Floors dominate such a large visual space in your home that you can set an immediate and pleasing tone for richness, warmth and luxury with the right product. Hardwood has long been a premium flooring choice for commercial use and for custom, upscale homes. Hardwood has become even more popular than tile in residential renovations with new, engineered hardwood floors manufacturing flooring store san jose processes that extend the use of woods into the kitchen, basement and bathroom.
Natural Hardwood Floors
Oak is the most prevalent hardwood species used for flooring, but a variety of other hardwoods like bamboo, maple, hickory and red cherry are also available. Natural hardwood flooring consist of solid 3/4 inch narrow, unfinished tongue and groove boards called strips (3-4 inches wide) or wider boards called planks (5-7 inches in width). Both board styles lay the same way but interior designers say that the wider planks, sometimes distressed, impart a more casual or country look to the decor.
This kind of flooring is installed by nailing it to a subfloor of plywood or OSB. Natural hardwood floors are finished in place by sanding the boards to a uniform thickness and coating them with a sealer. When the sealer wears off and the surface darkens, the floor can be sanded and refinished, usually from 5-7 times, or until a nail becomes visible. The life expectancy of natural 3/4 hardwood flooring is about 100 years.
Installing natural hardwood flooring is labor intensive and time consuming. Laying down, sanding and sealing a hardwood floor usually takes several days. Installation time can be reduced with pre-finished hardwood flooring which eliminates the application and drying time of the finish and sealer. Pre-finished flooring is usually more wear resistant because the manufacturer can apply more durable coatings in a controlled factory environment. Homeowners should also consider that on site finishing will emit noxious VOCs into the house environment.
Engineered Hardwood Floors
Engineered hardwood floors are a laminate built from multiple ply layers with a thick hardwood veneer wear layer on top. The veneer layer is available in almost any exotic hardwood species with exotic color and grain patterns. Engineered hardwood floors are more resistant to moisture than natural wood flooring, which adds to their appeal because they can be installed in damp regions of the country and in basements with relatively high humidity levels.
Some brands of engineered hardwood floors have a thin wear layer that can be recoated but you cannot sand the floor to stain it or completely refinish it. These less expensive brands have an expected average life span of 30-40 years depending on usage patterns. Other brands and styles have much thicker wear layers (5/32 inches) that can be sanded and refinished up to as many as 5 times with an average expected life span of from 60-80 years. Thicker wear layers are sawn from the log whereas thinner layers are scraped or sliced. High tech glue is the bonding agent.
One other advantage of engineered hardwood floors is that a floating install can be applied directly over vinyl or a concrete slab or any other existing material that is hard and level without the expense and necessity of a subfloor. Manufacturers recommend that a 4-6 mil vapor barrier be installed over the under-surface if moisture is likely to be a problem.