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Product Information
Braz. Cherry
Red Oak
Floor Finish
Floor Sander
Finding just the right look and functionality in a hardwood
floor is based on a number of variables:

1. Species of Hardwood.
Unique color variations, grain patterns, and other inherent characteristics (such as knots) give
each species of wood its own distinctive look. Wood used for floors comes from countries all
around the world. (No endangered species are sold for flooring.)

Of the wood species grown domestically in North America the most common species are oak,
maple and hickory. Commonly used species from other countries include Brazilian cherry,
Australian cypress and Santos mahogany. Overall, wood flooring is available in literally
dozens of different species, providing the consumer an amazing selection to choose from.

2. Grades of Hardwood.
Wood flooring is generally separated into several grades, determined by the specific
features, colors, and extent of variations that are present. The best flooring mills will grade
their products according to established industry wide standards to insure reliable quality.

One common misconception is that lower grade flooring is necessarily of lesser quality than
higher grades. This is not true. Even with its more rustic characteristics, flooring used in lower
grades still consists of fully serviceable and functional wood. (Lower grades of flooring will
usually have a higher percentage of short length boards than higher grades.)

In reality, the single most important factor in ensuring quality, regardless of the grade of
flooring, is being sure to only use products from reputable producers that have proven track
records of maintaining high standards of milling and grading.

The most frequently used grades for hardwood flooring are:

#2 Common – Features boards with a wide variety of color variation and may contain a large
number of knots and other imperfections (or character marks!) such as insect holes or mineral
streaks Wood in this classification is often described as being somewhat “rustic”. This grade
of flooring is normally less expensive than other grades within the same species.

#1 Common - Features boards with less variation in color and fewer knots than #2 grade,
making it more uniform in overall appearance. It is perhaps the most popular grade of
flooring used nationwide. Its middle-of-the-road features coordinate with a wide variety of
other materials, allowing it to work well with almost any decorating scheme.

Select - Features boards with very few, if any, knots and has a higher degree of color
uniformity. In this grade, a floor will have a more consistent appearance, and is often
described as having the most “elegant” look of all the grades. Select grade flooring is
generally the most expensive grade within a species. Additionally, some species are
available in very finely matched colors and features in a grade often referred to as “clear”.

Different species of wood are not always graded exactly the same as others and sometimes
various names are used to denote grades of flooring. A good example of this is maple, which
is usually graded as Third, Second and Better, and First. Finally, different manufacturers will
sometimes apply different standards and attach different names to some of the floorings they

3. Board Width.
Wood flooring comes in varying widths. Almost every species is available in the standard
2-1/4" and wider 3-1/4" widths. Some species can be found in even wider planks. Generally
speaking, wider boards will add some additional expensive per square foot. This is due to the
fact that fewer wide boards can typically be cut from any particular piece of raw material.

When selecting board width, be aware that in several ways wider planks (typically 4” or
more) behave somewhat differently than narrower strip flooring.

All wood undergoes a normal process of absorbing and releasing moisture due to fluctuations
in the level of atmospheric humidity. Under moist conditions (usually summertime), the edges
of the boards will tend to raise or “cup” slightly. In dryer conditions (usually wintertime), the
boards will separate slightly, creating small cracks between the individual boards.

While these changes occur in all sizes of flooring, they will be more pronounced and
noticeable with wider boards. Additionally, some wood species such as maple and hickory
tend to be less stable in this regard, as compared to other woods such as oak or ash. These
various types of board movement can best be minimized by maintaining a constant humidity
level in a house.

The perhaps less stable behavior of wide plank flooring by no means makes it prohibitive to
use. In some cases the distinct look of plank flooring is an integral part of the desired look for
a house. As long as a homeowner is aware and accepting of how a plank floor will perform,
it can be a truly exquisite feature in many settings.

4. Hardness
There are varying degrees of hardness between different species of wood. The most obvious
consequence of this fact is that some woods will tend to dent or “distress” more easily than
others. The types and level of use that a floor is expected to undergo is a factor in
determining if installing a softer wood will be practical. Some softer woods that are
commonly used as flooring include pine, fir, and American cherry.

While there are technically differences between the hardness of all species of woods, only
the softest ones will be significantly impacted when used in typical household applications. In
some settings, a distressed floor can actually contribute to a desired rustic ambiance.

5. Finishes
There are a variety of different types of wood floor finishes on today’s market. The most
commonly used finish, polyurethane, comes in two basic classifications: water based and oil
based. While the hardness and durability between products of both types will be generally
comparable, each has its advantages and disadvantages in other areas.

Water based finishes dry more quickly, have a less pungent odor, and darken less as they
age over time, as compared to oil based finishes. Perhaps the most significant drawback with
this type of finish is an increased occurrence and heightened intensity of a phenomenon
known in the industry as “side-bonding,” or “panelizing.”

Water based finished tend to act as a strong adhesive that permanently bonds the sides of
some boards together. As a wood floor contracts naturally under very dry conditions it will
shrink slightly, causing some cracks between individual boards to temporarily appear. As this
occurs, side-bonding results in the appearance of an uneven pattern of wide cracks
developing where the bond between various particular boards is weakest. In areas between
cracks where the boards remain stuck together, the floor will take on the appearance of
being “panelized.” Floor contraction can best be minimized through maintaining a constant
humidity level of between 40 and 50 percent in a building.

Oil based urethanes tend to cause less side-bonding, which allows a floor to contract more
evenly and less noticeably under dry wintertime conditions. They also provide a thicker wear
surface (when the same number of coats are applied), give wood a deeper color, cause less
grain raise -which can mean a smoother surface, and are generally less expensive than
water based finishes.

There are other types of floor finishes that are much less common, generally being used only
in unusual or specialized situations. These finishes face practical limitations in the everyday
market due to the fact they may be highly toxic, difficult to work with, less durable, higher
maintenance, or be substantially more expensive than urethane finishes.

We generally recommend using both a premium quality oil based polyurethane and a water
based finish in most floor finishing situations. We encourage people to inquire if the have
specific questions about the behavior and performance of various floor finishes.
1. The type or species of hardwood
2. The grade of the wood
3. The width of the hardwood boards or planks
4. The hardness of the wood
5. The type of finish applied
6. Prefinish or Site finish
7. Solid or Engineered
With an eye for beauty and desire for accuracy, Delaware's Finest Hardwood Floors delivers only the highest quality available
Wood & Finishes
6. Prefinished or Site finished
We know the decision to install wood flooring in your home is a big decision, and with so
many options available, it can be a confusing decision as well.

One of the biggest questions that arises is whether prefinished wood flooring, or solid unfinished
flooring, which is installed, sanded, and finished on site, is right for you.

1. Prefinished hardwood flooring definitely has it's advantages such as:

Ease of installation; Installers usually only need a day (depending on the floor size) to complete
the job with no sanding, and no finishes used on site.

Because the pre-finished floor already has been coated, usually multiple times, at the factory -
and therefore does not have to be sanded and finished on-site, it is more convenient to install;

Also because of the multiple coats of finish applied at the factory, prefinished wood flooring has a
very durable wear layer, and the finish itself is under warranty by the manufacturer.

2. Even with these strong advantages, pre-finished flooring has it's disadvantages to consider as

Pre-finished can be dirt traps and very hard to clean between the cracks, since the cracks are not
sealed at the job site. Solid site finished flooring is sanded and sealed at the job site.

When refinishing pre-finished flooring, it is necessary to remove a lot more wood to get a level
floor, so in effect you are losing more wood, and more life of the floor in the very first refinish than
with a solid 3/4" hardwood floor.

Although pre-finished floors are convenient in that they install without sanding and finishing most
have a beveled edge on the wood strips which some people find unsightly. A custom sanded
hardwood floor has a table-top appearance and is perfectly flat looking .

A pre-finished floor will maintain height irregularities of the substrate. In short, a bump in the sub
floor means a bump in the pre-finished floor unless the sub floor is fixed first. Site finished flooring
is sanded flat, so is more forgiving of slight irregularities or slight height variations.

If your pre-finished floor gets damaged, it means ripping out a whole section of flooring and
completely replacing it, to correct it, whereas site-finished hardwood flooring can, in most cases,
be easily fixed with a quick sanding and finish.

When installing hardwood flooring, it is necessary to top nail the boards along the parameter,
near walls or cabinets, to start the floor. In site finished flooring, these small nail holes are filled,
then sanded and finished and usually not very visible. In prefinished flooring, these small nail
holes are filled, but not sanded - so they may be a bit more visible. While we use the
manufacturer-recommended prefinished filler, there are some floors which do not have an exact
match of filler, such as stained flooring, or exotics.

Over time, and possibly over home-owner changes, many people don't know or forget the actual
manufacturer of their pre-finished flooring product, which makes it much more difficult to get an
exact match if board replacements are necessary at some point - or if they want to add additional
flooring to other rooms of the home, and they want an exact match. Additionally some of the
flooring may be discontinued in time, eliminating the availability of ordering in more if it becomes
necessary to match.

In the end, only you can make the decision about which flooring is right for you.
7. Solid or Engineered
Wood Flooring adds beauty and value to your home. With so many options to choose from, we
would like to help make that decision easier by offering some basic information about your wood
flooring options.
The main choices include:
1. Solid Hardwood Flooring: A solid piece of hardwood, generally cut into 3/4" thick planks.
Recommended for above ground; not recommended for concrete slabs. Solid Hardwood
flooring comes unfinished, which is then installed and finished on-site; or prefinished, which
is completely finished at the factory with several coats of durable finish, before it's ever
delivered to your home, then simply nailed down. So, if you have decided on this option,
now just figure out your what type of finish you want, of the many options.

2. Engineered Hardwood flooring: are several plies of wood that are glued and laminated
together to form a wood plank. Range in thickness from 1/4" to just over a half inch. Can be
installed almost anywhere in your home, including over concrete.

1. Longstrip Hardwood floors are engineered floors, but with a longer and wider plank,
which allows the top layer to show 2 or 3 rows of thin hardwood strips.
2. Exotic Hardwood Floors - Different hardwood specie from around the World. Not found in
North America, these hardwoods come from Australia, Africa, Brazil and the Far East. Exotic
hardwoods offer unique wood graining and colorations. Many exotic floors are available in
and in solid hardwood planks as well.

Another choice to consider with solid hardwood flooring, is whether to go with prefinished flooring,
factory finished; or unfinished flooring, which is sanded and finished on site.
Engineered - What is 1-strip, 2-strip, or 3-strip?
With an eye for beauty and desire for accuracy, Delaware's Finest Hardwood Floors delivers only the highest quality available

Delaware's Finest Hardwood Floors 2007-2012