There are three key types of hardwood flooring: solid, longstrip, and engineered.
Solid wood floors are typically a single plank of wood, with “tongues” and “grooves” that allow the pieces to connect. Solid floors are extremely moisture sensitive, and generally nailed down to ward off humidity fluctuations. As we’ve discussed before, seasonal moisture shifts cause wood to contract and expand—cold weather causes wood to shrink, while more humid climates cause wood to expand. Because of this, expansion space should be considered when placing your planks.
Longstrip and engineered floors share a key trait: both are composed of multiple sheets (called “plies”) of wood pieced together to create a single plank. For longstrip flooring, the core of the piece is usually a more pliable, softer wood. The top layer, however, can be any number of hardwood species. Longstrip production creates an interesting effect—a board a few planks wide and many planks long. Each piece resembles a single preassembled chunk of the floor. One advantage of longstrip floors is that they’re easily replaced if they’ve suffered irreparable damage.
The layers which make up Engineered floors are arranged in opposing directions. This is often known as “cross-ply” construction. This method effectively guards the flooring against moisture-related problems. The planks’ arrangement causes the expansions and contractions to counter one another, limiting or reducing the amount of cupping and crowning a floor can exhibit when exposed to differing levels of humidity. Engineered floors are versatile, allowing them to be installed in any part of the home whether it be the basement or directly on slab. These floors can be stapled, glued, nailed, or even floated over existing subfloors.
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