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Home Improvement Guide 2007
Start improving
Ideas and suggestions for your next project, from simple plans to designing extensive renovations.
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Flooring: foundation of your home design
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Regardless of the style or finish you select, wood flooring is easy to maintain. Simply sweep the floor regularly and mop to remove surface dirt and debris. Floors with beveled edges need a vacuum bristle brush attachment to remove dirt between the floorboards.

Types of flooring
There are two types of wood flooring on the market today: solid and engineered. Each is available in a variety of species, widths and styles. Which you select depends upon where you want to use it in your home.

  • Solid wood: Literally solid from top to bottom and generally ranges in thickness from ¾-inch to 5/16-inch. Solid wood floors are ideal in family and living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and powder rooms. Solid wood flooring should not be used in the basement.
  • Engineered wood: Flooring is manufactured using three to five layers of different wood veneers. The sub layers can be the same species or different species. This is a stable floor and the wood will expand and contract less than a solid wood floor during fluctuations in humidity and temperature.

"Pricing between solid wood flooring and engineered wood flooring depends on a variety of issues including species, thickness, width and other manufacturing issues," says Korczak. "In addition, each manufacturer has proprietary pricing structures, so there are no hard and fast rules regarding pricing differences between the two types of wood. In other words, engineered products are not necessarily cheaper."

"We don't recommend that homeowners install wood flooring themselves -- especially for non-prefinished products," he adds. "Moisture testing must be conducted before installation can begin, acclimation of the wood should occur and the subfloor must be prepared properly. A weekend do-it-yourself homeowner will not be familiar with these steps, which are critical to the long-term life of the floor."

Flooring styles, species and finishes
A homeowner considering a wood floor needs to know that hardwood flooring is manufactured in three styles: strip (usually 2¼-inch to 3¼-inch wide), plank (commonly 4 inches or wider) and parquet (an inlay of different color wood in a geometric pattern or mosaic). Each style is available in both solid and engineered as well as in a variety of species, colors and widths. It's all a matter of personal taste. Choosing the right species of wood flooring for your home is strictly a matter of style, budget and personal preference. Decide if you like light, medium or dark wood. Do you want domestic or exotic?

There are three basic finishes -- gloss, satin or matte. They will vary depending on whether they are water-based or oil-based as well as by the manufacturer. Within different manufacturer's products, you'll get different options. For example, oil-based finishes offer high-gloss and semi-gloss. If a water-based product is being used, high-gloss is not available.

-- Posted: April 4, 2007
 
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