Solid hardwood floors are generally about a ¾” thick plank that is 2 ¼” – 5” wide.
This is the classic strip wood floor, although it is possible to find a narrower width or a slightly thinner gage. The strips are generally in random lengths from 12” – 24”.
The most common wood species used for solid strip floors are red oak, white oak, maple, cherry, white ash, hickory or pecan.
The three common types of wood floors are Solid, Engineered and Longstrip plank.
Solid wood floors are one solid piece of wood that have tongue and groove sides. When we talk about solid wood floors, we tend to think of floors that are unfinished, but it’s important to know that there are also many pre-finished ¾” solid wood floors.
Solid wood floors are sensitive to moisture therefore are used in nail down installations and are not recommended for installation below ground level, or directly over a concrete slab.
The good news is that these floors can be refinished, or recoated several times which adds to their appeal and to their long life in your home.
When installing a solid strip floor it is important to leave the proper expansion area around the perimeter and to acclimate the wood prior to installation. This will help assure a lasting, beautiful application.
Oak and Hickory are commonly used for solid unfinished wood floors and there are several different qualities of oak for you to choose from.
These qualities are clear, select and better, #1 common, and #2 common or character grade oak.
Clear oak has no visual blemishes or knots and is extremely expensive. While the select and better quality has some small knots and very little dark graining.
The #1 common and #2 common or character grades have more knots and more dark graining. So be aware of that when buying an unfinished solid oak floor and make sure you know which quality of wood you are buying.
Engineered wood floors are generally manufactured with several layers or plies of wood with a hardwood finish on top.
These wood plies are stacked on top of each other but in the opposite directions. This is called cross-ply construction which creates a wood floor that is dimensionally stable and less affected by moisture than a 3/4“solid wood floor.
The advantage of cross-ply construction allows the plies to counteract each other which will stop the plank from growing or shrinking with the changes in humidity.
These floors may be installed over concrete slabs in your basement as well as anywhere else in your home.
Most engineered floors can be nailed down, stapled, glued down, or floated over a wide variety of subfloors, including some types of existing flooring.
Engineered floors will range from 3/8” to 9/16” in thickness and vary from 2 ¼” to 7” in width. The widths can also be mixed, such as 3-5-7 inch planks installed side by side. By varying the board widths you can change the total appearance of the floor and create a truly custom look for your home. The lengths will be random and range from 12” in length.
Engineered floors are available in both unfinished as well as pre-finished. Many can be re-coated or refinished.