The days of having to wax and scrub your hardwood floors are pretty much gone forever. Manufacturers of prefinished wood floors have developed sophisticated flawless techniques to quickly apply, hard, durable, urethane based finishes right at the factory. By using ultra violet lights to dry each coat the prefinished wood planks can have 6-10 coats of urethane applied within a matter of a few minutes.
Purchasing prefinished flooring saves you time and money by eliminating the mess and the added days of having to stay out of the rooms waiting for the sanding and refinishing to be completed. You can move right back in after the flooring has been installed, Maintenance is quick and easy with prefinished flooring, we recommend vacuuming the flooring using a soft bristle brush and using the manufacturers recommend spray cleaner wiping with a soft cloth.
Types of finishes used:
UV-cured – Factory finishes that are cured with Ultra Violet lights versus heat.
Polyurethane – A clear, tough and durable finish that is applied as a wear layer.
Acrylic-urethane – A slightly different chemical make up than Polyurethane with the same benefits.
Ceramic – Advanced technology that allows the use of space-age ceramics particles mixed with the urethane to increase the abrasion resistance of the wear layer.
Aluminum Oxide – Most popular – Advanced technology that allows the use of Aluminum particles mixed with the urethane for increased abrasion resistance of the wear layer.
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.
Job-site Finished Hardwood Flooring
(Unfinished wood flooring installed, sanded and refinished in your home)
If you desire a particular stain color that is not offered within the hundreds of the prefinished lines or if you want to match a particular wood flooring already installed than a job-site finish is your answer. Job-site finish means you start with a bare (unfinished) hardwood floor and than the floor is sanded, stained, and finished in the home. 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.
Types of finishes used:
Water Based Urethane – Water is used as part of the chemical make up of the polyurethane finish. Water base finishes are quick drying 2-8 hours, virtually odorless. Water base finishes do not always enhance the color of some exotic wood floor species without using a color enhanced sealer as a first coat.
Solvent Based Polyurethane – Oils are used as part of the chemical make up of the polyurethane finish. Oil based finishes take 8-24 hours dry time between coats, contain an odor that may last several days, oil base provides a thick finish film and enhances the color of any wood flooring.
Moisture Cured Urethane – Moisture cured urethane has for years been renown for its durablity which uses the moisture within the air to cure. Moisture cured urethane enhances the color of all wood flooring species, has a strong pungent odor. Difficult to work with.
Today, hardwood floor manufacturers offer many different edge styles, from square edge to a full, deeply grooved beveled edge. To help you understand the various manufacturers edge style terminology we have listed the most popular edge styles below.
Why beveled edges at all? After the milling process of the hardwood there is a possibility of minute differences to the exact thicknesses of each floorboard. Different manufactures have different milling tolerances some are more stringent than others. A beveled edge board (to whatever degree) eliminates the possibility of feeling a sharper edge that is sometimes found on square edged prefinished flooring. Slight indifference may also be felt if square edged prefinished flooring is installed over an uneven subfloor.
Is the bevel objectable? The smaller “Micron or Micro” bevel is virtually unnoticeable, as even with any square edged flooring you will see a seam between boards. Also, these Micron or Micro beveled edges are far too small to collect dust or dirt.
What Are Engineered Floors?
Engineered hardwood floors are constructed similar to that of basic plywood with the top surface being the actual hardwood. Products come in two to ten ply construction depending on the manufacturer. On the right is a general overview of three strip engineered hardwood, common with original floating floors.
Several high quality manufacturers have been offering solid sawn engineered hardwoods. Solid sawn exhibits the appearance of traditional 3/4″ solid hardwoods many of us are accustomed to.
My Builder Says It’s Junk!
Ask any craftsman, builder, or installer from the old school what they think about engineered flooring and the answers will likely be the same. Sure, there are many low priced engineered floors out there sold in places like Carpet One, Lowe’s, and smaller retail stores. They have their place and people buy the stuff in droves.
Times Have Changed With Quality
Times have changed with engineered flooring. Many manufacturers have increased the surface (also known as veneer or wear layer) layer that will result in some engineered floors lasting just as long as more traditional solid 3/4 inch flooring. One of the most important factors contributing to the longevity of any hardwood floor is the amount of refinish able material.
Solid 3/4″ hardwoods have approximately 1/4 of an inch above the tongue and groove construction. Once it is sanded to that level, nails or staples begin to appear and should be replaced. The better and thicker engineered hardwoods have 1/8 to 3/16″ of an inch above the tongue and groove. Illustration right.
More Stable Than Traditional Hardwood
Engineered floors are the ideal solution for hardwood flooring on concrete, and there are other benefits. Most recognized is the dimensional stability of the way they are constructed. Each ply layer is pressure glued and set in the opposite direction. For those that are concerned with high humidity, engineered hardwoods expand and contract little if any, opposed to solid hardwoods.
How Are They Installed?
Most engineered hardwoods are installed by the glue down or floating floor method. It’s important to note; not all engineered products have the same type of installation specifications. In other words, some may be floating, glue direct, or staple only only. Manufacturers specify installation applications for a reason, and we suggest following them.
The Length Factor..Long or Short?
Unfortunately many who purchase engineered hardwoods don’t know what they’re getting until the floor is being installed. The majority of prefinished engineered hardwoods have limits on lengths at 42 to 48 inches, opposed to most solid hardwoods at 72 to 84 inches.
Longer lengths are preferred as they offer a more appealing look on completion.
Choosing which thickness of engineered flooring is often a confusing one for consumers. Overall thickness of engineered floors will vary from 1/4″ to 9/16″ depending on what brand or manufacturer. The most common thickness seems to be 3/8″ or 1/2″ Which one to choose? As we’ve already mentioned the wear layer should be given priority in some situations. Other factors that can come into play would include adjoining types of floor covering. Ceramic tile usually finishes at 3/8″ in vertical height after thin set is applied under the tiles. For engineered hardwoods over 1/2″ in thickness prefinished moldings/thresholds can create problems in this scenario.
How Many Plies?
In general the more ply layers in construction the more stable the product will be. However, this should not be a determining factor in your selection unless you’re using the product over radiant in floor heat. You’ll find ply layers vary from two to ten with manufacturers across the board. We find the actual wear layer thickness should be given priority if you plan on living in the home for an extended period of time. On the other hand, if you don’t plan to live in the residence for more than five or ten years others can be chosen at lower costs.
Floating hardwood floors are a type of flooring that is not attached to any type of subfloor structure. Instead, there is a layer of padding that separates the floating hardwood floor from the subfloor. The presence of this padding provides a higher degree of give to the floor, which in turn provides a sense of floating when walking across the hardwood.
Originally, the floating hardwood floor was available only in what is known as a glue together design. That is, the sections of the flooring were laid on the padding and connected with the use of a strong wood glue. The glue provided a degree of strength and cohesiveness to the unsecured floor without diminishing the sense of a softer walking surface.
Today, there are other configurations for unsecured floors including hardwood floors. One popular type is known as the click together hardwood floor. With this option, the sections of the flooring are manufactured with a tongue and groove design that allows one section to easily join to one another. When properly aligned, the sections produce an audible clicking sound. The unique properties of the tongue and groove design help to give this version of the floating hardwood floor stability while still managing to provide the feeling of floating while walking through the room.
One recent innovation in a floating hardwood floor is known as the lock and fold approach. Unlike tongue and groove examples, this type of floating hardwood floor relies on the use of a design that allows the ends of the boards to be laid in an over and under pattern that joins together to form a smooth surface. The design is not unlike the closing mechanism on a zipper style plastic storage bag. The boards or sections of the flooring are placed on the padding, alternating sections with over and under connecting components. This essentially creates a situation where the fit is achieved by folding over the ends of the pieces until they slide snap into place. With the lock and fold approach, there is no need to tap the sections into place, as is often the case with tongue and groove designs.