Make Hardwood Better

Discussion in 'Solid and Engineered Hardwood Q&A' started by Jim McClain, Jul 21, 2019.

  1. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    Can hardwood flooring be made better, in your opinion? I've always wondered how the standard thickness for solid hardwood became 3/4", or why it continues to be the standard. Why not 5/8" or half-inch? Why is it usually "glue-assist" for wider planks instead of mechanical fastener-assist for all hardwood (provided the hardwood is no thicker than 5/8")? Seems like reducing the amount of natural resources to make hardwood could be a good thing. Making it thinner might also make it more installer-friendly.

    Then again, I think engineered hardwoods should have thicker wear layers. Make the T&G lower in the profile so the top layer could be thicker and refinishable.

    What do you think?
  2. kylenelson

    kylenelson You'll find me on the floor I Support TFP Senior Member

    3/4” solid wood usually comes out flush with tile, that’s one good reason.
  3. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    Except that there are lots of homes that don't have ceramic, or don't have ceramic that thick. Besides, a layer of plywood offers more options and features (variety of thicknesses, added strength/rigidity, bridging voids, etc.).

    Plywood underlayment is already used extensively for those purposes. And some people aren't able to choose the standard 3/4 hardwood because it's too thick, so they have to go with what they may consider an inferior engineered product.
  4. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti Senior Member

    Some solids were/are made thinner and are gluedown. Not sure how they’re performing in the field. Refinishing is usually a big inconvenience. There was a good article in Floor Trends about how Hardwood is losing market share. Did an estimate other day where I felt hardwood should be gone as well as tile. Just plain 3”dated stained(color?) oak.
  5. Dan Schultz

    Dan Schultz Certified Wood Floor Inspector Charter Member

    Hardwood lumber is sawn for many industries other than the flooring industry. Even flooring mills with their own sawmills do not use the entire lumber production for flooring.

    The upper grades of lumber are too expensive to turn into flooring. Most mills use #2A common and #3A common lumber grades for flooring production.

    The vast majority of hardwood lumber is rough sawn at 4/4 thickness which is allowed to vary in thickness from 4/4" to 5/4". Most sawyers will make 1 & 1/8" their target. This thickness serves many industries from cabinets and moldings to furniture and flooring, not to mention DIY projects.

    Typically, after kiln drying, this material is surfaced two sides (S2S) to 7/8" or 15/16" HOM (Hit Or Miss) before sale to a manufacturer for further processing. Standard surfaced thickness is 13/16".
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  6. Craig Francis

    Craig Francis Pro Member

    Hi Jim, I think that 3/4" thick flooring is an optimal thickness for wood flooring, I have restored many oak and maple floors that are 100 years old or older and probably have another 100 years of life left in them. That being said there are many widths and thicknesses that are "standard" like 5/16ths, 3/8, 1/2, & 3/4 inch that are still being milled today and widths from 1 1/3" up to whatever width you choose. In the early half of the 20th century shipping was expensive and slow and as a result you see many thinner thickness flooring out west 5/16th top nailed flooring is common on the west coast and hardly seen anywhere else because you can fit twice as many square feet in a train car as 3/4" thick flooring.
    Wear layers vary on engineered flooring and is mostly determined by price. I've installed and finished many unfinished engineered floors with a wear layer comparable to 3/4" thick solid, these floors are generally wide plank and installed on concrete but the price point is typically more than prefinished flooring and labour is at least twice as much. I doubt that I will live long enough to see whether an engineered floor can last a hundred years.
    I tell my customers that if they want a floor that will look good, stay tight and will probably last longer than their house to choose 3/4" X 2 1/4" oak flooring.
    One issue with thinner thicknesses of flooring, particularly very hard exotic woods is the problem of dimpling caused by the fasteners.
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  7. Steve Olson

    Steve Olson Hardwood/Laminate Guru Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    I'd like to agree, and like, the above post!
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