From Forest to Hardwood Flooring: How is it Made?
Cutting the trees in the forest, straightening the planks, varnishing the wood? NO
By Ingrid M. Gentiles, Old World Floors, Scottsdale LIVING WELL Magazine
From the day human beings began to build shelters, boats and houses, wood has been an integral part of the construction. In North America, the wood that is used for construction work is known as lumber. The term lumber elsewhere refers to cut down trees, while the term timber is for ready-to-use sawn planks. Woods that are cut into straight planks are made into wood flooring. These hardwood floors are mostly manufactured from white oak, red oak, white ash, oak, pecan, and maple or hickory trees. Hardwood flooring has three types: solid, engineered and longstrip plank.
Solid hardwood flooring comes in many styles and dimensions. Each plank of solid wood is derived from a single piece of timber. Solid wood is cut in three styles: flat, quarter and rift-sawn. Solid wood floors are generally manufactured at ¾” thick with tongue-and-groove sides. On the other hand, solid wood that is quarter-sawn and rift-sawn uses only one side of the wood for flooring, but both sides have the same appearance.
The great thing about solid wood floors is that throughout their lifespan, they can be recoated and refinished several times. Some of us don’t know this, but solid hardwood flooring is an organic product. Since it is organic and not engineered, the hardwood floors respond to moisture when the seasons change. When it is summer and humid outside, the solid wood floors may expand, and gaps between the boards may disappear. Too much moisture is not good as this may cause the planks to clasp. When it is cold outside and heat is only on the inside, the wood may contract and will leave gaps in-between the planks. It is very important to leave proper dimension space when installing the solid wood floors. Because of this sensitivity to moisture and temperature, it is not recommended to install solid wood floors directly over concrete.
If you have already decided to choose solid wood flooring for your home, we strongly recommend you have it professionally installed.
Engineered wood is also known as man-made wood, composite, or manufactured wood. Engineered wood products are derived from a range of wood products that are manufactured by fastening the fibers, strands, particles and veneers of wood. They are bound together with adhesives to form composite materials. These products are what you call engineered, because besides being man-made, they have also been designed to accurate specifications, which are carefully calculated for testing and meeting national or international standards. Engineered wood is available in a wide variety of sizes, grades, thicknesses and durabilities. These wood products offer more design options without sacrificing structural requirements, thus it is easy to work with engineered wood panels using only basic carpentry skills and ordinary tools. Engineered floors range from ¼” to 9/16” thickness and from 2 ¼” to 7” in width. The width of customized wood floor planks can be 3”, 5” or 7”. They are nailed down, and fastened or floated over subfloors and existing floors. Engineered floors also provide the natural beauty of the wood and can be finished with paints, stains and varnishes. Engineered wood floorings are more prone to humidity than solid woods, and are not appropriate for outdoor use because they readily soak up moisture and water.
Longstrip wood floors are manufactured from three wood plies that are glued together. The center layer is made of softer wood material that is used for the tongue and groove. A selected wood is then fastened on top of the center layer, and a softer wood is used on the bottom layer to form the finished ply. Longstrip planks are approximately 86” in length and 7 ½” in width. Longstrip usually have the visual effect of installing three (3) rows of wood pieces when it is actually only one plank that has been pre-assembled. It is mainly designed for floating installation, but it can also be installed over subfloors with concrete slabs and with hard surface existing floors. One of the advantages of using longstrip wood flooring is that they can be used on radiant heated slabs and on temperature controlled heated sub floors.
Some wood flooring manufacturers today are offering longstrip wood floors with a glueless, floating installation system that is ideal for those who are into do-it-yourself installation.
For more information about hardwood flooring, contact us at 480-233-4273 or visit www.oldworldfloors.net.