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Hardwood Plank Flooring - A Quick Guide to Hardwood Plank Flooring

species of hardwoods types of hardwood products engineered hardwood flooring acrylic impregnated strip flooring parquet flooring

Hardwood plank flooring is a popular and time honored flooring material. For the better part of American history wood plank flooring was the type most commonly used. Today it is still widely valued as a classy and beautiful building material that makes for great and long lasting floors. Let’s take a look at some more specifics concerning hardwood plank flooring.

Species of Hardwoods

There are many species of hardwoods that are used in making hardwood floors. A few common tree/wood types include: Oak, Maple, Cherry, Poplar, and Mahogany. Hardwoods are to be contrasted with softwoods like pines that are not as durable and solid. Pine, which is less expensive than most hardwoods, is also used as flooring, but hardwood is considered more desirable for its greater resiliency and fine appearance.

Types of Hardwood Products

Though in the past hardwood was always simply cut into boards, today there are several types of hardwood products available on the market:

Solid Hardwood Flooring

This simply means plank flooring as mentioned above. Hardwood is cut into boards and sold. This type of hardwood flooring is the one most commonly used for floors in the above ground rooms of houses.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring

This is hardwood flooring that is formed into a type of ply wood. Thin strips of hardwood are sandwiched together with alternating grain directions to create an even stronger and more stable product. Generally there are between three and five hardwood layers or plys in this type of wood. It tends to be used in areas with slightly more volatile environmental conditions such as basements.

Acrylic Impregnated

This is basically solid hardwood flooring injected with an acrylic to increase its strength and durability. Often this type of hardwood flooring material is used in high traffic commercial locations such as restaurants, stores, and malls. It can, however, also be used in ordinary residential environments.

Any of the hardwood species mentioned above may be formulated into these products. So there are a variety of different species and at least three different floor types. In addition to this, there are a number of different flooring styles – that is to say, ways or patterns that the hardwood can be laid down to create a floor. Here are a few:

Strip Flooring

Strip hardwood flooring consists of the thinnest widths for the floor boards. These are typically tongue and groove boards that are between 1 ½ and 2 ¼ inches wide. For anyone who doesn’t know, tongue and groove boards are ones that have a rounded tongue or protrusion on one side and a concave groove on the other. They are laid out in sequence so that the tongue of one board fits into the groove of the next, locking them together. Strip flooring is thus laid in straight parallel lines that cover the entire surface of the floor. They usually have staggered joints – alternating board endings so that the ends of the floor boards do not line up. If they were to line up, they would create a distracting perpendicular linear pattern that was poor in appearance. In addition, the lined up ends would make the boards less structurally sound.

Plank Flooring

This is the next size up in width. These are wider hardwood floor boards that begin at around 3 ¼ inches and add one inch to the board size for a product line of wider and wider boards. At their widest, hardwood planks may be as wide as 14 inches. These boards may be either tongue and groove or simple flat edged boards.

Parquet Flooring

Parquet floors are hardwood floors in which the hardwood is laid down in a geometric pattern of some sort. This may be the popular herringbone pattern, which consists of zigzag diagonals, or some other geometric shape.

The basic way a hardwood floor is installed is that it is simply nailed or screwed to a plywood subfloor. A subfloor is a plywood layer that is beneath most residential floors. This plywood layer is in turn screwed or nailed to the joists, which are the structural framing members (a kind of “skeleton”) of the floor. The floor boards are installed such that they are tight and close together but also have the capacity to expand and contract slightly with changes in moisture and temperature.

Hardwood floors are a classic material and method that will probably never go out of style. They provide durable and great looking floors that are a pleasure to walk on.

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