Style & Design Editor Cindy Trimble on Wood Flooring: The Floor Finish of Choice in the Appalachians
Wood flooring is by far the most popular choice in the greater Appalachian Mountains for both residential and commercial projects. There are so many different choices on the market today making it difficult for the average homeowner to make their minds up. In addition to the aesthetic choices, there are so many different construction methods further complicating the decision.
Wood flooring has two general categories: solid wood and engineered. Many assume the best and most elegant is solid wood because it is finished in place and can be refinished. Now with the advances in technology and the engineering of wood products, that is not so.
There are limitations with solid wood. The larger the piece of solid wood, the wider the plank on your floor, the more opportunity for bowing, cupping and warpage. Solid wood when exposed to any moisture will react, especially if exposed on one side. Wood is a natural material that constantly moves and changes with atmospheric changes. When exposed to moisture, if the wood is not stabilized in some manner, it will tend to curl the way it was on the tree.
New Engineered wood flooring has addressed many issues. The various manufacturers have created a layered design, much like plywood where the grains of wood are overlaid in alternating directions, creating a strength that prevents bowing. Some manufacturers have gone even further with product development because just layering solid wood slices still leaves the wood to react if exposed. Some manufacturers have created more durable and impermeable cores that will keep the wood layers intact and protected even if exposed to moisture. These new cores allow installation on concrete slabs where there has been hydrostatic pressure (or moisture coming up from the slab.) They can also be installed over radiant heat flooring systems. But the best feature about many of the engineered wood floors is that they allow for design using very wide plank flooring, up to 9” wide giving a very elegant look. The engineered process creates the flooring in a factory, so the top finish many times is much harder and more durable than a finished on site finish.
Wood flooring has become more affordable and with the new engineering of the product to address all of the concerns with having wood floors in your house, it is now safe to install wood floors in your kitchens, bathrooms, basements and even laundry rooms where in the past would have tile floors. Wood offers so much more warmth than tile. It is easier on your body if you have to stand for a length of time, it is warmer than tile and there are so many different colors, finishes and textures to choose from.
Photos: Top: Ponton kitchen, Justin Rush photographer. Above Left: Rodgers residence: Rick Lucas photographer. Above Right: Cox Residence, Tom Harper photographer.