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60Get FlooredToday's Hardwood Sets New Standards Photo courtesy of European Flooring

61you've ever designed or renovated a home, chancesare that selecting and installing hardwood flooringwas on your to-do list. A key component inestablishing the look and unique personality of aresidence, hardwood is one of the most important finishingfeatures of any home. Fortunately, in response to increasingdemand for a wider range of product, manufacturers of engineeredhardwood flooring have been making major strides to ensure thatthe range of styles, colours, and materials available will allow fora final design that's as unique as your vision. Even installationprocesses have evolved so that your preferred flooring can easilyfit any space. To that effect, we'd like to educate you on some ofthe terms, trends and processes that we're seeing come to market,including colour, shade, texture, size, and pattern.SMOKING.This is also known as fuming and is a technique thatgives both depth and dramatic colour. Not only will it enrich thesurface of the wood, it will also change the colour all the waythrough, so it remains even after sanding the floor. This is a smartchoice for eco-conscious consumers as the process contains no dyes.OIL STAINSand natural oils are remarkable finishes that offerexcellent durability and renewability, while providing a unique,natural appearance. Mixed with colour, the oil becomes part ofthe wood by penetrating, bonding and hardening with the firstlayer of wood.SURFACE TREATMENTSsuch as wire-brushing, hand-scrapingand distressing are popular with homeowners and entrepreneurswho are looking for a more Old World, natural, rustic finish.Chalking refers to a surface technique that enhances the grain ofthe wood creating a three-dimensional look.WIDTH AND LENGTHare no longer a restriction to engineeredhardwood floors. Not only are planks that measure 3 ½" to 10"wide and lengths that reach 8' long achievable, buyers can feelsecure knowing that the technology will support these dimensionseven when exposed to stressful conditions caused by very high orlow humidity levels.APPLICATION.Whether your project requires a floating click-together installation, a floating glue-together installation, a staple-down or glue-down installation, your flooring selection should notbe determined by the installation method. High qualityengineered hardwood flooring has the technology to perform to thehighest standards, regardless of which method you choose.PATTERNS.Since the 18th Century, when the Parquet deVersailles were first used at Louis XIVth's palace in Paris, thesestylish boards have been at the height of fashionable woodenflooring. Other patterns such as chevron and herringbone are alsoclassics and they are all making a comeback. These beautifulpatterns require skilled installers and precise milling; factors thatwill drive up your installation budget. That said, if you can affordit, the final look is worth the expense.The ability to select specific features and blend them into thefinal product you've envisioned is not widely available across thehardwood flooring industry. That said, a few high-end retailers likeEuropean Flooring are capable of offering truly customized orders.Collections such as L'Amour France and Planed Dutch allowcustomers to be creative and have control over the final look of theproduct. With the principles of design and quality at the forefront,these collections employ different staining and smokingtreatments to create unique and stylish colours. Furthermore, it isimportant that the installation team you choose is highly skilledon any hardwood flooring pattern and able to ensure a final resultthat is nothing less than perfect. Look for lifetime warranties thatcover both the installation and the products. Once you've foundthe company that lets you choose from a variety of shades andtreatments, widths and textures, patterns and applications, you'llcreate a floor that is as unique as your vision.IfFor more information, visitwww.europeanflooring.caOpposite: Examle of chevron-patterned flooring. Right: Example of smoked oak flooring.