Archive for the ‘Wood Flooring’ Category


Differences between Unfinished, Pre-finished or Engineered Hardwood Flooring

 

prefinished_unfinished

We know that the decision to install wood flooring in your home or business is a big decision, and with so many options available, it can be a difficult decision.
One of the biggest questions is whether solid unfinished hardwood flooring which is installed, sanded and finished on site, solid pre-finished hardwood flooring or engineered wood flooring, is right for you. You need to consider the pros and cons of each before making a decision.

Unfinished hardwood flooring:

Unfinished hardwood flooring is delivered raw and is then sanded, stained and finished on site. It is available in more widths and wood species than pre-finished flooring and can be matched to existing wood floors.
A custom sanded hardwood floor is perfectly flat looking, with a tabletop appearance that can’t be achieved with a pre-finished hardwood floor. If the subfloor is uneven, then a pre-finished floor will be uneven. Since unfinished flooring is sanded flat on site, it is more forgiving of slight irregularities in the sub-floor.

Some factors to consider:

  • Are you looking for a specific plank width, unusual wood species or color? Unfinished wood provides many more options.
  • Is your home of historical significance? Unfinished flooring would be more appropriate to capture the old-world charm and keep the look authentic, or to match existing historical flooring, hand-distressing and aging techniques can be used.
  • Are you installing wood floors throughout the entire home, or just in isolated rooms? If throughout your home, unfinished wood may be best. Having your floors finished on site will help ensure a uniform color and finish.
  • Does your new wood floor need to match with an existing wood floor? If so, unfinished flooring is the only option.

Pre-finished hardwood flooring:

Pre-finished hardwood flooring has been sanded and finished at the factory, so it does not require any further treatment once it has been installed. It is relatively quick easy to install, it is also far more convenient as no sanding or finishing needs to be done on site.
The multiple coats of finish applied at the factory give pre-finished wood flooring a very durable wear layer and the finish itself is under warranty by the manufacturer. Such a durable finish can’t be achieved on floors finished on the job site.

Even with these strong advantages, pre-finished flooring has it’s disadvantages to consider as well:

  • When refinishing pre-finished flooring, it is necessary to remove a lot more wood to get a level floor, so in effect you are losing more wood, and more life of the floor in the very first refinish than with a solid 3/4″ unfinished hardwood floor.
  • Although pre-finished floors are convenient in that they install without sanding and finishing, most have a beveled edge on the wood strips which some people find unsightly. A custom sanded hardwood floor has a table-top appearance and is perfectly flat looking.
  • A pre-finished floor will maintain height irregularities of the substrate. In short, a bump in the sub floor means a bump in the pre-finished floor unless the sub floor is fixed first. Site finished flooring is sanded flat, so is more forgiving of slight irregularities or slight height variations. If your pre-finished floor gets damaged, it means ripping out a whole section of flooring and completely replacing it, to correct it, whereas site-finished hardwood flooring can, in most cases, be easily fixed with a quick sanding and finish.
  • When installing hardwood flooring, it is necessary to top nail the boards along the parameter, near walls or cabinets, to start the floor. In site finished flooring, these small nail holes are filled, then sanded and finished and usually not very visible. In pre-finished flooring, these small nail holes are filled, but not sanded – so they may be a bit more visible. While we use the manufacturer-recommended pre-finished filler, there are some floors which do not have an exact match of filler, such as stained flooring, or exotics.
  • Over time, and possibly over home-owner changes, many people don’t know or forget the actual manufacturer of their pre-finished flooring product, which makes it much more difficult to get an exact match if board replacements are necessary at some point – or if they want to add additional flooring to other rooms of the home, and they want an exact match. Additionally, some of the flooring may be discontinued in time, eliminating the availability of ordering in more if it becomes necessary to match.

Engineered hardwood flooring:

Engineered hardwood floors are more versatile as they can be installed over a wider range of sub-floors than unfinished hardwood floors. It can be floated, that is, not attached to the sub-floor, they can be installed over almost any type of sub-floor including concrete. Also, the durable coating on engineered flooring makes it more resistant to moisture and humidity, making it suitable for climatic regions with high humidity, large variations in temperature, or when the sub-floor is below grade and more prone to moisture.

Some factors to consider:

  • When refinishing engineered pre-finished hardwood flooring, it is necessary to remove a lot more wood to achieve a level floor, so you will lose more life of the floor in the first refinish than with a solid hardwood floor. Also, engineered hardwood floors are harder to clean between the cracks, as they are not sealed at the job site like unfinished hardwood floors.
  • Do you live in an area with high humidity? If so, Engineered flooring is the better option as it is more resistant to buckling and warping.
  • What type of installation technique is required? Only engineered flooring can be floated above a concrete sub floor. If the flooring is to be installed below grade, pre-finished flooring is the recommended choice.

In the end, only you can make the decision about which flooring is right for you.

CHOOSING A WOOD FLOOR

TIPS ON WHAT TO CHOOSE BASED ON YOUR STYLE & BUDGET

Wood Species: 

The most important factor in choosing a wood species is, of course, the appearance.  While the stains and finishes add variability to them, different woods can compliment modern, classic, rustic or other types of  settings. For example, maple has a more subtle, elegant look, while hickory has a more unique and “outspoken” appearance.  The experts in a fine flooring store can help you make the right choices.

There are subtle differences as well.  For example, Big Leaf Acacia features less character, with a plain grain, fewer knots and wider age circles, while the Small Leaf Acacia is full of character, with more knots and a swirling grain.  It costs more, but it makes a prettier floor.

In addition to appearance, you should also consider durability, moisture-resistance and hardness, depending on the area of the home where the flooring will be placed.  Our Small Leaf Acacia, for example has higher density, so it’s a lot harder, where Big Leaf Acacia has lower density, so it’s softer and lighter. Your in-store flooring expert can help you make the right decisions.

Exotic woods such as: Mahogany and Brazilion Cherry are popular for their appearance and are extremely durable.

Textures:

This is where your style really comes in to play . You can choose a brand new floor that has that antique worn look, or you can choose a floor that is very clean and shiny looking.  One thing to think about is to get something that is distressed because it can hide heavy use on the floor and still look amazing.

Hardness:

If you are looking for a wood species that is considered very hard and durable on its own, there are a couple of different ones you can gravitate towards such as: Maple, Oak, Hickory and a few others. Now don’t stress if you have chosen a floor that is not one of these.

The most important thing to look for when investing in a wood floor is quality of the wood and a great finish. Something to consider for a very durable floor and a great finish is choosing an Engineered wood floor. 

Width:

Most flooring is sold in planks of a single width. But today, many homeowners and designers are mixing flooring planks of different widths, achieving striking effects. Rocky Mountain variable-width flooring allows you to mix wood planks of 4, 6 and 8 inches together to create a unique and stylish look.

To compliment the scale of your rooms, you can emphasize the 5-inch and 6-inch planks in larger rooms, and 4-inch and 5-inch planks in smaller ones. You can also mix the sizes randomly and creatively for all sorts of interesting effects.  You can take advantage of the variable widths to play up architectural features of a room, such as a bay window, door, alcove or fireplace.

You can use them with modern wall colors, drapes, throws and furnishings to create a modern eclectic look. With variable-width flooring, you can let your creativity be your guide

Differences between Solid and Engineered Wood Floors:

Engineered hardwoods look exactly the same as solid wood but there are important differences.

Engineered flooring is composed of multiple cross-stacked layers. This makes it impervious to humidity and moisture, unlike a striped solid wood. It also allows for the use of longer planks- providing not only a more desirable look but also resistance to bending or bowing, as can happen with longer solid planks.

Solid planks can also suffer from expansion and contraction in changing seasons, leaving unsightly gaps, as well as “cupping” from moisture and shrinkage over a long period of time.

Engineered flooring is more flexible in application as well. It can be directly glued down on a concrete slab, stapled to a wood sub-floor, or even installed on a grade level.

As a result, engineered floors are well suited to almost every room in the house, including kitchens and dry basements, and offer superior durability in addition to uncompromising beauty.

 

Solid Wood Floors

  • Pros
  1. You can customize your floor to exactly what you want
  2. You can change the color and sand the floors whenever you like
  • Cons
  1. You have to sand and refinish every 5- 8 years depending on the traffic in your home
  2. Installation is a long process and is very messy to deal with
  3. Cost is more with having to refinish it
  4. Expands and contracts with any moisture- If you choose to get a solid wood floor make sure to have a humidifier installed in home so you can control the expansion and contracting

 

Engineered Wood Floors

  • Pros
  1. Simplifies installation & eliminates dust, chemical fumes & waiting time
  2. They usually have longer warranties since they are more durable and longer lasting
  3. Better finish is put on Engineered Wood floors so it lasts much longer
  4. It does not expand and contract. The way that is constructed and finished holds everything together so you will not have that problem along with gaps in between boards
  5. You have a pretty large selection to choose from
  • Cons
  1. You cannot customize it to exactly what you want
  2. You can refinish it only one time

 

Engineered Wood

Solid Wood

Engineered Wood