How to Pick a Hardwood Floor

At Mike Blake Custom Homes we are always helping customers with the pros and cons of choosing hardwood floors.  Part 1 of this article will deal with the three main types of hardwood floors to consider.

Each type is available in both an unfinished and a pre-finished version.  Unfinished flooring must be job-site sanded and finished after installation.  Pre-finished flooring is sanded and finished at the factory and delivered ready to install.  The three main types of solid wood flooring are:

Strip flooring – This type of wood is most recognized by its thickness and width.  Strip wood flooring comes in a variety of thicknesses and can range in thickness from 5/16” to ¾” of an inch.   However it’s only available in widths of 1 ½”, 2” and 2 ¼”.

Plank flooring – Plank flooring is cut to only two thicknesses, however unlike strip flooring the widths can vary.  Plank wood can be purchase in thicknesses of ½” or ¾” inch and a range of widths from 3 inches to 8 inches.  Here’s a video of a home we built that used plank wood that was hand scraped and stained.

Parquet flooring – Parquet floors provide a unique look compared to typical hardwoods. Typically they constructed into geometric patterns composed of individual wood slats held in place by mechanical fastening or an adhesive.

Engineered wood flooring is a catagory of its own and should not be confused with laminate or solid wood flooring.  Engineered wood flooring is constructed by adhering layers of plastic laminate veneer with real wood.  The main difference between this type of wood and solid wood floors is thickness of the wood.  Typically the finished wood of engineered wood flooring is 3/8”.  On the other hand, laminate flooring contains no actual wood.  I will discuss laminates in an upcoming part to this article.

So, are you confused yet?  Here are few factors to keep in mind that might help you decide.  Solid hardwoods may cost a little more and require a little more upkeep than engineered wood flooring, but they can always be re-sanded and refinished.  If properly maintained, solid wood floors will retain their value better than engineered woods.

In addition, choosing between strip, plank or parquet is, for the most part, a question of taste.  If you like thin, long planks of wood, you should choose strip flooring.  If you prefer the look of wider planks of wood, then plank flooring is the best selection.  And, if you want a more decorative approach then a parquet floor will be a better match.

Part II will discuss the species of hardwoods and finishing options.

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