Choose the Right Hardwood Floor
There are a lot of choices when it comes to hardwood flooring. Because your floor is a significant investment, we want to make sure you choose a floor that you will be happy with. Lifestyle and budget are the two most important items to take into consideration when choosing a hardwood floor. To help you narrow down the type of wood floor that would be best for you, consider the traffic in the room you’re adding hardwood flooring to. If it’s a high traffic area that will get lots of abuse, you may want a more robust, harder type of wood. If you’re more concerned about style than durability, a wide plank floor or a distressed or hand-scraped floor may be just what you’re looking for. Most of the homes in the KC area have 2 ¼” red or white oak. These are both excellent wood choices, but if you’re looking for something a little different, we’ve got plenty of variety. Our technicians will bring samples to your home so you can compare and they will let you know what kind of durability each type represents. Together, you can make an informed choice.
Engineered or Solid Hardwood Floors
When it comes to how the wood planks are made, there are basically only two types of hardwood floors to choose from-solid and engineered.
Solid hardwood floors are typically 3/4″ of an inch thick and are constructed of a single piece of wood from top to bottom. Solid hardwoods can be factory finished or finished on site. Solid hardwood floors can either be nailed down over plywood or OSB sub-floors. This is an excellent choice on the ground level or above. Because hardwood floors are solid, they can be sanded down and refinished many times.
Engineered floors are made by stacking multiple layers of hardwood plies on top of each other in opposite directions. The layers are bonded together under heat and pressure. A top layer or “wear” layer of real hardwood is added. The main advantage is that engineered hardwood floors are more dimensionally stable. The layers of hardwood that are stacked in opposite directions help counteract the natural tendency of wood to expand and contract with different levels of moisture. This added stability makes engineered floors ideal for slab and basement installations. As far as refinishing engineered floors goes, recent product advances have given us access to engineered products that have the same wear-layer as solid hardwoods and can be refinished many times over
In our opinion, making the decision between engineered or solid really depends on whether or not moisture or humidity is a concern. If the answer to this question is yes, we highly recommend an engineered product.
Factory Finished or Site Finished
You have two choices when it comes to hardwood floors. A hardwood floor can either be prefinished in a factory or finished on site in your home or business. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods, but it really comes down to the amount of customization you desire.
Because prefinished hardwood floors are finished in a factory under very controlled circumstances and receive anywhere from three to ten coats of finish, they are generally considered more durable than on site finishes. However, no floor is scratch proof. Every finish is susceptible to scratches no matter how durable the finish. Pre-finished hardwoods can be recoated or refinished just like site finished hardwood floors.
There is a wide variety of species, colors, and widths available in factory finished floors, but manufactures will generally only carry a few different colors and widths for each species. With site finished hardwoods we can customize the stain color and give you the exact sheen that you desire.
One small difference between unfinished and factory finished wood floors is that factory finished planks have a micro-beveled edge. The beveled edge is used to offset any height differences due to an uneven sub-floor. If a prefinished hardwood floor is refinished, these bevels may be reduced or go away altogether.
When pre-finished may be the best option:
- If the floor is in a high traffic area, pre-finished wood will be better because the factory finish is more durable.
- Pre-finished wood means there will be no fumes or mess in your home.
- If you are on a tight budget, pre-finished floors are slightly less expensive because there is less labor involved.
- If you live in a very humid area, pre-finished floors are more tolerant to humidity changes.
- If you’re in a hurry, pre-finished floors are installed more quickly.
When unfinished may be the best option:
- If you are trying to match or extend an existing wood floor, you want to finish it all at the same time.
- If you want to match existing trim or cabinets, you can see your options next to them to get the closest match.
- If the look of the beveled edges of pre-finished planks bothers you.
- If you are looking for an uncommon wood species or plank width.
- If you are trying to maintain a historical look before floors were finished and shiny. Unfinished flooring would be most appropriate if your home has historical significance or if you are trying to maintain the architectural integrity of it.
Site Finished Product Types
There are basically two kinds of finishes applied on site: surface finishes and penetrating finishes. Surface finishes are the most popular choice because they are very durable, water resistant, and require very little maintenance. Surface finishes are blends of synthetic resins and are commonly referred to as urethanes or polyurethanes and they provide a protective coating on the surface of the hardwood. There are several different types of surface finishes but we will focus on the three different types that Kimminau Floor Company uses:
OIL-BASED urethane’s are the most common type of floor finish. This type is very easy to apply and generally drys in about 8 hours. We typically apply 3 coats of this finish and it has a yellowish or amber tint.
- Easy to apply and touch-up
- Moderate odor
- Slow drying time
- Very durable
WATER-BASED urethane is a waterborne finish that dries as the water evaporates. These finishes are very clear and non-yellowing. We generally apply 3 coats of this finish as well – however multiple coats can be applied in the same day since the finish dries in 2 or 3 hours.
- Clear – resists yellowing over time
- Low odor
- Very quick drying times
- Very durable
All of the finishes listed above come in a variety of sheens from glossy to matte. A glossy finish will be the shiniest and have the most luster. It will reflect the maximum amount of light. The matte finish is much more muted. It will not have a lot of shine. The satin finish will provide a shine that falls somewhere between glossy and matte.
Our most popular finish falls somewhere between a satin and semi-gloss. Not only does this finish look awesome and provide the shine customers are looking for but also wears extremely well and doesn’t tend to lose any luster over time. Though shinier finishes are attractive, they also tend to show more imperfections. It’s best to use the shinier finishes in low traffic areas. We’ll be happy to show you samples if you are having trouble deciding which finish is best for your home.
Hardwood Floor Widths & Colors
You can find hardwoods in a variety of widths, but they are divided into two main categories – strips and planks. Strip flooring is boards that are less than 3” wide and it is the most popular type of hardwood flooring. Plank boards are wider that 3” and are often called wide-plank floors. Extra care is needed when installing them because they do tend to expand and contract more than strip floors. Just about any species of wood can be purchased in either style and they are also available in both solid and engineered types.
Wood Floor Color Options
There are over 50 hardwood species to choose from, so while the natural color of the wood should always be considered, keep in mind that most can be stained to any color you want. We’ll even customize your floor color by mixing multiple stains together until we find the exact color you’re looking for.
Here are some general guidelines to help you make a color decision. Light shades bring brightness to a room and make it appear more open. Medium colored hardwoods bring warmth to a room and make it appear a little less formal. Dark colored hardwoods can make a room look very formal. Dark hardwoods are often used in dining rooms or as borders to offer a nice contrast to the rest of the floor.
Wood Floor Customization
With the choices available today, it’s easy to add custom features. Inlays including borders, medallions and mosaics can make your floor a showpiece. Because of technology advances in the hardwood industry, there are literally hundreds of different wood species available in dozens of stains, patterns, and finishes to choose from. We offer designs from two of the industry’s leading inlay manufacturers, Oshkosh Designs and Renaissance Floor Inlays. Call us for ideas and samples.
Medallions are available either pre-manufactured or custom-made at the job site, and add a unique look to any room. Whether you are looking to add design elements to a hallway or a finished basement, medallions can provide a dramatic visual element to a wood floor. Medallions are routed in after the floor has been installed to ensure a proper fit, so if you’re looking to spice up an existing floor, it’s no problem. Our professional estimators will work with you to select the design, species, and colors that will best meet your needs.
With today’s open floor plans, borders can be a great way to visually break up the look of the floor. The design can be as simple or as intricate as you like, and the various types of woods and stain colors can create a stunning visual detail. Years ago, homes were created with these types of details, and we can now accomplish the same levels of craftsmanship in new homes or older home restorations. Kimminau Floor Company has years of experience designing and installing borders for hardwood floors. We are able to provide a free estimate and can work with you on the best solution for your design needs.
Hand-Scraped Wood Floors are very popular among homeowners. Their rustic feel provides old world charm and an antique feel that regular hardwood floors just cannot achieve. At Kimminau, we offer true hand-scraped floors that cannot be replicated in a factory. The look and feel is unique to each plank. These floors are beautiful, but all of the custom hand scraping can make them expensive. For our customers who like the look of hand-scraped floors but are working within a tighter budget, we offer high quality factory-distressed engineered flooring which costs less than traditional hand scraping.
Kimminau Floor Company of Kansas City can also distress your hardwood floors. Distressing is accomplished by using tools like chisels, planes, chains, and wire brushes to leave unique marks in the floor. You can tell the installers how much of a distressed look you prefer, and you can even be involved in the distressing process! Distressing is very labor-intensive and time-consuming, but the end result is that you create a very unique one-of-a-kind floor. Distressing can be done to both older homes and new construction, so call Kimminau for your options on your hardwood floors.