Why a Microbevel Is On Your Flooring

A close-up of a hardwood floor
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The first time I purchased pre-finished solid hardwood floor, the boards came with a microbevel. The product literature praised the virtues of microbevel and how I was such a lucky homeowner to get this feature at no extra cost. But I never knew why my flooring had it. Finally, I learned.

Microbevel Basics

Sometimes called an eased edge or kissed edge, a micro bevel is a 45 degree cut down the sides of the floorboards. The opposite of a square-edged board, it is just a shallow hairline cut.

When two microbevel floorboards meet up, the bevels create a "V" shape. When two square-edged solid wood floorboards meet up, the result is a close-to-smooth floor (we'll find out in a bit why it's not perfectly smooth).

3 Reasons Why They Are Loved and Hated

  1. Dirt Collector: Some homeowners hate microbevels because they collect dirt. Owners need to gently sweep in the direction of the bevels or pick up the dirt with a vacuum. But other owners like them for precisely the same reason: the channels collect dust rather than leaving it on the surface, where it can scratch.
  2. Dimension, Shadows: Some owners love them because the shadows they create give the flooring added dimension. For them, square-edged boards are monotonous and make for a boring floor.
  3. Cover-Up: Flooring purists may have the opposite view, criticizing microbevels as a cheap and cheesy way to make sub-standard look better. Flooring purists also don't like pre-finished flooring much, preferring site-finished (or unfinished) flooring. And that leads us to our answer:

Sanding and Finishing

When you lay site-finished, square-edged hardwood floor, you end up with various floorboard heights. It doesn't matter that the floorboards have a locking mechanism called tongue and groove, which in theory should keep all floorboards at the same height. But the real world doesn't quite work that way.

Sanding, even a light sanding, will equalize these heights and bring it all down flat. Then, if there are any hair-thin gaps left between the boards, the sealant will fill in those gaps. Result: a perfectly flat floor. 

Pre-finished wood flooring is installed and is ready to use immediately, no sanding and finishing. But that is its failing, too. Microbevels are a way to hide the unequal heights of pre-finished floorboards. Today, you really can't get away from microbevels in pre-finished flooring. A few companies make the square-edged pre-finished floor, but the microbevels are the norm.

Laminate flooring, in its ceaseless striving towards realism, has in many cases adopted the microbevel.

Fun Fact

Faus Group, a laminate manufacturer, has patented something called Embossed-In-Register® (used by DuPont and other flooring manufacturers) to simulate a microbevel. It's featured within the board as opposed to the edges, and it's included purely for aesthetic purposes.