The Basics of Hardwood
Hardwood: In Simple Terms
Hardwood floors are a classic, practical, and decorative option for any interior décor. The range of options that are available today include finish, surface, stain, and species making hardwood a very attractive choice.
There are two methods of hardwood construction:
- Solid Hardwood is cut directly from the log, milled, sanded, stained and finished. It can be installed on and above grade level. ¾” is the standard thickness. Board lengths are random. In addition, solid hardwood is available unfinished and prefinished. The advantage of prefinished hardwood is that it is already sanded, sealed, and sometimes stained. Because the finishing process is done in a controlled setting, the products come with longer warranties.
- Engineered Hardwood is made with cross-ply construction. The top layer is peeled off the log and glued to additional layers of wood for dimensional stability. Engineered floors can be installed above, on or below grade, in a basement for example.
There are two major styles of wood flooring available:
- Strip Flooring is a traditional look, with strips ranging from 2-1/4 inches to 3-1/4 inches wide.
- Plank Flooring offers a wider range of styles including exotics. These boards are at least three inches wide, but usually larger.
There are many different species of wood. Red and White Oak, Maple, and Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba) are the most widely used and represent a good cross section for your consideration.
- Red and White Oak: Are the most common choices for wood flooring. Its consistent graining and availability make it an excellent value.
GRAIN: Consistent and sometimes rippled grain pattern.
- Maple: It’s slightly harder than oak and has a subtle grain pattern. Because of the lack of pores on the surface, only a few stain options are available.
GRAIN: It has a very fine grain pattern.
- Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba): This beautiful wood has dark, rich, natural color tones that get darker as it ages. It is one of the only woods that actually improve in appearance as it ages.
GRAIN: Has a medium-spaced salmon-colored grain that gets darker with age.
When considering what species to choose, there are three important factors that affect the cost: Grade, Width, and Finish. The grade is primarily determined by color consistency and the occurrence of natural characteristics such as knot holes, pin holes, and mineral streaks. The “cleaner” the grading, the more expensive the product may be.
Hardwood Buying Tips
Choosing a type of wood flooring for your home depends ultimately on what you like best and your budget. With these tips we’ll try to simplify it for you to help you choose the hardwood flooring that most fits your needs.
Important Factors to Consider
The 3 most important factors when considering cost are: Grade, Width, and Finish
- Grade: Determined by color consistency and natural characteristics such as knot holes, pin holes, mineral streaks. The cleaner the Grade, the more expensive the wood product may be.
- Cut: The most common is plain-sawn. Less common is quarter-sawn or rift-sawn.
- Finish: You can get hardwood in Unfinished or Prefinished. The advantage of Prefinished is it’s already sanded, sealed, and sometimes stained. Finished products also come with longer warranties.
The most popular species of wood are:
- Red and White Oak – Most common and available wood with a consistent and sometimes rippled graining.
- Maple – Slightly harder than oak with a very fine grain pattern but the lack of surface pores leave it with few stain options.
- Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba) – A beautiful wood with dark, rich, natural colors and has a medium-spaced salmon-colored grain that gets darker with age.
Other species offering high style: