You’ve decided on wood floors for your home, and you’re not sure what your next step is. These 8 questions will help you evaluate your options so you select the wood flooring solution that’s right for you.
They come from Classique Floors + Tile’s extensive experience helping customers like you find the perfect wood floor.
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1. What types of wood flooring are available at Classique Floors + Tile?
When you visit Classique Floors + Tile, you will find the following wood flooring options:
- Solid wood floors that are pre-finished
- Solid wood floors that are sanded and finished on site, in your home
- Engineered wood floors that are pre-finished
Solid Hardwood Flooring
Solid wood flooring consists of solid pieces of wood from top to bottom generally 3/4” in thickness.
Although solid hardwood can be sanded and finished within the home, it is also available pre-finished. Pre-finished hardwood is sanded and finish coats are applied in the factory under factory controlled conditions.
You’ll find hardwood floors used in any room that is above grade (above ground). What makes hardwood flooring such a long-term investment is that it can be sanded and refinished several times depending on how much wood is removed with each sanding, and down to the tongue and groove.
Engineered Hardwood Floors
Engineered wood floors are manufactured using multiple layers of real wood. The top layer or decorative layer is what you see on your floors. The layers beneath can be of the same or different species. It can be installed on any level of your home, including the basement.
What makes engineered wood flooring versatile and so dimensionally stable is that the grain of each layer runs perpendicular to the one above. This means that the floor will expand and contract less than solid wood flooring during fluctuations in humidity and temperature.
Engineered floors can be nailed or stapled to a wood subfloor, or glued down to a wood or concrete subfloor.
Engineered flooring may or may not be sanded and refinished like solid hardwood floors depending on the thickness of the wearlayer. If the wearlayer goes all the way down to the tongue and groove, you can sand and refinish it as many times as you would solid hardwood.
2. Solid Hardwood or Engineered Wood: Which is better for your home?
Three considerations help to answer this question:
- Will the wood floor be installed below or above ground (or grade)? Solid hardwood can’t be installed below grade, whereas engineered hardwood can.
- How much moisture will the floor be exposed to? If you have a basement with a serious moisture problem, you may not be able to use hardwood floors.
- Are you planning on having radiant flooring, too? If yes, consider engineered wood floors since solid hardwood can’t be installed over radiant heating.
3. Which species of wood is best?
When it comes to which wood species is best for you, you’ll want to consider durability as well as your personal preferences. From there, you can select the finish you prefer.
How hard a wood should you select? Use the Janka scale.
Durability goes hand-in-hand with hardness. The harder the wood, the better it will withstand high traffic, pets’ claws, kids playing, etc. To determine the hardness of a wood species, use the Janka scale. Select one that matches how active a lifestyle your floors will see.
Be aware that the Janka test results represent an average; the same species of wood with vastly different growing conditions may have different hardness levels.
Wood species come in light, medium and dark
Once you have determined how hard a wood species you need, you can then select the wood look you prefer:
- Light woods like ash or maple generally make rooms look more open.
- Medium woods like hickory or oak generally create a warm and cozy feel.
- Dark woods like walnut or mahogany generally look more formal; they also show the most lint and dust.
Wood Flooring is graded
Wood Floor Finishes
The finish on your wood floor is also a matter of preference.
- Gloss finishes offer the most shine, and reflect the most light.
- Semi-gloss finishes offer some shine, and reflect some light.
- Satin or matte finishes offer the least shine, and reflect the least light.
Generally, a satin or matte finish is less likely to show small scratches and normal wear whereas a high gloss tends to show everything including bare footprints and dust!
All levels of shine provide your floors with similar protection.
4. Factory-finished wood flooring or site-finished: which is better?
A site-finished wood installation offers the highest level of customization. You choose the type of finish to be applied to your floor, as well as the stain, if any, and sheen or gloss level of the final product.
At the same time, since the floors will be sanded and finished in your home, you will need to live through noise, dust, and some disruption to your home. Not to mention that you will need to allow time for the finish to dry on-site, during which time you won’t be able to walk on your floor. Some of our customers choose to have this type of work performed while they’re out of the house (perhaps a vacation is in order?).
With factory-finished wood floors, the finish is applied at the factory, long before it reaches your home. While you have many options to choose from with factory finished floors, you won’t have the same level of customization as with a job-site finished wood floor.
A major benefit of factory finished floors, however, is that there is minimal dust and noise during the installation process and the installation goes a lot faster. You will also be able to walk on your floors immediately after they are installed. Factory finished floors are finished under controlled conditions meaning that the temperature and humidity is just right for the flooring to be sanded and for the finish to cure.
5. How much wood flooring will you need to order?
Determining what you need is relatively easy. Measure the dimensions of the room in which you’ll be installing the floor and multiply the length by the width to get the total square footage. To that, add about 10% more to cover unexpected situations (e.g., boards that come damaged or become damaged during installation) and to have some extra in case you need to make a repair in the future.
However, it gets more complicated if the project involves working around stairs, fireplaces, bay windows or even closets.
Your Classique project consultant will help you calculate the square footage needed for your project.
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6. What about matching molding and trim?
Whether you select solid wood floors or engineered wood floors, your installation may require trim moldings.
If your installation is a floating floor, it will require expansion gaps. That refers to a small space around the perimeter of the floor to allow the floor to expand and contract as the temperature changes throughout the year. Matching molding, trim and transition pieces cover that space and finish the overall project.
Your Classique project consultant will review how much molding and trim you will need for your project when he or she measures your space and reviews with you the overall project.
7. How long after ordering your wood floors will it take before they are installed?
That depends. Site-finished floors take longer to install than factory-finished floors which don’t need finish applied on site.
When wood floors are site-finished, they receive multiple finish coats, with sanding between each coat, and thorough drying before you can start using your floors.
An important consideration for both pre-finished and floors finished in your home is acclimation whereby the wood adapts fully to the temperature and overall humidity of your home environment before the project beings. This can take several days or as long as a week.
Another consideration is the condition of the subfloor your floors will be installed on. If the subfloor is damaged, it will need to be repaired before you can install hardwood floors. If the subfloor has moisture issues, you’ll need to address that first, as well as if the subfloor isn’t flat.
Finally, before installation, you’ll want to confirm the following:
- Who can help you dispose of your old flooring?
- Who is responsible for moving the furniture and clearing the room?
- Who can address doors and door jambs that might need to be undercut if there are height differences between your old and new floors?
- What about electrical or gas appliances – do you need to contact an electrician or plumber? Will you still be able to pull out a refrigerator or a dishwasher if you ever need to service them?
Your Classique project consultant will review each of these questions and situations with you.
8. How to care for and maintain your new wood floors?
The best way to care for and maintain your new wood floors so they look beautiful for years to come is to follow these recommendations.
Clean your wood floors regularly.
All hardwood floors should be cleaned regularly by simply sweeping, dust mopping or vacuuming the floors with the beater bar turned off to remove dirt and grit from between the floor boards. Don’t use a wet mop or steam mop; water and steam can dull the finish, and even damage the wood over long periods of time.
Welcome mats protect floors from the outside
It’s a good idea to place throw rugs at all of your entrances. That’s the most effective way to protect your floors from outside elements and prevent dirt and grit from getting onto your wood floors and scratching them. Clean, or replace, the entrance rugs regularly. Add protector or glider pads to the bottom of chair legs.
Managing pet scratches on wood
If you have pets, in addition to welcome mats by the door and scatter rugs around the house, be diligent about trimming their nails regularly (consider creating a Google reminder for yourself to do so).
In the same vein, avoid walking on your beautiful floors with spiky high heels or sports cleats. They, too, can scratch the finish or even dent the wood. (See Pressure Under High Heels.)
Wipe spills up quickly!
When spills occur, wipe them up immediately with a dry or slightly damp cloth. The longer the spill stays on your wood floors, the more likely it is to damage the finish, and possibly even the wood.
Use the recommended wood flooring cleaner
When you notice that your floors begin to look dull, consider using a cleaner specific to your wood flooring, ideally one that Classique Floors + Tile recommends. Follow the product directions so as not to damage the finish or the wood.
Your wood floors over time
Depending on the wood species you choose, you may notice color changes over time – similar to the skin becoming “sun-kissed” – especially if your floors are exposed to sunshine or if the finish used on your floors is oil-modified.
Ready to shop Classique Floors + Tile and pick the perfect wood flooring?
We invite you to visit our Portland, Oregon showroom to explore the many flooring options we carry. We think you’ll find the perfect flooring for your home.
And schedule an in-home project assessment. Your Classique project consultant will guide you through everything from initial estimate to product selection to final installation, answering all your questions.
You’ll be delighted. We promise.
Thanks for reading,