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Types, Styles & Species
Types and Styles:
Wood flooring comes in a wide variety of styles to meet the demands of todays busy household. The following represent the main types and styles available today - factory finished, unfinished, solid wood (also known as real wood or hardwood), engineered wood, plank, strip, parquet and laminate.
Wood flooring offers a vast array of colours to complement or enhance any decor. You can achieve unique, individual looks with custom stains and finishes and even when your floor becomes old, you can achieve an entirely new look by applying a new stain or finish on certain types of flooring. Certain types of flooring such as solid come in varying grades. The appearance of the wood determines its grade. All grades are equally strong and serviceable, but each grade affords you a different look. The following are an example of the different types of grades available:
A Grade / First Grade / Clear Grade:
This grade of wood has the best appearance with natural colour variations.The wood is free from defects, though it may have minor imperfections and character marks. This grade of flooring is naturally the most expensive because it is in limited supply from the raw material.
B Grade / Second Grade / Natural Grade:
This grade is the middle grade and as such offers more character than Clear Grade but less than the Rustic Grade. The wood is almost clear, but contains infrequent natural characteristics such as knots and colour variations.
C Grade / Third Grade / Rustic Grade:
This grade of wood is rustic in appearance allowing all wood characteristics of the species. The floor can display heavy grain markings, wider colour variations and frequent knots of varying sizes. This flooring offers the best value for money as the majority of the raw material will consist of this type of grade.
Solid Wood flooring can also be purchased in packs containg a mixture of all the above grades for example ABC mix. This provides the perfect solution for anyone unsure which grade to purchase, giving you a mixture of the best and rustic with a price in between.
Laminate flooring comes with its own grade rating system. The AC rating system details the suitability of the flooring for residential or commercial use, which rooms best suited and how much traffic the floor is suitable to receive. For example an AC 2 rating is Residential, General Traffic, Suitable for living rooms or dining rooms. (Full details of each floors AC rating is provided by every manufacturer).
Styles of Wood Flooring:
This style of flooring is linear flooring that is usually 1 1/2, 2 1/4 or 3 1/4 inch wide, depending on the type. It creates a linear effect in a room often promoting the illusion of a larger space. There are different types of strip flooring available and the following are examples:
This board contains 3 individual strips of flooring on the width of each individual board giving a random appearance. Engineered 3 strip flooring often offers a cheaper alternative to single strip flooring without compromising on the wear and stability of the floor as it is easier for the manufacturers to source the smaller strips of material from the raw material.
This board contains 2 individual strips of flooring on the width of each individual board creating a more luxurious look than the 3 strip board. Once again, this style of flooring is often cheaper than single strip flooring without compromising on quality as it is easier for the manufacturers to source the smaller strips of material from the raw material.
Single strip have one complete piece of wood on the surface, giving the floor a stunning appearance as the full beauty of the wood is on show. The strips come in varying sizes and the greater the width, the greater the cost.
Plank flooring is also linear, however it usually comes in greater widths than that of strip flooring. Common widths for plank flooring are 3,4,5 & 6 inch.
Parquet flooring is a series of wood flooring pieces that create a geometric design.
Choosing the style that is best for you is an important decision and will be based on a variety of issues including your lifestyle, your decor and the area in which you live. For further assistance/help with choosing the right floor for you, check out our Flooring Types Explained section.
Factory Finished Flooring:
The main two types of factory finished hardwood flooring are Oiled or Lacquered. Oiled Flooring - this is when the surface of the floor is finished off with usually 4-5 layers of special oil or wax which provides added protection to the floor whilst conserving the natural beauty of the floor. Lacquered Flooring - this is when the surface of the flooring is finished off with usually 4-5 layers of UV lacquer providing an even greater added protection to the floor, showcasing the natural beauty of the floor in a brighter look than that of an oiled or waxed floor.
This is when the flooring comes in its natural wood with no finish. This type of flooring is naturally cheaper to purchase than factory finished flooring, however to preserve the floor to enjoy for years to come it is recommended that you apply one of the above finishes and this can be done after installation.
There are today more than 50 species of wood floors, both domestic and exotic, with a vast range of colours and prices enabling you to achieve the perfect look for your home. Here are just a few of the different types of species available - White Oak, Red Oak, Maple, Birch, Walnut, Ash, Pine,Cherry, Merbau, Wenge, Iroko, bamboo and mahogany.