Wood flooring has been a timeless choice that has continued to maintain its popularity over centuries due to its natural appearance, eco-friendliness, and high durability. With the ability to last for hundreds of years, wood is considered the most sustainable flooring option and the only one that is naturally renewable. “Most other floor coverings are designed to be disposable,” says Arminas Tamutis, the CEO of ZEX Wood Flooring UK.
In the past, selecting wood flooring materials was a straightforward process as everything was solid wood, and the only decisions to make were about the species, such as oak or pine, and the way in which the wood was cut to create planks. However, nowadays, there is an overwhelming number of options to choose from, including solid wood, engineered wood, reclaimed wood, and alternative materials that mimic wood. Therefore, to simplify the market, we present a basic guide to wood flooring materials.
To provide you with an tyin-depth article, we consulted Arminas Tamulis, the Director of ZEX Wood Flooring, who has extensive experience in flooring installation, replacement, and upgrading. We thank him for his valuable insights.
Let’s delve into the details.
Solid wood flooring is a traditional option that has stood the test of time. It’s made entirely of wood and can be refinished several times over its lifespan, making it a durable and long-lasting flooring choice. Solid wood is categorized by species, with softwood coming from coniferous trees and hardwood coming from deciduous trees. Species can be either domestic, such as oak, walnut, hickory, maple, and cherry, or imported, like jatoba, cumaru, ipe, and acacia. Recently, there has been a decline in demand for imported tropical species, with more people opting for domestic species like white oak and walnut, which are more in demand than red oak or cherry.
There are three different ways to saw solid wood planks: flat-sawn, quarter-sawn, and rift-sawn. Flat-sawn is the most common, showing more natural variations than the other methods. Quarter-sawn requires the log to be cut into quarters before strips are created, while rift-sawn involves cutting the log at an angle to eliminate natural flecking. Rift-sawn is more expensive since it uses less wood out of the tree, leading to more waste. Additionally, wider planks tend to cost more.
Another important decision to make is whether to opt for prefinished or site-finished solid wood flooring. Prefinished boards come coated by the manufacturer, while site-finished flooring is installed raw and finished on-site. Prefinished flooring is more expensive, but it’s convenient and ready for use immediately after installation. In contrast, site-finished floors allow for more freedom in selecting the finish, and the space where planks meet gets finished during the process.
When considering solid wood as a flooring option, it’s essential to take into account the environment in which it will be installed. As Arminas explains, stability is highly dependent on the conditions of the house, and solid wood can be highly reactive to changes in temperature and humidity. This means that during periods of high humidity, solid wood can expand, while during dry seasons, it can contract, leading to gaps between planks over time. It’s crucial to research and seek advice from experts on the specific location before deciding to install solid wood floors.
Despite the potential challenges, solid wood remains a highly sought-after flooring option due to its perceived quality and authenticity. According to Arminas, many people view solid wood as a premium product and are willing to pay more for it, even if there are comparable engineered products available. Ultimately, it’s a personal choice, and those who love the look and feel of real, solid wood will continue to choose it as their flooring material of choice.
When it comes to engineered wood, there is a lot of misinformation out there. According to Arminas Tamulis, anything that has a real wood wear layer on top is considered engineered wood, which can have different constructions, such as plywood all the way through or a composite product on the bottom side.
However, there are major differences in the quality of the top layer or wear layer of engineered wood. Arminas explains that there are low-value, inexpensive engineered wood floors with a one-millimeter wear layer that cannot be sanded or refinished and are similar in durability to carpet. On the other hand, there are high-quality engineered floors that cost $20 per square foot or more and are comparable to solid wood in width and length.
The primary reason to opt for engineered wood over solid wood is stability, especially in areas with extreme humidity or dryness. According to Brett, engineered wood performs more consistently from season to season in such environments. Thus, rooms like basements that experience drastic temperature fluctuations are ideal for engineered wood.
Reclaimed wood is a type of solid wood that stands apart as a unique and distinct material. It can be defined as any wood that has been previously used. Antique reclaimed wood, for example, is sourced from buildings that are over a century old. This type of wood is typically more expensive than new wood flooring, often costing twice as much.
This is due to the rarity and age of the wood, which can be up to 2,000 years old in the case of heart cypress. The labor-intensive process of sourcing and processing reclaimed wood also contributes to the higher cost. Despite this, reclaimed wood has gained popularity due to its unique beauty and sustainability.
ZEX Wood Flooring Company, for instance, considers itself both a flooring and recycling company, and views using reclaimed wood as a way of promoting sustainability by reusing materials that would otherwise go to waste.
In conclusion, choosing the right type of wood flooring depends on a variety of factors, including budget, style, and practicality. Solid wood floors provide a classic look, but engineered wood is a more stable option for areas with fluctuating humidity. Reclaimed wood offers a unique, sustainable option with a higher price point due to its antique nature and labor-intensive process.
Ultimately, it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable supplier to ensure you’re getting a high-quality product that will last for years to come. By understanding the differences between solid, engineered, and reclaimed wood flooring, you can make an informed decision that meets your needs and preferences.