Hardwood Floor FAQs

With so many different types of hardwood out there, it can be hard to know which is the best for your home. Join us as we discuss hardwood floor FAQs.

What do species, grain, and cut mean?

Hardwood styles are the result of the wood species available. Some of the more common species are domestic red/white oak, European oak, maple, walnut, cherry, ash, hickory or pecan. Each species has its own unique personality or character dictated by its graining and textures. The graining on the boards is determined by the way it has been cut. There are two common cutting processes. “Sliced Cut” shows more uniform patterns, whereas “Rotary Peeled/Cut” displays a larger and bolder graining pattern.

What do I need to know about color and finish?

Within each species of hardwood, you will have a choice of color and finishes. Here’s where it pays to shop carefully. When selecting a color, choose one that either coordinates or contrasts with your cabinetry and furniture. Also keep in mind that darker woods tend to be more formal while natural, lighter colors tend to be more casual to rustic.

You should note there are different types of finishes depending on whether your hardwood floor is pre-finished or finished on the job site. Wire brushed hardwood can offer an old world, weathered appearance, and elegant authenticity. Craftsmen use wire bristles to open and enhance the grain, adding both texture & character. Manufacturers then sand each board to varying levels of smoothness. Sheen is also a very important characteristic of hardwood flooring. In general, lower gloss levels are better suited for active rooms (ie. Satin/Matte finish). This is because lower gloss, matte finishes help minimize the appearance of dirt and scratches. Consider the elegant look of the high gloss finish for more formal decor.

How do I maintain my new floor?

The days of having to wax and scrub your hardwood floors are pretty much gone forever. Manufacturers of prefinished wood floors have developed sophisticated techniques to quickly apply hard, durable, urethane-based finishes right at the factory. By using ultraviolet lights the prefinished wood planks can have several coats of urethane or oil applied within a matter of a few minutes. This is helping make hardwood floors both more affordable and much easier to maintain.

Recently, the prefinished flooring manufacturers have begun to add small chips of Aluminum Oxide directly to the floor’s finish which dramatically increases the life of the urethane finish.

How does the factory finish protect my floor?

Most factory-finished hardwood floors have several coats of finish applied to the wood’s surface. As an example, many wood floor companies are applying 6-10 coats of an ultra-violet (UV) cured urethane. This would be extremely difficult for someone to duplicate on a job site finish, not to mention how many days it would take. This is one of the reasons why many flooring mechanics, flooring retailers, and builders are pushing prefinished hardwood floors. Instead of taking several days to install and finish a new hardwood floor, a prefinished hardwood floor is generally done in one or two days. The UV cured urethane wood finishes do make these floors easier to maintain than the old waxed hardwood floors. We carry a variety of cleaning products suited to best maintain your specific type of hardwood.

Factory Prefinished hardwood comes in many forms:

  • UV-cured – Factory finishes that are cured with UltraViolet lights versus heat.
  • Polyurethane – A clear, tough and durable finish that is applied as a wear layer.
  • Ceramic Oxide – Advanced technology that allows the use of space-age ceramics to increase the abrasion resistance of the wear layer.
  • Aluminum Oxide – Added to the urethane finish for increased abrasion resistance of the wear layer, which is becoming extremely popular on the better grade wood floors.
  • Acrylic Impregnated – Acrylic monomers are injected into the cell structure of the wood to give increased hardness and then finished with a wear layer over the wood.

If you want a custom stained hardwood floor or a hardwood floor to match the existing solid or engineered hardwood floor, then an onsite finish may be your answer. Onsite finish means you start with a bare (unfinished) hardwood floor and then the floor is sanded, stained, and finished in the home (job site).

The other advantage of a job site finish is, if you are concerned with uneven heights between planks, the sanding process will smooth out the floor. Be warned, though, this can be quite a mess and the process does take several days.

Job-site hardwood floor finishing methods include:

  • Water-Based Urethane – Water is used as part of the chemical make-up of the polyurethane finish.
  • Solvent-Based Urethane – Oil is used as part of the chemical make-up of the polyurethane finish.

Already dreaming about your new hardwood flooring? Get a quote now.