BUILDING YOUR WOOD KNOWLEDGE
All of our people are fully-schooled in woodology. Feel free to contact us for guidance in navigating your many options. If you'd like to nerd-out on the info below, you'll win a little piece of our wooden hearts.
SOLID VS. ENGINEERED
Once installed, quality engineered wood is going to be difficult to distinguish from solid wood (usually the finish, and how the planks lay together will be the signals). With our thick wear layers it can also be sanded and refinished. Engineered planks are great when your project lends itself to a pre-finished product and interior cladding. Engineered wood boasts increased stability and is well-suited to below grade installations, a variety of subfloors, and radiant heat environments. It also affords the option of a floating installation.
Solid wood lends itself well to site-finishing, and will provide the option to sand & refinish several times. We recommend solid, site-finished wood for most flooring applications for an optimal finish and most tailored result. The thicker a solid wood flooring product, the less prone it will be to cupping, warping, etc.
EVALUATING ENGINEERED VALUE
Not all engineered wood is created equally. Anthology provides engineered products with only hefty wear layers (typically 4 to 6mm thick) so you can refinish if needed. Our engineered products utilize a quality FSC-certified new wood birch plywood substrate whenever possible for a sustainable, smooth, and stable product.
ABOVE THE TONGUE
This is a quick-reference for comparing how many times you can refinish flooring products. The thicker the solid wood (or wood wear layer) is above the tongue, the more potential there is for sanding & refinishing, and therefore the longer potential lifespan and better value for your investment. Once the tongue is reached in sanding, the grooves can no longer lock the wood in place, and it's probably time for a new floor.
FLAME SPREAD INDEX
Use the Flame Spread Index of the species to help evaluate the wood for your application. This typically will only apply to commercial interiors, and the majority of the woods we work with are within the class C range for commercial use. We do not perform testing of our individual products.
TYPES OF PROFILES
TONGUE AND GROOVE (no bevel): Our standard for most solid flooring products. This is a good choice when you will be site-finishing flooring, or using wall cladding in which a reveal or bevel would expose contrasting color/texture tones not appropriate for the design.
TONGUE AND GROOVE WITH A BEVEL: Our standard for most engineered products with pre finish. The Micro Bevel will reduce the prevalence of over-wood/under-wood (plank surfaces not lining up perfectly in thickness, normal to the living and moving qualities of wood) when you are installing pre-finished products.
TONGUE AND GROOVE WITH REVEAL: Our standard for most wall Cladding products (though T&G - no bevel is a frequent choice too) because it eliminates the exposure of over-wood/under-wood in installation. This profile looks very much like shiplap with a reveal, but the T&G allows for concealed fasteners. Typically our reveals are a 1/4" square channel.
SHIPLAP affords wood to live and breath for exterior Siding applications. It can be milled with or without a reveal. It is typically installed by nailing into the square channel in combination with face-nails near the top "lap" of the board. V-channnel and pillowed edges may be customized.
SQUARE EDGE PLANK is the most simple & typically most economical profile. It is a simple flat edge as you'd expect for a simple plank. A square edge plank will typically be installed with pin nails through the face.
UNDERSTANDING HARDNESS RATINGS
Hardness is represented as a Janka rating, and the number equates to the amount of "pounds-force" required to push a steel ball (a little over 1/2" diameter) into the surface of the wood to half the diameter of the ball (or about 1/4" deep).
The higher the number, the harder the wood. Typically woods with Janka hardness over 1800 have extreme durability. Those between 1200 and 1800 are readily used in high traffic environments, and will patina and surface compress less rapidly than woods between 600 and 1200. While Douglas Fir is perfectly acceptable as flooring with a rating of 660 (and can easily last 100 years or more), it is important to know softer woods will gain character more rapidly than their harder counterparts. Woods with Janka ratings around and under 1000 are considered to "patina in place" with surface impressions occurring readily in high-traffic environments. They are ideal in installations in which an aged patina and lively, rich texture are desired, or in areas exposed only to light traffic to preserve a smooth surface.
We've noticed the hardness of wood often correlates with density and resistance to flame.
PRE-FINISHED VS. SITE-FINISHING
We believe you will get the best floor with a site-finish. Your finisher can make adjustments on-site, knock down over-wood/underwood, and can even do a glass-smooth finish blocking dust and moisture from working its way between boards.
There are times when a pre-finished product is the right choice, such as for value in an engineered product, simplicity of installation, or the type of application not benefiting from site-finish. Wall cladding will typically be pre-finished before it is installed, either by Anthology or by the person installing. We work with commercial grade and low-VOC products wherever we can.
OIL VS. POLYURETHANE VS. UNFINSIHED
OIL FINISH: Anthology loves oil finishes on most products. It is easier to maintain than polyurethane, easy to touch-up when it scratches, intensifies the color of the wood (and typically darkens it a bit more than a polyurethane will), and is typically available in healthier products. It also tends to allow the wood to age and patina gracefully, a little at a time. As wood breaths and cycles in its natural expansion and contraction throughout the year, oil will flex with it (whereas a continuous poly might crack). Oil finish is the most widely used finish world-wide.
POLYURETHANE: A poly finish offers the advantage of a harder surface (typically), and can great a continuous barrier on the surface of a floor when site-finished. This helps guard against water or dust particles finding their way between or underneath the boards. A poly finish may crack or pull apart as your wood cycles through it's natural expansion and contraction.
UNFINISHED: It is very common to install wall and ceiling cladding unfinished. Many reclaimed wood products look great without any finish at all. The soft grays and browns in naturally weathered wood are often at their best when unfinished, and you'll see softer tones in re-milled wood left unfinished. As you consider this option for your project, keep in mind that unfinished wood, depending on what it is exposed to, will continue to grow in character and charm and evolve it's look over time. Wine spilt on a rustic wood floor will tell its story for years to come, and we love a good story! It is very common to install cladding unfinished.
Be sure you note whether you are looking at images and samples of finished or unfinished wood, as they will look different.
UNDERSTANDING SHEEN LEVELS
We feel a matte finish will both showcase the honesty of the wood, as well as give you the best longevity in your look. A matte or super-matte finish will better at minimize scratches and scuffs, while emphasizing the natural color and character of your wood. There are times a higher sheen is appropriate (often easier to clean), and it can highlight certain luminosities in some wood species.
We could share much more about wood and about the distinctive qualities of reclaimed wood, and we look forward to bringing our continuing education courses to you soon. Please feel free to contact us to get on a list for continuing education or a group presentation at your firm.