Introduction

Hardwood comes in engineered and solid forms.

We don’t offer solid in Southern California because of the moisture issues in concrete. We focus mainly on engineered wood. As the name suggests, it’s just that: wood engineered in layers that are cross-plied to give it stability as it expands and contracts with moisture.

Our products come different thickness and widths. We offer edge profiles in square, beveled and kissed.

All products we offer are prefinished. At the factory, the wood is perfectly sanded, stained in optimal conditions, and coated with several layers of aluminum oxide, the hardest flooring surface in existence. As a result of this, we can offer a 25-year wear warranty and a lifetime moisture and structural warranty.

Our domestic species offerings are Oak and Maple (which represent 84% of what’s sold in the US), as well as Hickory and American Cherry. The American Cherry should only be used in formal, lower traffic areas, due to it being a softer species.

We have many exotic offerings, including Teak, Merbau, Brazilian Cherry and Bamboo.

The hottest look today is the distressed visual, and we offer it in many colors and sizes.  We can supply products by Mohawk, Shaw, Tri-West, and and many other manufactures.

Rounding out our offering is a complete line of sundry items. This includes coordinating moldings, cleaners and adhesives.

Wood Floors

Hardwood flooring is the fastest growing segment of the Floor Covering Industry. It’s one of the few products used in housing today that actually increases in value with age. People realize this value and are willing to pay more for it initially, several surveys have proven this. Many manufacturers offer several different price level categories of their hardwood flooring to better fit the financial needs of the consumer.

Wood is a natural product, so its endless varieties of grains and colors enhance its beauty. It’s not manufactured, so there are no dye-lot numbers to worry about.

As a flooring material, wood is considered by some as a superior flooring product as compared to many other flooring choices, both practically and esthetically. A wood floor is more than a covering; it adds strength and stability to the floor system. A one-inch thickness of wood has the same insulating value as 15 inches of concrete. Wood is durable and long-lasting; occasional sanding and refinishing essentially give the floor a brand-new look and feel. Wood floors simply cleaning, as they don’t retain mildew or absorb dust.

Perhaps the most appealing characteristics of wood flooring, though, are its attractive appearance and natural warmth. A beautiful wood floor can enliven a drab room, enhance any architectural style, complement furniture and design schemes, and add value to any home or building.

U.S. consumers spend over one billion dollars per year for hard wood flooring (out of 21 billion total dollars spent on flooring per year). Yet, more people would like wood floors. Over fifty percent of consumers polled would have selected a wood floor for their home.

Engineered Wood Flooring

In the mid 1900s, new homes began to be constructed using concrete slab floors. Since wood is sensitive to moisture, the industry discovered that large pieces of solid wood floors could not be directly attached to the concrete sub floors because of the moisture in concrete slabs. Hardwood is stable lengthwise, but will expand & contract widthwise. It was discovered that by bonding 3 to 9 layers of wood (veneer) together at 90 degree angles, the wood flooring became more dimensionally stable.

This made the wood flooring up to 8 times more dimensionally stable than solid oak flooring. Engineered wood, also called laminated wood floors, virtually eliminates the common problems that are inherent in ¾” solid wood floors. No cupping, buckling, or expanding and contracting will occur. Because it is laminated, it is warp and expansion resistant.

Laminated floor products were first produced in the 1950s when the mills improved their peeling and gluing technologies.

In Engineered wood, the grain in the face (top) layer and back (bottom) layer run in the same direction. The grain of the center (core) layer runs at a 90° (right) angle. The glue that binds them is stronger than the wood itself, so it holds the flooring steady. The result is dimensional stability. Some laminate wood floors have not buckled even when cut tight to the wall.

Solid Wood Flooring

Solid wood flooring is just that: solid lumber (not particle board). It comes unfinished and pre-finished, from 5/16 inch to 1 inch depths. The top layer (about 1/8th to % inch) is the “show wood.” A solid wood floor can only be sanded until the nail heads that attach it to the sub floor show. The rest is “support wood.” If sanding goes below the top layer, a different wood “look” will show.

Before 1900, wood floors showed small spaces between each board. Those seams showed, even though the square-edged and tongue-and-groove boards were fitted as tightly together as possible. Only as the milling of solid wood has become standardized and precise has the finished floor become as smooth as a seam-free floor.

Solid wood is cut off the log with a saw. By contrast, engineered wood (3 to 9 layers of wood) is sliced or peeled off with a knife.  Trees arrive at the lumberyard and are first “debarked.” Then they are cut by either sawing (to produce solid wood floors) or sliced (to produce engineered wood floors).

Solid/Engineered

The stain varieties on solid wood are larger than on engineered wood flooring. Jobsite “sand & finished” solid wood flooring can be stained to match the decor of its surroundings. If installed and sealed properly, the solid wood floor becomes one uniform floor, easier to clean and impervious to dirt being trapped between boards.

Engineered wood flooring is far more stable (rigid) than solid wood, guaranteed not to warp, buckle, cup, or form gaps.

Because of the layered process, engineered hardwood floors can be installed above, on, or below ground level. That makes them perfect for rooms where ordinary wood cannot perform. Engineered wood floors are better for areas that are prone to moisture or water—places such as kitchens basements and attics. In the last decade, the amount of engineered wood flooring installed annually has risen 300%.

Traditional solid wood flooring requires more than twice the number of trees to produce the same square footage of engineered wood floors, making engineered wood use up less of our forests, and making it more environmentally friendly.

Engineered wood can be finished with a protective coating at the factory. The finishes may be oil wax, acrylic impregnated, or urethane with aluminum oxide. (Most engineered products are pre-finished at the factory with urethane and aluminum oxide.) Waxed products have the least protection, but are being used more frequently in some styles. They should not be installed in areas subject to food and liquid spills. Acrylic impregnated floors improve the floor’s resistance to indentation and abrasion. They are used extensively for commercial applications. Some of the more common sizes for engineered wood floors are 5/16 inch, 3/8 inch, and 1/2 inch thickness, with 2-1/4 inch, 3 inch, 5 inch, and larger in width, and 12 inches or more on the lengths.

Will engineered floors last as long as solid wood flooring?

Usually an engineered floor will take one or two less sandings than a hardwood floor before going through the veneer layer. The entire life wear and appearance of the floor is in the face thickness: the thicker, the better. Some products entering the market in the late 1980s had a thin face veneer; they were difficult to sand and refinish without piercing the top layer. Today’s thicker-faced products, with proper maintenance, can last a lifetime.

Can an engineered floor be sanded and refinished?

They can be sanded and refinished at least one, two or three times by a professional, giving the home many years of service. Thus, the careful customer will be buying a lifetime floor!

Engineered flooring is a wonderful investment. Remember, if an engineered wood floor is taken care of properly, the fortunate owner will only need to screen and re-coat the finish, and they should never need to sand into the wood to restore the finish. With the proper care, an engineered wood floor will last forever.

Finishes

Putting finishing coats on wood flooring serves three purposes

  • Preserving the wood’s beauty and color
  • Protecting the floor from water, dirt, and wear
  • Allowing for easy cleaning

Some years ago, floors were finished with varnish. Compared to modern finishes, varnish is soft and much more difficult to apply and replace. Waxes also used to be popular, but they can cause water-spots. Also, they must be buffed and periodically stripped (removed).

Unfinished Wood Flooring

Unfinished wood flooring, commonly called “strip flooring,” is installed and then sanded, stained, and finished on-site. Until the 1980s, nearly all flooring came unfinished. Now, most come pre-finished.

Unfinished flooring may require twice as much time for the nailing or gluing, sanding, refinishing, and multiple finish coats. Each takes about one day to dry. Most finishes diffuse goes into the home. Ventilation during finishing is critical for indoor air quality.

Pre-Finished Wood Flooring

Pre-finished wood flooring is factory sanded, stained, and finished. It comes in many species, colors, finishes, and sizes (solid & engineered). Today, much hardwood flooring is pre-finished.

Benefits of Pre-finished Floors

Pre-finished wood flooring—both engineered and solid—offer the customer many benefits over unfinished wood floors. Factory-finished floors…

  • Offer a greater variety of colors and gloss, satin or matte finishes.
  • Have more layers of finish, and they are more consistent across all pieces.
  • Are finished with impregnated acrylic or aluminum oxide for greater wear (not all floors)
  • Take less time to install
  • Are easier to maintain
  • Have a low fuss-factor at installation
  • They can be installed in one day. On-site finishing requires the same time to install. Then, it takes several days to sand them smooth, and apply several coats. The sand covers nearly everything in the house. The finishes produce “off-gases” that require the homeowners to stay away from the house. Installing a pre-finished floor eliminates the days of labor, dust, and odors in the home
  • Are easier to repair

Types Of Edges

A “square edge” or “square joint” has a clean 90° angle at both edges of the surface, so that no space or V-joints appear when the boards are laid together. The floor looks like one piece, and the surface appears level and smooth, if the subfloor is properly leveled.

An “eased edge” (more commonly known as a micro-beveled edge) features a slight angle on the top edge of the plank or strip. An eased edge can help mask slight sub-floor imperfections, and can be felt when walking on the floor in bare feet. Some consumers prefer this look because each plank is defined.

A “kissed edge” was designed to give the same benefit of an eased edge floor, but with the look of a square edge. A kissed edge is approximately 1/2 of what the eased edge measures.

Grain

How the wood is cut affects the way the grain runs through the board and how the wood floor looks.

Boards can be cut from a hardwood log in two principal directions

  • Tangent to the annual rings (plain-sawn or flat-sawn)
  • Radially, across the rings (quarter-sawn and rift-sawn)

The drawing illustrates the differences. Plain-sawn boards lie “tangential” (at an angle of 0 to 30 degrees) to the grain. By contrast, quarter-sawn and rift-sawn boards lie radial (perpendicular or at radical angles) to the grain.

Plain-sawn wood is characterized by arched or flame-shaped markings.

Quarter-sawn and rift-sawn boards show patterns of roughly parallel lines.

All have advantages in price, appearance, and function, depending on application and species.

Species

In a recent survey commissioned by the NWFA, more than 75% of interior designers found that wood flooring works well with nearly every decorating style. “It’s the most versatile floor covering there is,” says one designer. “Wood goes with contemporary and traditional, and everything in between.” Designers rated natural materials as superior to man-made materials in beauty, prestige, style, maintenance, and durability.

A variety of woods and finishes are available to complement the decor and style of any room. Oak and maple are the most popular woods, but some homeowners are investing in exotics such as Brazilian Cherry and Purpleheart. Many consumers are also showing a big interest in rustic, colorful looks, as well as distressed and hand-scraped wood finishes.

The most popular color is “red oak natural.” “Maple natural” runs second, but with today’s eclectic decoration styles, anything goes.

Common American Wood Flooring Species

Domestic species include:

  • American Cherry is found in S. Eastern Canada, North & Central USA. It is pinkish, dark red brown and may have a wavy grain and a somewhat uneven appearance. It is readily available, but is on the more expensive end.
  • Maple is found in Southern Canada and the N. Central and N. Western USA. It is light tan and pale brown with a little grain variation and has a tight grain which is very uniform in appearance. It is moderately expensive.
  • Red Oak is found in S. Central/Eastern Canada and most of the USA. This is the standard wood for flooring. It is light to reddish brown with considerable variation in the grain. Characteristically, it has wavy and straight grain with an uneven appearance. It has an inexpensive to moderate price.
  • White Oak is found in S. Central/Eastern Canada and most of the USA. It is brown/tan and has gray-green hues with grain that is very uniform. It is inexpensive to moderate.
  • Ash is found in Central/Eastern USA. It has a yellowish hue, somewhat with a wavy, open grain with a lot of contrast. It is very tough and moisture stable. It is moderately expensive.
  • Beech is found in Central/Eastern USA and Southern Canada. It is reddish brown with a straight, fine grain and a very even uniform appearance. It is a tough wood and is moderately expensive.
  • Birch is found in S. Eastern/S. Central Canada and the N. Eastern USA. It is light brown and tan with some wavy grain and a somewhat uniform appearance. It is moderately expensive.
  • Hickory is usually mixed with Pecan and is found in S. Eastern Canada and N. Eastern USA.  It is light brown with occasional dark black streaks. It has a tight grain and may have an uneven appearance. It is a very tough wood and is usually expensive.
  • Pecan is usually mixed with Hickory and is found in S. Central/S. Eastern USA. It is uniformly dark brown in color and reddish. It has a tight grain and can be wavy and somewhat uneven in appearance.
  • Pine is found in S. Central/ S. Eastern USA. It has a wide range of color from yellow, red/orange to light brown wavy open grain with a very uneven, not uniform appearance. It is usually inexpensive.
  • Walnut is characterized by sapwood that is nearly white to tan, while the heartwood is light brown to dark, chocolate brown, often with a purplish cast and darker streaks. Heartwood ranges from a deep, rich dark brown to purplish black. The difference between heartwood and sapwood color is great. Some flooring manufacturers steam lumber to bleed darker heartwood color into the sapwood, resulting in a more uniform color. This hardwood is moderately dense and very strong, with good shock resistance; however, it is not as dent-resistant as oak. It has a great variety of color and figure within species, as well as variation in color among boards, especially in lower grades and from material that isn’t steamed prior to kiln-drying. Its hardness is (Janka): 1010; it is 22% softer than Northern red oak.

Exotic Wood Species

  • Bubinga also known as African Rosewood, is a beautiful dense hardwood with a rose-colored background and darker purple striping. In the quartered figure, Bubinga exhibits considerable “flame” figure and, in flat sawn, offers “rosewood” graining.
  • Sydney Blue Gum is a dense hardwood with color ranging from pink to deep red. Many Australian suppliers mix the various red colors together to create a very colorful wood.
  • Sapele is from West and East Africa. The wood is medium to dark reddish-brown with lighter streaks. The hardness is about equal to that of American Oak and Maple.
  • Zebrawood from Africa is typically sold in a quartered selection to maximize the contrasting striping that gives this wood its name. With distinct greenish brown/black lines alternating between a tan colored back ground, Zebrawood is primarily used for design accents.
  • Cumaru is grown in South America. It has a golden tan to dark brown coloration. Cumaru is also called Southern Chestnut.
  • Tatajuba heartwood is brown with interlocking grain. The sapwood is an olive-brown color. It is a medium density wood found in Africa. Most common constructions are window and door frames, beams, shakers, crosspieces, cabinet work, and flooring. Tatajuba is a very strong wood that is easy to work.
  • Padauk is a medium-hard species used primarily for its vibrant orange/red color. It undergoes an extreme degree of color change, with pronounced darkening from the vivid orange color when freshly milled to a dark red (almost black) color when fully aged/oxidized. Oil finishes hasten

If you ever have any specific questions about Orange County Hardwood, we specialize in installing great hardwood flooring in Orange County and the surrounding areas.