment, you should be sure that the floor of your choice meets your needs perfectly. It is important to choose your flooring with care. You will not be able to change it as easily as you can rearrange your furniture – you should be thinking long-term for this once-in-a-lifetime purchase. This guide can be a useful tool to help you make a sound choice.

The Material

From the wide variety of available floor coverings, hardwood provides some incomparable qualities. It is natural, environmentally friendly, attractive, warm and easy to maintain – giving any home’s decor a premium and distinctive feel while increasing the resale value. Hardwood flooring plays a significant role in helping create a sterile and healthy environment at home by getting rid of the allergens that are generally associated with the carpets that attract dust.

Hardwood flooring is the easy choice for your needs – it is suitable for almost every application and environment. Hardwood flooring is divided into broad categories by manufacturing methods. Broadly, hardwood can be classified into three different types, choose the one that suits your needs and preferences the most.

Solid Hardwood

The boards of this type are ones that are made completely of hardwood, normally three-fourths of an inch thick. Unfinished hardwood is available as plain unfinished boards. After installation, an expert sands the wood and then applies stain followed by three or four coats of varnish. This type of finishing applied at the site is not as resistant to wear as well as the factory-applied finish as is available on the prefinished wood. Guarantee for this sort of hardwood is only covered for installation and excludes the wear and tear. Prefinished solid hardwood is pre-sanded, stained and finished with factory-applied protection. It is prepared in a controlled and ideal environment. This type of flooring is installation-ready. Installation is fast and easy, without the offensive varnish odors that occur when finishing is done on-site in the home. You won’t have to leave the house during installation and you’ll be able to return your furniture to its normal position very shortly after installation.

Glueless Engineered Hardwood

This flooring is a combination of the beauty of hardwood with a number of environmental and economic advantages. The boards are made of a high-density fiber (HDF) base whose engineered edges fit together perfectly with a simple motion. This particular type of flooring does not require nails, glue, or staples, which is why it is called “floating floor” in general parlance. This environmentally friendly product contains recycled content and can be removed from one room and re-installed in another room or building – making it a reusable resource and sound ecological choice.

Engineered Hardwood

A technological masterpiece, this hardwood combines a real wood surface with a solid plywood base. Engineered flooring has been created specifically for regions which have varying humidity. Engineered flooring is also significantly more solid as compared to the solid hardwood flooring. The quality of the engineered flooring is categorized based on four different criteria: hardwood layer’s thickness; the number of layers or plywood plies; the process used for cutting the hardwood surface; and finally the precision with which it is cut for the base layers. The hardwood layer must at least have a thickness of 4 mm to allow the required sanding, which is same as in the case of solid hardwood. The plywood should at the very least have 5 plies to make sure there is a good degree of floor stability. Cutting by a dry saw gives it a better quality of the hardwood layer and also a more natural look and is generally preferred to slice cutting or rotary peeling.

Even after you have analyzed all your options and decided on the type of hardwood that you want, the process isn’t finished. There are still many choices to make: the color of the floor, the width of the boards, and the shine of the finish. These all depend on your taste and the look you desire... things that deserve careful consideration. An installed floor will last for decades upon decades – choose wisely.

The Color

Ever increasing choices in color for hardwood flooring have made it a great decorative function. The insertion of boards that differ from the dominant color can accent the shape of a room, or draw attention to an area or element in particular. Adding a touch of refinement and originality can be simplicity itself.

The Species

Each species of wood has a different grain, color and texture. Personal taste and preference lead us to choose one species over another. Your room decor and your desired effect will influence your decision. Oak and maple are the best-known and most popular species, followed by birch, cherry and walnut.

The Gloss

Products currently on the market fall into one of three categories: High-gloss, which is a very shiny, smooth surface that reflects a lot of light but tends to amplify marks and scratches. Semi-gloss is a medium shine, the most common for prefinished floors. Matte is a satin or completely matte finish that reduces the appearance of marks and scratches.

The retailers specializing in hardwood flooring usually lay a great stress on finding the best possible product to meet their clients’ needs, and their advice is usually sound and helpful. They can guide the consumers in the following ways:

The Grade

Boards are classified according to variations in their natural color. Depending on what you might be looking for, the rustic grade could actually be very interesting, all with the small cracks and knots along with the other naturally occurring characteristics. By checking out many different boards from the same box, you can be sure if the product is accurately classified and also check the manufacturing quality. A few manufacturers make use of third-category grades to adjust for major finishing and manufacturing defects and also have these products on sale without any guarantee.

The Width

Boards are available in the market in a lot of different widths, which go with almost all the different possible style and décor choices. The boards which are narrower give the room a longer appearance, which the boards which are wider make the room appear shorter. But it should be kept in mind that a wood with tight grain such as maple will expand more with humidity, which is the reason for the preference for boards which are narrower in some cases.

The Board Direction

Along the length of the room, the width of the room, diagonal or patterned? Aesthetics and personal taste will direct you toward your choice of board direction. When installing the boards on a wooden subfloor, it is advisable to place in a perpendicular position to the joists. In the same way, you need to pay good attention to the optical illusions. It is better, for example, to avoid putting up the boards in a widthwise manner in long and narrow rooms.

Even after going through all the above, there are still things to consider following the choice of a hardwood floor – elements that can have good or bad long-term consequences. What treatments should be used to avoid unpleasant surprises? What steps should be taken to ensure that this investment remains a good one? Taking time to think things over is never a cause for regret.

The Retailer

Your choice of retailer is almost as important as your choice of flooring, because the retailer should also serve as your advisor. They have to respect your tastes and help you choose a product that meets your needs perfectly.

The Installation

A quality hardwood floor can easily last over a century. Since buying this type of floor represents a significant investment, it is smart to trust a professional with the installation work. This will make the most of the money you are investing.

The Humidity

Although very durable, wood does react to its environment, especially humidity. It is recommended that you keep humidity levels at around 45% to prevent unfavorable conditions for the floor and make your house more comfortable in general.

The Maintenance

Hardwood floors are more durable and stable than ever. But water, soap and sand are still a constant threat. Washing the hardwood floor with an excess amount of water should be absolutely avoided at all costs. Vacuuming it regularly using just a damp cloth and products recommended by the manufacturer are just the things you need to keep your floor in its best shape.

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