What “Wood” I Buy

Customers are always asking me what type of hardwood I would select for my own home. Having worked for years at my family’s 100 year old business, EF Marburger Fine Flooring, I feel like I can offer an informed opinion. Options have changed drastically over the years and there are now more choices than anyone can imagine. It is hard to decide which flooring is right for your home. There are a lot of words floating around out there that are misused, mispronounced, and misunderstood. It has become increasingly difficult to choose the right flooring from the right company and now there are other external worries such as formaldehyde sneaking into your home. . Allow me to clear up some of the confusion.

Solid Hardwood Flooring

Solid wood flooring is milled from a single piece of timber that is kiln or air dried before sawing. Depending on the desired look of the floor, the timber can be cut in three ways: flat-sawn, quarter-sawn, and rift-sawn. The timber is cut to the desired dimensions and either packed unfinished for a site-finished installation or finished at the factory which is called a prefinished hardwood. Site finished solids can be sanded down and refinished multiple times. Because of nano technology, the factory finish is far superior to a site finish floor. With a prefinished floor you avoid the mess and odor of site refinishing and you can walk on the floor as soon as it is installed. The planks are typically between 2 and 4” wide, and are vulnerable to cupping and gapping in our extreme temperature and humidity fluctuations.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Engineered wood flooring is composed of two or more layers of wood in the form of a plank. The top layer is the wood that is visible when the flooring is installed and is adhered to the core. This layer can usually be sanded down and refinished once, but again this has become less popular. Especially since if you decide to go with a hand scraped look- sanding this will eliminate the hand scraping.
The increased stability of engineered wood is achieved by running each layer at a 90° angle to the layer above. This stability makes it a universal product that can be installed over all types of subfloors above, below or on grade. In addition, the construction of engineered hardwood allows for a wider plank than the solids. The widths can range from 4” to 10” wide with less danger of cupping or gapping.

Laminate and vinyl floors are often confused with engineered wood floors, but are not—laminate uses an image of wood on its surface, while vinyl flooring is plastic formed to look like wood. All of our flooring manufacturers have sent us certificates showing that their products meet CARB2 certification. Thus, there is no worry of dangerous chemicals such as formaldehyde in the flooring.

The solid and engineered hardwood and laminate manufacturers represented in our showroom at EF Marburger Fine Flooring have provided us with certificates showering that their products meet CARB2 certification, alleviating the worry of the presence of dangerous chemicals such as formaldehyde in their flooring. With flooring being the backbone of your home, make sure you choose a reputable, experienced company who has plenty of choices and can give you the best guidance in selecting the right flooring product for your family and lifestyle along with a warranty on the product and installation.


Kelly Marburger Novak
Customer Development
Project Manager