One useful online catalog is the Wood Database. Figuring out whether a wood is softwood or hardwood is usually the most important step … When you look at the plank you will either see a solid plank, layers of wood, or a thin plastic layer. It is next to impossible to know without cutting away a small area. If you are unsure, ask a carpenter to come and determine the type of wood floor you have or, if you are able to, remove an inconspicuous piece of your floor and take the sample to a woodworking shop. It is a widely popular product and was especially popular in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Be aware. Whatever the case, if you want durable floors that will last a lifetime—and of course you do, who doesn’t?—make sure you have the correct subfloor and underlayment. Rub your hand over the surface of the floor to find out what kind of finish the floor has. Although variable in shape, all hardwood leaves have a distinct network of fine veins. You often can tell what kind of wood your floor is made from just by looking at it. Wood floors either have a wax finish or a urethane finish. To get an honest assessment, you may have to scrape off a little of the finish. If the finish dissolves, congratulations, you’ve got a waxed floor! Leaf Identification Type. Distinctions Between Hardwood and Softwood Look at the color. The most common softwoods used in construction and furniture are pine, aspen and cedar. Determine whether boards are solid or engineered by examining their cross-section. This wood is technically hardwood so it can be confusing to homeowners who are told they have “hardwood”. If nothing happens, move on to the next test. What you can't tell by looking at the surface, however, is whether the boards are solid or engineered, and that is an important factor to consider before sanding the floor. Often times you will see homes that have both oak and pine. As you’ll have gathered from the introduction of this article, pine is a softwood and oak is hardwood. When trying to refinish this type of wood it can be too thin and can actually ruin the flooring. Here’s the easiest way to know if you have wood floors: If the room has a floor vent, remove it {they’re rarely screwed in} & carefully push your fingers under the pad to lift & reveal. Solid wood flooring can be sanded back to restore the finish – the number of times you can do this is determined by how deep the tongue is set from the top of the board. Different wooden flooring and details about wood and there quality. Pine and fir are both softwoods but have a wide range of hardnesses depending on exact species, age and origin. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The easiest way to test a floor finish is to run your hand along the surface of the floor. When you look at the plank you will either see a solid plank, layers of wood, or a thin plastic layer. Pine also tends to have a lot of branches and knots on the side. Pine is typically found in homes built pre-1940’s. If you can feel the graininess and texture of the wood, the floor probably has a coating of penetrating oil and -- perhaps -- wax. How To Determine Type of Wood Finish. 2. As a landscape builder, he helped establish two gardening companies. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. The terms hardwood and softwood are widely used in the construction industry and among woodworkers to distinguish between species with wood regarded as hard and durable and those that are considered soft and easily shaped. Often, the kind of wood a floor has can be determined just by looking at it. Floors from decades ago and even centuries ago can be resanded and brought back to life. Sorry guys, the thumbnail test will tell you if the wood is soft or hard but not whether it is a “hardwood” or “softwood”. Chris Deziel has a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in humanities. If it dates back to when the house was built and for a quite a time after the 50's there is a good chance the might be asbestos in the flooring so due care will have to be used in the removal. You might love the look of a certain type of wood flooring now, but think about how it'll hold up—and how much effort you're willing to put into keeping it pristine. Many species, such as oak, pine and fir, are easily recognizable. Hardwood typically has bold grain lines with contrasting color between them. Stone. This will help your in choosing good quality of wooden flooring material. If you pick-up a piece of wood that is sticky, then it’s almost definitely Pine. Doing this when you are buying a home is a great way to ensure you know exactly what you are getting. Found on prefinished solid hardwood flooring, surface finishes, such as polyurethane, form a protective layer over the floor, and are some of the most common finishes in use today. Let it sit for a few seconds and then rub it into the area. Whether you’re installing the best cork flooring you can buy or the fancy wood floor designs of your dreams, talk to a professional about your subflooring and underlayment needs. And how to put your carpet back down if you don't. Pulling the cover off and inspecting that plank allows you to see what kind of wood you have. It's the finish on the wood which will determine the appropriate cleaning and repair techniques. If grain is visible, the color of the wood between the grain lines is similar to the grain pattern, with little or no contrasting color between the lines. Walnut: Walnut has a darker, redder base tone, making it a richer, warmer floor option—and also a very durable one. In this post, I want to help identify these types of floors and how to tell if they are sealed or not. Besides having an abiding interest in popular science, Deziel has been active in the building and home design trades since 1975. Put a couple drops of mineral spirits, naphtha, or turpentine on the surface you want to test. We will walk you through the different types of flooring including laminate, solid hardwood and engineered flooring. Here is a quick leaf identification key of the common hardwoods in North America. The color of the wood, the closeness and direction of the grain, and its hardness are factors that help identify a species. Pine is one of the easiest types of firewood to identify. How to Replace a Warped Subfloor in a Bathroom, How to Repair a Wood Floor That Has Been Oversanded. A good place to do this is in a doorway after prying up the threshold or transition piece with a pry bar. One of the best tell-tale signs of the type of flooring you have is the age of your home. The upper layer can be as thing as 1/8th of an inch. Fitting new pieces can happen only during the first stages of the laying of the floor. One of the most expensive flooring options is stone. One of the reasons is that pine was a lower cost wood. Identify the sanded area with the help of the wood species catalog once you've cleaned off all the glue. How Do I Know If My Wood Floors Can Be Sanded? However, there are exceptions. Solid Hardwood is truly a solid hardwood plank. It can be sanded and stained anywhere from 2-6 times throughout the life of the floor. Is it original Linoleum or are you just using that term? If you aren't sure, then a wood identification app can help you identify hardwood by its color, appearance or other features. This guide will help you to figure out what type of flooring you have in your home. Wood To tell if your wood floor is sealed, find an inconspicuous area, dab a drop of water on the surface, and see if it soaks in or beads on top. If that is impractical, pry off a baseboard and slip a mirror between the boards and wall. Determine … Maple:… Once you install your wood floor and finish it, it could be quite challenging to change the offending wood pieces and then you risk your floor to look uneven and with different colouring. You can use the end-grain, or even just the sides of the wood, to check for sticky sap. Softwoods typically appear to have little or no grain patterns at all. Some questions to immediately ask yourself: Is the color of the wood natural, or is … This can also help you save time instead of having a company come out to tell you that your flooring … In most cases, wood flooring, irrespective of whether it is engineered or solid, is made from hardwood because it tends to be more resilient. The hardwood is yellow to dark brown colour and the hardwood's grain is also unique, running in straight, mottled, or fiddle back figures. Laminate can be a beautiful product but it is not hardwood so it cannot be refinished. National Wood Flooring Association: Types of Wood Floors. Here are some of the most popular: 1. Hardwoods have vessel elements that transport water throughout the wood; under a microscope, these elements appear as pores. This is an area where the carpet isn’t tacked down, so it’s easily accessible. It is not always a solid plank and the upper layer of the flooring may be different then the rest of the board. Sand a section of the floor with a palm sander and 20-grit sandpaper to remove glue or tile mastic if you are exposing a hardwood floor that has been covered with another type of floor covering. … However, whether they are solid wood or engineered, it is hard to determine just by the looks. What Kind of Wood Do You Use to Replace Treads? This procedure narrows the possibilities. Identifying the type of finish that is applied to a wood floor is necessary in order to determine the best maintenance procedures. Compare the floor surface with a catalog of wood species. This is usually visible at both microscopic level and at the surface — hardwoods tend to have broad leaves, while softwoods tend to have needles and cones. Determine whether the flooring boards are made from a hardwood or softwood by pushing your fingernail into the surface of one. The woods like oak, pine and fir especially are easily recognizable. All types of wood have a hardness score, which indicates how easily they can be damaged, dented or worn by everyday wear and tear. A simple way to know if you have hardwood under you old carpet. You often can tell what kind of wood your floor is made from just by looking at it. Moreover, your eye may be tricked by a stain or glaze that was purposely applied to make one wood species look like another. Wood hardness varies among the hardwood species, and some are actually softer than some softwoods. Species such as birch and maple can look very similar when finished with a dark stain, so it's important to strip the stain to get a positive identification. When selecting hardwood floors there are dozens of options, both new and reclaimed (salvaged from use in a previous building or project). Because of its high value, teak is among the most popular types of wood for quality wood designs. Teak flooring and teak decking are highly valued features in interior design. Improper techniques can damage wood floors, resulting in astronomical repair bills. Laminate doesn't stain the way natural wood does, so if you see water rings, random splotches or discolorations on the floor, it is probably hardwood. If you can make an appreciable dent in the wood, then you know it is a softwood. It is particle board with a printed image on the surface. There are a lot of different flooring types out there and it can be hard to figure out what type of flooring you have. Unfinished solid hardwood flooring has a penetrating finish, which does as the name implies; it is absorbed into the floor, and then topped off by a coat of floor wax. Knowing this will allow you to choose the proper cleaning chemicals and procedures to use, as well as determining a course of action for periodic maintenance of wood floors. Scrape the wood in an inconspicuous place to get a good look at the original color and grain before you attempt to ascertain the type with a wood identification app or online hardwood floor types and pictures. 3. Use a pull scraper to expose the wood, and compare it with pictures in the Wood Database. If it doesn’t have a floor vent, go to the basement & look up. Think About Upkeep. In softwoods, medullary rays and tracheidstransport water and produce sap. Hardwood: Trees with broad, flat leaves as opposed to coniferous or needled trees. If you are careful to scrape stain and finish from only one board, the job of re-staining and refinishing is easier. When viewed under a microscope, softwoods have no vi… Laminate is a hard surface flooring but is not actually hardwood. Pulling the cover off and inspecting that plank allows you to see what kind of wood you have. This high-quality option adds a luxurious … Doing this when you are buying a home is a great way to ensure you know exactly what you are getting. Many species, such as oak, pine and fir, are easily recognizable. T here are many types of wood with varied characteristics, but in most cases the wood furniture and surfaces of your home have been coated with some sort of protective finish. Test for wax by rubbing an out-of-the-way floorboard with the edge of a coin and looking for telltale wax buildup on the coin. This can also help you save time instead of having a company come out to tell you that your flooring is not refinishable. And while this is generally true, it is not an absolute rule. There are three basic leaf types: needles, scales and broadleaf. The starting point for most people when identifying trees species is the leaves. Oak: One of the most common floor types, oak is beloved for its durability, wide grain, and ability to showcase a number of different stains. If you want to identify what flooring you have you can check your air vent. If the water drop beads on top of … Engineered hardwood flooring is a popular option. The most common types of oak flooring are White Oak and Red Oak. Most evergreens have needles or scales, while most broadleaf trees are deciduous, meaning they drop their leaves when dormant. It will make a dent in a softwood such as pine or fir, but not in a hardwood. 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