Why Wood?
Wood flooring is timeless. It enhances the warmth of any home and complements the decor of any room. Like a fine piece of furniture, wood flooring increases in value and becomes more beautiful with time. n a national survey, 90 percent of real estate agents said that houses with wood flooring sell faster and for more money. Wood is a natural resource, renewable and recyclable. Buildings, barns, ships and other structures made of wood often find a second life in wood flooring, cabinets, walls and ceilings. And leading allergists agree that wood floors are the perfect choice for a healthy home.

The state-of-the-art technology and almost limitless choices of today's stains, finishes, styles and designs make wood flooring one of the most practical, easy-care and versatile floor coverings today. Maintained properly, wood flooring should never have to be replaced.

[Choices for Wood Flooring] [Species of Wood]
[Custom Wood Flooring] [Wood Floor Finishes]


Choices for Wood Flooring
Wood flooring is available in a number of sizes and make-ups, each offering its own distinct advantages. People are often surprised by the limitless choices that wood flooring affords them. Today's wood flooring is right for virtually every room. Choosing the right kind and style of wood flooring is not hard if you are familiar with several industry terms.

Choice #1: Unfinished wood flooring: Unfinished flooring is a product that must be job-site sanded and finished after installation.

Choice #2: Pre-finished wood flooring: Pre-finished flooring is factory sanded and finished flooring that only needs installation.

Choice #3: Solid wood flooring: Solid wood flooring is completely lumber. It is available in unfinished and pre-finished.
Solid wood flooring is produced in:
Strip - in thicknesses of 5/16" to 3/4" in widths of 1 1/2, 2" and 2 1/4"
Plank - in thicknesses of 1/2" or 3/4" and widths of 3" to 8" Parquet - geometrical patterns composed of individual wood slats held in place by mechanical fastening or an adhesive

Choice #4: Engineered wood flooring: Laminate wood flooring is produced by bonding layers of veneer and lumber with an adhesive. Laminate wood flooring is available in pre-finished and unfinished. These products are more dimensionally stable and are ideal for glue-down installation or float-in installation above grade, on grade or below grade, including basements and humid climates
Laminate wood flooring is produced in:
Strip - thicknesses of 5/16", 3/8", 1/2" or 5/8" and in widths of 2" and 2 1/4"
Plank - thicknesses of 5/16", 3/8", 1/2" or 5/8" and in widths of 3" to 8"
Parquet - one-piece wood tile available in 9" x 9" or 8" x 8" and other patterns

Choice #5: Acrylic impregnated wood flooring: Acrylic impregnated is a pre-finished wood flooring product. Through a high-pressure treatment, acrylic and color are forced into the pores throughout the thickness of the wood. The "finish" is inside the wood, creating an extremely hard surface. These floors are highly resistant to abrasion and moisture and appeal most often to commercial customers but are also used residentially. Acrylic impregnated floors are available in the same styles as laminate floors.

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Species of Wood

There are many wood flooring species, domestic and imported, available to the consumer today. The following chart reveals the relative hardness of some of the most common species used for wood flooring. The harder the wood, the less susceptible it is to denting. The appearance of the wood determines how it is "graded." All grades are equally strong and serviceable, yet afford the consumer different looks.

Oak and ash have four basic grades.
"Clear" is free of defects though it may have minor imperfections.
"Select" is almost clear, but contains more natural characteristics such as knots and color variations.
"Common" grades (No. 1 and No. 2) have more markings than either clear or select and are often chosen because of these natural features and the character they bring to a room.
No. 1 Common has a variegated appearance, light and dark colors, knots, flags and worm holes.
No 2 Common is rustic in appearance and allow all wood characteristics of the species.

Hard maple, beech, birch and pecan have three grades:
"First" has the best appearance, natural color variations and limited character marks.
"Second" is variegated in appearance with varying sound wood characteristics of species.
"Third" is rustic in appearance allowing all wood characteristics of the species.

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Custom Wood Floors
Wood flooring can be enhanced with something as simple as a strip border around the perimeter of the room or as ornate as a coat of arms in a foyer or a great room. Custom designs can give a homeowner a "one-of-a-kind" floor and are a wonderful way to put a splash of personality and individual character in a home.

Mixed Media - By combining wood with several different media such as slate, stone, marble, metal or ceramic tile, floor designs and patterns come to life. Adding detail with paint is another alternative. Designs properly applied will enhance and differentiate any wood floor. Use a solid gloss or semi-gloss paint to make stripes, checkerboards, stenciled borders or even flower or animal scenes. The paint must be compatible with the finish and the floor must have two coats of finish over the paint.

Mixing Species - Mixing wood species is another way to create contrast in wood flooring. Oak is not the only wood type being used today. Maple, birch, walnut, Brazilian cherry, mahogany, ash and many other species offer unique grain and color specs.

Affordable Custom Floors - A floor refinisher can use different wood stains to create fool-the-eye inlays, pinstripes or borders. A simple brass inlay around a fire place is a cost-effective way to add that value-added touch. Or ready-to-lay, prefabricated wood tiles with medallions, star bursts and elaborate borders are available through wood flooring dealers. These prefabricated tiles allow homeowners to mix and match to create their own patterns and designs.

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Wood Floor Finishes
Lasting beauty requires minimal care with today's wood floor finishes. The right finish protects wood flooring from wear, dirt and moisture while giving the wood an attractive color and sheen. Today most wood floors are finished with a stain and a top coat. Technology has provided a wide selection of wood flooring finishes, each with its own distinct benefits and appearances.

Surface Finishes - Surface finishes are very popular today because they are durable, water-resistant and require minimal maintenance. Surface finishes are blends of synthetic resins. These finishes most often referred to as urethanes or polyurethanes remain on the surface of the wood and form a protective coating. They are generally available in high-gloss, semi-gloss, satin and matte. Any one of the surface finishes are appropriate for the kitchen. There are basically four types of surface finishes:
1. Oil-modified urethane is easy to apply. It is a solvent-base polyurethane that dries in about eight hours. This type of finish ambers with age.
2. Moisture-cured urethane is a solvent-base polyurethane that is more durable and more moisture resistant than other surface finishes. Moisture-cured urethane comes in non-yellowing and in ambering types and is generally available in satin or gloss. These finishes are extremely difficult to apply, have a strong odor and are best left to the professional.
3. Conversion varnish is clear and dries in about 8 hours. It is durable and non-yellowing. These finishes have an extremely strong odor and should be applied by the highly skilled wood flooring professional.
4. Water-based urethane is a waterborne urethane that dries by water evaporation. These finishes are clear and non-yellowing. They have a milder odor and dry in about two to three hours.

Penetrating Stain and Wax - This finish soaks into the pores of the wood and hardens to form a protective penetrating seal. The wax gives a low-gloss satin sheen. It is generally maintained with additional thin applications of wax. Only solvent-based (never water-based) waxes, buffing pastes or cleaning liquids (specifically made for wax-finished, wood floors) should be used.

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