Hardwood Floors 101
Hardwood floors can be installed anywhere in a home and can be prepared from several species of wood such as elm, ash, oak, amendoim, cypress, teak, cherry, walnut, rosewood, hickory, and maple. The hardness, stability, color, and alterations in color vary with wood type. Chestnut, Douglas fir, and North American Cherry offer low hardness whereas hardwood from Brazilian Walnut, Caribbean Cherry, and Bloodwood is extremely hard. The stability of hardwood flooring has an inverse relation with the moisture inherent in the wood and is independent of the engineering. The appearance of unfinished hardwood flooring plays an important role in the grading process. The commonly assigned grades to hardwood flooring include clear, select, common 1, common 2, grade 1, grade 2, and grade 3.
Hardwood flooring enhances the look of a room and when laid in harmony with the furniture and other elements in the interior design of a room, it bestows an elegance that synthetic flooring is unable to match. Hardwood flooring can be installed using the following methods: Nail Down: Nails are used to attach hardwood to the subfloor either on grade or above grade. Nails are usually used for hardwood with a thickness of 3/4”. Staple Down: Nails can be substituted with a pneumatic stapler for attaching the hardwood to the subfloor. Stapling is easier to accomplish as compared to nailing and is therefore favored by DIY enthusiasts.
Glue Down: Patterned wood panels or parquets can be glued to the subfloor on, above, or below grade. The subfloor can be either wooden or concrete. Floating: Engineered and Longstrip floors can be installed using the floating process in which a pad of foam is placed between the floors and the subfloor. The hardwood boards are held in place by means of adhesive that is applied in the tongue and groove portion of each board. Floating enables the installation of hardwood on uneven surfaces. Hardwood flooring is easy to maintain and the following guidelines should help homeowners to ensure the beauty and longevity of their hardwood flooring. • The flooring must be swept and vacuumed regularly to prevent the accumulation of dust that may scratch the finish • Doormats and rugs at entrances prevent sand particles from abrading the hardwood flooring • Furniture and chairs should have padding on the legs in order to prevent scratching the floor while dragging/moving furniture • The dimensions of hardwood flooring are liable to change with humidity; a relative humidity of around 45% should be maintained all year round • A rug or mat should be placed in front of workstations, washbasins, kitchen sinks in order to prevent scratching and staining from utensils, detergents, and water • Hardwood flooring should be protected from direct light, whether natural or artificial. Intense direct light can lead to discoloration of the floor Hardwood floorings can be treated with surface finishes that lend it a gloss, increase resilience, and make it water-resistant. The finishes consist of urethanes and polyurethanes. A hardwood floor with a surface finish does not require waxing.
Wax finishes penetrate the cells of the wood and offer a low-gloss finish. Periodic buffing helps to restore the sheen of wax-finished floors. Hardwood flooring used in areas of high traffic such as stores and restaurants are impregnated with acrylic finishes that increase its hardness and durability.