The Different Types of Hardwood Flooring Options
The Different Types of Hardwood Flooring Options That Exist Today
Few can live without the luxurious style and timeless beauty of hardwood floors in their homes. When you get to know the different types of hardwood flooring options, it offers in style, material, color, pattern, finish, cost. You'll see it's easy to understand why the popularity of hardwood flooring never wanes among homeowners with taste. Besides being beautiful and easy to clean, hardwood has proven the test of time to make it the most durable flooring choice you can make for your home.
Hardwood flooring is a beautiful and elegant addition to any room. A hardwood surface may compliment your décor and add value to your house, whether your taste is traditional, modern, or exotic. It can make you feel close to nature even if you live in a small apartment in a crowded metro city. It can be installed in any part of your home, including the living room, dining room, kitchen, or even in your office. Hardwood flooring can be made out of a variety of different materials and often comes in many different styles, hardness, and grains. It is an excellent choice for those that want a stylish addition to their home. When you are trying to decide what type of hardwood flooring is right for you, there are many things that you need to consider. The best way to make sure that you get exactly what you want is by knowing all of the available options. The following article discusses some of the most common types of hardwood flooring that you will find on the market today. But before that, you need to understand what hardwood flooring is? And what are its roots?
What is hardwood flooring?
Hardwood flooring is made from different types of wood of deciduous trees that have been layered together and then sanded down to create a smooth surface. They are mostly used for the construction and manufacturing of heavy wooden furniture, floorings, and home interior like cabinets, doors, etc. This type of flooring will last longer than many other types of flooring, and it can be refinished throughout the years once it reaches a point where it needs to be restored. In addition, this type of wood provides excellent traction due to its smooth surface and can withstand moisture without causing any damage or warping on the top layer.
Though the term hardwood refers to the density of wood, and it can be light or dark in color, all hardwood flooring is made up of common components like cellulose and lignin. The hardness of the wood is measured on a scale called the Janka scale.
Hardwood Flooring Pros:
- It is durable and can last a lifetime.
- It has beautiful designs that fit well with most décor styles.
- It is affordable compared with exotic types of wood flooring such as teak and mahogany.
- It is easy to clean and maintain, even for people with allergies to dust or other allergens, so you won't have a hard time keeping it in tip-top shape. You just need to sweep and mop regularly so that dust won't settle on its surface.
- It has a wide range of colors and textures available, so there is something for everyone's taste and budget.
- It is eco-friendly since it does not require harsh chemicals or glue to bond the boards together.
- It is easier to install compared to artificial laminate, ceramic tile, and heavy carpet flooring options.
History of hardwood flooring
Hardwood flooring has existed in this world since the BC era. The first floors were found in Mesopotamia during that period. In ancient Egypt, it was used for shipbuilding and in the construction of buildings like pyramids. The oldest surviving wooden artifacts are some pieces of furniture from Egypt and Mesopotamia that date back to 4000 BC. If we turn the pages of history, hardwood was also popular in ancient Greece and Rome, where it was used for temples, furniture, and home construction.
Since then, hardwood has been the most preferred material for home interior construction because of its strength and durability. Today, hardwoods can be found in houses all across Europe as well as America. Apart from beauty, It is one of the most popular choices for flooring because it isn't prone to wear or tear like other flooring materials like carpet, vinyl, tile, or laminates.
Solid or engineered hardwood flooring
When it comes to flooring, you have the option between solid hardwood or engineered hardwood. The former is the real thing, while the latter is a clever alternative. But there's more to it than that. Here's a quick overview of both and their differences:
1. Solid Hardwood flooring:
Solid hardwood flooring is exactly what it sounds like, in that it's made from solid wood, with no layers or parts. Solid hardwood is designed with just one layer of wood, which has been sanded down and finished with several layers of stain or paint. As such, it's the type of flooring you'll find in older homes and buildings, as well as in new ones. Solid hardwood flooring is much more durable than engineered flooring as it can last a lifetime. These hardwood flooring can be furnished almost as many times as required due to its thickness. But as it can develop cupping gaps due to excessive moisture or heat if not furnished properly, solid hardwood is not recommended for basements and kitchens. Solid wood flooring is generally hammered or fastened to the subfloor or attached to a specific foundation. It is rarely available as a floating floor. It is more costly than the more common engineered varieties as it requires finishing and more labor.
2. Engineered hardwood flooring:
Engineered hardwood flooring is made from real wood veneers that are glued together to form a solid surface. It makes use of several layers of wood where each layer has been sanded down and stained differently from another layer which results in a beautifully designed floor with various designs on it. Being more stain, heat, and water-resistant, these types of hardwood flooring can be installed in basements and kitchens. That makes them more affordable than their solid counterparts because they're thinner, prefinished, and easier to install. If you live in a place where it rains often or you have children who play on the floor, then you need a type of wood that resists water and stains from food spills and crayons. This type of waterproof hardwood floor is what you need to get the job done right! It can be nailed or glued to the subfloor, installed as a floating floor using press and hold planks, or loose-laid.
Species of hardwood flooring
Apart from solid and engineered hardwood flooring, there are so many different species of hardwood flooring that it can be a daunting task to choose the wood for your home. While some species are better suited to certain areas of the country, others are more popular in different regions. So how do you know which species to choose? Each wooden grain has its unique look and feels with varying strengths and weaknesses.
- Oak: Oak is durable, long-lasting, easy to maintain, and water-resistant. Therefore, it is the most commonly used hardwood flooring material. Although they are available in most hues yet, red and white oak are the two most common types.
- Pine: Pine is known to have a warm rustic look that is suitable for many homes. It's relatively soft, so it's not recommended for high-traffic areas.
- Ash: Ash comes in a variety of lighter colors, and the grain takes stains nicely if you desire a deeper look. It's also one of the greatest engineered wood flooring options due to its endurance, which results in a firm veneer.
- Teak: Teak wood flooring is extremely water-resistant. Teak has a lovely golden brown tone to it but is often more costly than other hardwood flooring options.
- Maple: Maple has a thin, uniform grain and softer cream-colored or tan tones. Hard maple, often known as sugar maple, is a common tree in the United States. Because of its shock-absorbing characteristics and simplicity of maintenance, it's frequently used for basketball courts. However, it is not resistant to permanent dents.
- Hickory: Hickory is known for having some unique wood flooring designs. It has a random grain and a wide range of tints from plank to board. This may be off-putting to some purchasers, but hickory's unique grain is one of the reasons it sells so well in the rustic market. Hickory is very hard, but it may show signs of wear quickly.
- Cherry is a sturdy, long-lasting, and effortless wood that is susceptible to water. Brazilian cherry The seasoned wood has a medium to coarse grain and russet or reddish-brown tint. It's somewhat more stable than red oak, although it takes a little longer to get used to. Due to its great density, it is also more difficult to see.
- Cork: it comes in a variety of colors, from light to dark, and has a distinctive texture that distinguishes it from other woods. It's grown popular for a variety of reasons, including its durability, sustainability, and underfoot cushioning.
- Bamboo: is grass, but because of its toughness, it is classified as wood. Bamboo has gained popularity among "green" building advocates due to its quick regeneration, which makes it extremely long-lasting. Howard clarifies. It is available in both manila/yellow and dark colors. According to her, the grain pattern depicts nodes from bamboo stems.
- Wenge: This virtually black African wood is tough to come by, but it's becoming increasingly fashionable as an accent piece. Cutting it may be difficult and necessitates the use of carbide tools.
- Bubinga This African wood has a burgundy hue with a fine texture that saws readily. However, when nailed with industrial machinery, it cracks quickly; therefore, hand-hammering is the best option.
- Mahogany: Native to Central and South America, mahogany is prized for its rich color and smooth texture. Mahogany is one of the softest hardwoods available, which may explain why genuine mahogany flooring is difficult to come by. This hardwood species, however, is used to make some of the greatest engineered wood floorings!
- Douglas Fir: If you research the benefits and drawbacks of Douglas fir flooring, you'll discover that it, like pine, is a softwood. It's light and water-resistant to some extent.
- American Walnut: Because of its luscious, chocolaty tone, American walnut is a favorite among woodworkers. This is not to be confused with Brazilian walnut. However, walnut is still a strong wood, and because of its dark hue, it may not reveal scratches as easily as other woods.
- Australian Cypress: The wood of Australian cypress is quite strong, much stronger than some of the hardwoods on this list. However, because it comes from a conifer, it is classified as softwood. Because of its similar colors and grains, Australian cypress is sometimes known as white cypress pine.
- American Chestnut: Today, chestnut is still used for flooring, but it is mainly salvaged from old barns and homes rather than being cultivated.
- Brazilian Chestnut: Brazilian Chestnut is one of the world's most durable wood flooring alternatives. It's also a good choice for flooring because of its deep chocolate tones and attractive texture.
- American (Black) Cherry: Even though it is sometimes known as black cherry, American cherry wood has a reddish-brown tint. And the public adores it.
- Birch: Birch is a lighter wood that is available in both domestic and imported varieties, both of which are reasonably priced. Birch isn't the most popular wood for flooring, but it's one of the best-engineered wood floors because of its endurance and propensity to receive stains.
- Merbau: Merbau is known by a variety of names, including kwila and ipil, owing to its widespread distribution from Australia to Southeast Asia—and even East Africa. Merbau isn't particularly prone to rotting or insect infestations. It also looks great, has a beautiful black hue, and isn't too difficult to work with. This is attractive because these features are usually only available in more costly exotic alternatives.
- Mesquite: Mesquite is more commonly associated with barbeques than with flooring, although it may be used for a variety of other purposes. This timber is reasonably durable, but its main attribute is its high humidity resistance. That doesn't imply it's waterproof, but because it's not prone to warping or bending, mesquite works well in humid settings. Mesquite is often reddish-brown in hue with a zigzag grain. You may also discover mesquite-look designs in wood floor alternatives like non-toxic laminate flooring, just like you can with other more expensive options.
- Padauk: Padauk is also known as vermillion, and it has a similar look to mesquite but with a considerably wider grain. Padauk is utilized as a replacement for other, more expensive hardwood species because of its reasonable price and durability. Here's where things get interesting: padauk is recognized for having brilliant orange tones when it's sheltered from the sun. When exposed to too much UV radiation, however, this somewhat unusual tint will evolve into the aforementioned red-brown color.
- Sapele: Sapele is commonly used as an (albeit pricey) imported alternative for mahogany because of its striking resemblance in look. Sapele, on the other hand, is substantially stronger, making it a better flooring choice for individuals who have a lot of foot traffic in their homes—or who have a tendency to drop items. Brazilian Teak (Cumaru): Exotic and Supremely Durable. Like teak, cumaru is water-resistant, thanks to its natural oils. Brazilian teak isn't related to teak—though they do look fairly similar.
- Kempas: Kempas are marketed as a less expensive exotic import that stains and polishes beautifully. Although it has a strong Janka score, it is considered to be structurally weak. Thus, any use in your home should have a robust subflooring. Kempas is fairly powerful as long as it has a decent base!
- Tigerwood (Goncalo Alves): Tigerwood has a grain pattern that resembles that of a Bengal tiger, with darker and lighter spots (hence the name). This hardwood species is a wonderful choice for engineered wood makers because of its resilience, even in thin slices, and an equally great choice for homeowners because of its reasonable pricing.
- Santos mahogany: Santos mahogany is another alternative for genuine mahogany, even though it is not related to it in any way. It is, nevertheless, a considerably tougher and denser hardwood species than true mahogany, making it a superior flooring alternative. Because Santos mahogany works so well as a veneer, it's likely that if you're looking at engineered mahogany wood flooring, the producer is utilizing it.
- Brazilian walnut: Brazilian walnut, commonly known as ipe, is the world's most durable wood flooring. Brazilian walnut is another example of how a deceptive name may be given to a hardwood species, as ipe is not a walnut tree species. These two hardwood species, on the other hand, have a chocolate hue and texture.
Finished or unfinished hardwood flooring
Hardwood flooring comes in many different finishes as well, including:
- Unfinished hardwood flooring – This is a great option for DIY or interior designers who love a challenge. Unfinished wood allows you to customize your floor with stains and paints to make it unique. However, the unfinished wood must be sealed before installation to prevent warping and water damage. It means less material cost but high installation cost. However, many unfinished kinds of wood have a natural oil finish that makes it easy to stain or paint without needing a sealer first.
- Finished hardwood flooring – Sealed hardwood floors are ready to install once they arrive at your home – you don't need to apply any finish beforehand. This reduces the time needed for finishing your floor and saves on labor costs as well as material costs since you're not purchasing extra sealers or stains. It also comes with manufacturer's warranties, available in a plethora of color options, and keeps you away from harmful fumes of harsh-chemical finish.
Finish Types of hardwood flooring
However, regardless of whether you pick prefinished or unfinished hardwood, you have a plethora of finish options. Here are some of the most prevalent.
- Natural oils: Natural oils such as linseed and tung oil seep into the wood and dry to a durable finish, making them a popular choice. These may provide a lovely, rustic aesthetic while also providing a remarkable amount of protection. They do, however, need to be polished more frequently.
- Water-based Polyurethane (PU): For good reason, this is one of the most regularly utilized finishes these days. It's available in a wide range of gloss levels, lays on clear, dries rapidly, and has a little odor.
- Oil-based polyurethane: An oil-based polyurethane finish is thicker than its water-based counterpart. This means it requires fewer applications and provides the wood with a lovely golden finish. However, it takes too long to dry and has a strong odor.
- Aluminum oxide: AO is a natural antioxidant that is used to protect finishes from damages and UV fading. If your hardwood flooring has a PU/AO finish, you should never have to refinish it.
- Hard wax: A mixture of natural oils and waxes, hardwax is a growingly popular product. It dries to a firm finish, much like natural oil.
Slice pattern of hardwood flooring
One of the most important aspects in defining the final grain pattern of the wood is the angle at which it is sliced from the tree. When considering how distinct kinds of wood flooring will appear in your house, you should consider both the species and the slice. A short overview of the most prevalent hardwood flooring cut patterns is provided here.
1. Sawn straight
This cut is exactly what it sounds like: a straight, flat, perpendicular cut to the tree's growth rings. It generates a wavy, variable grain because it passes vertically through the tree's rings. This is by far the most prevalent cut.
2. Sawn in four
Quarter Sawn logs are sliced across the grain after being cut into quarters. This cut generates regular graining, a hued look, and a staple grain that's less susceptible to breakage.
3. Sawn rift
A rift sawn tree is cut into slices or planks like a cake, resulting in straight grains
4. Sawn live
Sawn live boards are simply perpendicular bottom-to-top slashes through a tree. As a result, live sawn boards are often the broadest and have the most evident natural variation of the four.
Installation pattern of hardwood flooring
When it comes to installation, hardwood flooring is a type of floor covering constructed of planks that are "nailed" or "glued" to the subfloor.
Tongue-and-groove boards are glued together to form flooring. The process of laying and gluing real wood flooring is called "floating." In traditional solid hardwood flooring, the floorboards are sawn from logs with a flat surface and then planned to make them smooth. Board widths can vary from 3 inches (76 mm) to over 18 inches (460 mm).
Hardwood floors were once installed either vertically or horizontally, but a recent trend has emerged towards installing them at angles between 22 and 30 degrees from horizontal. This provides a much more durable and longer-lasting product. Apart from diagonal and fixed-width design, installation of hardwood can be done with mixed width, Herringbone Parquet, and Chevron Parquet. This posh pattern has been around since Roman times, and these floors look classic and modern at the same time. Hardwood floors can also be installed over concrete slabs, which makes this type of installation very popular in commercial applications such as shopping malls and office buildings.
Even if we time travel back into history or even the future, hardwood flooring is one of the most luxurious, durable, and evergreen floors styles to have in your home. It has a natural look and feels that you might not get with other types of flooring. This quick guide will help you understand everything about the types of hardwood flooring that you need to know before making the right decision for your home.