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How to Choose a Hardwood Floor – 5 Things to Consider

Making a choice for the right hardwood floor is an important decision before installation or undertaking of a home renovation.

There are plenty of hardwoods with varied features such as colors, species, hardness and finishes. How do you choose the best for your project?

How to Choose a Hardwood Floor

First and foremost, a round of applause for choosing a wooden flooring over other alternatives such as carpet, laminate and tiles.

Hardwood floors are timeless, durable, beautiful and easy to clean as compared to others. Here is a guide on how to choose a hardwood floor for a home.

How to Choose the Best Hardwood Floor

Besides knowing the pros and cons of a hardwood floor, there are various factors that can influence your decision for a hardwood floor.

In summary they include but not limited to type of wood floor, species, appearance, finish and cost.

Types of Hardwood Floor

There are two broader categories of a hardwood floor namely solid and engineered hardwood floor.

Structural differences and resistance levels are used in defining the two types.

The choice for one is determined by the floor distress level and geographical location of a home.

Solid hardwood floors

These are wood flooring planks milled from a single piece of timber. They have a thicker wear surface and can be sanded and finished many times without compromising strength or quality.

Solid hardwood floors are best for floors that experience scratches and dents on regular basis.

Such damages are common in homes with kids, pets or both. There is no great worry if you have solid hardwood floors because they can be sanded and refinished as many times as possible to remove scratches, dents and scuff marks and look new again.

One of the main disadvantages of a solid hardwood floor is its porous nature. It can absorb moisture, expand and warp.

It is therefore not the best choice for homes in humid areas or located by the beach side.

Engineered hardwood floors

The planks consist of two or more layers of wood adhered together. A thin layer of solid wood usually attached to a core of layered plywood.

Engineered hardwood floors are structurally stable and resilient to moisture and temperature variations. This makes them the best to install on any floor type, above, below or on grade.

Regardless, engineered hardwood has own shortfalls. The thin layer of solid wood on top cannot allow multiple sanding in the event of a contamination. It is thus not the right choice for floors that are predisposed to scratches and dents.

The purchase and installation cost for both solid and engineered hardwood may vary based on other factors such as species of wood, color, texture and the area to be covered.

Nevertheless, solid hardwood is slightly expensive per square foot as compared to engineered.

Species of Hardwood Floor

There are over 20 species of hardwood floors with varied qualities such as color, strength, texture and durability.

Commonly available species include, Hickory, Cherry, Maple, White Oak, Red oak, Birch, Teak, and Black Walnut among others.

The type of hardwood species you choose may depend with your lifestyle.

The janka rating on hardness scale of each species can help you to select what suits your home requirements. The higher the value on scale, the more durable a wood is.

For example the best hardwood floor for pets or high traffic must be tough, strong and resistant to urine and scratches.

Species such as Hickory, Maple and Oak will be the most ideal in such environments.

For staining or color change, a softer hardwood would do the trick. You may consider species such as Ash, Birch, Cherry or Black Walnut.

While these species may not suit homes with more floor activities and pets, they are slightly more expensive than harder ones due to their sophisticated color.

Hardwood Appearance

Hardwood floor comes in varies species, colors, texture, styles and finishes thus choosing the right type of your desired appearance may not be easy.

When comparing dark vs light hardwood floors, there are things that comes into play. Talk about interior home décor, room lighting and even the size of the space.

If you are selling your home, majority of people are attracted to dark colors. Sizeable people also prefer light appearance and only a few get attracted to gray.

Generally, a hardwood floor adds value to a home and increase the reseal value.

Although classy, colors on extreme spectrum are difficult to clean and maintain. They does not conceal scuffs and scratches.

Any imperfection is notoriously highlighted. Your preparedness for this should be a determiner for choice of a wood color.

In addition to colors, finish options such as glossy, satin and matte are driving factors for floor appearance.

If you want to highlight the natural grain patterns and colors of your wood, consider natural looking matte finishes. To add a little gleam to your floor without too much glossy go for satin finishes respectively.

There also various surface textures for prefinished hardwood flooring. Smooth surface texture is still the most popular and followed by wire-brushed, hand-scraped, and distressed wood.

Prefinished hardwood flooring has a superior and consistent factory applied finish whose quality and durability is warrantied.

Unfinished hardwood are sanded and finished on site after installation.

This is usually done by a professional to ensure a consistent seal that prevents moisture and dirt from penetrating the seams or floor boards.

Budget and Cost

Purchase and installation of a hardwood floor is pricey. The costs may vary depending on the type of wood, species, size and strength.

Even though the onetime cost may appear high, it pays back in the long run.

Generally, the cost of purchase and installation of a prefinished hardwood floor is less compared to unfinished hardwood where everything is done on site.

It is therefore very important to save money and prepare adequately in buying and installing a quality floor.

Care and Maintenance

This is a critical factor for a lasting hardwood floor. Water (moisture) and dirt are the greatest enemy to a wooden floor. 

A proper care and maintenance of a hardwood floor not only makes them to stay beautifully clean but also adds them more life.

While you prepare to install a hardwood floor, be ready to meet cleaning, repair and refinishing costs.

Being the easiest to clean, you will need to use a rightful cleaner or method that does not damage the surface finish or the underlying wood.

As some wood types or colors are good at concealing dirt, scuff and dents, all wood types call for regular cleaning, fixing of imperfections, sanding and refinishing after several years.

The Bottom Line

A hardwood floor has many advantages over other flooring types. Timelessness, comfort, beauty and value.

Choosing the right type of a hardwood floor for your home primarily depends on your lifestyle.

To get the best out of your investment, preparation, commitment and protection applies.

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