Hardwood flooring got its start in the 1600s as unfinished planks. Wood floors were not mass produced until the mid-1800s. In the early 1900s, the introduction of tongue-and-groove construction allowed for the leveling of planks before installation.
Wood flooring comes in either solid or engineered form. Solid wood is exactly what it sounds like – a solid board or plank. Engineered wood – which has only been around since the 1960s – is a layered combination of a wood veneer over a plywood substrate. Engineered wood is more durable and stable than solid wood. The hardness of wood is determined by the Janka rating. The grade of the wood depends on the variations in color, grain, and characteristics such as knots.
Wood flooring is available in a variety of species. They are categorized as either hardwood, softwood, or exotic wood. Hardwoods and softwoods comes from trees indigenous to North America. Hardwoods are denser and take longer to grow. Hardwood trees include oak, maple, hickory, cherry, walnut, elm, and birch. Softwoods grow faster and therefore are less dense. They are also more susceptible to dents and scratches. Softwoods include pine, fir, cedar, and evergreens. Exotic woods come from trees that are not indigenous to North America. These trees can grow in South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia.
Reclaimed/repurposed wood is another option. This wood comes from previously felled trees. Therefore, it is more eco-friendly. Old barns, railroad ties, and naturally felled trees are possible to reclaim/repurpose into flooring.
Wood flooring is available in strips and planks. Strips are 2¼” to 3¼” wide, and planks can be 3” to 9” wide. Some manufactures make planks that are even wider than 9”. Because wood is a natural product, no two strips or boards will ever be the same. Different cuts will also produce different grain patterns. The strips and planks can either be finished or unfinished. Finished wood is sanded and stained at the factory, while unfinished wood is sanded and stained on site.
Pros of Wood Flooring:
Wood flooring is durable, long-lasting, and economical. The flooring can be refinished several times, making it renewable. Wood typically maintains an even temperature all year around, but it is compatible with radiant heat.
Cons of Wood Flooring:
Wood can be scratched. It is also susceptible to water damage, which is why it is not recommended in bathrooms. Wood can also be affected by the humidity.
You can learn even more about wood flooring here.
Other Types of Flooring:
If you’re not sure if wood is right for you, you can learn about other types of flooring here.