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Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood floors are a hugely popular choice among homeowners today who are looking to enhance the beauty and value of their homes. Hardwood floors are one of the most important design elements in your home or business. No matter what your lifestyle, wood floors add value and comfort to any decor.

What are the trends in Hardwood Flooring?

Currently, there are many different flooring trends that are making their way into today’s homes and offices. Some examples of these trends would be handscraped hardwood floors, wide-width wood planks, distressed hardwood floors, exotic hardwood floors, bamboo, and cork.

Handscraped Hardwood Floors: Through the 1800s, finish surfaces for hardwood floors were commonly worked by hand with draw knives. These were simple flat blades attached to two handles. By pulling toward him or herself, the crafter could scrape thin layers of wood off a piece of lumber, slowly smoothing the top surface. Inevitable, scraping marks were left behind, proving for generations to come that a piece of wood had been worked by hand.

Handscrape marks are commonly seen in flooring reclaimed from old structures. These signs from another time tell a story about craftsmanship that is now replicated by today’s flooring manufacturers who have planks handscraped in a similar manner to get the look and feel of salvaged historical lumber.

These beauty marks authentically reproduce a genuine look from the past. Today’s handscraped floors are also distinctive to walk on barefoot. With each step, homeowners will feel slight variations in the surface — their feet feeling the evidence of a crafter’s skills.

Wide-Width Wood Planks: The next time you are walking through a building from the 1800s, look at how wide the floor planks are. Instead of the 2-inch to 3-inch widths common today, earlier floors were 5 to 8 inches wide — and more — depending on the species of wood.

The reason is easy to understand. Trees were much more mature when cut in earlier times, which meant they were also thicker. Most of the old-growth trees are gone or protected from harvest now. So trees for flooring are thinner and wide planks rarer.

However, 4- to 5-inch planks offer more authentic beauty than thinner slices.

Distressed Hardwood Floors: Those who lived through the distressed-wood trend of the 1970s can relax. Today’s distressed doesn’t go overboard; it merely replicates the look seen from use and age of authentic, reclaimed flooring.

This second coming of distressed wood actually has its roots in the early 1990s when reclaiming flooring from old warehouses and commercial buildings emerged as a hot niche market. Those structures, built in the 1800s and early 1900s, offered a wealth of old-growth lumber, marked by decades of rough use. The gouges, nail holes, stains, slices, and saw marks were scars of authenticity.

By their interest in authentic distinguishing features that had pounded earlier flooring, homeowners today are showing their admiration for an era when skill rather than electronic technology was king.

Exotic Hardwood Floors: Exotic hardwoods appeal to a different sense of authenticity. What wins the heart here is the art of nature. How is it that trees can offer such elegance in form and still function so well as flooring? What a marvel.

There is the bold striping of tigerwood, the depth of Brazilian cherry, the rich beauty of teak. There are looks for every taste.

In addition to these authentic woods, manufacturers are also inventing ways to cut, bake and dye woods to mimic many of the exotics. This allows homeowners to obtain the look they want without endangering wood species in this country or abroad.

Bamboo and Cork Floors: Concern for the environment shapes the way we live, the laws we follow, and what we value. Hardwood flooring is a big part of this discussion for homeowners who want to play a part in preserving the world’s natural beauty.

The days of clear-cutting forests to produce lumber are fading as manufacturers turn to managed forests, tree farms, engineered flooring and different woods for the supply of raw material. If you want a hardwood exotic, you may wind up with a sustainable domestic species — probably oak — that has been finished to mimic the look of an exotic. Or you might choose bamboo or cork, which offer performance similar to hardwood, but without the need to cut down even a farmed tree. Instead, bamboo is a grass that regrows after it is cut. Cork is made from tree bark, which regenerates.

Concern for forests and the environment are making an impact on how wood flooring is produced. Governments, environmental groups and industry leaders are adopting certification programs and tracking systems to validate the sustainability of wood supplies.

Construction

Hardwood flooring refers to a type of flooring that is made entirely of genuine wood from top to bottom. This is different from a laminate, for example, which is made of compressed fiberboard with a paper pattern layer sealed on the top to give it the appearance of wood, stone or other surface. Hardwood flooring comes in two types: solid and engineered.

Solid vs. Engineered Flooring: Solid hardwood flooring is made of one solid piece of wood, rather than layers of wood. An ideal choice for most areas of your home at the ground level or above, it’s usually nailed or stapled to a wooden subfloor. Thicknesses vary, with 3/4″ being the most common. Thin-profile, 5/16″ options are less common, but they can be glued down over concrete or other hard surfaces.

Engineered hardwood flooring is just that: hardwood that has been engineered from multiple layers of solid wood pressed together, in a cross-ply (layer) construction with the grains running in different directions. This construction makes it especially dimensionally stable and suitable for stapling, gluing down, or floating over wood, concrete, or an existing floor. Typically available in a 3- or 5- ply construction, 1/2″ thickness is the most common engineered flooring. Its outstanding strength and moisture resistance make it a good option for all areas of your home, especially below-grade areas like basements or rooms with radiant heat.

Patterns

For many homeowners, wood flooring is vastly preferred over tile and carpet, and there are many popular patterns to consider. Wood flooring is attractive, functional and exceptionally easy to clean. For those who are looking into installing wood floors in their homes, there are a variety of different choices to be made, all of which differ slightly from one another. Each pattern can be purchased in one of the many hardwoods most often used for wood flooring, such as oak, maple, walnut and mahogany.

Straight Pattern

Straight patterned hardwood flooring ranks among the most popular, as well as being one of the least expensive to install. In a straight pattern, strips of wood are laid down side by side throughout the entire length of the room. This is a smart choice for those who wish to keep their flooring simple and unassuming.

Diagonal Pattern

Diagonally patterned hardwood flooring is similar to straight patterned flooring in that the boards are laid side by side, the difference being that in diagonal patterns, the boards are placed at a 45 degree angle across the length of the room. This is an excellent pattern for those want to try something a bit different without having to spend quite a bit of extra money.

Parquet Pattern

Parquet patterned hardwood flooring can add quite a bit of elegance to your home. Wood boards are laid out in a checkerboard or other geometrical pattern, occasionally with ornate patterns carved into the wood itself. True parquet is very expensive to implement, but can elevate the sophistication of just about any room.

Herringbone Pattern

Herringbone patterned hardwood flooring is similar to parquet flooring, except for the fact that the wood strips are generally laid out in a diagonal zigzag pattern reminiscent of museum flooring. Like parquet, herringbone patterned flooring is expensive to install, but can be extremely pleasing aesthetically.