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Home » Important Facts » Hardwood Flooring Facts

Hardwood Flooring Facts

What You Should Know Before Buying Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring provides a choice of colors as unique as the wood itself; a floor that can reflect the individual tastes and lifestyle of the owner; a floor that can be maintained quickly and easily by use of today's state-of-the-art maintenance products, and a floor that can be sanded and refinished to change color so home owners can always be color coordinated with new floor covering color and trends.

Red Oak, White Oak, Maple, Walnut, Merabau, Ebony, Ash, Hickory, Pine Cherry, Purple Heart, Beech, Birch, Mahogany, Kempas, Jarran, Teak and Chestnut are some of the many beautiful wood species used FDR flooring today.

Silmar Flooring does two types of hardwoods installation. Pre-finished or on site custom sand, stain and finish.

Pre-finished hard wood flooring is hardwood flooring that is pre-finished by the manufacturer. These products come in various styles and qualities and can be installed virtually anywhere. Pre-finished hardwood flooring for most applications can be installed in a day or two with a fraction of the dust. Modern Technology has limited the disadvantages of over-wood and offer some exceptional finishes. Some limitations in custom installations.

On site custom sand, stain and finish installations traditionally take much longer to install than pre-finished installations. Unfinished hardwood is installed in the desired areas and left to "acclimate" to its environment. The floor is then sanded smooth to minimize overwood and give a consistent over all appearance. The floor can be stained to change shades, colors and hue. The options for custom installations are endless.


While there are other types of wood used for flooring, the majority in this country is oak. The other wood species will have properties and behavior similar to oak.

To begin, a tree grows with roots in the ground that collect moisture and nutrients from the soil and ship them through vessels or fibers up the trunk and branches to the leaves. These vessels are similar to the "strings" in a stalk of celery. The leaves mix the moisture, nutrients, carbon dioxide, sunlight creating photosynthesis and putting oxygen back into the atmosphere and therefore, food for the tree. The food is then shipped through other vessels, throughout the tree and back to the roots resulting in growth.

This information is provided to give understanding that a tree is made up of fibers aligned vertically in the standing tree. Once the tree is cut down, the fibers will, of course, run horizontal. Once boards are sawn and flooring is manufactured and installed, the fibers are still horizontal and running the length of the boards.

In the tree, the fibers are loaded with moisture. The tree, after felling, begins to dry out, just like a rose wilts after being picked. As the fibers dry, they shrink in thickness or diameter, shrinking almost none lengthwise. This shrinkage, characteristic of all woods, is of vital importance in the understanding of hardwood flooring.

Moisture and Shrinkage

A tree will be cut down and sawed into boards. These boards are placed in uniform stacks with other boards their size to keep the boards straight. The stack is aimed at prevailing breezes to accelerate drying. Boards stay in this stack for 4 to 6 months to ensure that the necessary moisture has evaporated from the fibers.

Next the boards will be trucked to the flooring mill or manufacturer and loaded into a dry kiln. The kiln is a very large building with fans to circulate the air, steam pipes to create heat, and live steam to induce moisture. The boards are very gently treated by a highly trained specialist. As the humidity is gradually lowered and the temperature is increased, the boards will reach their optimum moisture content for flooring of about 8 percent. During this process, the boards must reach 105 degrees in order to sterilize any Lyctus eggs (a parasite that ingests wood). The 8 percent moisture content in the wood keeps it flexible. It is important to control the moisture content in order to ensure that the flooring will "behave properly."

Plain or Flat Sawn vs. Quartered or Quarter Sawn

Flooring manufactured with grain or annual rings running across the width of the boards is called "plain," or "flat" sawn. Flooring with grain running at right angles to the face or across the thickness is called "quarter sawn" or "quartered." Both types of boards can be cut from the same log.

The difference in how the flooring behaves with change in moisture is significant since plain sawn expands and contracts across the width of the board, while quartered, in theory, gets thicker and thinner. Quartered has considerable more dimensional stability and does not respond to season or moisture changes as does plain.

Remember, wood floors and finishes are not waterproof. Movement from moisture (or humidity) will occur.

Wood, as a natural product, varies from piece to piece. It is not fabricated; it is milled from a tree and will have grain and color variances.

Product Groups

Solid wood products consist of strips (2 1/4" wide) or planks (at least 3" wide) made from one piece of wood through its thickness, usually 3/4" thick. Many solid wood products must be nailed down, therefore, the subfloor must be wood in order to install solid hardwood flooring. Some exceptions are solid wood clip systems like "Junkers".

Engineered wood floors consist of three or more layers of wood glued together with the face (top) layer and back (bottom) layer grain running parallel or the same direction. The center (core) layer is turned 90 degrees during assembly and the glue used in the assembly is stronger than the wood itself. With engineered products, as the fibers in each layer absorb moisture and want to expand, each layer is restrained by the other and improved dimensional stability results.

Ultimately, the customer has for their floor, a product that displays far less expansion ann contraction with moisture changes and therefore can be successfully installed below grade, in basements, in humid climates, and even fit tight to vertical surfaces. This, of course, is very different from solid floors. The floor can be glued directly to concrete with several adhesive types.

A major concern with engineered products is longevity. Customers want to make sure that their wood can be sanded and refinished. In most cases the engineered floor can be sanded and refinished. Of course, the entire life wear and appearance of the floor rests in the thickness of the top layer of wood. With proper maintenance, the initial service life can be expected to be 20-30 years. Many of the laminated floor products on the market today can be sanded and refinished, using the proper techniques and equipment, at least twice.

Where Can Hardwood Floors Be Installed?

Our hardwood floors can basically be installed in almost any type of room in a residential or commercial building. They can also withstand varying degrees of wear and tear.

The amount of wear a hardwood floor will be subjected to will, of course, depend on where it is installed. In high traffic areas the floor has to take rough treatment, while in other interiors, such as homes, people are more careful about their flooring. With this in mind, we can establish three main application areas for hardwood flooring according to the amount of wear and the performance requirements.

Normal Traffic
This category of wear usually applies to all rooms in the home, except by the entrance where people walk directly onto the hardwood floor from outside. Hardwood floors in homes should be routinely maintained with dry cleaning methods (vacuuming, sweeping, or dust mopping).

Light to Moderate Traffic
This category includes certain entrances in homes, offices, small assembly areas, conference rooms, locales for ballet dancing or light gymnastics, day care centers, and stores (above ground).

Clean the light to moderate traffic floor more often. Many floors can be restored.

Heavy Traffic
By "heavy traffic" we mean rooms where foot traffic is heavy, such as dance floors, restaurants, employee dining areas, service centers, showrooms, stores, church rooms, large assembly halls, and auditoriums. Maintenance in such areas include the use of Harris-Tarkett Crystal Clear Cleaner and Refresher when finish appears dull. Additional top coats may be necessary in some "heavy traffic" areas.

Check with finish manufacturers' recommendations for proper application procedures and warranty information.

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