What is Hardwood??
Solid wood is just that ? one piece that is milled from lumber. It comes in a variety of widths, from 2-1/4″ to 5″ wide. It also comes in different thicknesses: 3/4″ is standard, but you can also find “thin profile” solid that is 5/16″ thick.
Keep In Mind:
- Moisture and extreme temperature changes can cause solid wood to shrink and expand, potentially causing gaps between boards during colder or dryer seasons.
- 5/16″ thin profile solid wood can be installed directly over concrete; 3/4″ can’t.
- All solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished if needed (required every 15-20 years).
- All urethane coated floors can be recoated as needed to renew the surface of the floor. This is more economical than sanding and refinishing.
Engineered wood is?real?wood, but instead of one solid piece it consists of three to 10 thin layers of wood, called plies, that are assembled and glued in a cross-ply construction. The top layer of wood can range from 1/16″ to 1/6″ thick. Overall board thickness ranges from 1/4″ to 3/4″. Due to its multi-ply structure, engineered wood is much more stable than solid wood and is less susceptible to shrinking and expanding with changes in temperatures and humidity.
Keep In Mind:
- Engineered wood can be installed directly over concrete and can also be installed below ground level.
- Engineered wood with a top layer thinner than 1/10″ cannot be refinished; however, it can be recoated to renew the surface of the floor.
Site-Finished vs. Prefinished
A pre-finish, or factory finish, creates a no muss, no fuss installation. There’s no dust from sanding, no fumes from chemicals, no waiting for the finish to dry. These floors are warranted to last longer than site-finished floors?typically 15 to 25 years, versus three to five years. This is because factory applied urethane finishes are much tougher and longer lasting than site-applied finishes.
With all the color choices available in pre-finished hardwood flooring, there’s no need to custom stain site-finished floors to get just the right look for your home.
If you like the look of site-finished flooring, but want the durability of prefinished flooring, choose a product with a square end and edge.
Advocates of site-finishing like the fact that the floor can be sanded after it’s installed to even out any imperfections. Site finishing also gives you the widest selection of stain colors to choose from. However, on-site sanding and finishing can produce heavy fumes, messy dust and significant waiting time from when the floor is laid until it can be enjoyed. In addition, labor costs for on-site finishing may drive up your installation costs.
Keep in Mind:
- Prefinished floors are warranted for a longer time period than site finished floors.
What is Laminate?
Laminate flooring has a layered construction:
A) Wear layer: This easy-to-clean surface contains aluminum oxide which protects the floor from stains, fading and wear.
Look for an abrasion classification (A/C) rating of at least 3 for adequate residential use protection.
B) Image design layer: A photographic image of wood, stone, or virtually anything you can imagine.
C) Inner core layer: The core provides the floor?s structural strength and stability. It is made from high-density fiberboard (HDF). The core is often impregnated with a plastic resin called melamine to increase the floor?s strength, stability and resistance to moisture. Products that have high levels of melamine do not require acclimation before installation.
D) Backing layer: Found beneath the inner core, the backing is made with resin saturated paper. It creates a moisture barrier that protects the floor from warping.
All laminate floor layers are fused together using one of two processes. DPL, or direct pressure laminate, is the most common construction for residential use. HPL, or high-pressure laminate, is an extra-hard construction.
The difference between the two relates to cost, performance and design realism. DPL is less expensive, has the same gouge resistance as HPL when objects are dropped at or below counter height, and is easier to emboss for more realistic texture. HPL is more expensive and less likely to gouge if items are dropped from above counter-top height, but is harder to emboss, so it doesn?t look as realistic.
What is Ceramic Tile?
Ceramic tile is made of clay and shale that has been baked and hardened in a kiln. The traditional baking, or firing method, is a double-fired process called bicottura. A more modern process called monocottura bakes and glazes the tile in a single firing.
The single-step process has many advantages, including producing a tile that is more economical tile, more dense and durable, and has a harder glaze. Prior to the firing process, natural clay colors are sometimes augmented with pigments.
The clay composition, in combination with the firing process, and whether the tile is glazed or unglazed, creates one of four basic tile types:
Keep in mind:
Have a surface that provides color, design and ease of maintenance.
The higher the firing temperature, the harder the glaze.
Light-colored glazes tend to be stronger than dark ones.
Shiny glazes tend to be softer than matte or satin finishes.
Offer a greater range of colors.
Are more resistant to stains.
Have a color produced from the tile?s composition and/or added pigments.
Tend to stand up better to wear.
Their natural surface makes them more slip-retardant.
What Is Linoleum?
Genuine linoleum, not to be confused with vinyl, is a classic, invented nearly 150 years ago and still completely relevant today. Environmentally preferred linoleum is made from natural, raw materials. Linseed oil, which comes from the flax plant, is the primary ingredient. (In Latin, linum is the word for linseed and oleum means oil.)
Other ingredients include wood or cork powder, resins and ground limestone. Mineral pigments provide the rich colors. The ingredients are mixed together, then rolled out between two cylinders (a process called ?calendaring?) onto a jute backing.
The linoleum is then cured in ovens for 14 to 21 days. Some manufacturers bond a high performance coating to the surface to improve the floor?s ability to resist stains and scratches, and to make cleaning easier. The resulting floor is then rolled on cores, ready for installation. Sheet linoleum is available in many thicknesses. 2.5 mm is suitable for residential use. It is sold in a two-meter (or 6? 7?) width size.
Keep In Mind:
Linoleum manufactured without a high performance layer that protects the design must be polished to prevent staining.
Linoleum releases a harmless odor (from the linseed oil) when it is first installed, much like that of a freshly painted room. This odor will dissipate.
New linoleum sometimes has a yellow cast on the surface, called a ?drying room film? that is a natural effect created by the floor?s composition. This film will dissipate when the floor is exposed to natural or artificial light. Make sure you expose linoleum samples to light for a several hours before making your final design and color choice.
Most linoleum is sold as a sheet product. Linoleum tile is available, but it is more prone to warping and curled edges.