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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. In general, however, there three common types of hardwood flooring are available – 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. Their advantage though is that they may be refinished and recoated several times throughout their lifespan — which can be ten years or more.
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Since it’s an natural product, hardwood flooring can contract or expand, depending on moisture changes from season to season. When it’s cold outside and warm inside, the wood may contract, sometimes leading to gaps between planks.
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As summer begins and humidity rises, wood floors can also expand, those gaps magically disappearing! 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 plenty of qualities for your choosing — be careful what you buy. Clear oak, like a flawless diamond, is blemish and knot-free, making it very expensive. The cost can be lowered if you choose select oak or better oak, which are both with small visible knots, a tiny bit of dark graining maybe, and loads of character! Engineered Hardwood Flooring In certain areas of the home where solid hardwood is not advised, engineered wood flooring may be suitable. 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. Versatility is another advantage of engineered hardwood. It can be installed almost anywhere, even above wood sub-floors and concrete slabs or in a basement. Longstrip Hardwood Flooring Longstrip hardwood floors are actually engineered floors, but the top, finish layer is made up of many thinner wood plies that are glued together, making a single plank. You will typically find at the center of a longstrip plank a softer wood material, which is used in making the tongue and groove. The top layer may be nearly any hardwood specie and is made of tinier individual pieces that are usually laid in two or three rows. Longstrip planks can be used on any grade level and over many different types of subfloors.