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Choosing a Hardwood floor

3 options: Solid On-site sand/finish, Solid Prefinished, or Engineered Hardwood



Solid On-site sand/finish

Solid Hardwood has many benefits in the right applications. It provides a sophisticated aesthetic in homes and offices, conveying a sense of warmth. Hardwood is also an environmentally-friendly flooring choice, meaning the flooring underneath your feet came from a tree in the forest. And because wood has natural insulating properties, it also provides a literal sense of warmth.


Most Solid Hardwood for on-site sand/finish is 3/4" thick and can be sanded/refinished a number of times over its life, which, when properly maintained on a carefully trafficked floor, means decades, at the least. Some Hardwood floors have lasted over 100 years. Species available today include the ever-popular White Oak, Red Oak, White Northern Maple, Hickory, and Brazilian Cherry. Another benefit of choosing Solid On-site sand/finish is getting to personalize your stain selection with our installer (exception: Maple and Brazilian Cherry, which by species, do not take a stain - therefore will have a clear finish). There are many stain colors available.


Disclaimer: Solid Hardwood should not be installed in bathrooms, basements, or utility rooms due to the high-potential for significant water or moisture. But otherwise, Solid Hardwood is practically a green light for any other room in the house (bedroom, hallway, entry, living, dining, kitchen, family, bonus, etc.).


Solid Hardwood is very durable and has great longevity. Different from prefinished boards or engineered hardwood, On-site sand/finish hardwood means the surface will be smooth to the touch board-to-board. This is a matter of personal preference. Some customers prefer on-site sand/finish where you can have board widths from 2 1/4" up to 5"-width. Whereas, other customers prefer the look of wider boards, which require them to be prefinished in a factory and shipped to the site. Prefinished boards will have a slight bevel at the edges, which is important. Let's look at those next.




Prefinished Solid

Prefinished Solid Hardwood comes in the same solid hardwood species mentioned above, but is prefinished at a manufacturing facility. Most of these hardwood boards are also 3/4" thick or similar and can be sanded/refinished a few times in the future. The fact that they are stained and finished in a factory allows for multiple more variations in color staining and are available in either an aluminum oxide or oil-based top-coat finish, both quite durable. Most, if not all boards in the prefinished category will have a slight bevel or decent bevel on all edges, which allow for the best method of installation. So, you will see the differentiation between each board, like an outline. The other benefit of boards stained/finished in a factory, is the added facet of texture. Not all products in the prefinished category have a handsawn, distressed, or wire brush texture, but many can. Ask about the current availability of prefinished solid hardwood during your appointment at the hardwood shop.




Engineered Hardwood

Engineered Hardwood comes in many different species, stains, and finishes. The main reason customers tend to go with Engineered Hardwood is because it is manufactured in a manner which allows for wider boards (solid hardwood category boards tend to max at 5"-width, but engineered can go up to 9"-width). This wider-width category makes a larger room or great room appear that much grander or impressive. Engineered Hardwood is also prefinished at the manufacturer, meaning it is stained, finished, can be textured, and has a beveled edge. Popular in Nordic countries for decades, wider boards are trending very popular now in the United States. Different than most solid hardwood options, Engineered can also be available in longer board lengths as well. Some products are available in 8'-lengths. This is a much grander scale compared to the hardwood options from a few decades ago.


Because Engineered Hardwood is made with multiple layers of plywood fitted in an alternating lattice pattern, this added strength of construction allows for wider boards to maintain their integrity for wider widths. The top layer of solid hardwood can vary in thickness and is usually between 2mm and 4mm (though some can be as thick as 6mm). The thinner Engineered Hardwoods are not recommended to be sanded/refinished in the future, but the thicker options can be sanded/refinished at least once, should the owner decide to do so.


As seen in magazines, on Pinterest, and Instagram, the fashionable look in Winter 2022 and for Spring 2023 is a coloration and style shown in the photo project we completed in late 2022 (above), of wider and longer boards in an oil and wire brushed Engineered White Oak hardwood with light stain. This coloration brightens up every room, and goes well with neutral color hearths, cabinets, furniture, and kitchen finishes. Pair black and white cabinetry with a light stained White Oak floor and you have a modern classic look, which can also include the modern farmhouse look, should you prefer.


Recap

Prefinished and Engineered hardwood floors bring simplicity to the installation process in that they do not require sanding and staining on-site. On-site sand and finish hardwood, in contrast, requires this, and because it does requires the occupants to vacate the residence or office for the duration of the work (which is usually 6-7 days). Whether an on-site sand and finish hardwood or prefinished/engineered hardwood is right for you depends on your preference, budget, and style. We are glad to provide information on all these options for your project, and talk with you about the availability and costs after an on-site measuring appointment.


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