Solid wood is manufactured as one complete piece of solid wood. It is usually ¾” thick with the widths of the boards being 2 ¼” and 3 ¼” wide. It is installed on the job site, then sanded, stained and finished.
Solid wood floors react to the environment in which they are placed. In the winter, the moisture content of the wood is reduced which causes the floor to contract or leave gaps between each board. In the warmer, summer months when it is humid, the humidity enters the wood which will cause the wood to expand. If there is a high level of moisture, the floor can also cup. The end result of this can be raised boards that sometimes catch your shoes and become a trip hazard.
Engineered or pre-finished wood refers to when the finish is applied to the floor. An engineered or pre-finished floor has the finish applied at the mill where the floor is made. This allows for a more consistent looking finish with fewer imperfections than a floor that has been installed and then sanded and finished. This also means a pre-finished floor can be installed and walked on much sooner than a sand and finish floor and also with less mess and smell. Engineered or pre-finished floors consist of either 3 or 5-ply construction.
Since 1995, the amount of engineered wood in residential use has increased significantly. The stable construction of engineered wood reduces twisting and cupping. It also handles seasonal changes with less stress and movement (expansion and contraction). Because the best wood is used only on the face, engineered wood floors use forests more efficiently, with less impact on the environment. They also acclimate faster on the job which reduces construction time.
Pre-finished wood has UV cured, factory applied, urethane finishes which eliminate numerous problems that are prevalent with job site applied finishes. There are two types of finishes: UV cured urethane finish and UV cured urethane finish with Aluminum Oxide (AO). Finishing manufacturers have developed a process to suspend the AO particles in factory applied urethane to produce a wear layer for pre-finished hardwood flooring to out perform any job site finished floors or UV-cured urethane floors.
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