|If you are serious about finding the right hardwood floor but are unfamiliar with the options, you are at the perfect place. There are a lot of consideration when choosing a hardwood floor but we created the below outline in hopes of streamlining your understanding while insuring you get the crucial information. Stick with us though ore “hardwood flooring 101” and we promise you will find the information well worth your time. So lets begin!|
Quality is paramount to a successful hardwood floor and we define quality by the following 3 criteria:
Quality of the materials
Quality of the construction
Quality of the appearance
We are all inherently drawn to the final appearance, but before we tackle this, lets start from the floor up and discuss the first two:
Quality of Materials & Construction
Why Engineered Floors
All Monarch Planks are engineered floors, which refers to flooring that consists of multiple layers of material sandwiched together. The list of benefits of engineer floors include great durability and ease of installation, but for Monarch Plank this construction allows us to offer a greater variety of wide plank sizes that would be cost prohibitive or simply unobtainable in solid hardwood form.
The Base "Core" Layer:
While similar in concept, there are many attributes that define the quality and value of an engineered floor. It. starts with the base layer, often referred to as the core. Using a high quality core is crucial as this provides the structural integrity that insure your floors perform in the longterm. At Monarch Plank our preferred core is multi-layer Baltic Birch which is considered the best in the industry for strength and longevity. In adhering our core to the top layer, we pride ourselves on using the best adhesives to insure a desired bond.
The Top "Wear" Layer Quality
There are many different hardwood species (ex. Oak. Walnut, Maple), each with their own distinct traits which will be discussed below. But within each species there can be huge variation (Ex French Oak, American Oak,) in appearance and resiliency. We source our species from only the most reputable areas, from FSC approved sources, insuring you are getting the highest quality wood.
Wear Layer Thickness
The thickness of the top layer of hardwood is an important consideration. Generally, the thickness of this layer ranges from as little as 1mm up to 6mm. Thicker wear layers improve the overall durability of the floor and allow for refinishing. We recommend thicker options for longevity in high use areas such as hallways or commercial common areas, thinner wear layers are an alternative for less used areas.
Quality of Appearance
Knowing you will get the quality you expect in any Monarch Plank floor option, lets dive into the nuts and bolts of which look is ideal for your project!
Unfinished or Prefinished?
Prefinished refers to flooring that requires no additional coating once installed. The color, texture and surface protection have all been applied. The advantages include
Advanced finishing techniques
You get exactly what you see
Can be used immediately and no issues with dust or chemical finishes
Unfinished refers to flooring that requires the installer to finish and coat the surface once installed. The advantages are
Greater range and customization of final appearance
Can be finished perfectly flush
Refinishing can match original surface
A distinct level of uniqueness and craftsmanship
Which design is right for me?
Choosing the right Monarch Plank for your home should be a balance form (the look you love most) and function (meets the need of your intended use)
Each Monarch Plank prefinished design is unique, reflective of 4 key attributes that work in unison to create the final appearance. The four These attributes are as follows
The type of wood
The surface texture
Below we talk about each
Types Of Wood to consider.
French and Western European Oak: A favorite of ours and used extensively with our line, European oak is famous for its unique and attractive natural color and distinctive grain structure. Its durability and consistency make it an ideal canvas for application of our various finishes.
American Walnut: One of the most prized American hardwoods. While historically used exclusively in high end furniture, Walnut has a distinct straight-grained finish, highlighted by wavy or grains that produces an attractive appearance.
Hickory: The most varied and distinct of our offering, recognized for the dramatic range of light to dark hues and colors within a single plank. Complex graining structure further enhances this woods renown, diverse appearance.
Get more tech on wood attributes and woods we (and you should!) avoid; Click here
Wood Quality. All wood comes with varying characteristics. Curating raw material to highlight certain attributes is referred to as “grades” and we offer the following within the Monarch Plank range:
Rustic Grade: Our choice for the prefinished range, Rustic grade highlights the breadth of the woods extraordinary natural range, including lighter new growth sapwood, mineral & character marks, knots, and cracks.
Prime Grade: The Prime grade offering is curated to be virtually free of knots, with less sapwood and fewer character marks than our Rustic grade
Select Grade: Curated to be virtually free of knots, with less sapwood and fewer character marks than the Rustic grade
The Surface Texture:
There are various classic and innovative techniques to achieving desired textures. Textures give your floor a personality and work in unison with finish and color to bring out unique characteristic in the wood. Consider the below options offered in our prefinished range when thinking about what you want in your floor.
Smooth: As the name suggests, this is a finish free of texture, accomplished by sanding the floor smooth prior to applying finish
Hand Scraped: Hand scraping creates indentations in the surface bringing out some of the floors characteristic and creating a rustic appeal. More forgiving of subtle scratches or dents that can occur when used over time
Rustic Distressing: A more aggressive variation of a hand scraped finish.
Wire Brushed (light to hard) A dramatic distress surface is achieved by pulling out softer wood grain and leaving the harder wood intact. The depth and relative effect of this distressing technique can be varied based on how heavy the technique is applied
hand-brushed, A form of wire brushing done manually to achieve a more random affect
Saw marks: Subtle distressing created from original sawing of planks
Natural grain texture: very subtle appearance of the woods inherent grain texture can be felt.
Monarch Plank has embraced the markets desire for more sophisticated natural finishes through leveraging the most advanced reactive staining techniques in Europe. The result is a wide range of colors that harness the woods inherent traits to create distinctly natural appearing finishes . The techniques include the following:
Fuming (aka Smoking): Achieves a darker finish. Popular with Oak, (contains lots of tannin in wood) creating a uniquely natural variation due to inherent varying tannin content in wood.
Carbonization: A warm, rich caramel brown color is achieved through a heating technique that caramelizes the natural sugar content in wood
Reactive Stains: An aged appearance is achieved through the reaction of the stains with natural contents in wood tannins, extractives and sugars.
Oil is to urethane as skin is to a raincoat
The final element of each design is the finish which acts to protect your floor while also providing the final touch to the appearance. We focus on two types of finishes. Urethane and Oil which as the above describes offer distinctly different attributes.
Natural oils used in Monarch Plank designs penetrate the wood before hardening, thus creating a natural barrier that protects the floor. Because the oil embeds itself within the grains of the wood the surface remains as the natural wood. A significant advantage is the ability to refinish selective areas over time without refinishing complete floor
Urethane: Urethane coats the top layer of the floor with a protective surface. This surface offers excellent protection but coats the natural surface giving the floor a different appearance. Urethane generally requires less maintenance, but requires greater effort when refinishing.
A note ON UV curing. There are UV cure variation in both Oil and Urethane which refers to a process of using ultraviolet light to harden the finish, providing greater durability/protection
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