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hardwood floor

Updated on August 20, 2007
A Common Hardwood Floor.  Wood flooring can be made from a variety of timbers including pine and spruce.
A Common Hardwood Floor. Wood flooring can be made from a variety of timbers including pine and spruce.

Hardwood Flooring

Wood flooring is an age-old method of flooring which utilizes timber taken from hardwoods, spruce or hard pine. The price of wood flooring varies greatly, depending on the type of timber, the quality of the timber, and whether or not the timber has been pre-finished, or will require sanding after installation. In recent years, finding raw wood flooring is becoming increasingly rare. Manufacturers of wood flooring are beginning to make pre-finished flooring standard.

Pre-finished wood flooring is often finished with a polyurethane finish that has added aluminum oxide. Some companies prefer to utilize titanium dioxide instead. Aluminum oxide is a decent thermal insulator and electrical insulator. Alumium oxide is used to assist the wood flooring in keeping heat from seeping through the floor, and to prevent cold air from seeping in. Aluminum oxide also greatly increases the flooring's resistance to weathering.

Titanium oxide is a naturally occuring oxide of titanium, which is often called titanium white given it's color. Titanium oxide is used in a wide range of applications, from paint, sunscreen, food coloring and of course, wood flooring. From a safety stand-point, the titanium and aluminum oxides used in pre-finished wood flooring are harmless. Both will allow to floor to last longer, while recieving more abuse.

Types of Wood Flooring

There are two main types of wood flooring. Both of these types of wood flooring have pro's and con's. Read about both of these types of floors to make the best decision for your situation.

Solid Wood Flooring

Solid hardwoods are generally 3/4" (or 19mm) thick. Solid hardwood flooring can be installed with a nail-down installation over wood subflooring. Solid wood flooring is incredibly susceptible to both moisture and temperature. In climates where the summers are very hot, and the winters are very cold, it is not uncommon to hear the house creaking regularly as the flooring expands and contracts. Solid hardwood flooring should not be installed on top of a concrete slab. Some 3/8" thick hardwood flooring can be installed on a concrete slab, if the manufacturer states it is ok.

Engineered Wood Flooring

Rather than utilizing a solid piece of wood, engineered hardwood uses layers of hardwood veneer to create the final product. The wood veneer can change in thickness depending on the manufacturer. Creating engineered hardwood flooring requires the veneer layers to be stacked on top of each other, with the wood facing perpendicular to each other. After cutting, the flooring is stained if neccesary, and a finish is often applied. As mentioned above, the finish contains aluminum or titanium oxide, which grealy increases the wear-resistance of the flooring. Because engineered hardwood flooring has what is know as dimensional stability, it can be glued directly to a concrete slab.

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