Hardwood flooring is a practical and important investment for your home or business. There are basically four different types from which to choose, each with different features to meet your needs, as described below:
Prefinished floors can be either solid or engineered. (Both are described below.) This wood arrives from the mill sanded, stained, finished and ready for installation. Most types come in lengths from 4' to 7'. Solid prefinished floors normally have longer boards than do engineered.
Usually, each individual board has a small beveled edge so the pieces will appear level and the floor smooth when installed. Square edged prefinished floors are also available, but at a higher price than beveled because they require extremely precise milling to create a smooth, level finished floor. Some people prefer the way beveling accentuates and outlines a board, while others prefer the more traditional and uniform look of square edged floors.
Prefinished flooring makes it easy to have a wood floor installed in an occupied home or office because installation is relatively quick and does not generate as much dust.
Solid flooring is made from pieces of wood that are one solid piece from top to bottom. The thickness of the wood is generally from ¾", but is occasionally milled to 5/16" or 3/8" thickness for glue down installation. It can come from the mill already stained and finished, or it can be finished at the jobsite after being installed and sanded.
Most solid hardwood floors require a nail down installation over a wood subfloor. If your floor is concrete, we can install a plywood subfloor to accommodate ¾” solid flooring. The thinner 3/8" or 5/16" solid flooring is designed for glue down installation over concrete.
Engineered hardwood flooring is constructed of two components – a 'core layer' on the bottom with a 'face veneer' on top. The core layer is constructed of multiple layers of wood of the same or different species, glued together in a cross-hatch pattern. This cross graining provides greater dimensional stability, which minimizes the expansion and contraction of natural wood when exposed to varying moisture levels and temperatures.
Engineered wood floors can be produced with as few as 3–9 ply (layers). Many manufacturers use marine plywood backing of 5–8 layers, which has greater stability and resists moisture better than 3–5 ply materials. This feature is definitely an important feature in our Tampa Bay humidity.
Once the core layer is produced, the face veneer is added on top. This veneer is sawn in a similar method to solid wood flooring, so that the finished product looks identical to solid flooring once installed.
Reclaimed wood is salvaged from old buildings slated for demolition, such as barns, farm structures, factories, hotels, and shipping port pilings. This wood has already been through at least a century's worth of seasonal expansion and contraction cycles, so it is more stable than new wood. It is also better for our environment because the rescued wood is saved from ending up in landfills, which is a horrible waste of our planet's resources.
In the past, the common method for timbering was to cut trees with axes and drag logs with oxen or mule teams to riverbanks. Some of the densest and heaviest logs rolled off the rafts during the float trip to the mills. Today these logs are recovered by divers and milled into wood flooring. With its color, character and patina, river recovered wood is a beautiful and durable building material that only gets better with time. Historic home owners here in Tampa Bay often choose antique wood products to repair or replace termite damaged wood floors.
The Janka hardness test measures the force in pound per square inch required to embed a 0.444” steel ball to half its diameter in a 2” x 2” x 6” piece of wood. This test is a good measurement of how a wood product will withstand denting and wear. By the same token, it’s also a good indicator of how hard a species is to saw or mill. The table to the right indicates testing results on different hardwood flooring species, including some acrylic impregnated species.
The Janka test is also a good indicator of how hard it would be to saw or nail into a species of wood. The higher the Janka measure, the harder and more resistant it is to denting. For example, Brazilian Teak with a Janka rating of 3540, one of the hardest species available, is almost three times as hard as Red Oak, rated at just 1360.
Bamboo flooring is not included on the Janka Hardness Scale. This is due to the fact that the numbers can vary due to the process and chemicals used to produce the optional caramelized or carbonized coloring in some bamboo flooring. Additionally, particular species of bamboo used in the flooring can impact the hardness. As a point of reference, one species is described here. When left with a natural finish, bamboo has a Janka rating of 1380. If carbonized to produce a darker color, bamboo’s hardness drops to 1180.