Many homeowners crave the beauty and longevity of hardwood flooring, which is constructed from the wood of deciduous trees such as maple or oak. Softwoods are conifers like yew, cedar or pine. The names don’t describe the actual hardness of the wood, but hardwoods are more dense than softwoods and tend to be harder to cut.
Types of Hardwood
The wood of many types of deciduous trees can be used to create a hardwood floor. Oak has
been one of the more popular woods for hardwood flooring for centuries. Oak hardwood flooring is beautiful, with a gorgeous grain. It is also hard and durable. Species of oak used for floors
include white, Tasmanian, red and European.
Lighter-colored maple is another popular choice when it comes to hardwood flooring. Species of this tree that are used for flooring include rock maple, silver maple and Japanese maple. The grading system for maple is different than for other types of wood. The grades are: first, second, third.
Hickory is marketed as red, which comes from the heartwood or white, which comes from the sapwood. Hickory has a beautiful grain, is strong and resists shock.
Brazilian cherry also has different colored sapwood and heartwood. The sapwood makes for a lovely, silvery grey hardwood flooring, while the heartwood is salmon-colored or an orangey brown that mellows into deeper red-brown as it ages. The wood’s texture ranges from medium to somewhat coarse, and the grain is interlocked.
Walnut’s heartwood is a deep, chocolate brown to purple-black, but its sapwood is pale. Some samples of walnut come with a curled grain or burls that are prized by many homeowners.
Many species and grades of ash are used for flooring. Among the most popular is the Japanese ash, which often has an attractive “peanut” figure. Other types of ash used for hardwood floors are the European ash and the black, brown, white and green ash, which are native to America.
Reclaimed wood comes from old buildings that are no longer in use. Factory finished, reclaimed wood is more stable than wood that’s been just sawn because it’s been acclimated to the weather for decades or even centuries. In some cases, the buildings were made from the wood of trees taken from virgin forests. These trees could have already been quite old.
Floors Treated as Hardwood
Bamboo is a kind of grass that acts and looks like wood after it’s treated and can in fact be harder than some hardwood species, especially if it’s strand woven. Bamboo is considered sustainable because it takes only years and not decades to be harvestable like a typical hardwood tree.
Cork may be even more sustainable than bamboo, for it does not need the intensive treatment that bamboo needs before it’s ready to become hardwood flooring Barrie. Cork comes from an oak tree that is native to the Mediterranean regions, but the tree is not killed when the cork, which forms its outer bark, is taken. After a few years, the tree just grows another layer of cork. Though most types of hardwood feel good beneath bare feet, cork feels even better. It famously absorbs sound.
Engineered or Solid?
Hardwood flooring is either engineered or solid and comes in strips, tiles or planks. Solid wood is a whole piece of wood, while engineered wood is created by pressure bonding layers of inferior wood with a top veneer of high quality wood. The layers are arranged with the grain of one layer perpendicular to the ones above and below it, which makes them very strong. The one drawback with engineered wood is that it can’t be refinished as often as solid wood.
Installing Hardwood Floors
Installing a hardwood floor is fairly simple but not easy, though DIYers with moderate skills can do it. Still, most people call in a professional to lay their floors.
Acclimating the Wood
There’s some controversy as to whether the wood needs to be placed in the room where it's to be installed so that it can acclimate. Some big box stores recommend storing the wood anywhere from 72 hours to three weeks. This is suppose to let the wood adjust to the humidity and the temperature that’s found in the room. But there is really no one rule as to how long wood flooring needs to sit in the house. A brand new house tends to have a lot of moisture, which causes the wood to absorb it and expand, while an older house might be quite dry, which may cause the wood to shrink. Both of these cause problems when the wood is finally installed. Even the area of the country where the floor is to be installed is important. A homeowner should consult with an expert in hardwood flooring to determine just how long their wood needs to be acclimated to the specific conditions in their home.
Cleaning the Hardwood Floor
A sopping wet mop should never be used on hardwood flooring, for this can cause the wood to swell. The homeowner should use a damp mop and only occasionally or when the floor is truly dirty. Since floors are also sealed to protect them, a cleanser made to protect the sealant or wax should be used.
Protecting Against Sunlight
A room that’s full of sunlight is attractive, but the fact is that direct sunlight is
detrimental to hardwood flooring Barrie. The ultraviolet, visible and infrared light from the sun bleaches some kinds of wood and causes others to become unpleasantly dark. In some cases,
sunlight causes planks to dry out and become gappy. Even a sealed floor can be damaged. There are several ways to mitigate the damage caused by sun:
• The hardwood can be placed in an area that doesn’t get much sun, like a hallway.
• The windows in the room can be fitted with panes of low-emissivity glass, which reduces the levels of UV and infrared light.
• The furniture and rugs can be rearranged throughout the year.
• The windows can be covered with blinds, drapes or shutters much of the time. If the homeowner really loves a sunny room, the windows can be covered when the sun is at its most intense, which is from mid-morning till mid-afternoon.
Hardwood flooring can come in many shades, grains and textures and is uniquely beautiful. With care, a hardwood floor can give pleasure for decades.