LEARN ABOUT WOOD
Many wood flooring shoppers select product based solely on appearance. In the final analysis, that’s what really counts. Still, it’s nice to learn more about a product you might be living with for decades. We’d like to tell you about the way a log is transformed into flooring, about how it is milled and finished, about the different methods of installation, and how to keep your wood floors looking beautiful.
Construction of Wood Flooring
The basis of a fine wood floor begins with fine wood. Sourcing the right lumber means ascertaining the origin of the trees, their ‘pedigree’ as it were. We want to be sure that they were grown in responsibly managed forests and harvested in accordance with practices approved by international forestry groups such as FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).
Engineered Floors…The Process (Bonding, Milling, Surface Treatment)
Max Windsor makes only Engineered Floors, a construction category which is fast becoming the dominant choice of consumers nationwide. Engineered’s stability, strength and environmental sustainability are the results of years of technological innovation and artisanship. Simply stated an engineered floor is a stack consisting of numerous slices of wood bonded together to form a plank. The plank’s top slice (wear layer) is the surface we walk on and is generally thicker than the layers beneath it (the core), and made from a fine wood specie such as Maple, Birch, Hickory, Walnut, or Oak among many others. Soft woods such as poplar or pine are seldom used.
The bonding process through which the plank is formed is of critical importance. We use a method of bonding known as ‘cold pressing’, a process which keeps moisture to a minimum. The stacks are sawn to planks of the desired width, then dried in a long kiln (oven). During their dwell time in the kiln moisture tests are conducted. When the moisture content is about 8% the planks exit the kiln. They are then ready for milling, the stage during which either Tongue & Groove or self-locking (Click) edges and ends are formed. If the final plank is to have a smooth surface, it is sanded to finite tolerances to ensure levelness. If a hand-scraped surface is called for, artisans use their wood scraping hand tools to disrupt the surface, imparting the visual effects of long wear and repeated traffic. No two planks ever look exactly alike; the objective being to replicate a naturally worn and rustic surface.
The Finishing Stage
Factory ‘pre-finished’ planks are the overwhelming preference of today’s consumer. Beside avoiding the messy, dusty, on-site sanding and finishing, prefinished planks have a more even application of color and top coatings. The controlled factory conditions needed to apply, heat and dry color stains and surface finishes cannot be accomplished on-site, leaving the floor surface to easily scuff, stain and wear down prematurely. Factory finishes are far more durable, particularly those containing numerous coatings of UV-Cured urethane and aluminum oxide, nature’s hardest substance after diamonds. Max Windsor warrants the wearability of its products for a minimum of 25 years. Structural warranties are for a Lifetime.
Due to their stability, Engineered floors can be installed over any standard subfloors on, above or below grade. Approved methods of installation include nailing, stapling, gluing or floating. Max-Lock (Click) self-locking edges require no glue and are ideal for DIY installation. Floor preparation and acclimatization of the wood to be installed are vital steps for a flawless, trouble-free installation.
Solid Hardwood Floors
We do not offer solid hardwood floors for a number of reasons.
1. Due to their mass, solid planks consume many times more of fine wood species, pressuring environmental sustainability.
2. Solid wood absorbs moisture as humidity rises in summer, making it far less dimensionally stable than Engineered. Shrinking and expanding with climate changes can lead to conditions such as gapping, cupping and crowning, particularly in boards over 3 1/2″ wide.
3. Solid wood is unsuitable for installations below grade (basements) or directly on concrete slabs.
Hardwood flooring is a major investment. We suggest that you consult with a Max Windsor dealer in your community, an expert whose knowledge and expertise will help to make the selection and ownership experience a pleasurable one. See our Dealer Locator Page to find certified dealers in your vicinity.
All Max Windsor floors are factory prefinished, meaning that the color stains and protective finishes are applied at the factory, as opposed to on the job after installation. Advanced finishes, such as the UV Cure which Max Windsor uses, are formulated with aluminum oxide, a substance second only to diamonds in hardness. We call our protective finishes Dura Max™ which has over 80 times the abrasion resistance compared to oil finishes. Another added feature of Dura Max™ is low maintenance. It is also backed by a 25 year limited wear warranty.
UV Cure provides a virtually impenetrable barrier against household spills, scratches, and chemical cleaning solutions. Max Windsor applies ten layers of UV Cure Aluminum Oxide to every plank, This super durable factory finish provides decades of long wear and abrasion resistance. Although the color of all wood floors will darken over time, UV Cure helps to protect against discoloration from direct sunlight.
GlossaryShopping for wood has its complexities, but in the end, it boils down to what pleases your eye and what you can expect from your floor. Max Windsor’s factory finished wood floors deliver extraordinary features intended to keep their new look longer and to deliver decades of satisfactory performance. To help you become more familiar with terminology you are likely to hear or read during the process of making a selection, we include the following glossary of terms.
Surface describes the texture of the wear layer (top) of the board. Generally, there are smooth and distressed surfaces. ‘Smooth’ is self-explanatory, exhibiting a level surface, while ‘distressed’ surfaces are manually scraped, scratched, brushed or gouged, giving the impression of old, time-worn, weathered planks. Smooth surfaces are often the desired aesthetic of those wanting traditional, elegant floors, while distressed and hand-scraped floors provide a more casual, rustic look which works well with a casual lifestyle.
Finish refers to color, gloss, and protective coatings such as aluminum oxide, oils, waxes, varnish or other substances applied to the wear layer. Various finishing methods can yield different visual effects. Low luster or matte finishes versus shiny, high gloss finishes are really a matter of personal taste. Dark, high luster finishes are beautiful but are more likely to show scratches and scuff marks than matte finishes.
The hardness of wood varies with species. A technical test produces the “Janka” (hardness) rating of each species on a scale ranging from 800 to nearly 4,000, with 1,200-3,000 being the norm. While hardness was a significant characteristic years ago, it has become far less so as aluminum oxide and other high-strength finishes have been developed. These finishes receive the brunt of the impact from traffic, and have become the “equalizer” for differences in hardness among species.
From matte to mirror-like, our species feature various levels of gloss:
- (n) Natural: A relatively low percentage of gloss chosen for its soft and natural appearance.
- (hg) High Gloss: Creates a wet-looking, clean, vibrant surface which emphasizes the beauty of the wood grain,
- (ml) Mirror-Like: Offers a shiny, ‘piano finish’ gloss, especially desirable for more formal interiors.
Knots, Mineral Streaks & Color Variances
A knot is a roughly circular, usually darker imperfection found in wood. Knots naturally form in trees where side branches sprout from the tree trunk. While undesirable in certain floors when a smooth, even, unblemished appearance is called for, knots may be an enhancement to floors which are selected for their distressed character.
Mineral streaks are light or dark lengthwise markings which are contrasting in color to the basic floor color. They are of varied lengths and widths. Here again, they are much desired in distressed finishes where variations in color add to the character of the floor. Always be aware that mineral streaks are a phenomenon prevalent in certain species like American Walnut, Tigerwood and other exotics. To best judge your preference, ask your dealer to show you photos of room installations. Often, a small sample may not contain such streaks.
The same is recommended in the case of color variations. No two wood planks are the same. Various parts of a tree may take color differently. Professional installers are trained to open the boxes and arrange the boards to prevent excessive clumps of color variations, mineral streaks and knots in particular sections of the floor.
Many floors require moldings and other finishing pieces to be applied at openings (door trim, window trim, base trim). Stairways may require stair nosing for the edge of steps and landings. Max Windsor makes a series of moldings to match each of our wood colors.
The appearance of the wood determines its grade. All grades are equally strong and serviceable, but different grades create different looks.
- Clear wood: Free of visible imperfections, though it may have minor imperfections.
- Select wood: Almost clear but shows a minimal occurence of knots and mineral streaks.
- Common wood: Exhibits natural character. A full range of knots and mineral streaks is allowed.
- Rustic: Exhibits a full range of natural character and, in some species, allows the occurence of holes through the pieces of flooring.
Edge Treatments (Beveling)
These are techniques used during production to add character to individual boards. We use three primary edge enhancement techniques:
- Beveled Edge: The square edges are cut at an approximate 45° angle.
- Eased Edge: Similar to a beveled cut but with less of an indentation.
- Microbeveled Edge: A small (less than 1mm) 45° beveled edge cut.