TYPES OF WOOD MATERIALS USED IN INTERIORS Wood Flooring
Standard wood flooring is made from strips of solid wood % inch thick, varying from approximately 2 to 10 inches wide. When the wood is wider than 3 inches, it is called a plank instead of a strip. Normally, a hardwood such as oak or cherry is used for flooring. Occasionally, a softwood such as pine is used, which shows wear much more than hardwoods do. Wear shows by compaction where objects hit the wood, as in dents from small heels or dog feet, and sunken path areas where people have walked for years. The most common wood floors are oak strips, % inch thick, 2% inches wide, 8 feet long. Each strip has a tongue protruding out along one side and a groove recess along the other side so that strips will be locked to each other when pounded together.
Wood flooring strips are available as either unfinished wood that will be stained and finished after they are installed, or pre-finished wood. The pre-finished wood strips cost more, but the installation time is much quicker—about one day compared to several days for sanding, staining, and finishing drying time. Another advantage of selecting pre-finished wood strips or planks is that you see exactly what the finished floor will be. Unfinished wood flooring is less expensive; however, the finished look is in the hands of the installer. In a case where new flooring will be added to existing flooring, the existing wood needs to be sanded until it is completely raw and the new wood should match the raw wood. Then they are both finished in the same manner. An advantage of using solid wood strips or planks is that they can be refinished after years of wear. Solid wood floors are % inch thick and can be refinished four times before the tongue and groove joint becomes loose. The disadvantage of solid wood is that it is susceptible to humidity changes that can cause shrinking, swelling, or warping. Pre-finished wood strips are usually a 14-inch to V8-inch veneer of wood over a core material, thus making them less durable for sanding and refinishing.
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Salvaged or reclaimed wood can be used for flooring. It may take more time to refit the wood for a current installation, but the distressed effect may be worth it. Reclaimed wood may not have a tongue and groove or a backing that allows for uneven subflooring. Sometimes the planks are remilled, other times alternate methods are used to install the wood as flooring.
Wood flooring is also available in parquet, small pieces (billets) cut to form a pattern. Parquet designs are often used for formal rooms because the historical reference is the French Palace of Versailles. Parquet designs are available in block, usually square, with wood billets running in diagonal directions. The wood may be solid % inch thick, or a veneer applied to a substrate of wood product for stability. The main disadvantage of parquet is humidity-related shrinkage. The block will act as a unit and all the shrinkage may be transferred to one large gap.
Solid wood paneling is only found in old buildings, or where a person has his or her own trees cut to make the wood paneling. Older pieces of wood furniture, called case goods, or cabinets, used solid wood in the past, but it is rare to find them made since 1970. The only time you will find new production of solid wood other than flooring is for cabinet doors. The remainder of the cabinet is usually a different wood product, either plywood or medium-density fiberboard.