Different types of wood flooring you should know about

July 27, 2015

There are many different flooring options available and it can be difficult to find one that will fit your home perfectly. Here's what you need to know about wooden flooring before you make your choice.

Different types of wood flooring you should know about

Know your wooden floor

Prized for its beauty, resilience and warmth of colour, wood flooring is often regarded as a high-maintenance choice, particularly high-gloss hardwoods. But attitudes are changing as new finishes have been developed to make wood a more carefree option.

  • Today's wood flooring is available in a number of sizes and makeups, each offering unique advantages.
  • Most often, the flooring is produced from the class of dense-grained woods known as hardwood. Among the family of hardwoods, oak is the most commonly selected species because it is widely available, very receptive to staining and extremely durable. If well cared for, it will last over many lifetimes.
  • Other, less commonly used, hardwoods for flooring include maple, walnut, hickory, pecan and ash.
  • Softwoods, as the name implies, present a floor surface that is more readily scarred and dented than hardwoods. Of the softwoods, pine is the primary choice for flooring.

Grading and types you should know

Every species of wood is graded — and priced — according to standards that are recognized industry-wide.

  • Oak and ash have four grades. The highest is "Clear," which designates wood with uniform grain patterns and no knots or blemishes to mar a formal floor. Following in descending order of quality are "Select," "No. 1 common," and "No. 2 common," the last displaying considerable irregularities but still potentially handsome in a rustic setting, if finished well.
  • Hard maple, beech, birch and pecan are sold in just three grades: "First," "Second," and "Third."
  • Because flooring is a major investment and mistakes can be costly, consider having a professional lay any new wood floor.

Solid-wood flooring: the dimensions

Solid-wood flooring is produced in strips, planks and parquet, and in unfinished and prefinished versions.

  • The strips are milled in thicknesses of .1 to 1.5 centimetre (3⁄8 to 3⁄4 inch) and in widths from 2.5 to 7.5 centimetres (one to three inches); the planks, in similar thicknesses and widths of 7.5 to 18 centimetres (three to seven inches).

The benefits of laminated-wood flooring

Laminated-wood flooring is produced by bonding a thin veneer of hardwood over rigid plywood.

  • It is less expensive than hardwood flooring, and it also offers the advantage of being more stable dimensionally in high-humidity installations, such as below-grade basement rooms, because of its engineered construction.
  • Another plus is the fact that it can be installed (floated) over a foam underlayment without nailing. Or it can be glued down to a concrete slab.
  • Due to the thinness of the veneer, however, laminated wood does not lend itself to repeated sanding and refinishing.
  • Like solid-wood flooring, it comes both unfinished and factory-finished and in several grades and sizes.

Consider something new: acrylic-impregnated wood flooring

Acrylic-impregnated wood flooring is a relatively new wood flooring product.

  • Prefinished in the factory, acrylic and colour are driven deep into the grain under high pressure, creating an extremely hard finish that is highly resistant to abrasion and moisture.

Decorate your floor with parquet flooring

Parquet is a specialty product favoured for somewhat more formal floors. Once an extravagance of the very rich, it involves dozens if not hundreds of small wood slats or tiles, often of many-hued dark and light tones.

  • In earlier times, the intricate geometric patterns of parquet had to be painstakingly cut and installed by skilled specialists. Today, similar patterns can be found in factory-cut and prefinished versions.
  • Use them to cover an entire floor or to create a decorative border around an otherwise plain hardwood floor.
  • While the more elaborate and expensive parquets should be installed by a professional, do-it-yourselfers can lay, tile-fashion, the less expensive (and less durable) adhesive-backed squares.
  • Precut and prefinished blocks, sometimes referred to as "finger" parquet, are another option.

Finding the flooring that that will fit your home doesn't have to be complicated. Check out these tips to get a better understanding of what you're looking for.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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