Hardwood Flooring Construction Basics

Selecting Your Hardwood Flooring?
First You Must Decide Between Solid or Engineered Hardwood

Solid Hardwood Flooring

Solid hardwood flooring, like it sounds, is milled from a single thick piece of hardwood. Because of its thickness ¾", solid hardwood floors can be sanded and refinished over several generations of use. One of the characteristics of solid wood flooring is that it will expand and contract with changes in the relative humidity. For this reason, installers compensate for this movement by leaving an expansion gap between the floor and the wall. Base molding or quarter round traditionally is used to hide the gap. It is not recommended to install Solid Hardwood directly over a concrete slab.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Engineered flooring is actually produced with three to five layers of hardwood. Each layer is stacked in a cross-grain configuration and bonded together under heat and pressure. As a result, engineered wood flooring is less likely to be affected by changes in humidity and can be installed at all levels of the home.

Most Hardwood flooring offers two different engineered constructions

  • Engineered with Hardwood Core
  • Engineered with High Density Fiberboard Core

Before Deciding on Solid or Engineered Hardwood Flooring, Here Are Some Important Factors For Your Consideration

Location, Location, Location, Location...

The location of installation for your hardwood flooring basically falls into three categories:

  • On Grade – at ground level.
  • Above Grade – any second level or higher.
  • Below Grade – any floor below ground level, including basements or sunken living rooms.

Traditional solid hardwood flooring is not well suited for high moisture areas such as bathrooms or below-grade installations. Yet the construction of an engineered hardwood gives it enhanced structural stability and moisture resistance that allows it to be installed at any grade level.

What Type of Sub-Floor Do You Have?

If you plan to install over concrete, you will need to use an engineered product to ensure structural integrity. Solid wood flooring or Engineered flooring may be used over plywood, wood, or OSB sub-floors.

Will There Be Moisture in the Room?

If so, you'll want to select an Engineered hardwood. The moisture resistance of an engineered hardwood makes it suitable for rooms where moisture is a possibility, such as bathrooms.