What Advantages Does Prefinished Wood Flooring Offer?Posted in Flooring, Solid Wood
Prefinished wood flooring is a great way to add beauty and warmth to your home. Adding character to a room can be a big investment, one in which that has upsides and downsides. Lately, many homeowners are asking flooring professionals if installing prefinished solid wood flooring in their homes a good decision. Before directly answering that question, here are some considerations to keep in mind.
- Prefinished solid wood floors are easy to install. Handy homeowners can handle the installation themselves or a professional can be hired relatively inexpensively to do the job for you. Unlike the installation of unfinished solid wood flooring, which requires a lot of sanding and the application of multiple layers of polyurethane to achieve a quality finish that then must be left alone to cure, prefinished solid wood flooring can handle foot traffic the very day it is installed. The installation of prefinished wood flooring can be done in as little as a day or two, depending on the size of the project.
- The finish that is applied at the factory is polyurethane that is infused with aluminum oxide and then cured under UV lamps. This application is more durable and longer lasting than the finish that is done on unfinished wood flooring after installation. Prefinished flooring top coats should last about 30 percent longer than on-site applied finishes, before they need to be re-screened and -polyed.
- Prefinished wood flooring can last the entire lifespan of your home. All solid wood flooring can be sanded and refinished more than once. Older flooring must have at least 1/8 of an inch left between top and the tongue to be refinished. This can be gauged by sliding a piece of paper in between to boards to measure the distance.
- Prefinished solid wood flooring can be costly when compared to other options. Installing laminate, vinyl, ceramic tile, or carpet is normally less expensive; with some costing as low as 50 cents per square-foot.
- Prefinished wood flooring is better in certain regions. Wood contracts and expands depending on temperature and humidity. In areas with high humidity, boards will warp or cup more easily, whereas in areas that are arid and hot, boards are more likely to contract and gap. This is one reason why solid wood flooring is not installed below grade. Solid wood floors are normally never installed in high humidity rooms, such as bathrooms or laundry rooms.
- While solid wood is durable, it can still be damaged by scratches and dents. Your pets and furniture are two of the most common ways the finish can become scratched. Heavy items can dent the wood if dropped. There are many ways to damage the finish on your prefinished wood flooring, but few ways to easily repair it. Scratches can be concealed using touch up kits provided by manufacturers, but some damages require you to refinish the damaged part of the flooring.
If you have decided to purchase and install prefinished wood flooring, here’s what you need to know before you head out and purchase it.
First, the cost estimate can be calculated by measuring the square footage of your room and adding another five to seven percent to the total square footage, to account for waste and cuts. Multiply that number by the price of the flooring per square-foot and you have an estimated cost.
Next you need to know some basics to ensure you get the type of flooring that you want.
When it comes to wood planks and strips that constitute wood flooring, there are some terms that you should become familiar with.
The majority of prefinished solid wood flooring comes with beveled edges. These beveled edges help to protect the finish on the wood from being chipped when it’s being installed. The bevels can be purchased if you choose to go for an on-site finished look.
Prefinished wood flooring is sold in strips or planks. The strips are three inches or less in width and planks are wider than three inches. Strips cost less than planks and are best if you are tying for a more traditional look. Planks work better for a more rustic feel, but are affected more by humidity. The wider the boards, the more sensitive they are to humidity and the greater the chance of warping.
Prefinished solid wood flooring can be found as thin as 5/16 of an inch thick, but the standard is 3/4 of an inch. The thinner wood flooring is more common when a home is being remodeled or when there is a transition into a doorway or even a staircase. The problem with thinner flooring comes when the floor needs to be refinished. A 5/16-inch floor board could only be sanded once or twice, which significantly shortens the life of your flooring.
Wood flooring is classified by grade, which is determined by the amount of defects found in the wood. This grade is set by the mill. These defects are knots, discolorations in the wood, and the length of the boards. The longer the length of the board and the lower the amount of defects, gives the board a higher grade. The higher the grade, the more the wood costs. Regardless of the grade, the wood will be good for flooring. It comes down to whether you would want to pay less for less defects, which some view as adding character to the wood.
The grain refers to the way the growth rings look on the cut wood. If the wood was in plain sawn or flat sawn, the growth rings will run parallel with the face of the board. The parallel growth rings make a wavy grain look. Quarter sawn wood will have perpendicular growth rings compared to the face and will make the grain straight. The majority of grades include both types of grain, but a certain grain type can be requested. Selecting all boards of one grain type will probably cost you more money.
Now that you know about the wood, it’s time to cover the finish.
Manufacturers can say they put down six layers of top coat to try and claim thickness and durability, but another manufacturer could put down just three coats that are more durable and thicker. To test durability, get samples and scratch test them. When it comes to the sheen of the finish, a high gloss will magnify the color and grain of the wood, but dents and scratches will also be magnified. A matte or satin finish will better mimic an onsite polyurethane finish. After installation, the finish on the floor should be expected to last at least five to 10 years before it needs a screen-and-poly. The flooring should only need to be sanded and refinished at about 20 years.