Best Practices for Designing Exotic Wood Flooring

I am a self proclaimed wood nerd and rightfully so.  For many years, I managed a retail woodworking store where I bought and sold some of the most beautiful and rarest woods in the world.  As such, I can truly appreciate wood floors made from these unique species.  However there are advantages and disadvantages to consider when selecting exotic woods for your project.
Advantages of Most Exotic Wood Species:
  1. Hardness:  Exotic wood species, with the exception of Teak, offer the hardest available Janka ratings averaging 2300 psi as opposed to standard White Oak at 1340.  Therefore, exotic wood species are a great choice when concerned about durability.
  2. Unique appearance:  There is no mistaking the exquisite elegance that some exotic species offer to a design. From deep rich Mahogany to the inherent lineal striping of Zebrawood. Exotics offer an allure many find irresistible.
  3. Availability:  Most are available in an engineered wood flooring platform for increased stability. Also available in solid but be mindful (see disadvantages).
  4. Finish:  Can be purchased unfinished for customization by Woodwright Hardwood Floor Company (shop finished) or field finished, typically sanded smooth to show off their beauty.
Disadvantages of Most Exotic Wood Species:
  1. Unstable:  Many exotic wood species are extremely reactive to changes in moisture, demonstrating substantial expansion and contraction. Please be cautious of the environment you are bringing the wood into and plan to maintain a tighter tolerance of temperature and humidity fluctuations than normal, especially with solid wood flooring.
  2. Finish:  The majority of exotic wood flooring available on the internet are factory finished with multiple coats of urethane and a filled grain. This causes the surface to be reflective which tends to create a “fake” wood look throughout the flooring. This process also makes re-coating, the act of abrading the top layer and applying a new top coat, very difficult.
  3. Wear Layer:  A majority of the prefinished exotic wood flooring available is manufactured with a thin wear layer, typically 0.6mm to 2mm.  This limits the number of re-sandings in the future.
  4. Site Finish: Site finishing exotic wood species can be done, but it presents its own set of challenges.  Please read below.
  5. Color Changes:  All wood species change color over time and exposure to UV light.  However, exotic wood species are more prone to color changes.  Please set clients’ tolerance for color changes in advance.
Tips for proper selection of your exotic wood floor:
  1. Buy from a well known source with experience dealing with hard and unstable exotic wood species.
  2. If site finishing your floor it is critical, please use a reputable, knowledgeable wood flooring contractor that is well versed in best finish practices of exotic wood floors.
  3. Job site conditions, especially in residential, can present challenges in the installation and finishing stages of a project. Please extended the wood floor acclimation period to reduce your risk.
  4. Dust management is vital. Many species have toxic dust that can cause health concerns or issues in the home such as staining fabric, etc.
  5. Exotics are often difficult to stain.  The finish product a contractor uses regularly may not be compatible with your exotic wood floor specie.
  6. Manage the clients expectations by addressing the above issues in advance.  Any specie selected can be successful with proper education and expectations.

As you begin exploring your design options with exotic wood flooring species, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.  Exotic wood species make beautiful wood floors and can be a success if managed correctly from design to finishing.

 

What makes European Oak so desirable?

This is the first installment of a new series of articles we will be sharing in regards to common, and even not so common, wood species utilized in wood flooring projects.  Our A+D Consultant in Dallas, Rick Farrell, will be sharing his wood knowledge with our readers.  Through Rick’s experience in lumber sales then eventually wood flooring, he has become a leading authority on wood flooring specie.  As a self-proclaimed “wood nerd”, Rick has become an invaluable educator to the Architect and Design communities specifically regarding wood flooring specie selection and design.  In his series, he will share his knowledge with you.  We hope you get as much benefit from it as his clients do.


The allure and interest surrounding true European Oak, most of which comes from France or Germany, has an interesting explanation. People are intrigued with its uniqueness because it is unlike product that most Americans associate with Oak. In fact, Oak is the staple of the lumber industry, by far the most popular specie and most widely utilized in our culture. Its presence in our daily lives goes unnoticed to most, yet it is everywhere. Designers and Architects who specify wood flooring, veneers, cabinetry or millwork on projects are intimately familiar with Oak. Yet, they are not always familiar with the significant differences that make European Oak such a rich product in design and functionality.

First we examine standard American White Oak.  It has 3 traditional cuts. The most common is Plain Sawn, also referred to as Flat Cut, which showcases a traditional Cathedral grain pattern. Next is Quarter Sawn which identifiable by the “flake” appearance in the grain.  Finally, we have Rift Cut which illustrates a very straight grain pattern.  The industry standard of mixing Rift Cut and Quartered Cut Oak that has been used for centuries. Specifically regarding Rift cut, Woodwright has been sourcing “Rift Only” White Oak for years because our clientele love and request it often. It is more scarce than ever, but with careful planning can be used to create a stunning aesthetic.

White Oak CutsNow that we have briefly examined traditional American White Oak, let’s take a look at true European Oak.  So what really makes European Oak so unique? It’s all in the way it is cut from the log.

The Europeans have a technique that involves taking a “square” from the center of a log, called a cant, and slicing it straight through. It also has a slower growing cycle, which produces a tighter grain. The result is a wider plank, typically 7-10″, with a gorgeous plain sawn look near the center, flanked by a unique rift & quartered grain pattern, all in the same piece of wood. Yes, you read that correctly, all three cuts in one plank!

Woodwright-European Oak

Some American mills have recognized the popularity of the European Oak and are now supplying us with lumber and flooring that they cut in the same manner as the European method. It is referred to as Eurocut, Center Cut, Live Sawn or even French Cut Oak, and it offers tremendous opportunities for our A&D clients to specify something out of the norm, yet often stay within budget. Woodwright’s newly expanded manufacturing facility at 425 Regal Row in Dallas is engineering “Eurocut” on a regular basis. If you or your client prefers the true beauty of European Oak, we can accommodate those needs as well.

Our A+D Consultants are happy to collaborate with you to create a visually stunning and unique project. We have a full-time sample department that can fulfill requests with a reasonable production time. Please feel free to contact your A+D consultant to begin working with our award-winning, turnkey solution.

Sincerely, Rick Farrell

Wood Flooring Design Program in Your Design Library

For those architects and designers that are familiar with Woodwright Hardwood Floor Company, we have released new wood flooring sample chips as a part of our library program.  The latest colors and species reflect current trends in the wood flooring market.  Some of the newest chip samples include walnut with a gray oil finish, fumed white oak and natural heart pine just to name a few.  To assist you in using this program in your library, we have outlined the best practice to fully utilize our sample box program.  It is important to note that the program is designed to serve as a “starting point” to designing the EXACT wood floor for your project.  You are not limited to the species and colors in the box.

Woodwright-Wood-Floor-Library-Program

 

To get the most benefit from the  program, please see the steps below:

  • Start by selecting a specie.  We have included some of the most popular wood flooring species in our library program.  We have also included our catalog that features a stability and hardness chat for select species to guide your selection.
  • Choose your texture.  Yes, you have options!  We have included chips that feature smooth, wire brushed, handscraped or saw mark textures.
  • Select your color palette.  You are not limited to the colors in the box.

After you have started designing your wood floor utilizing our design tool, you can request a complimentary sample from Woodwright Hardwood Floor Company.  Either call your A+D Consultant to get the process started or you may visit our website to start your sample selection.  Your design intent as well as the functionality are extremely important to us  Our goal is to help you avoid any potential pitfalls when selecting a wood floor.  We will ask you a series of questions show below.

  • What specie of wood have you selected and is it the best fit for your project.
  • Will the floor be solid wood flooring or engineered wood flooring.
  • What type of texture would you like to add, if any.
  • Will this be prefinished or site finished.
  • What color would you like.
  • Finally, would you like a urethane, oil or other type of finish.

If you are unsure of any of the answers to the questions, we will guide you through the selection process to guarantee best results.  After we have all the answers, we will be able to provide you with the exact floor floor sample for your project within 7-10 days.

If you do not have a Woodwright sample box in your library and are interested in the program, please feel free to contact us.

Cheers till next time!

Why is wear layer on wood flooring so important?

When we first get into the discussion of wear layer, we must define the term wear layer.  Quite frankly it refers to the re-sandable wood surface above the tongue and groove on wood flooring.  On 3/4″ solid wood floors, the wear layer is typically 6 millimeters (0.23622 inch).  Depending on texture (yes, heavy texture does effect your future re-sandings), you can typically expect 4-5 re-sandings.

Now let us examine re-sandability of engineered wood floors.  With so many types of engineered wood floors in the marketplace, we will start by defining what an engineered wood floor is and what it is not.  First and foremost, it is not laminate!  Laminate wood floors are essentially a “photograph” of wood grain glued to some type of backing material.  In most cases it may be MDF or similar.  In reality engineered wood floors are constructed of either a rotary cut or sawn piece of lumber that is glued to a structural backing.  So why use engineered wood floors?  First, they may be directly glued to the concrete slab.  Secondly, if using a less stable specie (see chart), an engineered wood floor provides additional stability.  When you select a Woodwright product, you get a sawn piece of lumber on a structurally sound backer.  Yes folks, it is real wood!  When it comes to thicknesses and wear layer of engineered wood floors, you face a wealth of options.  Floor thicknesses may range form 3/8″ to 3/4″.

Our engineered wood floors typically come in 2 thicknesses.  First, we offer a 5/8″ engineered wood floor with 4 millimeters (0.15748 inch) of wear layer.  Again depending on texture, you can rely on 3-4 re-sandings.  Our second engineered wood floor is 6 millimeters (0.23622 inch) of wear layer.  This is apples to apples re-sandability as compared to solid wood flooring and you get the added stability if you are using less stable specie. See the image below for a chart on estimated re-sandings of wood floors with varying wear layers.

resandings of wood floors
A lot of times we will receive the comment about engineered wood floors that the client does not want engineered because they do not like the edge treatment of glossy, pre-filled finish that dominates the marketplace today.  You know what?  You do not have to settle for that either.  Woodwright’s engineered wood flooring can be installed, field sanded and finished to crate the seamless, site finish look so many clients crave.  Our engineered wood floors are completely customizable so you do not have to settle.

Getting back on track, so why is wear layer important?  Product life is the simple answer.  Rather than having to replace or throw away a thinner wear product, you can sand and finish  thicker wear layer product multiple times.  In our next post, we will expand on the cost evaluation to demonstrate the long term value of selecting wood flooring with thicker wear layer.

Cheers till next time!

Design a Custom Wood Floor in 5 Steps

We believe you don’t have to “settle” for a wood flooring specification.  At Woodwright, we are confident that we can give you anything you want in a wood flooring project.  Any specie, any design, any texture and any color!  To start designing your custom wood flooring project, we have created these 5 easy steps that our Architect + Design Consultants will assist you with in designing your next project.

  1. Select your specie.  Woodwright will assist you in making sure you are selecting the proper specie for your project. Our goal is to educate you on the pros and cons of wood species to ensure maximum performance.  For your reference, we have created a reference guide to the stability and hardness of commonly used wood flooring specie.
  2. Select your style.  While a standard plank or strip floor may be the most common type of wood flooring you may specify, your options with Woodwright do not stop there.  Our Architect + Design Consultants can assist you with an endless amount of style options.  Below is a partial list of some additional style options we can offer to you.
    • End grain flooring
    • Herringbone
    • Patterns
    • Chevron
    • Medallions
    • Borders
    • Mixed media such as leather + wood, stone + wood or metal + wood
    • Custom design your own.
    • 3D wall applications
    • Wall and ceiling applications
  3. Select type.  Woodwright doesn’t just specialize in wood floors, we specialize in ALL TYPES of wood floors.  Whether you are looking at solid wood flooring, engineered wood flooring or end grain wood flooring, we can accommodate your request.
  4. Add texture.  Adding texture to your wood floor will open up the grain and give your wood flooring more depth and dimension.  Following are some of the most common textures we provide to our clients.
    • Wire brushing
    • Hand scraping
    • Band saw marking
    • Double hand scraping
  5. Select your finish.  Not every project demands the same type of finish.  We value your business and we work tirelessly to provide you with a finish that will exceed your expectations.  Our Architect + Design Consultants will educate you on the advantages and disadvantages of each type of finish and which one you should consider for your project.
    • Site Finish: Oil, Urethane or Wax
    • Custom Shop Finish: Oil or Urethane
    • Custom blended colors and specialty treatments

After you have taken the journey through the design process, Woodwright will provide you with artisan samples.  Our investment in the sampling process is our commitment to you that we are fully invested in your process.  Our belief is that a true wood floor representation can not be attained in a 6 inch board sample.   The sample process takes 7-10 business days.

In a time crunch?  Our showrooms in Austin and Dallas are stocked full of beautifully crafted wood flooring samples for your use.  Please contact one of of Consultants to arrange a showroom presentation or for us to come to you.