Durable, beautiful flooring from wood

In the past, solid wood was widely used as a structural component of floors. Modern construction techniques have diminished the need of flooring to support the house, but solid wood flooring is making a comeback.

Its return to favor has to do with its durability, its natural beauty, ease in cleaning, utilization of a local sustainable product and reduction of a cause of allergies and chemicals in the home. Wood is also a carbon-neutral product because a living tree takes up carbon dioxide, a major source of greenhouse gasses, and the wood flooring stores "sequesters" carbon.

Today, there is a wide assortment of domestic and foreign woods available for use in flooring. The most common domestic woods include red and white oak, hickory, pecan, beech, white ash, yellow birch, hard maple, black cherry, black walnut and hard pine. Of these varieties, Northern red oak has the highest volume of sales. All have various properties that can be evaluated to help you choose the best flooring for your needs.

One of the most sought-after attributes of flooring is hardness or durability -- the wood's ability to withstand scratching and dents. A measure of wood's inherent hardness can be found on the Janka Bell Hardness Scale. Using this scale, one of the hardest woods is Brazilian cherry, a nonnative timber. Of the native species, hardest to softest, in order, are hickory, pecan, hard maple, white oak, ash, beech, red oak, yellow birch, black walnut, black cherry and hard pine.

Another attribute of wood for flooring is how much it shrinks or swells due to changes in seasonal moisture content, also known as dimensional stability. The most dimensionally stable woods, from greatest to least, are black cherry, black walnut, Brazilian cherry, Northern red oak, hickory, pecan, birch, hard maple and white oak.

Besides the structural aspects, there are many aesthetic attributes of wood flooring, such as color, grain pattern, ease in staining, ease in maintaining, and variability of figure and color in each board. These features vary greatly between species and sometimes can vary greatly within a single tree. Wood flooring is also a good insulator of heat, especially if you install a subflooring layer of cork or other insulating material.

There are a number of websites, flooring establishments, and contractors that will help you choose the best flooring material for your purpose.

Fast critters

When we watch the Olympics or other sporting events, it is easy to marvel at the speed of some of the athletes; the fastest human had a recorded speed of 27.89 miles per hour.

In the animal kingdom that is pretty unremarkable. The fastest land mammal is the cheetah, which can reach speeds of nearly 70 mph. Some other fast critters found in North America include pronghorn antelope at 61 mph; the quarter horse, 47.5 mph; elk, 45 mph; coyote, 43 mph; gray fox, 42 mph; greyhound, 39 mph; rabbit, 35 mph; white tail deer, 30 mph; black bear, 30 mph; and domestic cat, 30 mph.

Article by FCFCDB member

Nature Notes for 7/22/2012