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Three General Classifications of Hardwood Floors
Most hardwood flooring nowadays is built from American hardwoods, like white oak, cherry, or hickory, or the newer exotic hardwoods, such as Brazilian Cheery, Ipe, Tigerwood and so on. However, generally speaking, there are three common hardwood flooring types available in the market – solid, engineered and longstrip.
Solid Hardwood Flooring
A single piece of wood with tongue and groove sides makes up traditional solid hardwood floors. They are mostly unfinished, but there are lots of pre-finished 3/4-inch solid hardwood floors. What’s great about them is that you can refinish and recoat them repeatedly through their entire lifespan — which can span up to decades or longer.
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As a natural product, hardwood flooring expands and contracts with moisture as the seasons change. When it’s cold outside and warm inside, the wood may contract, sometimes leading to gaps between planks.
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As summer starts and humidity increases, wood floors can stretch out, and those gaps instantly disappear! With too much moisture, the planks can cup or buckle, which isn’t so great.
Solid Oak Flooring
Oak is often used in creating solid unfinished wood floors. There are so many different qualities you can choose from — careful what you’re buying. Just like a flawless diamond, clear oak is totally knot and blemish-free, and that makes it so expensive. To lower the cost, go with better oak or select oak, which both have tiny noticeable knots and just a bit of dark graining, not to mention character!
Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Engineered wood flooring can be used in parts of the home in which solid hardwood is not advised. To make engineered wood, three or more thin sheets of wood, otherwise known as plies, are laid in directions opposite each other (called cross-ply construction) and then laminated together to create a single plank.
This “cross-ply” type of construction produces a hardwood floor that is very stable and resistant to moisture and temperature changes, thanks to the wood plies that counteract each other, hence preventing plank expansion or shrinkage.
Another advantage of engineered hardwood is versatility. It goes great practically everywhere, including in your basement or over sub-floors and concrete slabs.
Longstrip Hardwood Flooring
Longstrip hardwood floors are essentially engineered floors, except the top, finish layer is composed of a number of thinner wood plies that are glued together to build one plank. At the core of a longstrip plank is often a softer wood material and is used for making the tongue and groove.
Almost any hardwood specie can be used for the top layer, which is made of smaller separate pieces typically laid in two or three rows. Longstrip planks can be installed on any grade level and above a whole range of subfloors.