Tag: hardwood

subfloor instalaltion for hardwood laminate and tile floors
About Floors

Choosing subfloor for hardwood, tile and laminate floors

The subfloor is the base for your flooring. Having the right subfloor is just as important as choosing the right floor finish, even if it’s going to hardly ever see the light of day.
Vinyl, laminate or tile or even expensive hardwood – doesn’t matter which one you choose, without proper support their durability will be compromised and you’ll end up wasting your money.
Who wants that? Noone! Here is how to make sure your subfloor is the right choice for your desired flooring.

What is a subfloor?

Subfloor is the very bottom layer of the floor that sits directly on the joists. Once the floor is installed it, subfloor gets hidden underneath. Because it’s hard to reach position, making changes to a subfloor is quite an expensive and difficult endeavor. Most subfloors stay the way they were built during the construction of the house.
The most common subfloor is 1/2″ or 3/4″ A/C-graded plywood. A/C means that the boards are smooth on the top side and rough on the bottom.
Oriented-strand board (OSB) also known as flakeboard is an alternative subflooring material. As a composite material, it shares great similarities with plywood. A single sheet of OSB is made by sealing large flakes of wood together with phenolic resins.

Underlayment

Subfloor is not to be confused with underlayment. Underlayment is what comes between subfloor and flooring surface to guarantee your floor’s best performance and keep the moisture and noise away. While subfloor is typically standard and consistent throughout the entire home, the type of underlayment used can vary from room to room depending on what type of flooring is being installed.

Cement underlayment

Cement board is the underlayment to use when installing tile flooring. It sits on the plywood or concrete surface and holds the tiles together.
Foam and cork underlayment
Foam and cork padding is the most common underlayment for laminate floors. Laminate is a hard floor and can often feel uncomfortable under your feet. The padding underneath helps cushion your step.
Plywood underlayment
Plywood can also be used as underlayment. It adds strength and helps set the height of the finish floor. In this case, you’ll have two layers of plywood present, one a subfloor layer and one an underlayment layer.

Subfloor for hardwood flooring

If you are installing hardwood flooring plywood is the best subfloor for you. Any plywood ranging from 1/2″ to 3/4″ and rated A/C will serve both solid or engineered hardwood well. If you decide to upgrade your subfloor choose tongue and groove plywood. It’s easier to install and will minimize squeaks caused by walking.

Subfloor for laminate flooring

Laminate can also be installed on a plywood subfloor. However laminate is a fairly thin floor so adding thin plywood as a secondary subfloor is advised, especially if you are installing laminate flooring in an older house. Subfloors in older houses are often no thicker than ½’’ plywood, unlike the ¾’’ thick layers in newer buildings. Because laminate is so thin it can easily show imperfections. To protect your flooring from grooves and dents you should install an underlayment, best foam or cork padding to provide some give and help smooth out any imperfections of the subfloor.

Subfloor for tile flooring

The main danger to tile flooring is cracking. Old and infected joists can be a cause for fractures. Installing stable plywood subfloor will help prevent any movement that can lead to damage. Underlayment too should have no give and be strong to support the tile floor properly. Cement board can be installed directly on top of the plywood layer.

About Floors

How To Choose The Right Hardwood Flooring Wood Species

If you are thinking about choosing a hardwood floor for your home chances are you are looking for a durable flooring option. The durability of any wood floor depends on its hardness.
The harder the floor is the better can it resist scratching and wear related damage.
However, whatever the name might suggest, not all hardwood is hard. Some woods are harder than others. How do you find out which one is right for you? Fear not, we’ve got you covered!

How hard is hardwood really?

The hardness of wood is determined by how much pressure it can withstand. The Janka Hardness Test measures the hardness of different wood species and classifies them by the results. During the testing, a steel ball with an 11.28-millimeter diameter is pressed into the wood to half the ball’s diameter. This creates a circular indention in the wood with an area of 100 square millimeters. The amount of force spent on the task is measured in pounds-force (lbf) or newtons (N).The more force this procedure requires the stronger is the wood species. Because the testing is done on the surface of the plank and the force is applied horizontally to the wood’s grain it’s possible to also determine side hardness.
To get reliable results the wood used in the test has been air-dried to a 12% moisture content.
The Janka Hardness test also gives insight on how well a particular wood can take on dents and daily wear.

Because of the different characteristics of various wood species, the difference between wood hardnesses is substantial.
The softest hardwood ever tested by the Janka hardness test is Cuipo and can withstand no more than 22-pound force. Australian Buloke is the strongest wood on the list. With 5060 pound-force, it’s well above some of the most famous exotic woods like Brazilian Walnut and Bolivian Cherry. It’s almost twice as strong as Red Mahogany and Southern Chestnut and three times stronger than the ever so popular flooring choice of Americans – Hickory.

Testing and collecting data is one thing but successfully applying the results to your next remodeling project is another thing. Knowing in advance what to expect from certain wood species will make it easier for you to choose the right kind of floor for your home.

What is the optimal hardness your desired wood species should have?

As long as you are installing a floor for residential use there is little chance you’d need something from the top of the Janka Hardness list. The most popular wood species used for home flooring purposes are usually of medium strength. Red Oak, White Oak or Maple are some of the most popular domestic flooring choices across the North America. Most of the domestic wood species tend to be of a lighter color unless stained or otherwise distressed.
Exotic woods come usually in more colors and differ from board to board. Their grain pattern is also more unusual and less continuous than in the case of domestic wood. This unique look has caused a massive spike in exotic wood floor sales in the last decade in the US. Most exotic wood species are also harder and consequently more durable than standard domestic wood species.

However, hardness isn’t always good. Most of us install a hardwood floor to avoid the trouble of removing and installing a new one years later. Solid hardwood floors can be sanded and refinished up to five times. But sanding and refinishing a truly hard hardwood floor isn’t all that easy. Because of the strong built most hard floors require very precise work and could splinter. This is also the reason why exotic wood species are more expensive to treat and require a specialist who has experience in the matter.

Domestic Hardwood Species

Red Oak

1290 lbf

Red Oak is somewhat the classic flooring choice. It’s so popular that every other wood is measured against its hardness and durability. The species usually has average to heavy graining with moderate color variations. The color of a Red oak floor can be anywhere between creamy pinks to light reds all the way to darker tones like shades of brown. Unlike white oak that has more earthly colored undertones (browns and greys), red oak is known for more pinkish appearance.

Maple

1450 lbf

This wood species is native to the northern regions of the US and Canada. Maple hardwood is mostly of a faint white color that might slightly vary from board to board. The continuity of tone throughout the board depends on the grade of the wood. Maple flooring can contain minimal to a lot of brownish/black mineral streaks. The higher the grade is the least marks of this kind occur. Maple graining (sometimes straight lines, other times curly patterns) is so fine that often times it goes unnoticed. “Birdseye” graining is also characteristic to maple. Birdseye is a distinctive pattern that resembles tiny eyes and is common in many wood species. Even though maple hardwood is mostly known as a very hardwood species, it contains areas that have softer structure. This can sometimes lead to uneven color distribution when staining the floor. To avoid blotchiness it’s recommended to use a liquid wood conditioner prior to applying a stain to your maple floor.

Hickory

1820 lbf

Hickory is one of the hardest species of wood that’s native to North America. Because of the great variety of color and unique graining, it’s one of the widely used woods too.
Coloring for Hickory hardwood flooring can range from creamy whites to medium browns and even to darker browns. To get the most out of the unique grain variation of Hickory it’s common to cut it in 5″ and wider planks.

Exotic Hardwood Species

Brazilian Cherry

2820 lbf

Brazilian Cherry is an exotic wood species known for its extreme color variations. Also known as Jatoba, it’s on the top of the Janka hardness rating. When installed it created a beautiful reddish/brown pattern with reddish/blonde highlights and occasionally deep red selections.
Unlike many flooring alternatives that tend to fade when exposed to the sun, Brazilian Cherry gets richer and darkens with exposure to light. The unique graining also plays a role in creating an interesting and inviting environment.

Santos Mahogany

2200 lbf

This hardwood species is the second-most popular choice among the exotic kind. Compared to Brazilian Cherry, the most popular exotic wood on the market, the tone of this wood remains mostly homogenous throughout the plank. Color variation ranges from medium brownish/orange to dark brown. Santos Mahogany hardwood has wavy grain that incorporates an open pattern. Just like Brazilian Cherry, when exposed to light Santos Mahogany will become richer.

Bamboo

Unlike other woods bamboo doesn’t have a set Janka hardness rating. The hardness of bamboo depends on the harvesting time. Cheaper bamboo has usually been harvested earlier than more expensive grass and is less hard.

is it worth the money to install hardwood flooring
About Floors

Is installing hardwood flooring worth the money?

Hardwood is one of the most popular natural materials available for flooring purposes. Solid and engineered hardwood floors both can successfully transform any space into a more warm and welcoming environment. Praised for its beauty and richness it also possessed impressive durability capabilities.
Despite being more expensive than most alternative flooring options, hardwood’s ability to be refinished is a convincing argument for many who are looking to install a new floor.

But really, how far can you stretch your hardwood floor’s life? And is it worth it at all?

How much does new hardwood flooring cost?

There are dozens of different hardwood floors available on the market and the prices vary just as much. As a rule, the grade of the wood is one of the biggest factors to determine the price. Higher the grade more expensive the floor. Hardwood of the highest grade comes in a longer boards has no blemishes and is a uniform color. The cheapest hardwood is the least “tame”, it’s rich with knots and blemishes and shows the raw character through the mixed color. The boards of this grade also tend to be as short as 24”.
The species of the wood, as well as your location, also play a significant role in determining the price for your hardwood floor installation. The rare types of wood like Sakura or Kempas tend to be more expensive than Maple or Oak which are more common in the US.
Typically, flooring suppliers quote the cost for installing a hardwood floor on a square-foot basis. The price for a lower to upper-grade hardwood varies between $4-8. Prefinished floors cost on average $2 more than unfinished.
There are other costs to consider In addition to what you pay for the floor itself. The price for installation varies depending on whether the floor needs to be nailed down, glued to the subfloor, or floated. Laying hardwood in a smaller room can also get more pricey since a lot of complicated trimming needs to be done to ideally fit the boards to your room’s borders and around other tightly located obstacles. There are also expenses that have little to do with the actual flooring, including delivery, moving furniture, and preparing the subfloor.

How durable is Hardwood really?

Both engineered and solid hardwood are durable flooring options. Even though they are built differently – solid wood is made from a single wood board while engineered hardwood is a composite product – the surface layer is in both cases real wood and has similar resistance to wear.
Density plays a big role in hardwood’s durability and is directly proportional to the floor’s hardness. Unlike what the name implies, not all hardwood floors are hard. Some are soft enough to get scratched. According to the Janka hardness test, which is used to measure how well different woods can withstand pressure, most hardwood species used for flooring purposes are of average hardness. Hickory, for example, can take 1820 lbf, most types of maple around 1400 lbf, white oak 1360 lbf and red oak 1290 lbf.

How much does refinishing cost?

The cost of refinishing hardwood floors varies based on floor material, floor condition, used equipment and the length of required labour. Usually, a 100 square feet room can be refinished in about 4-5 hours. The average price to refinish hardwood floors lies between $1.50 – $5.00 per square foot. This excludes the more exotic types of hardwood. They are difficult to work with and require extra care when being sanded. Some exotic floors can easily burnish due to their hardness if not treated carefully. Others leave dust behind that can harm people’s health and should be treated by an experienced flooring professional who will take adequate measures when working on such floor. These demands for extra care makes refinishing exotic wood more expensive.

How often can you refinish your floor?

The thicker the floor the more times can it be refinished. On average, solid hardwood floors can be refinished up to 5 times. Engineered hardwood floors with a wear layer of 2mm or thicker can be sanded and refinished as well.
However, thickness isn’t the only factor to be concerned with when refinishing your floor. Who does the work is just as important. Refinishing a floor means sanding off the top layer full scratches and blemishes to reveal new wood underneath and then re-applying color treatments and seal. More precise sanding will leave you with a thicker board and prolong your hardwood floors life.