Choosing Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood—just the word evokes images of charm, richness, and classic looks. Wood floors last a lifetime and gain “character” with age. Given the wide array of flooring options available, you’re bound to find one that fits your lifestyle and budget. Below are some of the main options and styles to consider when you select a hardwood floor for your home.
Hardwood Flooring Styles & Options to Choose From:
Board Widths. Select from narrow strips (less than three inches), or wider planks (more than three inches). The typical board width used in strip flooring is less than 3 inches. Older homes frequently have original wood-strip floors because that was the only available flooring option. Narrow floor boards in newer homes tend to create a contemporary, linear effect. Plank wood flooring currently dominates the hardwood market, and is constructed from floor boards that typically range from 3 to 8 inches wide. The broad width of boards used in plank flooring makes it ideal for use in a rustic, traditional or country decorating style. Wide planks are also add more stability than narrow strips.
Wood Species. Hardwood species vary in durability, grain patterns, and color. Walnut, walnut, and cherry are prized for their striking appearance, while exotic woods like mahogany, and Brazilian cherry are among the most common species due to their hardness.
Colors. Hardwoods run the gamut from blond to black, depending on species and finish.
Textures. You can get hardwood floors that look shiny and new, or you can buy brand new wood that looks like an antique and adds timeworn character to your room. Many manufacturers offer distressed and hand-scraped hardwoods that will disguise heavy use over the years and give the floor an appealing timeworn appearance from the moment it’s installed.
Hardness. For busy households with pets and kids, it’s a good idea to choose the hardest wood species possible. Hard species, such as brazilian cherry, will withstand wear and tear, while softer species, such as pine, tend to show scratches. Whichever you choose, preventive care and proper maintenance can keep your floors looking good for years. The choice between engineered and solid hardwood will most likely be determined by location, subfloor, and preferred installation method.
Finish. Along with protecting the surface, hardwood finishes imbue floors with color and luster. Much commercially available hardwood comes prefinished, which simplifies installation and eliminates dust, chemical fumes, and waiting time. These factory-applied finishes generally have a longer warranty as they are longer lasting and more durable than site-applied finishes.
While solid hardwood can be repeatedly refinished, engineered hardwood flooring can only be refinished a limited number of times. That’s because the thickness of the top veneer varies. However, prefinished engineered floors are quite durable, generally eliminating the need for frequent refinishing.
Edges. Hardwood flooring planks have either a beveled edge or a square edge. Today, most manufacturers refer to their beveled edge as an “eased edge” because the tapered edge has been reduced dramatically from the old fashioned grooved edges. Beveled edges do serve a purpose. Manufacturers can produce beveled edge planks faster than square edge planks, which lowers their production costs — a savings they can pass on to the buyer. In addition, a beveled edge floor can be more forgiving when installed over irregular subfloor surfaces, resulting in less of a chance of uneven plank heights abutting each other, which is called overwood (see below image of it).