Timber Flooring Types: Softwood and Hardwood
There are two types of timber flooring wood, namely, softwood and hardwood. The terms softwood and hardwood don’t actually refer to the density or hardness of the wood itself. The two timber wood types are actually distinguished botanically and not by their end use or appearance. Trees that produce hardwood are known as angiosperms and produce seeds that are covered, either with a skin or a shell. Such seeds could be fruits or nuts. Softwoods on the other hand, come from trees that are known as gymnosperms. The seeds of this type of tree have no covering although they might fall to the ground in some form of protection, for instance, the hard cones of a pine tree, but are subsequently distributed by the wind over a broad surface area.
Classifying wood as either a hardwood or softwood comes down to its physical structure and makeup, and so it too simplistic to think of hardwoods as being hard and durable compared to soft and workable softwoods. This happens to be generally true, but there are exceptions, such as in the cases of wood from yew trees —a softwood that is relatively hard — and wood from balsa trees — a hardwood that is softer than softwoods.
A few examples of hardwood trees include Oak, Maple, Birch, Eucalyptus and Mahogany. Hardwood finds its way into all manner of things – from tools, boats and buildings, through to furniture and musical instruments. Most relevantly, because of its density, hardwood is commonly used in flooring.
Some of the well-known types of softwood on the other hand, are Cedar, Pine and Spruce. They are quite easy to work with, and as such it tends to be used in furniture, doors and windows. It’s also used in the production of paper, as well as various types of board such as medium-density fiberboard.
When it comes to timber flooring, there are two types: engineered and solid wood. Engineered wood flooring is made up of layers of ply that are bonded together to create a solid and stable core board, which is then topped off with a solid wood top layer otherwise known as lamella. Solid hardwood floors, as its name suggests, is made up of solid planks of one species of wood.Although pinewood flooring is reasonably common and popular because of its low cost, it is less resistant to wear and tear than the likes of oak wood flooring. In most cases, wood flooring, irrespective of whether it is engineered or solid, is made from hardwood because it tends to be more resilient.