guidelines that can help you make the right choice
For us at Flooring Service Group is important to know your exact needs and conditions on the site where you want your hardwood floor installed. Prior to that, we can offer you some basic guidelines that can help you make the right choice. We should also mention that we will be glad if you have any questions and we will try to be as helpful as possible regarding hardwood installation tips or other issues related to hardwood flooring
There is a large choice of wood species in terms of grain, pattern, color and the number and size of knots. Even within the same species, there are no two identical pieces of wood. Your selection of wood will depend on the decorative look you intend to create for your home or your room - traditional, rustic or contemporary - and the atmosphere you want to generate ? restful or lively.
Pre-finished laminate hardwood floors make for the easiest and fastest installation. They are usually very affordable. We recommend installing these in high traffic areas like stores and shops. They also make a great choice for kitchens and basements and kid's rooms. They will take anything you throw at them. Reason for that is they are usually not made of wood and usually pretty water proof and about half as thick as a solid ?" floor. These synthetic floors will imitate the grain and color of a specific wood. They are highly resistant to abrasion and moisture due to a high pressure treatment. It comes in bigger planks that don't need gluing or nailing but click together on a thong and grove basis. It is basically a floating floor and a good flat underlayment/subfloor is of the essence when choosing this option. This floor application ensures no chemicals and minimal dust.
Solid wood flooring is CNC machined and carved out of one piece of wood. It is consistent through out. Because of its raw, unfinished nature solid hardwood is not recommended for use in a basement or over a concrete subfloor. Sealer and clear coats protect the upper side alone leaving the other sides prone to moisture and/or dryness. It is best to have a controlled environment when it comes to solid wood floors. Wood will change size depending on climate. That's the reason we let it rest for a few days inside that same room where it needs to be installed. We recommend having a humidifier installed on your furnace or get a free standing unit if you don't already have one. This thick solid wood floor could be sanded many times in its lifetime and is available in different sizes, cuts and grades. It can be easily stained or left natural. In either case it needs curing time and takes more time to complete than pre-finished or engineered floors.
Engineered wood flooring is a more expensive product. It has a solid hardwood wear layer on top that is specially prefinished but can also be refinished if wear occurs. Even though it is about as thick as a solid floor, rough sanding is not possible when refinishing this type of floor so really deep scratches will not always come out. It is constructed from several layers of material, bonded together under extreme pressure, perpendicular to one another. For that reason this floor is more dimensionally stable and should be used where humidity variations are present. It is ideal for glue-down installation but can also be nailed to a wooden subfloor making it nice and tight like a solid wood floor. Installation is completely dustless and is recommended in humid areas or over concrete slabs. The downside is represented by the variety of colors, wood species and by the limited number of refinishing procedures. Also most products will have slightly beveled edges (for obvious reasons) and will feel and reflect light accordingly.
For more information, check out our article on engineered vs solid hardwoods!
Unfinished vs Pre-Finished Floors
When thinking to install solid hardwood, you should consider the advantages of un-finished hardwood and pre-finished in a factory hardwood. For the un-finished hardwood, the biggest advantage is that of a more uniform seal and a natural look. Gaps that might occur when the hardwood floor is installed will be sealed when the finishing process takes place. After stain and/or finish materials will be applied, the light will spread uniform, reflecting into the hardwood, offering a spectacular perspective. (As opposed to the factory pre-finished hardwood, where the light will be reflected under different angles). In exchange, finishing the hardwood on the site, involves some other processes that sometimes can prove to be a little messy (sanding, buffering, staining) and take a longer period for the whole finishing process. Regarding pre-finished hardwood, the obvious advantage is that of convenience. No sanding is required for these types of hardwood floors, and therefore more time is saved on preparation. Moreover, you don't have to wait until the finish applied is dry, waiting period which differs depending on the materials used.
Solid vs. Engineered
Engineered hardwood floors can prove to be the ideal choice for those who like the aspect and the feel of solid hardwood, but have a concrete slab as a sub-floor or want to have hardwood in their basement. Also, for those who choose to spend a little less on the floor covering, engineered hardwood can prove to be the right choice as opposed to the solid hardwood which comes a little more expensive. Engineered flooring is incredibly versatile and can be installed anywhere solid hardwood can be installed. It can be glued, nailed or stapled and today some engineered hardwood floors even feature a "snap" or "click" lock tongue and groove that allows for even easier floating installations.