Factory pre-fininished: This flooring comes ready to install and requires no sanding or finishing. The wood is precision-milled which minimizes board-to-board mismatch in heights. These uneven boards are usually leveled off with a sander during the finishing process. Pre-finished hardwood flooring comes with a small bevel machined into each edge of the board to hide any differences in board-to-board height. This helps to give the floor a uniform appearance. Learn more about factory pre-finished floors.
Engineered hardwood: This type of wood flooring has a real wood top/wear layer, glued to a multi-layer core typically made of plywood.
The real wood wear layer is available in almost any hardwood species and can range in thickness from 0.6mm to over 4.5mm. (Thickness and hardness is not the same thing within this context.)
The real wood wear layer can be relatively soft as is fir or relatively hard as is Brazilian cherry or red oak. Installation, sanding and finishing is done on-site. More information can be found here at engineered hardwood floors.
Wood Grades: For more than 100 years, NOFMA certification has provided a mark of distinction for wood flooring. NWFA’s NOFMA certification provides an assurance that wood flooring meets or exceeds industry standards for grade, configuration, moisture content, and average board length. Certified mills are inspected a minimum of twice per year to ensure grading standards are consistently met. Visit our wood grades page for more info.
Hardwood vs. Laminate: When comparing hardwood to laminate flooring, the first consideration is that it is much easier to repair hardwood than laminate. Consider the fact that both hardwood and laminate flooring can become damaged by water. Both laminate and hardwood can buckle when they become wet, but since most laminate flooring contains a layer of cardboard it will basically break up and flake away and the entire area will need to be replaced. This is not going to be the case with hardwood flooring. Most of the time the affected areas will dry out and regain their original shape, sometimes it may require a little sanding to bring them back to life, or worst case scenario you will have to replace just the affected boards, whereas with laminate flooring the entire area will need to be completely replaced. Learn more here.