Hardwood flooring has been a popular option for homeowners for years. There is something timelessly elegant about this type of floor covering. Its simple, clean lines and ability to complement virtually any decor makes it a great investment for those on a budget. It’s also one of the most sustainable building materials available. The eco-friendly hardwood flooring industry offers many choices in wood species, types of stains, finishes, and installation options.
Hardwood flooring is any material made from hardwood that is intended for use as hardwood flooring, decorative or structural, regardless of size. Hardwood is an increasingly popular choice as a building material because it’s durable, relatively inexpensive, easy to care for, and versatile. The natural grain patterns of hardwood add to its charm and allow it to complement almost any decor. Wood can be engineered to have durable finishes that can withstand high foot traffic without being damaged.
When shopping for hardwood flooring, there are several factors to consider besides species, type of floor, and available finishes. The location of the room is another critical factor. Solid hardwood floors installed in a room with heavy foot traffic will need more maintenance than flat floors. Engineered floors are engineered to resist moisture and are extremely durable. Engineered floors also come with a variety of different applications including:
Oak hardwood flooring comes in three basic finishes: antique, dark cherry, and light oak. A third finish, walnut, is becoming popular with people looking for a durable stain that will not change color with age, sunlight, or exposure to heat and moisture. Walnut has a medium coarse grain that can make it ideal for staining into a variety of architectural patterns including Queen Anne, Queen Ann, and Victorian.
The first step in selecting hardwood flooring is to decide whether you want a laminate or solid wood floor. Both types have different looks, but each type requires a different level of maintenance. Laminate flooring may be installed in any room, but solid wood flooring requires more care because of its heavier weight. Larger rooms usually require a solid wood floor installation.
There are several different hardwood floors that have different strengths, stains, colors, and grains. Popular choices include oak, maple, cherry, maple-stained pine, walnut, hickory, and birch. There is also a new breed of wood species called bamboo. Bamboo hardwood floors are gaining in popularity because they are stronger, easier to clean, and are resistant to common pests such as termites.
There are several different manufacturers of hardwood floors. Many homeowners prefer to have the installation done by a professional contractor because it will usually cost more than doing it yourself. Many homeowners are happy with the quality of workmanship that comes with professional installations. If you want to save money, you can do the installation yourself, but there is more work involved including putting in the underlayment and finishing the floors.
No matter which installation method you choose to do, remember to take measurements accurately. Your home inspector is most likely able to advise you about the best way to install hardwood flooring in your home. You may need to replace some hardware, change the drain patterns, or perform other minor alterations in order to achieve the results you are looking for.
Engineered flooring planks have become very popular for use in homes. They are made from solid pieces of wood that are bonded together under high heat and pressure. The solid planks are then cut into the proper lengths, glued together, and sold individually. Engineered planks are stronger than solid planks, but they also have a smoother, glossier surface. Engineered hardwood flooring may not be as durable as solid planks, but it is still a good choice for many homeowners.
“I purchased three-fourths of an inch planks one time and cut them to fit with my subfloor. It looks beautiful, however, I would not buy it again if I were to have to do it again,” says Miller. “The planks come in a wide range of prices depending on the quality, craftsmanship, and material used.”
“I think about going back to quarter-sawn wood because it has a more uniform texture and grain,” says David Shugart, flooring manufacturer and craftsman. “I like flat-sawn for hardwood flooring because it costs less but has a uniform, fine-grained grain. The finish you get with plain-sawn is much tighter but can crack if it is installed incorrectly. I think the only drawback to flat-sawn is that it takes two or three coats to get the right finish.” Says Shugart, “It is inexpensive, easy to install, and hardwood flooring can last for decades.”