Solid Hardwood flooring, as its name suggests, is composed of solid wood throughout, from the top all the way to the bottom. Unlike engineered wood flooring, hardwood flooring will not fall apart or delaminate.
This type of flooring is sold in either unfinished or prefinished planks. The unfinished type may be less expensive than the prefinished but will require extra labor and time to lightly sand and seal after installation.
Staining can also be done before sealing, if desired. The sealant drying time can take at least 48 hours and may take even longer.
The prefinished hardwood floor, though it has the advantage of being ready to install right away, does not offer the option of staining and sealing to specification.
It is important to take note that hardwood flooring must be nailed to a wooden subfloor and cannot be installed directly onto concrete or on top of an existing floor.
It is difficult to do this as a DIY project and it is generally recommended to engage professional floor installers.
Additionally, this type of flooring should not be installed in moist areas or in areas with high humidity such as bathrooms and basements.
Because wood flooring comes in so many degrees of soft and hard, from Douglas fir to Brazilian Walnut, it is important to determine the type of traffic the floors will be subjected to before making your choice. For example, pets, small children, regular furniture moving, etc., may require wood with a harder surface. The Janka Scale (shown below) will help you determine the degree of softness or hardness that would be best for your situation.
Although this type of flooring is prone to scratches and dents, the thickness of the planks makes it possible to re-sand them many times to bring the wood back to a pleasing appearance. That said, avoiding those scratches and dents will definitely extend the life of the floors and avoid the inconvenience of re-sanding.
The softer the wood, the less it can stand up to a lot of traffic without scratching or denting. On the other hand, it may not be necessary to pick the hardest wood, which is always more expensive. Keep in mind that the finish application of polyurethane to the softer woods can actually harden them to a degree.
THE JANKA TEST FOR HARDNESS
The Janka test measures the hardness of different types of wood. It measures the resistance of a sample of wood to denting and wear by measuring the force required to embed an 11.28 mm (.444 in) steel ball into wood to half the ball's diameter. This method leaves an indentation.
*Please note: Bamboo is technically a grass, not a wood, but is often classified as wood. Since it can be subjected to a Janka test, it is included.
Though hardwood flooring is beautiful and durable, it must be maintained and regularly cleaned to avoid the accumulation of staining or physical defects that will only get worse over time.
With proper care and caution following a proper installation, solid hardwood flooring can last a lifetime and will help to raise the resale value of a home.
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