Understanding where certain types of hardwood flooring can be used should be foremost in any selectionmaking in order to have a successful installation for years to come. A vast majority of construction in the United States is plywood over floor joists with basements below. The preferred type of product would be the more traditional solid 3/4" material that will outlast our lifetimes, providing it's taken care of properly. These products can be completely refinished many times over.
In most cases color changes can be made, but requires very knowledgeable professionals. Other products gaining popularity in recent years would be prefinished engineered. These are constructed in ply fashion similar to that of common plywood with an actual hardwood veneer on the surface, commonly called the wear layer.
Wear layers can vary from one prefinished manufacturer to the next. One key to look for in choosing anengineered product would be the thickness of the veneer or wear layer. Nearly all manufacturers produce thin and thicker wear layers, the latter having the ability to be refinished. Often price can dictate the wear layer thickness. Some cannot be completely refinished. How many times an engineered hardwood can be refinished should be a concern for those that plan on living with their new hardwood floor more than 10-20 years, but will depend on what you perceive as needing refinishing.
Minor scratches, dings and dents add to the character of hardwood flooring. Some are fine by the added character that comes along with age and use, others may not be. If you're seeking near perfection and desire a flawless appearance, your floors may need refinishing every five years. Choosing a product with the thickest wear layer should be considered.
Most of the better engineered hardwoods have veneer thicknesses of 1/8" and more. With the right professionals and a flat subfloor these can be successfully refinished at least two or three times. Color changes may reduce this number. Finally, engineered products are more stable (minimal if any expansion and contraction)¹ than solid hardwood due to the way they are constructed. They are recommended for in floor radiant heating systems as well.
Random Length or One Size Lengths? All manufacturers are different. Some may offer random length or one set length hardwood. Random length is defined as each piece being different in size between the shortest and longest. For example, one may say 12" - 60" random length. This means the shortest pieces will be 12" and the longest 60" with the others being different sized in between. Random lengths offer a more traditional look.
Some products may be manufactured in one length only, but to an untrained eye will look similar to a random length hardwood floor if installed properly. Some confuse one length hardwoods as being too uniform in appearance. One length products should be installed randomly. Creating the random look begins with using different sized boards at the starting area.
They should be cut randomly with no particular measurement used. Once starter boards are cut and full length pieces are installed adjacent to them, a random look appears as shown in the first illustration above.
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