When we talk about hardwood flooring we are usually referring to two different types, traditional solid 2 ½’’ width by ¾ ‘’ thick pieces cut with a tongue on one side and a matching groove on the other, or engineered wood flooring usually made by laminating three or more layers of different woods together to form a single piece also with tongue and groove edges.
Traditional hardwood flooring comes in a variety of wood types from both domestic and foreign sources. Individual planks come in a variety of widths and lengths and are installed with a staggered pattern. This flooring now comes both unfinished requiring sanding, staining if desired and top coated, and prefinished requiring it only be stapled down. This flooring needs to be stapled down to a ¾’’ or thicker subfloor. A moisture barrier must be put down first to protect the hardwood floor.
This flooring should never be used in an area prone to moisture such as a basement. Only the top surface is finished with a surface that will resist moisture. All the other surfaces will absorb moisture causing the planks to expand and shrink or even buckle. This movement will cause unsightly gaps between the planks which will ultimately have to be refilled requiring sanding the entire floor, filling the gaps, sanding again, re-staining and top coating. Homes located in areas having clod dry winters must have a humidifier attached to the heater to maintain a humidity level between 30% and 45% to alleviate this problem.
The biggest advantage of traditional hardwood flooring is that it can be refinished and re-coated many times during its lifetime.
One of the reasons this flooring has become much more popular is that it can be used anywhere including the basement. It also comes in varying widths and in same lengths or varying lengths.
It comes pre finished and can be installed by nailing, stapling, gluing or even set as a floating floor with no attachment to the subfloor. It needs to have a mat material placed between it and the existing floor both for moisture protection, and in the case of a floating floor to reduce and noise chatter between the floors.
The disadvantage of this type of floor is that it cannot be refinished.