There’s nothing that has quite the universal appeal of hardwood floors. Simple and elegant, hardwood is a beautiful way to give a home or commercial building a warm glow that you just can’t get with other materials. Once you’ve decided that installing hardwood floors is the choice for you, you’ll want to consider choosing unfinished hardwood flooring for your next project. Here are a few things to think about before looking for quality hardwood flooring in Chicago.
Because hardwood is unfinished, you might think that it comes from a solid piece of lumber. This often isn’t the case. In fact, unfinished hardwood can come in either solid or engineered form, which each type having its own set of benefits. Traditionally, hardwood floors were always constructed from single solid pieces of lumber. After the lumber is harvested, the wood is dried in a kiln until it reaches 6% to 9% moisture content. The result is a solid plank of wood that is usually about 3/4” thick and is most suitable to homes in drier climates than Chicago. Engineered lumber, on the other hand, requires far less wood. Instead, the lumber is cut into veneer strips from 2mm to 5mm in thickness and applied to plywood. The engineered lumber is usually sanded in advance, expediting the installation process. This type of flooring is ideal for homes with concrete floors, or in projects that don’t require any custom work.
Once you’ve settled on your hardwood, you’ll need to consider the width. It may not seem that important, but the width of each of the planks is the look that you’ll be confronted with every day, so you’ll want to make sure it’s something that fits your tastes. It’s worth noting, however, that the wider the plank, the more likely it is to change shape in extreme weather. You may notice gaps when it’s dry, or swelling when it’s moist. Warping of any kind is far less common or noticeable with the thinner planks. Practically any kind of customization can take place with unfinished wood flooring — width included — but the standard sizes are 1 1/2” and 2 1/4” for strip widths, and 3 1/4”, 4”, and 5” for plank width.
You’ll need to determine the type of wood you most prefer. Every type of wood has its own distinct style, so you’ll have to choose wisely. The most common species for lumber in North America are Red Oak, White Oak, Hickory, Maple, and Walnut with the oaks being by far the two most popular types of hardwood flooring. Other species are less common such as Ash, Australian Cypress, Douglas Fir, and Brazilian Walnut. All of these are good for flooring, so it’s mostly a matter of taste.
Wood is graded on the amount of color variation, knots, pinholes, and other imperfections, so you’ll need to consider the grade as well. To many people, flaws are part of a wood’s appeal, so this too is more a measure of taste than of the quality of the wood.
When you’re ready to install hardwood floors into your home or business, call the professionals at Vintage Flooring Company. They’re experts when it comes to unfinished hardwood flooring in Chicago, and can answer all your questions.