Monthly Archives: November 2016

Wide Plank Flooring Options

We often associate wide plank flooring with rustic cottages or colonial-era farmhouses, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be stylish in today’s modern homes too! With so many options available in terms of size, color, species, finish, and construction, virtually any design aesthetic can be complemented with wide plank flooring.

Wide Plank Flooring Options

Sizes – “Wide plank” usually means boards that are 5” in width, but they can go up to 7”- 8” or even wider. Plank lengths tend to be longer, too, creating a more seamless look. It’s in these broader widths and longer lengths that wide plank flooring gains its drama and distinction over narrow strip floors. Mixed width planks offer a rustic feel, while single-width floors lend themselves to a more contemporary environment.

Species – Traditional domestic species such as oak, maple, walnut, hickory, and pine are versatile wide plank flooring options that complement most cabinetry and home furnishings. Exotic species have a richness and excitement that “pops” in any space, so wider planks show off more of their great features.

Finishes – Hand-scraped and distressed wide plank flooring shows denting and scooping reminiscent of boards carved with hand-held tools. They also show a gentle, natural wear that includes knots, dents, and nails, but they have a durable finish that preserves the look and protects the floor.

Construction – Solid hardwood floors can last for generations with the option for refinishing throughout their lifetime, but they’re not recommended for every room in the house. Engineered hardwood is real wood flooring, but it’s more stable than solid wood and less susceptible to shrinking and expanding. You’ll find lots of options in engineered wide plank flooring.

Use wide plank flooring as the centerpiece of your space. The width of the individual boards will have a dramatic influence on the look of your floor and the overall design of your home.

Go Green with Sustainable Flooring

 With qualities like natural beauty, durability, lasting value and comfort, there are so many great reasons hardwood flooring makes a smart choice for your home. You might be surprised to learn that hardwood flooring is also a smart choice for the environment.

With today’s growing awareness of how energy consumption and waste build-up impacts the planet, many of us look for ways to “green” our homes with materials that are not only beautiful but environmentally friendly. Hardwood flooring meets those expectations perfectly!

What Does “Green” Mean?

Going green at home means considering several factors when choosing materials for our homes, like hardwood floors:

Outside the Home

Energy savings – Natural wood products are among the most energy-efficient to produce with manufacturing limited to running a saw blade and kiln drying. Advances in manufacturing technology and processes also make efficient use of wood waste and by-products. For example, tree bark is shredded into mulch, and sawdust becomes animal bedding or fuel used to operate kilns.

Water conservation – Forests naturally provide filtration and storage systems for our water supply, and they don’t require mechanical irrigation to regenerate. Responsible forest management selectively thins mature trees to create openings in the canopy that allow more precipitation and sunlight to reach the forest floor. Not only does this provide a thriving eco-system where seedlings and saplings grow, but sustainably managed forests can release slightly more water for a decade or so following timber harvest.

CO2 emissions reduction – Wood is carbon neutral. Growing trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and separate the carbon and oxygen atoms. The oxygen is released back into the atmosphere, while the carbon is used to grow roots, trunk, branches and leaves. Sustainable management creates healthier forests that serve as a “carbon sink” to clean air of greenhouse gases and purify drinking water for wildlife and municipal water systems.

Preservation of natural resources – Armstrong is strongly committed to supporting sustainable forest management practices globally, including planting trees to replenish what we harvest. Learn more about Armstrong’s Responsible Forest Management Policy.

Inside the Home

Better indoor air quality – Hardwood flooring doesn’t collect dust or allergens that can become trapped in other materials and contribute to health problems. Plus, hardwood flooring is easy to clean and maintain, which means you can keep your home allergen-free with little effort.

Recycle, reuse – The lifetime of a solid hardwood floor can be more than 100 years. Additionally, a hardwood floor can be refinished several times to bring back its original luster. At the end of its useful life, a hardwood floor can be repurposed into other wood products, from furniture to combustible fuel, or returned to the earth where it will naturally decay. Although a hardwood floor is strong and durable, you can trust that it won’t be found sitting in a landfill indefinitely!

From its sustainable source to its healthy qualities indoors, clearly, you can live green with hardwood flooring without sacrificing style, comfort or peace of mind.

Engineered vs. Solid Hardwood Flooring

 Solid hardwood floors are just that — they’re made from solid wood. Each board of solid hardwood flooring is made from a single piece of hardwood that’s about 3/4 of an inch thick. Because it’s so thick it can be sanded down and refinished for however long the flooring is in the house.

Engineered hardwood is a versatile and resilient flooring option that can be installed in most areas of your home. Made of genuine wood, this flooring gives your home an updated look and feel. Engineered hardwood is made of a core of hardwood or plywood with a layer of hardwood veneer affixed to the top surface. It’s more resistant to moisture and heat compared to solid hardwood.

 Where Can I Install Hardwood Floors?

Solid hardwood expands and contracts in reaction to changes in moisture and temperature, so solid wood floors are only recommended for rooms at ground level or above.

The unique construction of engineered wood creates a structure that is less likely to buckle, gap, or react to fluctuations in humidity and temperature. You can install engineered flooring on any level, including below ground. It’s a great choice for finished basements and bathrooms.

 Solid vs. Engineered Performance

Both solid and engineered hardwood floors are designed for beauty and durability. Their tough surface can stand up to active homes. However, both solid and engineered hardwood flooring have different performance attributes.

Solid wood flooring is permanently nailed to the subfloor. Because of expansion and contraction issues, installers will normally leave a gap between the wall and the floor to accommodate swelling. This type of flooring should only be installed in parts of the home above grade and only over plywood, wood or oriented strand board subfloors.

Engineered floors have enhanced stability, which provides slightly more resistance to everyday wear- and-tear and also to buckling or rippling. Solid hardwood floors are more prone to shrinking or expanding based on humidity levels.

Engineered wood floors can be more resistant to moisture and offer a bit more stability than solid hardwood. While no wood product can tolerate water laying on it, the increased moisture levels over concrete aren’t a problem for most engineered wood floors. Unlike solid hardwood, engineered hardwood can go over concrete under the right conditions.

 DIY vs. Pro Installation

Solid hardwood flooring can be glued, nailed or stapled to a wood subfloor. These types of installations are best left to the pros, since they can challenge even experienced DIYers.

Engineered wood floors can be either nailed down or glued down, like a traditional hardwood installation. They can also be installed as “floating” floors, in which the boards attach to each other and “float” above the subfloor.

Whoever installs your solid hardwood floors must have enough experience to leave the right amount of space for hardwood’s natural expansion and contraction. The individual boards can’t be too tight or too loose. If they’re too tight your floor will buckle. If it’s too loose the gaps between the boards will get too wide in the winter.

 DIY Hardwood Installation

Solid hardwood flooring installation is perhaps the most challenging of all flooring types. However with the right tools and planning skilled DIYers can handle the job with stunning results. If you’re unsure if you’re up to the task, review our DIY skill assessment, so you know what to expect.

Engineered hardwood flooring is an easier and faster DIY installation. Armstrong engineered hardwood flooring comes with a Lock&Fold™ installation system. This simple two-step process eliminates the need for messy glue or nails.

 Refinishing Hardwood Floors

Both engineered and solid hardwood flooring can be refinished. Solid hardwood can be refinished up to 10 times depending on the board thickness. Engineered boards requires less refinishing over its lifetime – typically only one or two times.

Refinishing your hardwood floors can be a DIY project, but it requires some skill and a bit of patience. Equipment rental can range between $200-$300 dollars. If you’re not completely confident in your skill level, you may want to consider hiring a professional.

 Hardwood Flooring Costs

The cost of solid vs. engineered hardwood is typically dependent on the quality and species of the wood. Exotic or highly-coveted hardwood, such as maple, may be more expensive than engineered flooring. For more common hardwoods, solid wood flooring may be cheaper overall, although it will take longer to install.

The layers in the buildup underneath the top layer of engineered hardwood also play a role in the final price. There can be anywhere between three and 12 layers of plywood and unfinished white wood, depending on the thickness and quality of the finished product. Armstrong’s price estimator is a helpful tool to get an estimate for the cost of buying and installing a hardwood floor.

All You Should Know About Hardwood Flooring Cost

 After deciding to purchase a hardwood floor, you’ll want to put together a detailed cost estimate. Typically, hardwood flooring costs relate to two key factors – the cost of the flooring (per square foot) and the labor for installation. Now what else do you need to know to get an estimate of your complete hardwood flooring costs?

Materials and services for a hardwood installation:

Materials:

  • Pre-finished hardwood boards*
  • Hardwood trims and moldings
  • Subfloor/underlayment
  • Installation materials (adhesives, underlayment, etc.)
  • Additional materials required to complete the installation

Services:

  • Furniture removal/replacement
  • Removal/disposal of old flooring
  • Subfloor preparation
  • Product delivery
  • Installation

* Allow 10% extra in your square foot calculations to make sure you have enough material.

Project Estimator Online Tool

Armstrong Flooring’s project estimator is a great tool for getting an approximate hardwood flooring cost. For each flooring product you select, you’ll be prompted to answer a few questions. The project estimator will guide you through the sometimes overlooked hardwood flooring cost factors, such as the removal of existing flooring, subfloor replacement and installation costs.

You will also be asked if you’re planning to hire a professional installer or do it yourself. Unless you’re a very experienced DIYer and completely comfortable using hardwood installation tools, we recommend hiring an Armstrong certified installer. If you decide to complete your own installation, be sure to visit our DIY Flooring Installation area to learn about the skills and tools needed.

After you answer all the questions, you’ll get a project estimate that you can print out. With your hardwood flooring estimate in hand, you can then visit your local flooring retailer to get a quote. Keep in mind, there may be additional costs based on local conditions that may affect the price.

If you invest the time now to understand hardwood flooring cost factors, you’ll know exactly how to plan your budget to get the hardwood floor you really want.