Wood flooring is available in various sizes, lengths, wood species, finish types, and widths, each offering its own unique advantages and disadvantages.  With the virtually limitless possibilities in wood flooring today some people can be overwhelmed when making a decision, others may not be aware of wood’s versatility in every room of the house.  Making a decision on wood doesn’t have to be hard when you have the right information.

Choice #1: Unfinished wood flooring:
Unfinished flooring is a product that must be job-site sanded and finished after installation.

Choice #2: Pre-finished wood flooring:
Pre-finished flooring is factory sanded and finished flooring that only needs installation.

Choice #3: Solid wood flooring:

Solid wood flooring is completely lumber. It is available in unfinished and pre-finished. Solid wood flooring is produced in:
 Strip - in thicknesses of 5/16" to 3/4" in widths of 1 1/2, 2" and 2 1/4"
 Plank - in thicknesses of 1/2" or 3/4" and widths of 3" to 8"
 Parquet - geometrical patterns composed of individual wood slats held in place by mechanical fastening or an adhesive

 

Subfloor Preparation Suggestions

Subfloor: The finished floor is only as good as what is under it. Every installation of wood will require some degree of attention and correction to the subfloor, maybe nothing more than a broom- sweep, maybe more. It is crucial for you to properly assess the condition of the surface over which you are to install a wood floor. If the subsurface is concrete, check the following:

1.Moisture:
(Concrete should be 50-60 days old in most sections of North America.) The easiest, and most accurate test for moisture (see Moisture Detection Equipment) in concrete is to tape a 2' x 2' square of poly-film to the slab in 3 or 4 locations (more if the area is large) and, if practical, place a lamp on the poly, for 24 hours. The presence of moisture is certain if the slab is discolored, the poly is cloudy, and especially if water droplets are on the underside. To avoid the delay, moisture meters are available that will give an instant reading. There are many more tests, however, these are two of the best. Another is logic: What isthe history of other homes in the area, and the history of this builder and cement contractor. If the answer is moisture problems, damp-proof the slab! If the history is problem-free and your test shows no dampness, go to it! See Moisture Detection Equipment


2.Level:
The ideal slab is level to within 1/8" deviation in 10 ft. This amount of variation will never be discernable in the completed floor. With certain wood floors, and their required adhesives systems, the adhesive presents a "bed" that helps level, and 1/4 " in 10' is satisfactory. To test for level, some can "eyeball',' some have a "floorman's foot," but best is a 10' straight edge. Place the straight edge, in various locations over the slab and pivot it over the area as you look for gaps beneath the edge. Mark the highs to be removed, and the lows requiring fill.


3.Sealers or Cutting Agents:
Chemicals used to seal or cure slabs will generally lay on the surface of concrete, create a barrier against the penetration of wood floor adhesives or present such a "slick" surface that the adhesive will not adhere. Ask the builder or cement contractor if such a substance was applied to the slab. All "tilt wall" buildings will for certain, have an oil or paraffin-like release agent on the concrete. An easy quick test is a drop of water on the surface. If it "beads" rather than spreading and soaking into the slab, suspect a sealer and plan to remove it. Painted concrete should have the paint removed, especially if enamel-type or flaking and chipping. Oil spills must be cleaned.


4.Hardness:
Lightweight or acoustical concrete may be very soft, grainy, sandy. Scratch it with the tip of a knife or screwdriver. Adhesive will have a difficult time holding to a soft surface so prep will be needed. "Spalled' flaky concrete surfaces will have to be scoured or sanded to correct. If the job is a fire damage repair, carefully check the slab condition (and for dampness).


5.Existing Floor Covering:
Peek under the carpet! Many times the installer arrives expecting wood, and its concrete and vice-versa. Or particle board. Or VA tile! Find out for sure ! Old adhesives require removal. "Loose lay" or 66 perimeter glue" sheet goods must be removed. VA tile that is cracked, curled, missing, showing evidence of moisture or loose must be removed. Some wood adhesives will not work properly over resilient floor covering. Use the proper primer over sheet vinyl to stop plasticizer migration. Some manufacturers insist upon removal of resilient floors. Removal is always the best practice !

If the Subsurface is Wood, check:

1.Level:
Sagging subfloor indicates weak or twisted joists and will require structural repair from below (not necessarily within the domain of a wood floor installer !) If the board or plywood are cupped, or uneven at the joints, sanding will be needed.


2.Squeaks:
Fix them first, or the new floor will squeak too ! Plan to re-nail ! What is the joist spacing and the subfloor thickness? Maybe the squeaks are the indication of a flexing, weak system. Strip or plank will add strength because they span the joists. Parquet rides the subfloor and will require added strength.


3.Particle Board:
DO NOT nail to, or through, particle board. It does not provide enough nail-holding strength to control a nail-down wood floor. Nail floors to multi-layered products or solid lumber only. If it is clean, not oily, and dense enough not to be loose on the surface, adhesive applied wood should be okay.


4.Expansion:
Be sure the wood subfloor has its own expansion within. Solid boards must be spaced 1/8" to 1/4" between. Plywood sheets must have 1/8" at all edges. Particle board and hard board, to receive glue-down floors, should never be installed as 4' x 8' sheets. Always cut to 4' x 4' or smaller. The installer may have to make corrections.


5.Direction:
Plywood should be installed with the face grain running at 90 degrees to the joists to get the most strength in the subfloor. (i.e. 4' end on a joist and 8' length across the joists) Diagonal solid subfloor boards should be covered with plywood (or other) for adhesive floors. If diagonal nail-down is planned, be sure to run flooring opposite to the subfloor. Never "marry" a nail-down floorboard to a subfloor board. Split out and double expansion will occur. This is especially true when nailing over an old strip or plank floor. The direction must be 90' opposite, or plan for corrections.

Compare The Density Of Hardwood


Cleaning Wood Floors
In cleaning wood floors, regularly sweep or vacuum the floor to prevent sand or abrasive dust from accumulating and scratching the finish. Place doormats outside and rugs inside at every entrance of the house, again to prevent sand or abrasive dust from accumulating on the floor. Place a rug in front of the kitchen sink, kitchen working stations, and the dishwasher to protect the floor from dropped kitchen accessories and from water or oily detergent spills

Q & A


 Are kids and pets a factor?
With today’s tough polyurethane finishes, hardwood floors stand up to the wear and tear of active households – even in the kitchen. Hardwood floors are easy to maintain and keep clean: simply wipe up any spills; sweep and vacuum regularly.


Are allergies a consideration?
Doctors often recommend hardwood floors for their patients with allergies and respiratory problems. With their smooth surfaces, hardwood floors don’t harbour animal dander, fleas, dust, mites, pollen or other allergens.


Will your hardwood floor take more abuse than a professional basketball court?
“The other day, someone asked me if an oak or maple floor would be hard enough to handle all the activity in her busy home,” says Susan Regan of the Hardwood Information Center. “Let’s put it into perspective: pro basketball is played on maple floors. Freight trains run on oak rail ties. Does your floor have to stand up to more abuse than that? Oak, maple and many other American hardwood floors are more than hard enough for even the most chaotic households.”


Does it matter that something isn’t what it claims to be?
Beware. Some imported tropical hardwoods are masquerading as traditional home-grown favourites like oak, cherry or maple. For example, so-called “Tasmanian oak” is not oak at all: it’s eucalyptus from Down Under. What’s sold as “Brazilian cherry” isn’t cherry – like all Canadian hardwoods, cherry grows in temperate climates, not in tropical rain forests. So-called “Malaysian oak” actually is rubber wood from tropical plantations and it doesn’t even look like oak.


 What's the difference between engineered flooring and laminate flooring?
Let's start with the original term laminate flooring. Before plastic laminate flooring became popular in the mid '90's those in the hardwood flooring business called today's engineered flooring laminate. Engineered flooring is constructed in layers similar to plywood with an actual finished hardwood veneer layer on the surface.Today's laminate flooring is a photographed image of finished hardwood and cannot be refinished, whereas many engineered products can be refinished. How many times will depend on the thickness of the veneer, or top wear layer, and finding someone knowledgeable enough to handle the work.


Can I have a solid 3/4" hardwood glued to concrete?

You'll find some retailers will say yes. However, those that have dealt exclusively in hardwood flooring for some time will say no. In recent times some of the big box stores and adhesive manufacturers have been advocating this procedure. Only time will tell if it's a viable procedure, but it's safe to find an alternative.


What kind of hardwoods can I place on concrete subfloors then?
If moisture conditions are acceptable, two of the most widely used applications would be engineered hardwood floors glued direct with the proper adhesives, and floating engineered flooring types. The latter typically glued by tongue and groove and floated over a foam cushioned underlayment. Floating floors are also available in the click together style that require no gluing.More traditional 3/4" solid hardwoods on concrete can be accomplished with the addition of a plywood subfloor, used as a nailing base over the concrete. However, this raises problems with door entries and other items. Overall vertical height of the new floor will increase by 1 1/2 inches. Unfinished engineered hardwood floors eliminate vertical height issues and can be stained or finished to any desires.


I have a particleboard subfloor. Can I have nail down hardwoods installed?
Many confuse particleboard with OSB(Oriented Stand board). True particleboard commonly used in some manufactured homes does not have the holding power of hardwood flooring fasteners and will loosen over time. There are certain types of OSB that can be used for solid nail down hardwood floors. It is best to consult the manufacturers warranty specs.


When should hardwood floors be installed?
If you're having a home built or making some renovations it is highly suggested to have the hardwood flooring work scheduled very near the end. Unfortunately too many times, builders rush hardwood flooring projects and don't realize the consequences until it's too late and major repairs become necessary or moisture problems caused by other work rears it's ugly head.


It seems everyone is selling hardwood floors. Who knows what they're doing?
Ah, welcome to the new century. In the last five years alone we've noticed the yellow page ads explode with so called "hardwood specialists." Our suggestion is to look far and deep for the right installer. After all, hardwood flooring doesn't come cheap and replacing gets very expensive should installation problems occur.


What to choose? Prefinished hardwood floors or ones that are installed and sanded in place?
Today's prefinished hardwood floor finishes are vastly improved and are finished in controlled settings. Many offer more than six coatings whereas a normal site finished (sanded in place and finished) floor would be two or three. Prefinished warranties are exceptional but cannot be passed on from the original owner. There are advantages and disadvantages of both. Nearly all solid prefinished hardwood floors are beveled to some extent. On the other hand, a site finished hardwood floor that has been installed in it's raw unfinished form, then finished will have a flawless uniform appearance upon completion. However, maintaining the appearance requires close attention to climate control during seasonal changes.

GLOSSARY
Aluminum Oxide
The most durable finish available for use on hardwood and laminate floors. Aluminum Oxide's tough surface helps reduce surface scratches.
Carbonized
The steaming process in which the sugars cook and caramelize inside the bamboo cane to produce the rich brown color in bamboo flooring.
Charcoal Antiqued Grain
A special charcoal wash treated grain technique that deepens the color of only select grain throughout the plank. This creates contrast within the wood itself.
Do it Yourself
Synonyms: diy, do it yourself
A term used to describe installation projects that home owners will often do by themselves without hiring a contractor.
End cap
Also known as threshold or baby threshold, use this floor trim for transitions to carpet, masonry (fireplaces), sliding doors and other exterior door jambs.
Engineered
Engineered Floors consist of multiple high pressure fused layers of real wood with grains running in opposite directions. The top layer is the premium species of choice. This process creates the most durable hardwood floors available.
Exotic
Synonyms: exotic, exotics
Rare and difficult to source woods imported from around the world. Exotic woods are typically natural in tone with no stains applied, harder in density and with beautiful color variation.
Floated
Synonyms: floated, floating, float
A common installation method in which the new floor is installed over an underlayment and not attached to the subfloor at any point. One of the fastest, easiest and most economical installation methods.
Glued
Synonyms: glued, glue, gluing
The term "glued down" is an installation method in which adhesive is spread onto the floor using a metal hand trowel. The flooring planks are then placed into the adhesive.
Glueless Locking Tongue and Groove
A glueless locking tongue and groove mechanically secures the flooring planks together without the need for additional adhesives. Glueless locking floors allow for a faster floating installation.
Hand Rubbed Stains
Synonyms: hand rubbed, hand applied
The manual process of applying stains to the wood flooring by rubbing the color stain on and off with a soft cotton cloth. Improved color and grain depth result.
Handscraped
Synonyms: handscraped, hand-scraped, hand carved, handcarved, handsculpt
This premium feature is a process in which artisans carve depth and character by hand into the surface of a wood floor. A time worn appearance results.
High Density Fiberboard
Synonyms: hdf, high density fiberboard
A term used in describing the density of a laminate floor core board.
Installation Methods
Synonyms: installation methods, installation method, installation techniques, installation type
The various methods in which a floor can be installed including nail down, glue down or floating installation methods. Detailed instructions are posted on this site for each collection.
Installation Rating
How easy or difficult the installation of the flooring is based upon other customers previous feedback. A "Moderate" or "Easy" rating is suitable for both DIY or professional installation. A "Difficult" rating is best left to a professional installer.

Janka
The Janka hardness rating measures the pound per inch (psi) density of a variety of wood flooring species. Denser floors have a higher density rating and are harder to gouge and indent from daily wear.
Lifestyle Surface
A heavy wood grain topical surface texture typically used in the rustic or traditional pattern selection of laminate flooring.
Melamine Infused
The process of incorporating plastic into the High Density Core board (HDF) of a laminate flooring. This results in its moisture resistant capability.
Micro-Bevel
Synonyms: micro-bevel, micro-beveled, microbeveled, micro bevel
The term Micro-Bevel refers to slight round cut edge of the flooring plank. Micro-bevel edges give definition to the flooring plank and help reduce uneven plank height.
Nailed
Synonyms: nail, nailed
The nail down installation is the traditional method of affixing the flooring plank to the wooden subfloor beneath. The nail is driven by a pneumatic (air powered) flooring nail machine available at most local rental stores.
Natural
Meaning no color stain has been applied, only the protective no wax finish. What you see is the natural color of the actual wood species.
Neo-Prene Rubber
A premium sound deadening rubber underlayment for use under hard surface floors.
Over-wood
Synonyms: over-wood, over wood
When one edge of a hardwood plank is slightly higher than its adjoining plank. This is typically caused by an uneven subfloor.
Plank
Synonyms: plank, planks
Plank is the term that defines a hardwood or laminate floor with an approx board width of 4" or greater.
Plies
Synonyms: ply, plies, plys
The structure of an engineered floor where various layers of thinner wood are adhered together. This results in the strongest most stable wood floor available.
Pre-Finished
Synonyms: pre-finished, prefinished, pre-finish, prefinish, factory pre applied, factory applied
Multiple layers of sealer/finish have already been applied at the factory. All of the choices on simplefloors.com need no additional top coats, waxes or sealers applied, they are ready for installation and use.
Quarter Round
This is a wall trim. This is typically placed in front of an existing baseboard and covers the expansion gap required with many floors. It covers over the gap between the floor and the wall.
Radiant Heat
Synonyms: radiant heat, radiant heating, in floor heating, in floor heat, in floor radiant heat, radiant heat system, radiant heat systems
The term radiant heat refers to heating systems that are built into the floor. Radiant heat systems often consist of a network of tubes in which hot water travels.
Random Length Planks
More than one length of planks found in the cartons. Random length floors are the traditional format of hardwood flooring offering a more staggered appearance.
Reducer
Use this floor trim for transitioning down to adjoining lower floors. A good example of this use would be reducing down to a concrete or vinyl floor.

Refinished
The process in which a new clear coat of finish is applied to a hardwood floor surface renewing its life. This is typically a do it yourself job applied by a sponge mop.
Sanded
A process typically done in the past, sanding removes the top layer of wood from a hardwood floor. Modern protective finishes mean most wood floors installed today will not require actual sanding in the future.
Solid Floors
A flooring plank constructed with one solid piece of a single species. The entire plank from top to bottom is made of a "solid" piece of a specific hardwood species.
Sound Transmission Reduction
Synonyms: acoustical underlayment, acoustical cushion, sound reduction, sound deadening, sound reducing underlayment, underlay attached, sound deadening underlayment, sound deadening cushion
Underlayments for use as a foundation below the hard surface floor. Rubber and Cork underlayments are effective in the reduction of noise transmission from foot traffic in the room and rooms below.
Square Edge
The terms square edge refers to the area where the planks meet at the edges. Flooring planks with a square edge meet up to each other flush. There is no groove at the edges of the plank; they meet squarely.
Stain
Synonyms: stain, stains
The term stain refers to a color treatment being factory applied to the surface of the wood. Staining wood floors allows for a wide range of interior design color options
Stairnose
This trim allows you to install the flooring on your stairs. Use this trim on the edge of the stair tread to provide a curved wrap and build the rest of the step out of the new flooring material itself.

Stapled
Synonyms: staple, stapled
The staple down installation is the method of affixing the flooring plank to the wooden subfloor beneath. The staple is driven by a pneumatic (air powered) flooring nail machine available at most local rental stores.
Strand Woven
A term describing the unique manufacturing process in which bamboo is thrashed, bundled and densely compacted to exotic flooring plank with an 3000 PSI Janka rating.
Strip
Strip is the term that defines any floor with a 3 3/4" or narrower board width.
Strips
Strip defines the amount of individual appearing slats of wood that makes up the full width of a laminate floor board.
Structural Placement
The various levels (grades) in a home or building where the floor is able to be installed. For example, "below grade" refers to a basement level, "on grade" is the first floor and "above grade" is 2nd floor or higher.
Subfloor
Synonyms: subfloor, subfloors, sub floor, sub floors
The term given to the base floor of a structure. Subfloors will typically be either concrete or wooden. New floors are installed on top of the subfloor.
T-Molding
Use this floor trim in doorways and areas when transitioning to a similar or same height floor. An example would be doorways where this floor is being installed in both rooms, or areas where this floor is going to meet an existing floor of similar height.
UV Cured
The Ultra Violet light baking process that each finish coat goes through after being applied at the factory. UV curing hardens the finish surface.

Wallbase
Trim that attaches to the wall and covers the flooring expansion gap (typically 1/4" gap or more). Can be combined with a quarter round when covering larger expansion gaps.
Wear Layer
Synonyms: wear layer, wearlayer
The top layer of hardwood on an Engineered Floor. This is the surface area that is walked on and seen.

 

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