Most pre-machined flooring is bundled to thickness and width and in random lengths. For strip flooring produced to the NOFMA rules, individual bundles will be stamped with the appropriate quality mark. Bundles are strapped and palletised to assist with handling, and some may be wrapped in polythene for protection.
The table below indicates flooring product availability for the main commercial American hardwood species suitable for flooring. This information is cross-referenced with AHEC's publication 'Species'.
SPECIES HARDNESS (N) EXPORT AVAILABILITY - FLOORING Pecan (Carya illinoensis) 8095 Limited due to low demand Hickory (Carya glabra) N/A Limited due to low demand Hard maple (Acer saccharum) 6450 Widely available in all grades and a range of products White oak (Quercus alba) 6049 Widely available in all grades and a range of products Ash (Fraxinus americana) 5871 Reasonable availability in a range of products Beech (Fagus grandifolia) 5782 Very limited due low demand & wide availability of European beech Red oak (Quercus rubra) 5738 Widely available in all grades, and a range of products Yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) 5604 Limited, but this could change with increased demand Walnut (Juglans nigra) 4492 Reasonable availability in a range of products Cherry (Prunus serotina) 4226 Available in a range of products Elm (Ulmus rubra) 3825 Limited Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) 3425 Available but limited in some markets due to low demand
Hardwood flooring profiles and fixing methods can vary greatly from one country to another. Therefore some export markets demand products that have different specifications, tolerances and quality requirements from the standard products sold and produced for the market in the USA. For example, 21/4" (57.16mm) width tongue and groove strip flooring is a mainstay of the American domestic market, but for many exports markets there is very little demand for this size. Flooring companies that specialise in export are able to tailor production to meet specific market or customer needs. The lack of standardisation of flooring internationally and the need for flexibility, quick delivery and a cost effective product, mean that significant volumes of American hardwood flooring are manufactured from imported lumber in export markets. This results in improved species and product availability.
American hardwood flooring is distributed in two main forms - either as a pre-machined (and sometimes factory-finished) product exported from the USA and channelled through distribution outlets in export markets, or as flooring products (solid, multi-layered and other veneered products) manufactured in export markets from imported American hardwood lumber and dimension.