Installing a solid hardwood floor at the home or at the office can make the place feel warm and look beautiful. However, such flooring is not appropriate for every level of the home or office. Learning what grade level is best for hardwood flooring will help keep customers happy and allow installers and contractors to best advise their clients on their flooring options at every level.
About Hardwood Flooring
There are two types of wood flooring, solid and engineered. Solid wood flooring is comprised of complete pieces of wood and can be sanded, stained and refinished throughout its lifetime. Because they are natural pieces of wood, the material expands and contracts with too much moisture.
Engineered wood, on the other hand, is comprised of wood composite veneer. Depending on the composition of the material, it may be sanded and refinished during its lifetime, if the top layer is thick enough. Because the grains of this wood are set in all different directions, engineered wood resists the typical expansion and contraction due to moisture that solid wood flooring might experience.
Solid Wood and Grade Levels
Manufacturers of solid wood flooring recommend installation on grade and above grade, but do not recommend installing solid wood below grade. This is due to moisture issues that exist in basement levels of homes and offices that boost the humidity levels. Solid wood floors will be at their best on grade and above grade due to the drier conditions.
If solid wood flooring is installed below grade, the wood will absorb the extra moisture that comes in through the concrete slabs and walls. When solid wood absorbs moisture, the material can swell up, causing cupping, crowning and even buckling.
The good news is that engineered wood flooring has a much better resistance to higher moisture conditions, such as below grade conditions. The way that it is manufactured helps it to resist swelling from higher moisture conditions. Because it is better able to resist expansion, engineered flooring is the preferred wood flooring for below grade spaces.
Flooring inspectors, contractors and installers can share this valuable information with their customers and clients so they can better choose and install the proper flooring that can appear on each grade level.