Types of Wood Floors

Types of Wood Floors

Start by asking yourself some simple questions:

What type of subfloor will the floor be installed over?

This will mandate the thickness and type of floor, glue down, nail down, or floating; each product and manufacturer specify differently. Some application may not fit your specific subfloor, traffic zones, and may cause early wear, or warranty concerns.

Where do I want a wood floor?

The area can determine type of product best for the traffic, size, and use of the room. Some rooms work well with wood floors, and other do not.


Entry/Foyer — This area is often where Custom One-Of-A-Kind designs are installed. A popular area for medallions, feature strips, accents and/or borders. Making a statement in this area is becoming more often than not. Using walk off mats outside and if there is no design, area carpets inside will help in keeping wear down. Foyers tend to be more formal than not, being for show to guest as opposed to everyday use by family members.

  • Kitchens/Family rooms ; this is the number one place for wood floor installation in new construction. The ease of care, using both rooms as one, and the flow of traffic make this a very popular area for wood floors. NOTE: Kitchen wood floors should be screened (lightly sanded) and recoated as needed, say every 8-18 months, depending on the amount of traffic and cleaning habits. Good cleaning habits are very important part of maintaining a wood floor, high traffic or not.

    Bathrooms — a working day to day bathroom would not fair well with wood floors, due to continued moisture exposure. On the other hand a guest bathroom would be fine.

    Home offices, Bedrooms — Often this sets a semi-formal decor, with area carpets being used. Regular maintenance is required. NOTE: Rolling furniture, chairs, TV stands etc. can damage the finish very quickly, if used day to day. Make sure the floor is protected and/or the rollers are not made of metal or other damaging materials.

    Is this a high traffic area?

    Types of Wood Floors

    The finish and color will be affected by this. Darker colors tend to show traffic quicker, where as natural wood colors of oak and maple do not. High traffic areas need special attention when it come to recoating. Screening (light sanding) should be a part of the preventative maintenance program for your wood floors in these areas. Application of 1 or 2 coats as needed (every 8-18 months) is a good sound way to protect your investment. Make sure the finish being applied is compatible with what is there and is of the shine that will work well in that area. Satin or low shine urethanes tend to show less traffic patterns than do the higher gloss finishes. Walkoff mats are strongly suggested for these areas, ie- working areas of a kitchens, entry ways, entries/doorways from the outside.

    What type of wood do you like or will fit the area?

    Some types are more traffic friendly than others; Is this species to grainy or busy looking. Some species are harder than others. Maple is harder than oak; has less grain, yet maple can not be stained. Remember, the type of finish and number of coats can also determine how well your floor will fair in high traffic areas.

    What color will work with the decor?

    Some darker colors make rooms look smaller, show traffic patterns quicker. Lighter, or natural color of wood floor species can give an open, airy feeling, making the room appear larger. With today’s color trends this is of the most popular selections now being made by the consumer, in home and office alike.

    Who is helping you make these choices?

    Builders tend to stay with they same product that has worked before for them, decorators tend to use color as the number one reason for choosing a particular product, which may not be suited for the area. Whether a prefinished or job finished product, have a sample of the wood floor material to make comparisons with other products and other materials, such as the fabrics, paint colors and textures being used in the room.

    Who will maintain these floors?

    That person needs to know the product as does the purchaser, most of time that is the same person, but not always. Knowing The Dos & Don’ts and Maintenance Procedures is very important. Make sure that information is provided to you and is a part of your contract. After the floor is installed, and this material is provided to you, this is a good time to purchase a wood floor cleaning kit, right from the get go !

    All these question, as well as many others, are very important parts of the process in choosing the right hardwood floor for you. Not knowing all the answers could cause you concerns down the road. Most importantly, as we go through the selection process getting an experienced, and knowledgeable contractor who knows wood floors is one of the best things you can do.!

    DO NOT depend solely on your general contractor or design consultant. In the end, an improper installation will only cost you the home owner, over and above, whether its more money, more down time or having to involve an attorney, or ALL of the above. Make sure you are dealing with a reputable wood flooring retailer/contractor.

    The reason for the above questions is to determine what floor is right for the conditions where they will be installed; what conditions they will subjected to; and last but not least, is this the right floor for you?

    Some floors are more pleasing than others, but may not work in your conditions, or may not work well with the traffic they will receive. The color you like may be OK with the decor, but bad for wear patterns. The type of wood, say pine for example, (not a hardwood), does not stain well and is softer than oak causing it to dent more. Many factors should play a part in your decision about the choices you make when it comes to hardwood floors.

    This listing of what is available, as to sizes, the many colors, type of application and species we hope will help you in making an educated choice. Remember manufacturers products vary from one to the next.

    Hardwood Floors can be broken into


    Acrylic Impregnated

    Laminate wood flooring is produced by bonding layers of veneer and lumber with an adhesive. Laminate wood flooring is available in pre-finished and unfinished. These products are more dimensionally stable and are ideal for glue-down installation or float-in installation above grade, on grade or below grade, including basements and humid climates. Laminate wood flooring is produced in:

    Strip — thicknesses of 5/16, 3/8, 1/2 or 5/8 and in widths of 2 and 2-1/4

    Plank — thicknesses of 5/16, 3/8, 1/2 or 5/8 and in widths of 3 to 8

    Parquet — one-piece wood tile available in 9 x 9 or 8 x 8 and other patterns

    Pre-finished flooring is factory sanded and finished flooring that only needs installation. Comes in many colors, species and sizes.

    Solid wood flooring

    Solid wood flooring is completely lumber. It is available in unfinished and pre-finished. Solid wood flooring is produced in:

    Strip — in thicknesses of 1/2 or 3/4 in widths of 1-1/2, 2 and 2-1/4

    Plank — in thicknesses of 1/2 or 3/4 and widths of 3 to 8

    Parquet — geometrical patterns composed of individual wood slats held in place by mechanical fastening or an adhesive.

    Unfinished wood flooring

    Unfinished flooring is a product that must be job-site sanded, stained if desired, and finished after installation. This has been the American staple in hardwood floors for many years. Commonly called Strip flooring, this product has not changed for many years as to size, cuts & grades. A 3/4 thick unfinished strip floor can be sanded from four(4) to six(6) times in it’s lifetime.

    Each Category having 3 Sub-Categories of:

  • Parquet

    wood pieces forming a pattern/design-thicknesses of 1/4- 5/16 1/2 & 3/4 mostly glue down.

  • Plank

    board face widths 3 & up to 12 with thicknesses from 1/4, 5/16, 3/8,5/8, 9/16 and 3/4, glue or nail down.


    usually considered the hardwood floor, face width sizes of 1 1/2, 2 1/2 and 2 1/4, with 1/2 and 3/4 thicknesses, glue or nail down

    NOTE: As a rule 3/4 products are mostly nailed (larger parquet patterns are both nailed and glued)

    Specifics about your wood floor:

    Now that we know that they are many, many products to choose from, let’s get a little more specific in the decision making process. These requirements should always be in the equation of what type of floor is right for you, your conditions, and your budget. Most importantly, this will educate you, and your contractor about what is required for proper and good installation.

    The following list of requirements should be covered and/or included in specifications and contracts before the final wood floor selection is made. Never assume the top grade or cut is being used.

    What will it be. Is this on the manufacturer’s recommendation of the product you want use? The manufactures specifications should be followed as well as if not in conjunction with industry guidelines. Over concrete slabs, lets say, 1/8 of deviation in 10 feet is the norm. Plywood subfloors should not contain more than 4 % +/- of moisture than the flooring being laid over it. NEVER allow a wood floor product to be laid over particle board, chip board, wood composite products.

    What type of installation method is required. What is the nailing schedule (how far apart are the nails placed) or what type of adhesive is needed (always use manufacturers adhesive products-if not warranties may be voided). Has the wood floor material been properly handled prior to installation. Has it acclimated at the job site( In HVAC conditions- those that are normal for the area under regular living conditions?), Are the moisture contents of the wood floor products and the subfloor compatible? Whether you, your architect, builder, or designer helps in the decision making about your wood floors, you must do your homework. The following are additional details you must consider, or have specified when knowing what hardwood floor will be installed.

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