Properties of Wood

floors, flooringWood is a cellulose substance inside the bark of trees. Wood is cut or ground into a wide variety of building materials including lumber and veneer. You knew that. What you may not have considered is that wood is a relatively soft material and this property isn’t significantly changed with coatings and finishes.

Some woods, such as oak, are denser or harder than others, such as pine. And some species of oak are harder than others; white oak offers more resistance to wear than red oak, for example. However, all woods are softer than ceramic tiles and less resilient than vinyl tile.

Another important characteristic of woods used for flooring is the grain or fibers. Some people prefer the coarse-grained woods such as oak and ash while others prefer less of the grain streaks in finer-grained woods like maple, birch, and beech.

Beside the more popular flooring woods there are soft woods and exotic hardwoods. The softwoods include Douglas fir, white pine, and yellow pine. Because they are soft they don’t stand up to wear very well. However, if you’re looking for a rustic-cabin look and don’t mind traffic wear, softwood flooring materials are inexpensive compared to hardwoods. Exotic hardwoods include walnut, cherry, and mahogany. While these and other hardwoods are more expensive than oak and other common hardwoods, they may not wear any better. So why consider exotic hardwood flooring materials? Beauty. Many people prefer the grain and coloration (the “character”) of exotic over common hardwoods.

After dirt, one of the first flooring materials was solid wood. It was typically whatever wood was locally available. Solid wood flooring was functional. It offered a relatively hard, flat surface that could be installed by the home’s owner-builder. There may be some cracks between the planks, but it was quite an improvement over a dirt floor.

Today’s solid wood flooring has evolved into tightly-fitting materials manufactured to close tolerances and for relatively easy installation. Also important, today’s hardwoods are selected for natural beauty.

 
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