Complete Wood Flooring Guide (part 2 of 2)
Welcome back to our Complete Wood Flooring Guide! In part one we reviewed the three types of flooring options: solid wood, engineered wood, and bamboo. We looked at the pros and cons of each, discussed the prices, and prepared ourselves for part two. Now, we’ll examine how to evaluate the quality and suitability of wood flooring for your home.
What are Wood Floor Grades?
When trees are harvested, and their wood is ‘lumbered’, it is graded into one of four different grades. These are prime grade, select grade, natural grade, and rustic grade.
Prime Grade. This is the highest grade of wood flooring and often produces the most beautiful flooring. Prime grade wood is cut from the center of the log and because of this it generally has a uniform appearance, both in color and texture. Many homeowners find this desirable if they want a more formal look in their home. Thanks to the central cut, prime grade wood also carries few knots and has a low sap content, which again promotes its uniformity. Prime grade wood is generally the most expensive.
Select Grade. Like prime grade, select grade wood is cut further away from the center of the log. As such, it may contain more knots and sap and boast a wider range of color variation. You’ll find that the difference in quality between prime and select is minimal, and you may save on the cost if you choose select grade.
Natural Grade. Below prime and select is natural grade wood. Natural grade wood’s imperfections are part of why many homeowners love it. This grade often has sizable knots and a significant sap content. Color variations also occur, and finding a uniform selection of natural grade wood flooring is difficult. When it comes to natural grade wood, we suggest you embrace the variation. If you are going for a farmhouse-style look to your home, the natural grade is an excellent choice. It is often far less expensive than the prime grade.
Rustic Grade. The lowest grade of wood flooring doesn’t necessarily mean the worst. Cut from the edge of the tree just before the bark layer, rustic grade wood has knots, sap and color variation in abundance. As its name implies, rustic grade wood will remind you of the wood you see in barns and other old structures. It has a charm all its own, but you need to consider what aesthetic you want your floors to exude.
Types of Wood Flooring Finishes
When you buy wood flooring, you will have the option of selecting from prefinished or unfinished wood. Unfinished wood will need to be treated after it is installed. Prefinished wood is, as its name implies, ready for use right after installation. There are many different finishes available, but two of the most popular are oiled and lacquered. These are also the most common when it comes to wood flooring, as their properties are most desirable on a surface you walk on.
Oiled. This option produces a natural, polished look that works well for dark or light colors. An oil finish protects the surface of the flooring from mild scuffs (but not hard scrapes or direct impacts). It also protects the core of the wood.
Lacquered. This finish functions like a varnish. It protects the surface more effectively than oil and adds some shine to the wood, but won’t achieve that polished look that many homeowners desire.
What About Wood Color?
When it comes to hardwood flooring today, you have a huge selection of colors to choose from. Thanks to various treatments, there is far more variety than anything you will find in a forest. Though your options are vast, we find that staying within the natural color spectrum for wood is usually best – unless there is a specific aesthetic effect you want to achieve.
Natural. Wood the way it was made is a beautiful sight. Whether it is a rich mahogany hue or a light birch color, natural hardwood never goes out of fashion. It is also easy to mix and match your furniture and paint. You can even mix light and dark natural hardwoods throughout your home for a beautiful effect.
Color-treated. While a unique color can create a specific look and feel that is desirable at the time, we’ve found that bespoke colors don’t often please over the long term. They can also reduce flexibility when it comes to home décor and color schemes. Color-treated wood is restrictive, so unless you have your heart set on a color, choose a natural shade instead.
And that concludes our complete wood flooring guide. We hope you found the information valuable. Remember, at the end of the day, budget and aesthetic desires determine your choices. When it comes to hardwood flooring, keep a long-term view in mind, because that is what the material is made for.
If you have additional questions about the type, quality or color of hardwood, or about installation practices, please contact us today.
At Morgan Contractors, we have more than 18 years of experience providing quality home improvement services and wood floor installation to the Tristate area. So, if you are looking for a safety-compliant, fully insured, highly reputable company for your next home improvement job, we are it!
For more information about how we can help make your need wood flooring project a success, to request an estimate, or for general questions, please contact us today or call 201-401-1800.