Solid and Engineered Hardwood Flooring FAQ
What is Solid Hardwood Flooring?
Solid hardwood is exactly what it sounds like, one solid piece of wood, through and through.
What is Engineered Hardwood Flooring?
Engineered hardwood is constructed of 3 or more thin layers of soft or hard wood, usually arranged in opposing directions for added stability, with a finished top layer of the flooring species.
What is the difference between laminate flooring and hardwood floors?
Hardwood floors will age and mature with your property. This means that they will mark and dent more easily than a laminate would, but this is part of the character of hardwood floors and should not be viewed as a fault of the product. The shade of the wood surface will change with exposure to sunlight. Depending on the species, it will either lighten or darken with age. The shade variation will only go on to a certain level and then cease. Any unexposed surface areas will eventually catch up with the color differences once exposed.
Depending on the type of hardwood floor (solid vs engineered) it can be screened, sanded and/or re-lacquered a number of times to prolong the life of the floor.
What is the difference between solid hardwood flooring and engineered hardwood flooring?
Each type of flooring has its specific use and choosing one over the other is dictated by your lifestyle and needs. All hardwood should be in a moisture-controlled environment. Solid hardwood (strip or plank) is generally nailed down only and requires a wood sub floor. Solid hardwood can also be glued to a variety of sub floor materials.
Engineered hardwood flooring consists of a multi-plied, cross-stacked backing with a hardwood veneer top layer of a selected species. Engineered wood flooring can be used on grade, above and below grade.
Engineered wood flooring is more dimensionally stable so it can be installed in areas where solid wood floors are not compatible due to moisture. Engineered hardwood (strip or plank) can be glued down over various subfloors. Some engineered hardwoods (strip and plank) can be nailed or stapled down, which require a wood sub floor. Engineered hardwoods can also be laid as a floating floor where the tongue and groove are glued or clicked together, but the floor is not anchored to the subfloor.
What is a floating floor?
Floating floors are a flooring system laid down over a thin layer of underlayment. So while the individual planks are glued or clicked together, the individual planks are not nailed or glued into the subfloor. Instead, the planks form a system that “floats” over the layer of underlay. The underlayment can be laid down over some existing floors.
What is the required distance between the walls and the hardwood floor boards or planks?
When gluing a hardwood to the subfloor, an expansion gap of ½” at the wall is sufficient. With floating-floor installations for every 3 or 4′ of installation width the flooring requires a distance to the wall of at least ¼”, lengthwise an expansion gap of ½” is sufficient.
Can I install the flooring using one package after another?
No, for a natural, harmonious looking installation, it is recommended to work with approximately 5 open packages of flooring and sort/choose the boards individually by color variation.
How much waste do I allow for?
Despite strict sorting criteria and thorough quality control there may be certain material-specific peculiarities that you come across during the on-site selection and installation process which may need to be culled out. Generally, it is recommended to add 5-7% to the room’s square-foot total as a waste factor.
Which kind of hardwood flooring is right for me?
The range of choices is huge. According to personal taste and character of the room, you can choose between different wood types, board sizes, surface finishes, surface structures (hand-scraped, antique, distressed, brushed), impressions (parquet, strip or plank) and styles.
Does sunlight have any effect on the flooring?
Yes, any kind of wood will change its color over time. With exposure to sunlight, light-colored hardwood types are not necessarily going to get lighter, but dark hardwood will get darker. Every wood type has a characteristic aging process of its own and will react in its own individual way.
What is the maximum load a hardwood floor can bear on a single point?
With very large loads (e.g. pianos, aquariums, storage heaters and the like) it is recommended glue-down to be the installation method of choice.
Can engineered hardwood flooring that has been installed as a floating floor be sanded or resurfaced?
Yes, but be aware that every sanding or screening process will take off much of the flooring’s wear-layer. Try not to use very heavy sanding machinery as the weight of these machines may lead to the creation of “sanding waves”
How do I care for my oil-impregnated hardwood floors?
Use Wood-Floor Soap for regular maintenance cleaning. Use a vacuum cleaner for lacquer-finished floors and damp wipe only if needed.
Should floating hardwood flooring be installed under appliances?
Yes, you should install the flooring under appliances, but be very careful when you slide them over the floor. It is recommended to cover the flooring with something such as a spare rug to protect the flooring when you’re moving appliances or heavy furniture.
Can ALL stains to be removed from hardwood floors or is it sometimes impossible for some stains to be removed?
Most stains don’t penetrate more than the sanding or screening will remove. However, if you have a severe water stain, you may not be able to remove it. If you have left-over boards, you can replace damaged areas.
How much of an irregularity (drop or rise) can there be in an existing subfloor before installing your hardwood flooring?
You can have a drop or rise up to 3/16″ over 10 feet.
Do hardwood floors increase home value?
Absolutely. Hardwoods floors are recognized as one of the highest quality floors available and would increase the value of your home.
Can hardwood products be used with radiant heat floor system with tubing set in gypsum concrete?
This installation is okay as long as the tubes don’t touch the wood. You also would have to use a laminated underlay vapor barrier between the concrete and the floor.
Can hardwood flooring be installed over linoleum or vinyl floors and be used on stairs?
You can install a floating hardwood floor over linoleum or sheet vinyl if they remains sound and tightly glued to the original subfloor.
Hardwood flooring can be installed on stairs, however it can be noisy and slippery.
Is there a type of hardwood flooring (e.g. Maple vs Oak) that is more durable or longer lasting than another?
There isn’t a lot of difference between hardwood flooring wood types. The only negative on oak is it’s a rather porous wood, but it is a very hard, durable wood, as are maple and beech. White oak is slightly harder than red oak. Your choice will really come down to aesthetics.
How do I fix low spots in my concrete floors?
Most building materials suppliers have concrete leveling products. We suggest leveling any areas that are more than 3/16″ in variation. Make sure you use the underlay with a moisture membrane before installing over concrete.
Do you have to install hardwood flooring under existing cabinets?
Ideally, the hardwood flooring would go under the cabinets. You can, however, cut around the cabinets if removing the cabinets would cause undue complications. Keep in mind, though, that if you were ever to change the cabinets, you could have a problem if the new cabinets weren’t the same size as the old cabinets.
Is it possible to install a hardwood as a floating floor over concrete?
Engineered hardwood flooring is designed exactly for this kind of application. It requires an underlay with a moisture membrane over the concrete floor. The floating floor system can go directly over that.
Will cracks in the concrete cause problems with a floating floor installation?
We recommend that any cracks in concrete be filled with concrete filler and sealed prior to installation. Keep in mind that underlay with a moisture membrane must be installed prior to laying down the floor.
Important notes prior to installation:
- Relative Humidity should be maintained a 40-55% prior to installation and throughout the life span of the floor.
- Acclimation of the hardwood is very important. The material should be between 2-4% moisture content of the subfloor.
- Proper expansion gap must be maintained around the perimeter of the floor and any vertical obstructions.