Glossary of Terms
With acrylic impregnated hardwood flooring, the 1/16″ hardwood veneer on the top of the floor has been injected (impregnated) with a plastic acrylic solution under very high pressure and heat. This specially treated acrylic resin makes the floor up to 300% harder and more indent-resistant than natural wood. The engineered construction also reduces the risk of expansion and buckling.
Modern hardwood flooring is available in many different edge styles, from square edge to micro-bevelled, to deeply grooved edges.
Square Edge – no Bevel
The edges of all boards meet squarely creating a uniform, smooth surface that blends the floor together from board to board. The look is contemporary and formal, and there are no grooves to catch dust. The square edge can cost 5 – 10% more, but it gives a smoother appearance and square edge floors are easier to refinish. The square edge is not recommended over uneven floors.
The micro-bevel is meant to help hide minor irregularities, such as uneven plank heights.
Heavy or Hand-Bevel
These floors also hide floor irregularities, and have a very distinctive deep groove in them. The beveled edge planks lend themselves to an informal and country decor. The hand-beveled planks have a rustic, hand-hewn look.
Caramelized or Carbonized Bamboo
Bamboo flooring is available in Natural or Caramelized. Natural is a light blond color similar to maple, and Caramelized is a dark amber color similar to young teak. This darker color is not a stain, but a process of pressure heating the fiber at the factory, which darkens the sugar compounds in the fiber.
Engineered Wood Flooring is wood flooring made from two or more laminations (layers) of wood glued together in a sandwich. The surface is real, resandable wood — not to be confused with plastic photo laminates.
Floating Wood Floors
What makes floating hardwood floors different from traditional hardwood flooring is that such floors aren’t glued or nailed to the wood subfloor or concrete slab. The planks are attached to each other, and sit on top of the subfloor or sound barrier.
The floor is installed with a small expansion gap at all edges, to allow for some natural expansion and contraction due to the seasons. The expansion gaps are never seen, they are covered by molding or shoe trim, and door thresholds (see diagram at right).
In a glue-down application, hardwood or bamboo flooring is adhered to the floor using a special type of adhesive – a chemical-drying compound.
Some types of hardwood flooring may be adhered directly to:
- Sound Barriers
- Plywood Subfloor
- Radiant Heating
The advantages of a glue-down application are:
- No need to build a plywood subfloor, saving time and material.
- No subfloor means less height build-up, so less height differences between hardwood and non-hardwood flooring.
- A very solid floor with little to no movement.
Glue-down application requires a skilled installer and meticulous site preparation. The strength of your floor depends on the quality of the glue used. BC Hardwood only uses proven, quality adhesives to ensure the bond remains strong into the future.
When choosing your hardwood flooring it is essential to take into account not only its appearance but the hardness as well. It is worth choosing a harder wood species rather than a softer one for areas where hard wear is expected: children playing, pets, stiletto heels, a busy entrance hall.
The hardness of a wood is rated on an industry wide standard known as the Janka test. The Janka measures the force required to embed a .444 inch steel ball into the wood by half its diameter. This is one of the best measures of the ability of a wood species to withstand denting and wear. It is also a good indicator of how hard a species is to saw or nail.
- 2350 – Brazillian Cherry
- 2345 – Mesquite
- 2200 – Santos Mahogany
- 1925 – Merbau
- 1910 – Jarrah
- 1860 – Purpleheart
- 1820 – Hickory / Pecan
- 1725 – African Padauk
- 1630 – Wenge
- 1450 – Hard Maple
- 1375 – Australian Cypress
- 1360 – White Oak
- 1320 – Ash
- 1300 – American Beech
- 1290 – Red Oak (northern)
- 1260 – Yellow Birch
- 1225 – Heart Pine
- 1010 – Black Walnut
- 1000 – Teak
- 950 – Black Cherry
- 870 – Yellow Pine (Longleaf)
- 690 – Yellow Pine (Loblobby & Shortleaf)
- 660 – Douglas Fir
Use this scale as a starting place to narrow down which species might be better suited to your needs. Ultimately, your final choice will take into consideration your style and colour preferences and should also weigh in the pros and cons of solid or engineered flooring for your lifestyle.
For more information about the comparative hardness of wood flooring see the JANKA Test on wikipedia.
Grain – Horizontal or Flat Grain, Vertical Grain
Bamboo flooring is available in Horizontal (Flat) Grain and Vertical Grain.
Horizontal or Flat grain flooring is laid-up with 3 layers of flattened bamboo slats adhered together. When you look at the floor from above you can see the bamboo nodes.
Vertical grain flooring is comprised of stalks that are adhered together vertically. You see a smaller portion of each stalk, and the nodes are less noticeable.
Plain Sawn vs. Quarter Sawn
The grain that shows on the surface of your hardwood floor will appear different, depending on how the wood was cut.
Plain sawn (or flat-sawn) lumber has the growth rings of the tree parallel to the board’s broad face. Plain sawn wood highlights the grain, loops and growth swirls of the wood.
Quarter sawn has the growth rings of the tree approximately perpendicular to the board’s surface. Quarter sawn wood has the straightest grain, and is used for our premium floors to add a sleek, streamlined look to any room.
Rift Sawn lumber is cut at a 30-degree or greater angle to the growth rings. This produces narrow boards with accentuated vertical or “straight” grain patterns.
How Quarter-Sawn Wood is Milled?
First, the log is cut into quarters. Then, the quarter is flipped ninety degrees back and forth to saw off a plane of wood. This process does not produce any more waste than plain sawing, but it does require some extra time to flip the quarters back and forth. This milling process produces a specialty wood flooring cut called Rift and Quarter Sawn.
The benefits to this cut of wood are straighter grain that is up to 50% more stable than plain sawn flooring, and a superior looking product featuring less variation, longer lengths, and medullary rays.
Engineered flooring may be available in different plank styles.
The entire board consists of three parallel strips of the same width. This style is usually the least expensive, and gives a busy patterned appearance that can disguise the seams where three strips end together.
The 2-strip Long Plank consists of 2 parallel strips, with joints. The strips are longer and larger, but there are still seams with two strips ending together.
The 1-strip consists of a single strip along the whole length of the board. This style may be available in different widths. This style is a bit more cost, but the single strip boards are the only style that truly give the effect of traditional hardwood flooring.
Pre-finished floors arrive for installation with a durable finish already applied to the surface. Because there’s no need for finish application and drying time, the floors are fast to install.
Radiant Heated Floors & Recommended Flooring
For many builders, the reluctance to install hardwood floors over radiant heat stemmed from problems associated with the original technology introduced more than 40 years ago. Back then, floors were heated excessively to compensate for poor building insulation. Those high temperatures exaggerated expansion and contraction in hardwood flooring. Today, modern insulation and building techniques allow a radiant floor to stay cooler than the floor of the average sunroom.
Many of the new engineered floors available today are designed for radiant heated floor installation.
See our page about Radiant Heated Floors.
Site-finished hardwood floors are installed, and then stained and finished on-site. Site-finishing gives a traditional, flowing, and unbroken finished appearance.