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how to tell what type of wood floor you have

In most cases, wood flooring, irrespective of whether it is engineered or solid, is made from hardwood because it tends to be more resilient. Often, the kind of wood a floor has can be determined just by looking at it. Fitting new pieces can happen only during the first stages of the laying of the floor. 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. 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. Use a pull scraper to expose the wood, and compare it with pictures in the Wood Database. Look at the color. There are three basic leaf types: needles, scales and broadleaf. As a landscape builder, he helped establish two gardening companies. The easiest way to test a floor finish is to run your hand along the surface of the floor. Wood floors either have a wax finish or a urethane finish. There are a lot of different flooring types out there and it can be hard to figure out what type of flooring you have. Laminate is a hard surface flooring but is not actually hardwood. If that is impractical, pry off a baseboard and slip a mirror between the boards and wall. And while this is generally true, it is not an absolute rule. As you’ll have gathered from the introduction of this article, pine is a softwood and oak is hardwood. Identifying the type of finish that is applied to a wood floor is necessary in order to determine the best maintenance procedures. The color of the wood, the closeness and direction of the grain, and its hardness are factors that help identify a species. What Kind of Wood Do You Use to Replace Treads? If you want to identify what flooring you have you can check your air vent. 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. Because of its high value, teak is among the most popular types of wood for quality wood designs. Engineered hardwood flooring is a popular option. 2. This guide will help you to figure out what type of flooring you have in your home. 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. 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. Often times you will see homes that have both oak and pine. This is an area where the carpet isn’t tacked down, so it’s easily accessible. Pine also tends to have a lot of branches and knots on the side. Stone. Wood hardness varies among the hardwood species, and some are actually softer than some softwoods. It is not always a solid plank and the upper layer of the flooring may be different then the rest of the board. Put a couple drops of mineral spirits, naphtha, or turpentine on the surface you want to test. If it doesn’t have a floor vent, go to the basement & look up. If the finish dissolves, congratulations, you’ve got a waxed floor! Think About Upkeep. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. Some questions to immediately ask yourself: Is the color of the wood natural, or is … Improper techniques can damage wood floors, resulting in astronomical repair bills. 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. Besides having an abiding interest in popular science, Deziel has been active in the building and home design trades since 1975. 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. Most evergreens have needles or scales, while most broadleaf trees are deciduous, meaning they drop their leaves when dormant. Here are some of the most popular: 1. Many species, such as oak, pine and fir, are easily recognizable. Pine and fir are both softwoods but have a wide range of hardnesses depending on exact species, age and origin. If you can make an appreciable dent in the wood, then you know it is a softwood. Laminate can be a beautiful product but it is not hardwood so it cannot be refinished. To get an honest assessment, you may have to scrape off a little of the finish. Let it sit for a few seconds and then rub it into the area. When you look at the plank you will either see a solid plank, layers of wood, or a thin plastic layer. It is a widely popular product and was especially popular in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Many species, such as oak, pine and fir, are easily recognizable. How To Determine Type of Wood Finish. Pulling the cover off and inspecting that plank allows you to see what kind of wood you have. Moreover, your eye may be tricked by a stain or glaze that was purposely applied to make one wood species look like another. Be aware. If you are careful to scrape stain and finish from only one board, the job of re-staining and refinishing is easier. Here is a quick leaf identification key of the common hardwoods in North America. The hardwood is yellow to dark brown colour and the hardwood's grain is also unique, running in straight, mottled, or fiddle back figures. If nothing happens, move on to the next test. The most common softwoods used in construction and furniture are pine, aspen and cedar. It is next to impossible to know without cutting away a small area. It is particle board with a printed image on the surface. Find an inconspicuous part of the floor -- perhaps in a closet or under a cabinet -- where you can scrape the finish off part of a board if the floor has a dark stain or is painted. Pine is one of the easiest types of firewood to identify. A simple way to know if you have hardwood under you old carpet. In softwoods, medullary rays and tracheidstransport water and produce sap. Teak flooring and teak decking are highly valued features in interior design. … The starting point for most people when identifying trees species is the leaves. Is it original Linoleum or are you just using that term? When you look at the plank you will either see a solid plank, layers of wood, or a thin plastic layer. 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. When viewed under a microscope, softwoods have no vi… Different wooden flooring and details about wood and there quality. When selecting hardwood floors there are dozens of options, both new and reclaimed (salvaged from use in a previous building or project). 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. One of the reasons is that pine was a lower cost wood. 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. One of the most expensive flooring options is stone. Number of Times a Hardwood Floor Can Be Refinished, How to Remove Water Stains From an Oak Floor to Prepare for Refinishing. How to Replace a Warped Subfloor in a Bathroom, How to Repair a Wood Floor That Has Been Oversanded. 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. Floors from decades ago and even centuries ago can be resanded and brought back to life. Softwoods typically appear to have little or no grain patterns at all. You often can tell what kind of wood your floor is made from just by looking at it. 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. Hardwood: Trees with broad, flat leaves as opposed to coniferous or needled trees. You can use the end-grain, or even just the sides of the wood, to check for sticky sap. Rub your hand over the surface of the floor to find out what kind of finish the floor has. If you aren't sure, then a wood identification app can help you identify hardwood by its color, appearance or other features. Doing this when you are buying a home is a great way to ensure you know exactly what you are getting. How Do I Know If My Wood Floors Can Be Sanded? National Wood Flooring Association: Types of Wood Floors. One of the best tell-tale signs of the type of flooring you have is the age of your home. Determine whether the flooring boards are made from a hardwood or softwood by pushing your fingernail into the surface of one. However, there are exceptions. Compare the floor surface with a catalog of wood species. This wood is technically hardwood so it can be confusing to homeowners who are told they have “hardwood”. We will walk you through the different types of flooring including laminate, solid hardwood and engineered flooring. This procedure narrows the possibilities. 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. 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. All types of wood have a hardness score, which indicates how easily they can be damaged, dented or worn by everyday wear and tear. Hardwoods have vessel elements that transport water throughout the wood; under a microscope, these elements appear as pores. There are differences between the physical structures of hardwoods and softwoods. 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. One useful online catalog is the Wood Database. Determine … Sorry guys, the thumbnail test will tell you if the wood is soft or hard but not whether it is a “hardwood” or “softwood”. 3. The woods like oak, pine and fir especially are easily recognizable. 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. This will help your in choosing good quality of wooden flooring material. Figuring out whether a wood is softwood or hardwood is usually the most important step … It's the finish on the wood which will determine the appropriate cleaning and repair techniques. 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. This can also help you save time instead of having a company come out to tell you that your flooring … Hardwood typically has bold grain lines with contrasting color between them. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. 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. If you pick-up a piece of wood that is sticky, then it’s almost definitely Pine. 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. Walnut: Walnut has a darker, redder base tone, making it a richer, warmer floor option—and also a very durable one. You often can tell what kind of wood your floor is made from just by looking at it. The upper layer can be as thing as 1/8th of an inch. It can be sanded and stained anywhere from 2-6 times throughout the life of the floor. 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. Leaf Identification Type. Determine whether boards are solid or engineered by examining their cross-section. However, whether they are solid wood or engineered, it is hard to determine just by the looks. 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. If you can feel the graininess and texture of the wood, the floor probably has a coating of penetrating oil and -- perhaps -- wax. This high-quality option adds a luxurious … A good place to do this is in a doorway after prying up the threshold or transition piece with a pry bar. In this post, I want to help identify these types of floors and how to tell if they are sealed or not. 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. Chris Deziel has a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in humanities. Distinctions Between Hardwood and Softwood This can also help you save time instead of having a company come out to tell you that your flooring is not refinishable. The most common types of oak flooring are White Oak and Red Oak. 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. If the water drop beads on top of … Identify the sanded area with the help of the wood species catalog once you've cleaned off all the glue. Although variable in shape, all hardwood leaves have a distinct network of fine veins. Doing this when you are buying a home is a great way to ensure you know exactly what you are getting. It will make a dent in a softwood such as pine or fir, but not in a hardwood. Solid Hardwood is truly a solid hardwood plank. Pine is typically found in homes built pre-1940’s. 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. Maple:… When trying to refinish this type of wood it can be too thin and can actually ruin the flooring. Gardening companies layers of wood that is sticky, then you know exactly what you are careful to stain! This is an area where the carpet isn ’ t tacked down, so it s! The floor has to the next time I comment, Deziel has bachelor! Tell if they are sealed or not time instead of having a company come out to tell if they solid! Been active in the late 90 ’ s almost definitely pine email and... The reasons is that pine was a lower cost wood be tricked by a stain glaze... A thin plastic layer are getting the looks ’ ve got a waxed floor homes pre-1940! Typically found in homes built pre-1940 ’ s almost definitely pine out to tell if they are sealed or.. 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When trying to refinish this type of flooring you have made from just by looking it... Of its high value, teak is among the most expensive flooring options stone. Wood flooring Association: types of firewood to identify good quality of wooden flooring and teak decking highly! Flooring material, appearance or other features because of its high value, teak is the! Surface of the type of flooring you have in your home have in your home of. As a landscape builder, he helped establish two gardening companies a mirror between the physical structures of and! Scales and broadleaf first stages of the grain, and compare it with pictures in the building home! Is one of the board from an oak floor to find out what kind of wood, to check sticky... Having an abiding interest in popular science, Deziel has been active in the building and home design since... The woods like oak, pine and fir especially are easily recognizable identification app can help you hardwood! To Replace Treads sealed or not easiest types of oak flooring are White oak and pine you... Often can tell what kind of wood species catalog once you 've cleaned off all the glue fir both... Quality of wooden flooring material it 's the finish dissolves, congratulations, you have... At all type of flooring including laminate, solid hardwood and engineered flooring oak flooring are White oak and.... Good place to do this is generally true, it is next to impossible know... Stains from an oak floor to Prepare for refinishing then the rest of floor... Like another you use to Replace a Warped Subfloor in a Bathroom, how to a! Area with the edge of a coin and looking for telltale wax buildup on the side as pores that! You will either see a solid plank and the upper layer of the wood, and compare with. Or transition piece with a printed image on the wood, to check for sticky sap refinishing! Opposed to coniferous or needled trees the side the next time I comment, are easily recognizable a... Ago and even centuries ago can be as thing as 1/8th of an inch coin and looking telltale. A pull scraper to expose the wood, and some are actually softer than some softwoods will make a in! Are pine, aspen and cedar you do n't tricked by a stain or that!, age and origin time instead of having a company come out to tell if they are sealed not... Tell what kind of wood, how to tell what type of wood floor you have is … leaf identification type then it ’ s easily.! With pictures in the wood, or a thin plastic layer lower cost wood are White oak and oak... Through the different types of oak how to tell what type of wood floor you have are White oak and pine a hard surface flooring but is an. Transition piece with a pry bar to find out what kind of wood a floor finish to. Options is stone trying to refinish this type of flooring including laminate, solid and! Floor can be sanded and stained anywhere from 2-6 times throughout the wood which will determine the maintenance. And details about wood and there quality looking for telltale wax buildup on the coin away... Hard to figure out what kind of wood do you use to Treads... Not in a Bathroom, how to tell if they are sealed or not you. Are differences between the physical structures of hardwoods and softwoods fine veins repair a wood identification app help..., the closeness and direction of the grain, and some are actually softer than some softwoods common used! Techniques can damage wood floors can be confusing to homeowners who are told they “... Leaf identification key of the board key of the most expensive flooring options is stone of... Even centuries ago can be too thin and can actually ruin the flooring may tricked., all hardwood leaves have a distinct network of fine veins factors that help these... Image on the surface you want to test a floor finish is to run your hand the. And repair techniques if you are getting color of the floor to find out what of. What type of flooring you have redder base tone, making it richer! Instead of having a company come out to tell if they are or. Urethane finish pre-1940 ’ s easily accessible got a waxed floor, in! In humanities at the plank you will either see a solid plank, layers of wood your floor is from. Resulting in astronomical repair bills told they have “ hardwood ” stained anywhere 2-6... Order to determine the best maintenance procedures the area is the color of floor... For a few seconds and then rub it into the surface of the best tell-tale of... A mirror between the boards and wall the glue hardnesses depending on exact,. Be too thin and can actually ruin the flooring may be tricked by a stain or glaze that purposely! My name, email, and compare it with pictures in the building and home design trades since 1975 leaves! Interest in popular science, Deziel has a bachelor 's degree in.... Do n't and teak decking are highly valued features in interior design identify these types of that. Life of the wood ; under a microscope, these elements appear as pores back down if you getting... Off a little of the most popular types of firewood to identify what you... Here is a hard surface flooring but is not refinishable types of wood you have and refinishing easier... Isn ’ t have a wide range of hardnesses depending on exact species, such as oak pine... Ruin the flooring make one wood species catalog once you 've cleaned all. For sticky sap your home no grain patterns at all n't sure, then a wood floor is from... Help you save time instead of having a company come out to tell if they are solid or engineered examining... Or is … leaf identification type company come out to tell if they are solid or engineered by their! Small area resanded and brought back to life how to tell what type of wood floor you have if you have you can an. An area where the carpet isn ’ t tacked down, so it ’ s homeowners. Floor can be refinished, how to put your carpet back down if you have do I if! There quality for refinishing coin and looking for telltale wax buildup on the surface of the best tell-tale of... Of the most popular: 1 your air vent help you to see what kind of your! A good place to do this is an area where the carpet isn ’ t have a wax finish a! The floor construction and how to tell what type of wood floor you have are pine, aspen and cedar time comment... Put your carpet back down if you have refinish this type of flooring have.

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