How Hardwood is Made
Each type of hardwood has its advantages and disadvantages. When deciding which is right for your room, think about the aesthetic you want, as well as the wear and tear the floor will endure.
Solid Wood Flooring
This type of flooring is derived from tree trunks. Once the trees are cut into logs, they are carefully inspected for knots and a tight grain pattern. Only the highest quality logs are selected for use as floors.
The chosen logs are then cut into rough planks in one of three ways:
- Flat Sawn is the most common and readily available. Varied grain patterns and variation.
- Quarter Sawn cuts the logs in quarters before turning it into planks, which provides unique linear grain pattern.
- Rift Sawn is the most unique, cutting at various angles providing a streamlined linear grain appearance.
Once cut, each rough plank is graded based on its style and then smoothed into a level plank. Some manufacturers will distress the planks to give them an antique look.
Solid wood flooring contains the popular tongue and groove siding. This siding makes it easier to install. It also allows the wood to naturally expand and contract with the humidity without buckling or damaging your floors.
Once the cut and style meet the grading standards, the manufacturer will seal and finish the product. Sometimes, these planks are shipped unfinished. For people who want to finish and stain the wood themselves, an unfinished option is less expensive and a good choice for the DIY connoisseur.
Benefits: Solid wood flooring is the longest lasting as it can be sanded and refinished numerous times. With their design, they uphold the highest structural integrity.
Engineered Wood Flooring
This type of flooring combines wood plies with a veneer of real hardwood glued on top. It’s the real hardwood that makes it stand apart from similar styles of flooring, such as laminate. Engineered hardwood floors take the best from laminate and hardwood flooring to make it DIY friendly, yet give the look of real wood.
To make engineered wood flooring, a plywood core board is created first. The core board is designed by stacking wood plies in opposite directions while gluing each piece together. These are usually made together with high density fiberboard, which makes it more stable than basic plywood core board.
Once the plank is assembled, the veneer must be glued on top. This process has a major impact on the price.
- Dry solid-sawn is the most expensive because it looks and acts like solid hardwood floors. Drying out the wood slowly helps create the plank.
- Rotary-peel works by boiling each log as preparation for the wood veneer. The wood is then scraped with a blade. Over time, these floors can lose shape, causing issues with warping and cupping.
- Sliced-peel also involves boiling the log. Once the veneer is ready to be placed, it is sliced from end-to-end and pressed.
As a rule, higher quality engineered wood floors have thicker veneers on top. Also, not all brands are considered equal in terms of quality, so seek out well known brands. If you want the option to refinish the floor in years to come, a thicker veneer will allow you to do that.
When the final layers are glued together, the planks are finished with a tongue and groove system. This makes installation as easy as clicking and locking the planks into place.
Benefits: The core board makes this type of hardwood flooring more stable than solid wood, because they do not expand and contract as much with temperature changes. They can also be installed over concrete floors and any room with radiant heat or rooms with high moisture levels.
Acrylic Impregnated Wood Flooring
This is an enhanced wood flooring that is typically found in commercial applications. By impregnating wood flooring with a resin of stain and acrylic, manufacturers make the flooring more durable and stable.
From an aesthetic standpoint, this is ideal. The color permeates the flooring, which makes it more resistant to fading or damage.
To create the flooring, the wood is first dried out using a vacuum to remove sugars and sap. Then, the acrylic resin is added to the flooring to replace the sap and sugars.
Benefits: This flooring is up to 300% stronger than natural hardwood. It’s perfect for commercial buildings or rooms with high traffic.