Hardwood Flooring Buying Guide

How to choose the best hardwood floors
for your home.

Hardwood Benefits

What is Engineered Hardwood Flooring?

Engineered hardwood flooring is constructed with a solid wood top layer and base layers made up of plywood or a wood substitute. The base layers are stacked in opposite directions and bonded together resulting in stronger, more stable planks than a solid hardwood floor.

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, engineered hardwood floors:
  • offer increased dimensional stability
  • can be installed below grade level (e.g., basements), on grade level, and above grade level
  • can be installed over radiant heat
  • can be glued down directly to a concrete slab
  • can be sanded and refinished
  • are less likely to warp due to their moisture-resistance feature

What to Look for in Engineered Wood Floors?

Wear Layer Thickness

The thickness of the wear layer, the solid wood top layer, in engineered hardwood dictates how many times you can sand and refinish your flooring. It generally ranges from 1.5mm to 8mm. Thicker wear layers allow you to renew your floor more times than their thinner counterparts and add more years to the lifespan of your hardwood flooring.

A 2mm wear layer allows you to sand and refinish your flooring at least once. A 3mm allows you to refinish it about 2.5 times. 4mm allows for 3.5 times. A 6mm allows you to refinish your flooring 5 to 6 times, which is about the same number of times you can refinish a solid hardwood floor.

Wood Species

The color variations and grain patterns play the biggest role in selecting a wood species. It’s equally important to look at how durable a particular species is to ensure the quality of your new flooring. Popular and durable choices include hickory, oak, maple, walnut, and acacia.

The durability of wood species is determined by where it falls on the Janka Hardness scale. Woods with a higher rating are more durable.

Hardness Rating Chart

Hickory Acacia Maple White Oak Red Oak Walnut
1820 1750 1450 1360 1290 1010

Quality Finishes

Most finishes fall into two main categories, oil or polyurethane. Oil finishes enhance the beauty and natural color of the wood. While they scratch more easily, they also hide scratches well and are easier to repair.

Polyurethane finishes are stronger and more durable. They protect your floors against wear and tear especially if your wood flooring is installed in a kitchen.
Tip: For even a stronger finish, pick a floor with polyurethane with built-in aluminum oxide.

Engineered Hardwood Installation Methods

Engineered hardwood can typically be glued, nailed/stabled, or floated.
Here is what each of these methods means:
  • Nail/Staple – Depending on the thickness of the floor nails or staples are used to fasten the wood to your subfloor.
  • Glue – A strong adhesive is used to hold down your floors to a sub-floor.
  • Floating – In this method, floors are not actually attached to a subfloor; they float above it. The planks are built to snap together making this method popular among DIYers. An underlayment pad should be placed between the subfloor and your hardwood flooring to eliminate noise and soak up moisture.
Note: Always remember to check manufacturers’ instructions for your specific floor when determining an appropriate installation method.

Need Help?

If you are located in Sacramento, or anywhere in Northern CA, book a mobile showroom appointment, and a flooring expert can guide you through the best flooring choices.

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