How Solid Wood Flooring Is Made

For the last couple of decades the direction of popular taste has been shifting away from carpeting and toward hardwood floors. Maybe it’s the vintage, Victorian look they impart to a house. Or maybe it’s connected to the resurgence of the DIY culture and the rough-hewn look of the planks. Or maybe it’s just a cyclical change in preference like most fashion trends.

Some folks are building new homes designed for exotic hardwood flooring from the beginning. Others are pulling up carpet and installing new flooring, or revealing the exotic hardwood flooring originally laid down before the carpet was installed. Whether you’re considering a new flooring material or wondering about that which you currently have, one question that often pops into the modern person’s mind when considering wood floors (or really anything produced from lumber) is: How is it made?

Floor2Well, to begin, there are three primary kinds of hardwood floors. These are solid, engineered and ‘acrylic’. For the purposes of this article, we needn’t concern ourselves with the last two.

Speaking solely of solid wood, let’s go through the step-by-step process of its manufacture.

The most common wood species used for solid hardwood floor types are red oak, white oak, maple, cherry, white ash, hickory or pecan. As the name suggests, solid wood floors are made from wood cut from a single piece of wood (known in the industry as timber). The trees selected for this should be straight, deep-set and free of infection.

After harvesting, the log must be dried before it can be cut with a saw. The wood may be dried in a kiln, a furnace specially designed for the purpose, or air dried, a process which takes longer. After drying, the wood is cut.

There are three options for this step of the procedure.

The first option is flat-sawn, and it is the most common. This simply means that a long piece of original material is cut directly from the timber along a flat plane. This process, owing to the length of the cut, may result in slight imperfections in the final piece.

The second option is quarter-sawn. This means that the original log (after drying of course) is cut into quarters and the planks for flooring are cut from these. This helps limit the length of individual cuts and therefore is less susceptible to minor imperfections.Floor1

Finally, there is rift-sawn. This process starts like the quarter-sawn process, but from different angles so that it is the most stable, but also the most time-consuming and expensive.

Finally, the planks must be planed and the lips and tongues cut so that they fit together tightly.

During installation, the primary issue that worries us is expansion and cuping. But the benefits are longevity and appearance. There are many homes in New England, Europe and Asia with original hardwood floors over a century old. This kind of durability comes from its solid manufacturing and installation.


Bio –

This guest post contribution is courtesy of the MacDonald Hardwoods of Denver, Colorado. MacWoods carries a huge selection of flooring types including Bamboo, Ash, Beech, Oak, Hickory, Walnut, Wenge and Cypress.


  • Kate Sarsfield

    A really interesting read. Our kitchen/living room space is tiled and ‘proper’ wood flooring. I love it although I have to be extra careful not to spill any drops when watering my myriad of houseplants.

  • Ann

    First, thank you for disregarding engineered and “acrylic.” Second, I took note of your use of quotation marks there. And all this time, I’d thought I couldn’t respect you any more.
    This post was a really interesting read for me. (In one of your earlier posts– on eco-friendly options for wood flooring?– I stated that wood floors are my JAM!) My dad owns and operates a small business, sanding and re/finishing hardwood floors. And I never knew about this! This really was informative, and I’m glad I read this post. Thank you!


    There’s a timber yard not too far away from where I live and I love driving past – the smell of newly-cut wood is simply lovely!

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