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5 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Hardwood Floor

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

Shopping for a wood floor can be a bit intimidating with the range of woods, colors, and finishes available today. When it comes to selecting the ideal wood floor for your home, there are five factors to keep in mind.

When shopping for new flooring, homeowners owe it to themselves to explore the advantages and beauty of wood. Nothing compares to the character and warmth that wood floors add to every area in the house. They are comfortable, resilient, and surprisingly economical. While there are many options, not every type of wood flooring is appropriate for every situation.

#1 Type of Wood Flooring

There are primarily two types of wood flooring products—solid hardwood and engineered hardwood. Solid wood flooring is milled from solid wood logs and is joined with a traditional tongue and groove along the edges. Solid wood is available prefinished or unfinished, in parquet, strips and planks.

Engineered wood flooring is comprised of multiple layers of plywood and composite material, and topped with a layer of solid hardwood. Engineered wood flooring comes with a hardwood layer on top ranging in thickness from 3 mm to 8 mm.

While both types offer the same beauty of real hardwood, the primary difference between solid hardwood and engineered flooring is in the floor’s composition. Since solid wood flooring is subject to expand and contract relative to a home’s humidity, it needs to be installed on the ground floor. Engineered flooring, which is more stable due to its multi-ply construction, can be installed in other parts of the home, making it perfect for kitchen and bathrooms where dampness and moisture can be issues.

#2 Choice of Wood Species

There are many different types of woods used in flooring, but some are harder and therefore more durable than others. Day to day wear and tear is what concerns most people when shopping for a wood floor and the benchmark for hardness is Oak. Top-selling exotic woods such as Brazilian Cherry, Ironwood, and Tasmania Oak are among the hardest species available. Naturally, the harder the wood, the better it will be for wear and installation in high-traffic areas of the home.

#3 Grain, Color, and Appearance

Because wood flooring comes in so many different species, styles, and finishes, it is fairly easy to select a floor to match any room décor. For modern homes, consider wide, random plank width flooring in Oak, Teak or Maple. For Oak, Teak, Merbau or Walnut, or parquet flooring will be smart choices. Virtually any type of wood can be used in a contemporary setting, depending on what stain or finish is used—for example, distressed, handscraped, dark, grey blends or whitewash finishes can transform any wood species into a modern masterpiece.

#4 Type of Finish

The finish is the real determining factor in the overall appearance of a wood floor. The same wood species will look completely different finished in a clear gloss, versus a distressed, hand-scraped or wire-brush finish. “There are different gloss levels and finishing techniques that change the overall look of the wood floor. Distressed, hand-scraped or wire-brush finishes will also be something to consider when shopping for a wood floor.

Flooring is sold either “unfinished” or “pre-finished.” Unfinished floors are sanded and finished on-site. Pre-finished is factory-applied in a controlled setting. We definitely recommend pre-finished flooring, because it ensures a superior and consistent finish, and comes with a warranty.

#5 Cost and Installation

The cost of wood flooring is determined by the type, species, and finish. The typical cost of installation is around half that of the flooring, however this varies depending on the type of flooring and how it is installed in your home.

Both solid wood and engineered wood flooring are installed by nailing, stapling or gluing planks to a subfloor. There are, however, a variety of new engineered products available that can be installed easily and “floated” above the subfloor.

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