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The Emerging Trends in Hardwood Flooring

Construction of hardwood floors has seen huge advancements. There have been huge advancements in the construction of hardwood floors. These technological advances have made it easier to install many types of hardwood floors. Most of the hardwood floor suppliers can work with customers to find out just how much work they really want to do on their own. For example, you can now order wood floors that are pre-finished -- which does not require you to finish or seal the floor before or after the installation. In fact, it is now possible that the floors finished from the factory can be installed right away out of the box. These types of advancements make it easier than ever before to install a hardwood floor by yourself.

There is a vast variety of choices in flooring, and more specifically hardwood flooring, today. They can range from a wide variety of styles, installation options, and finishes. Innovations in hardwood flooring is erasing the lines between the many different flooring categories and the raw materials used to create flooring types include gin bottles, corn sugar and the staves from old wine barrels. This gives the final consumer the many options to choose from depending on their budget and taste.

To choose the type of hardwood floor that best fits your space, budget, and style preferences is an important step in planning the installation of your new floor. You should never confuse the floor type with wood variety -- they are two very different things. Let us start by discussing the types of hardwood floors to consider.

Solid Wood Flooring: Solid wood flooring is available in three broad categories. Each type is available in both an unfinished and a pre-finished version. Unfinished flooring requires to be sanded at the job site and finished after the installation is complete. The pre-finished flooring is sanded and finished at the factory -- hence it can be installed as is and no further work needs to be done. Solid wood flooring comes in three main types:

  • Strip flooring - This type of flooring is denoted by the thickness and width of the wood planks. Strip flooring has a set width, but the thickness can vary. Strip flooring ranges in thickness from 5/16 of an inch to 3/4 of an inch wide. Strip flooring is available only in widths of 1 1/2 inches, 2 inches and 2 1/4 inches.
  • Plank flooring - Plank flooring only comes in two thicknesses, but unlike strip flooring, the widths can vary. It is available only in thicknesses of 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch and a range of widths from 3 inches to 8 inches.
  • Parquet flooring - Parquet floors have a very different look from typical hardwoods. They are made up of geometrical patterns composed of individual wood slats held in place by mechanical fastening or an adhesive.

Engineered Wood Flooring: Engineered flooring is produced by adhering layers of plastic laminate veneer with real wood. What separates engineered wood flooring from laminate flooring is the fact that laminate flooring contains no actual wood.

Acrylic-Impregnated Wood Flooring: Acrylic-impregnated wood flooring is infused with sealant and color throughout the thickness of the wood. So, what is normally a surface "finish" is actually consistent throughout the wood. This type of flooring is most commonly used in commercial and not residential projects. Acrylic impregnated wood flooring is very hard and durable and it is very resistant to moisture and scratches. According to the World Floor Covering Association, once an acrylic impregnated wood flooring is installed, it is very difficult to tell the difference between a solid wood floor and the other wood floors. Solid hardwood strip floors are the preferred flooring option when it comes to hardwood flooring, though engineered flooring is rapidly becoming very popular because of its low cost factor. This brings us back to deciding which type of hardwood flooring would be best suited for you. You need to keep several things in mind when you are choosing the appropriate type of wood flooring for your home or office. Solid hardwoods may require a little more upkeep than engineered wood flooring, but they can always be re-sanded and refinished. If maintained well, solid wood floors tend to retain their value better than engineered woods. In addition, deciding between strip, plank or parquet is, for the most part, a question of taste preferences. If thin and long planks of wood interest you, you should choose strip flooring. If you would rather have very wide planks of wood, then you can go with plank flooring. And, if you have a more decorative look in mind -- perhaps a geometric design -- parquet floors will be a perfect match for your taste. You need to keep in mind that plank flooring may require some extra work during installation, and its cost can be higher than strip flooring.

Deciding on the type of wood is also a very crucial decision to make when you decide to install a hardwood floor. There are issues of both substance and style that need to be taken into account. For example, light wood may seem to be more appropriate for a casual setting, while dark wood gives more character to typical formal surroundings. You need not go by any set rules, just select what seems appealing to you and is as per your budget. Prices can vary pretty dramatically for different types of wood.

Red oak - Red oak is the most popular flooring option in the U.S. Reddish in color with a coarse grain, it's a stiff and dense wood that resists wear, but not as well as white oak. White oak - White oak is brown in color but can have a grayish cast. The grain is similar to red oak, with more burls and swirls. It is harder and more durable than red oak.

Birch - Birch can range in color from light yellow to dark brownish red. It's softer than red oak, but is still a strong wood.

Beech - Beech has a reddish brown color and a very consistent grain. It is quite durable and has excellent shock resistance.

Pine - Pine is a yellowish brown color and contains a lot of swirls and knots. It has a natural resistance to insects and is about as hard as red oak.

Cherry - Cherry wood is a light brown color. Because it's a soft wood, cherry isn't often used for a whole floor. Instead, it makes an excellent decorative or accent wood.

Douglas fir - Douglas fir is a yellowish tan color. This wood is about half as soft as red oak and can dent easily. It is only appropriate in certain flooring situations.

When pricing the different flooring options, it is important to remember that flooring is priced by the square foot. It's a good idea to get your measurements first. Once you know the square footage of the area to be covered, you'll be able to estimate the cost.

As you are deciding what variety of wood to use, you might want to also consider the relative hardness of the wood. The relative hardness is based on the Janka Rating system, which measures the force required to drive a .444-inch steel ball into the wood, so that half the diameter of the steel ball is embedded. The higher the number from the test, the harder the species of wood. Another issue in regard to the wood you choose is the grading of the wood. Grading is a system created by The Wood Flooring Manufacturers Association (NOFMA) to describe the appearance of hardwood floors. The grades take into account things like color, grain and markings. The best grades of wood are clear and select. These woods have fewer markings and are more consistent in appearance than the common grades, which may have a variety of markings.

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