Basics of Hardwood Floors
A classic flooring option preferred by many.
If you’re deciding on flooring for your home, a lack of options is probably not a problem. Maybe the look and feel of hardwood is appealing, but you’d like more information to you make the best choice. We’ll start with the basics to help you get the right floor underfoot.
Know Your Trees
The wood species and how its cut is a big part of choosing hardwood types. Some trees are known for abundant knots and interesting grain, while others are clearer. Staining helps get a desirable color but much of your hardwood floor’s character depends on that initial choice of hardwood type and the individual boards used. When it comes to design, there’s no substitute for the in-person experience. Seeing a wood with your own eyes and feeling the texture is vitally important.
But Looks Aren’t Everything
Sure, you want start every day with the hardwood floor of your dreams. But there’s more to flooring design than great-looking wood. Consider its placement and use in the home. If you expect heavy traffic or children playing on it this will increase the amount of wear. Will you live in fear of dropped toys dinging your perfect hardwood floor? A wood's Janka score gives you some idea of the resistance to denting of different types of hardwood- higher is harder. Keep in mind that the scores may not translate between different manufacturers and flooring sources.
Another important point: not all types of hardwood floor are solid wood and that’s a good thing. Because of moisture issues from concrete subfloors and basements, solid wood is not recommended there. For these applications a better option is engineered hardwood. Different from laminate, it’s real hardwood on top, but plywood underneath and it finishes just like the solid stuff. If you’re committed to solid wood on a concrete base, then underlying plywood with high strength glue is likely necessary.
How You Finish Matters
Common finishes include oil or water-based coatings and waxes with varying hardness and aging characteristics. A full range of luster is available either pre-finished or after installation from:
A Classic Material
Hardwood floors are a classy way to finish a home with a warm, personal material. But it takes commitment to careful selection and some regular maintenance. Fortunately, there are more well-made, affordable and beautiful types of hardwood flooring available than ever.