Species & Grades
CATEGORIES OF WOOD
Wood can be divided into several categories, plank, laminate, engineered, strip and parquet. The type that is most appropriate for your application depends on several criteria.
Plank is a solid material that must be nailed into place, and so must have a wooden sub-floor. Plank can be re-sanded several times in the life of the wood and can expect to last many years.
Parquet is also solid material, however normally somewhat thinner than plank and is characterized by many small pieces put together to create a design. This material is often glues into place and can also be sanded many times in the life of the wood.
Strip flooring is typical in many older homes and is quite thin, while still maintaining the solid characteristics of wood. It can’t be sanded as many times, but often it’s what you will find if you pull up the carpets in your older home.
Engineered floors combine a thin top of real wood (usually around 1/8”) with the stability of a man-made sub-structure. While it can be re-sanded 4 or 5 times in the life of the wood, the main benefit of engineered flooring is it’s stable and consistent nature, resisting the environmental instability issues that may make it shrink or expand. This product is great for concrete applications and looks like a plank floor.
Laminate flooring is basically a picture of wood on a compressed backing. Moisture and humidity are it’s worst enemy, and typically this product will not last. While we don’t endorse the use of engineered flooring widely, it is beneficial for some limited specific applications.
Choosing your wood floor is not only about the appearance of the wood you choose, but what species is best for your application. Your choices range from traditional oak to modern maple and edgy bamboo. Choosing a floor can be a reflection of your personal style, it can transform the era of your home, or it can tie into existing elements.
Wood is a dynamic medium and like all natural products, it responds to the environment and changes over time. Some woods will react more strongly to changes in humidity and the drying effects of heat, causing greater expansion and contraction changes. This movement resulting from your homes’ temperature and humidity changes is referred to as the woods’ stability. A wood that is less stable simple requires that the environment within your home, be more closely monitored to control for temperature and humidity fluctuations.
The grade of certain flooring refers to its clarity and what part of the tree it is cut from. A higher grade of wood will show less mineral streaks (an accumulation of mineral matter introduced by sap flow, causing an unnatural color ranging from greenish brown to black), worm holes (a small hole made by a wood-boring insect), splits and milling defects, knots, and light and dark boards. In short, a higher grade of wood offers a more consistent color, has fewer natural markings, has less damaged boards and typically has an overall clearer appearance. This does not mean that a high grade is appropriate for every application. Some homeowners desire a more rustic feel or country flair, and this is the reason for lower grades of flooring offering more variety in board color, knots, worm holes and general character. Wood varies from the most clear to the most knotty and rustic, with many available variations in between.
The usual grades of flooring are clear, select, number one common, number two common and tavern grade. Each manufacturer may have a slightly different definition for each of these grades or a slightly different name, so it’s important to see a sample of the wood you are choosing. In addition, the lower grades of flooring are not often offered in prefinished flooring so confirm what is available before you decide definitely on your floor.
Aside from the specifics of your wood choice, you have other options when it comes to your wood floor. Some prefinished flooring has a ‘scraped’ or more rustic appearance and there is always the option to distress your floor when it is installed. Depending on your style and décor, the options are limitless, so be sure to ask about how to best personalize your floor.