Guide to Hard­wood Floors

Modern Pioneer - - Varnish -

There are en­tire books de­voted to the sub­ject, some that try to sell you on a cer­tain type of hard­wood, some that don’t. Here is a nonon­sense guide on what to look out for when se­lect­ing hard­wood.

Solid vs. En­gi­neered

Solid hard­wood is nat­u­rally made of any num­ber of tree species. En­gi­neered hard­wood is made of mul­ti­ple lay­ers of ply­wood with a thin, solid hard­wood top layer.

Un­der­stand that if you’re lay­ing floor­ing over ra­di­ant heat, you can’t use solid hard­wood: It will dry and shrink, and even split in some cases. There’s noth­ing wrong with an en­gi­neered floor, so use what’s best for your home. If you want the nat­u­ral beauty of solid hard­wood, go for it. If you’re lay­ing down a floor for a base­ment, save some money and go with en­gi­neered.

Species and Hard­ness

Ash, elm, alder, maple, cherry, beech, lin­den, hick­ory, white oak, tiger­wood, north­ern red oak; the list of suit­able hard­woods for floor­ing is long. While you should com­pare nu­mer­ous at­tributes be­fore se­lect­ing hard­wood, hard­ness is a chief con­sid­er­a­tion. On the right is a chart found in the United States De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s Wood Hand­book that mea­sures the rel­a­tive hard­ness of var­i­ous woods. It uses the Janka scale of hard­ness, which mea­sures the force re­quired, in pounds, to em­bed an 11.28mm steel ball into each wood to half of the ball’s di­am­e­ter.

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