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In this article we will be discussing several different categories of wood flooring. Solid wood flooring is one board with no glued up laminations; it is basically wood board that has been sized and profiled to a certain dimension. Engineered flooring has a on the top whatever species and texture you want, and this is glued to a plywood backer on the bottom. Engineered is still all wood but is made with multiple layers that are laminated for better stability and dimensional accuracy. Floors that we will not cover here are laminates or any composite products which are often not wood entirely through the plank or may be made with a photo printed surface. We also will not cover vinyl, carpet, stone, or tile.
For the variable here is a controversial opinion: we do not end match our flooring which means there is no tongue and groove on the ends of the planks. Since we recommend our floor be glued down we say this is an unnecessary expense for the customer. End matching reduces the yield in production and raises labor costs. Most end match profiles are milled so loosely that they really dont hold the floor in place anyway. The biggest benefit to the installer is that the plank can be cut in half in any place and reused anywhere without have to mate up to a complementary tongue or groove since the end is just square cut. This means all end trim pieces or any waste can be reused. Therefore on our engineered flooring product the waste factor is virtually nothing unless there are angles or radiuses to work around. We also help with waste factor by usually supplying a random width product so when one gets close to the end of a room they can plan the width combination patterns out to not have to rip much off the last row.
Compare overall thickness and the height from the top of the tongue or nail groove to the top of the face on the floor. On an engineered floor this is generally the thickness of a wear layer. Most solid wood floors are 3/4" overall before sanding (but some are less) with 1/4" above the nail groove. Our engineered floor is manufactured to equivalent measurements but most engineered floors have a thinner wear layer. This comes down to how many times the floor can be sanded. What kind of finish and texture you want on the floor factors into how deep you will re-sand the floor during refinishing. A number of our reclaimed wood floors are sold with an original texture that shows the old saw marks and character in the floor, so most likely you wont want to sand this out. As a rule of thumb, the thicker the wear layer then the longer the floor will last.
We personally do not care for prefinished flooring due to installation problems associated with it, so our product requires site applied finish. This means that your floor finish if site applied will be easier to sand and refinish than a prefinished floor. Also you do not have to deal with that micro bevel groove between each board that tends to fill up with dust and crumbs. Most prefinished hardwood floors really cant be refinished easily. To sand it off means that the wear layer has to be thicker than the height of the nails and have room to sand off the micro bevel between boards; that amounts to a lot of sanding. You also will not be able to spot sand or touch up parts of the floor.
Are you a do-it-yourselfer? Think through every step of the process to be sure that you can do it yourself. Usually the install can be done with relatively moderate skills and simple tools like a chop saw and rented flooring nailer. The finishing process is a whole different matter. The sanders and buffers take some special skills to operate. A normal price range for labor and materials to install a wood floor is $4-5 per square foot. It is possible to build your own sweat equity into a floor install. Maybe this is where you choose to use our engineered product for example because it is presanded to more accurate tolerances than a solid wood product. It can be touched up with a hand held orbital sander rather than industrial floor sanders. Then if you are doing the finish yourself, you will want to consider using a finish that may not require as much buffing between coats.
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