How Can You Tell Top-Quality Hardwood Floors?

Obtaining high-quality wood is important when you invest in new flooring, especially hardwood. Of course, every advertisement for each flooring store touts its high-quality flooring materials. No one advertises "crappy goods here." Not if they want to make sales.

How do you tell top-quality materials from low-quality or even average wood? What signifies top-quality hardwood floors?

Recognizing Poor Quality Hardwood

First, learn to recognize the signs of poorly finished wood. This low-quality product provides actual wood but doesn't work well as flooring. Examining these types of wood reveals:

  • Rough surfaces
  • Glossy surface masking the wood grain
  • Splintered edges
  • Dented, scratched wood or dust specks
  • Areas of dullness
  • Teardrops near the plank edges and vertical surfaces

Once you can recognize lower-quality wood easily, it makes it easier to recognize high-quality wood.

Wood vs. Composite

The highest quality hardwood flooring consists of pure wood of a single type. It's planks of oak, ebony, pine, or mahogany. In today's building material environment, many artificial laminates and composites can appear to be wood from a distance. Some plastic imitations also look like wood. If you want high-quality hardwood flooring, avoiding these faux items remains important.

Five Aspects of High-Quality Hardwood

Ideally, you shop for unadulterated wood. This lumber offers an unobscured look at the composition of the trees from which it came and the milling it underwent. Observe the wood:

  • Grain
  • Hardness
  • Color
  • Odor
  • Tree source

The latter refers to the type of tree from which the wood comes, such as white oak or knob pine.

Look for Large, Scattered Wood Grains

Observe the grain of the wood, which shows the source tree's growth rings. Pure hardwood features large, scattered growth rings forming its grain. Hardwood also features open pores that make the wood grain visible.

What does it mean if you spot reoccurring rings forming the grains, especially close together? You've probably spotted composite flooring that uses a shaved wood veneer glued to an artificial base.

Test Wood Hardness

Push one of your fingernails into the wood plank. On a softwood like pine, a small dent forms. On the hardwood, no dent forms. You also have the option to get samples and make sure it's a good quality.

Consider the Wood's Unvarnished Color

Consult The Wood Database online while wood shopping. Compare photos of the wood planks you're shown in the flooring store to the photos of wood of that type, such as maple or birch. The database offers photos and descriptions of each wood's grain direction, closeness, color, hardness, etc. By making this comparison, you can more easily spot a veneer that a store might advertise as natural hardwood.

Smell the Wood for Its Natural Odor

While pine and cedar offer the most famous wood scents, every wood has its own scent. Laminate and veneer cannot fake these smells, so sniff the wood, regardless of how silly you think you might look in the store. Natural cedar gives off a pleasant scent that graces many closets and dresser drawers. Pine offers a scent used in many cleaning products for its fresh, clean odor. Natural wood, especially hardwood, emits a telltale odor, each with its own.

Check the Signage for the Tree Source

In the U.S., stores tend to stick to a few wood selections. Common planks include oak, hard maple, walnut, hickory, and cherry. If the sign reads oak, they've mismarked their stock, but the boards appear dark tan or chocolaty. That's likely walnut. Let's consider a quick guide to the five most common hardwood flooring options.

Oak Flooring

North America loves oak flooring and has made it the most commonly installed. Oak comes in two forms – white or red. Both feature amber hues with defined grain patterns. This tough wood resists humidity and doesn't expand and contract much.

Hard Maple Flooring

Maple begins a light cream color but turns reddish-brown if exposed to sunlight over a period of time. That's why flooring experts counsel people to keep the drapes closed in rooms with maple floors installed. This hardwood features variegated patterns in its grain. It resists scratches and dents, making it a favorite flooring for gymnasiums.

Hickory Flooring

The third of the light-colored woods that have become popular as hardwood flooring, hickory, offers one of the hardest hardwoods. This dense wood hides scratches well. Known for its unique grains, it provides beauty and toughness.

Walnut Flooring

Although softer than oak, walnut still makes fine flooring. Found in many castles and mansions, walnut's natural coloring exudes luxury. It ranges from dark tan to dark chocolate brown.

Cherry Flooring

Cherry wood's straight, fine grains have made it a favorite among furniture makers, but it also creates gorgeous floors. Its reddish-brown color requires no varnish or stain to stand out. Simply polish the raw wood, and it looks lovely.

Qualities of Parquet Flooring

Not to be confused with laminate, parquet flooring uses strips or slats of hardwood arranged in a repeating pattern, such as herringbone. Traditionally, installers placed these floors one slat or strip at a time, but today, parquet flooring comes in tile-sized pieces measuring 9"x9", 12"x12", or 19"x19". On these tiles, the manufacturer bonds the wood slats to a base layer. You install modern parquet flooring in one of three ways - gluing, stapling, or nailing it onto the subfloor. The highest quality parquet flooring features the following:

  • Strong and attractive hardwoods, such as oak, elm, or tropical woods
  • Tough, thick wear layer to provide opportunities for sanding to lengthen its lifespan
  • Long-lasting surface treatment
  • Sturdy carrier plate of several layers of coniferous wood attached with high-quality adhesive
  • Overall, high-quality construction that shows clean sanding and even surfaces

These aspects contribute to a durable and beautiful parquet flooring product.

Shop at From The Forest to Find the Highest Quality Hardwoods

Shop From The Forest for hardwoods, laminate flooring, and reclaimed hardwoods. With each product marked, you can shop online with confidence. If you end up with the wrong product, you have 45 days to return or exchange it. Every hardwood flooring product receives a limited lifetime warranty, too. Shop for your new hardwood floors today.

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