Hardwood Floors – The Basic Types – Should You Hire A Hardwood Floor Contractor?

Most everyone appreciates the warmth of a natural hardwood floor. Today they come in many colors and there are more species than in the past. With the right care and proper treatment they can last a long time, even a lifetime as many people with these homes have attested to.

Hardwood floors are natural and non-allergenic. They can greatly add to the appeal and value of your home.

The three basic types of hardwood floors are solid, longstrip and engineered.

Firstly, solid wood floors, both prefinished and unfinished are cut from a tree as a solid piece. They will react to even subtle changes in the humidity. It’s recommended for any above the grade installations. It can nail down to a sub-type floor that is made of wood. Any solid wood needs the proper room along vertical walls for expansion however.

The second type of wood is longstrip. Longstrip is a pre-finished engineered wood floor. It usually consists of three plies of wood that are laminated to each other. The planks are about 8 inches wide by 8 feet long. They can be glued, floated, stapled or nailed down on any grade level.

Some companies make glueless type planks with no nails or glue needed. They can be installed on wood subfloors, on concrete slabs or floated over various types of floors. If you plan to do-it-yourself, rather than hire a hardwood floor contractor, then this would be a good type of floor for you to install.

The third type of floor is an engineered wood floor. They can be either prefinished or unfinished. A prefinished floor consists of several wood plies laminated together. What is called a top finish veneer may be either domestic or an exotic wood species.

The plank widths can vary from 2 1/4″ to approximately 7″. The planks can be glued, floated, stapled or nailed down on all levels of the grade. They are dimensionally stable and most can be fitted to any vertical walls. Changes in humidity do not affect this wood so it is good for high humidity homes or areas of the country. It can be used either over wood subfloors or dry concrete slabs.

Hardwood floors come either unfinished or prefinished.

When the first type – unfinished hardwood floors or job-site finished – is used you can finish the floor smooth. It comes in custom stained colors too which makes it more versatile than other flooring. It usually takes at least two to three coats of stains that need to be added to the finish. This can be a difficult process and quite messy too. It will take several days from start to finish.

The second type is pre-finished hardwood floors, which are also called factory finished. It generally installs in less than 8-10 hours. It doesn’t make as much of a mess on the site as the unfinished. You’re limited to the manufacturer’s colors however. There can be 6-11 coats of finish applied by the manufacturer. The finishes from the factory are very wear- resistant. Some of the pre-finished wood manufacturers add aluminum oxide to the final process for additional durability. They are much easier to care for than the old waxed finishes. Be aware that the prefinished trims may not be an exact match to the floor though.

The above basics may help you make a decision on which type of floor would be best for you and your home and whether or not you should do-it-yourself or hire a hardwood floor contractor.