Hardwood Flooring Materials
Hardwood is a classic flooring choice for many folks. It gives a floor natural beauty and feel that few man-made materials can match. Hardwood flooring comes in a couple different widths and grades.
Strip flooring is typically narrow pieces of wood up to 2 3/4" wide. Plank flooring is wider, generally up to 7".
Some wood like maple and birch are ranked as being First, Second, or Third. Oak is the most popular hardwood choice and judged as follows:
Clear is wood that has very few flaws or character marks.
Select has a bright grain, a few flaws, and most pieces match well.
No.1 Common has both light and dark pieces, some marks.
No.2 Common allows for all character marks; like knots, worm holes, and discoloration.
If you want an immaculate, uniform floor, consider spending more to get one of the premium grades. If you want to add character and warmth to a room, the Common grades are good choices.
Unfinished & Prefinished Flooring
Unfinished flooring pieces are "raw" boards that haven't been finish sanded, stained, or sealed. Many unfinished floors are professionally installed in newly constructed homes.
Unfinished wood is susceptible to swelling if it gets too much moisture. Therefore, avoid unloading it in rain/snow or exposing it to other damp conditions.
Also, store unfinished boards in a dry, well-ventilated area and allow it to acclimate at least two days before installation.
Pre-finished flooring comes already sanded and sealed. It resists moisture and won't shrink or swell much. It's installed much like an unfinished floor, but takes some extra care to avoid scratching the surface.
Prefinished flooring is a bit more expensive than unfinished flooring and only comes in a limited number of colors. The surface isn't sanded right after installation so it may not be as smooth as an unfinished floor installation.
Yet, prefinished flooring is a great remodeling choice because once it's installed, it's done. There's no hassle with sanding or fighting dust to put on finish coats.