Hickory Floor Images. Choosing flooring which is appropriate, durable and beautiful in appearance is a major decision. It’s not surprising that many families decide to have hardwood installed in their homes.
Hardwood flooring will not only last for many years, but also adds value to your property. Think of how many times you have seen houses for sale advertised, listing “hardwood floors” as a top selling feature. Hardwood is lasting and conveys a classic beauty to your home which is unparalleled.
Most wood is prefinished at the factory before being installed in your home, although unfinished wood can be stained and finished on-site. Hardwood flooring comes in both solid and engineered construction. Solid wood has been used for centuries, and continues to be the flooring type of choice for many homeowners. It can be refinished several times, and will last for many years. Engineered wood is a type of construction which uses layers of real wood sandwiched together, with each layer running crossways to the layer below. The top layer of wood is pre-finished, and gives the same beautiful look as solid wood.
The benefit of engineered wood is that due to the layered construction, it resists expansion and contraction which naturally occurs due to humidity from the change of seasons and other factors. In fact, engineered wood is so stable that it is the only type of hardwood that can be used below grade, such as in a basement. Engineered wood flooring can also be refinished. The number of times it can be refinished, however, depends upon the thickness of the top layer.
The manufacture of wood for flooring has been revolutionized in recent years with the use of aluminum oxide, which creates an extremely tough top wear layer. It is only applied at the manufacturing facility, and cannot be applied on-site after refinishing. The use of aluminum oxide has increased the durability of flooring so much that the warranties for hardwood floors have increased substantially since this technique was introduced. It is not unusual to see warranties for hardwood which can extend to 50 years or more.
Once you have decided that hardwood is your choice, you can start investigating all the different species, widths, finishes and special features that are available today. Oak is by far the most popular species used in the manufacture of flooring, and is often used as the standard by which other species are compared. Hardness, for example, can vary and is a consideration when choosing the best hardwood for your home. Oak is a fairly hard wood. Hickory, for example, is harder than oak, while pine is a softer wood.
Over fifty species of wood are available to choose from when planning your flooring project, including walnut, maple, pine, ash, hickory, and beech, which are all domestic hardwoods. Exotic types of wood such as Brazilian Cherry, Tigerwood, Merbau, and Amendoim have become very popular as well. Some of the exotics have striking grain characteristics which have a very dramatic look.
Bamboo is another bestselling choice for flooring, and is a sustainable, environmentally conscious alternative. Although bamboo is actually a grass, it is classified as hardwood when used in flooring, and is quite durable. Bamboo is available in horizontal or vertical grain, and can be natural or “carbonized”. The carbonizing process heats the bamboo to achieve a darker color. Bamboo floors can also be stained in different colors, or come as “strand bamboo” which has dark and light grain running throughout each piece. This type of flooring can be purchased as either solid or engineered wood.
Hardwood comes in different widths, each of which makes a different decorating statement. Traditional oak “strip” flooring is 2 1/2″ in width, and has been installed in homes for many years. Also available are “planks”, which are 3 – 5″ in width, or even wider, and in some cases you may see 7″ wide planks. These can have a gorgeous, up-to-date look, or can be distressed for a vintage appearance. Wider planks stir images of old barns and wineries and often are finished with heavily beveled edges which are often stained black for an antique look.
Hardwood can be natural, stained, whitewashed or distressed to accommodate all tastes and interior designs. It provides a lasting and beautiful surface, and is a great backdrop for area rugs which can be used to define spaces, create warmth and softness underfoot and compliment your decor. Use different flooring types near each other or together for variety and a designer look to your home.
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