Many resources used in the manufacturing of products are non-renewable. Once extracted from a mine or drilled from the earth, they are gone forever. This is not so in the case of wood. As long as there are trees planted in sufficient numbers to replace harvested wood, the supply of wood products be sustained. And nothing could be more beautiful and natural, than a floor covering of real wood.
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All types of wood flooring possess the aesthetic qualities desired by most buyers, who want the feel and look that only real wood can give. But there are some differences that need to be considered before investing in flooring. A real wood floor becomes a viable part of a business or home, because it is designed to last 40 to 100 years with the proper care.
Solid Wood Flooring
Solid wood flooring is cut and milled into pieces that are 3/4 inches thick. This thickness enables the floor owner to sand and refinish the surface many times over the years, to change the stain color, or to buff out imperfections from wear.
A solid hardwood floor however, will be susceptible to moisture and temperature changes more than other types of flooring, making it prone to shrink and expand with the changing of seasons. This can cause warping, or gaps in the joints, if not installed properly. The knowledgeable installer will leave the necessary spacing – an expansion gap – where the floor meets the wall. Quarter round or other molding is normally used to cover the space to present a clean, formal appearance.
In producing solid wood floors, large harvests of trees are required. Mostly milled into a tongue and groove application, solid wood flooring is nailed to a wood sub-floor which has to be prepared for installation. While comparable in pricing with other flooring, the installation requirements make it an expensive choice. It is not recommended for basements, or any below grade installations because of the moisture problems in those areas.
Engineered Wood Flooring
Engineered hardwood flooring utilizes the latest in processing technology. Many thin layers of hardwood are placed crosswise, and forced to adhere together with bonding agents, heat and pressure. A thicker layer is placed on the top and finished. This gives engineered wood a greater structural stability for use in irregular environments, along with a usable lifetime equaling solid wood floors.
Engineered wood is less affected by changes in the climate with temperature, moisture and humidity, making it usable in areas where solid wood is not applicable. While not as thick as solid wood, the engineered flooring can still be refinished several times and most styles are wear-rated to last over 80 years, with the proper care.
Engineered flooring uses 1/4 the amount of wood needed to manufacture the same sized area of solid wood flooring. Engineered wood flooring saves costs, is less consumable of natural resources, and is indistinguishable in appearance when compared to solid wood. Installation is quicker than other flooring, with most brands having an interlocking system guaranteeing tight seams and neater looks. Engineered wood flooring is more versatile in installation methods. It can be nailed or glued, and some brands utilize a ‘Floating System’, having no means of permanent attachment to the sub-floor.
Maintenance And Care
All wood floors need to be cared for if longevity and a pleasing appearance are expected. Hardwood is great value for money, however if you want to spend the cash, you can use bamboo flooring which requires less maintenance and care, as it is 73% harder than Jarrah.
Inexpensive pads and soft furniture coasters provide protection when placed under chair and table legs. The furniture can then be used and moved about without marring the wood floor finish.
Sweeping and vacuuming keeps dirt and dust from dulling the natural beauty of the wood, and the flooring manufacturer will have recommended wood cleaner suggestions to get rid of those heel marks and scuffs. While solid wood sometimes requires waxing periodically, engineered wood flooring never needs waxing.
Wood floors compliment any decorating style, enhancing the motif and increasing the building value. For durability, versatility, and ease in application and care, engineered wood floors easily meet the challenge.
Jessica More has been involved in the flooring industry just over 10 years. She currently works as their research manager to improve the quality of flooring products internationally.