Buying Hardwood Flooring
Is Hardwood Flooring Right for Me?
Is Hardwood Flooring Right for Me?
When making any big purchase, there are many things you’ll want to take into consideration before you open your wallet to buy. Hardwood floors are no different.
This purchase affects more than just your bank account. It has a direct impact on the value of your home. Choosing the right flooring that’ll not only look great in the first few years, but continue to add value to your home for decades to come is critical. Here are some of the things you should consider when buying hardwood floors so you make the best decision for your home and needs.
Location, Location, Location
As realtors always say, location, location, location!
The spot where you’re planning to put in your new hardwood floors should be analyzed before you make your purchase. How much light will this spot get throughout the day? How much foot traffic? Is there a high likelihood that dirt could be tracked in, such as at a beach house or by the garden? Is moisture a factor?
The location of your flooring will have a direct impact on the exact flooring you choose. Some are better suited to stand up to high foot traffic, while other hardwood flooring types cannot tolerate higher areas of usage.
The area where you plan to install your floors has a direct impact on the type of hardwood flooring you should buy.
Solid hardwood flooring must be installed “above-grade.” That means that if you plan to install your new floor in a basement or other “below-grade” room, you’ll want to opt for engineered hardwood instead.
The moisture in the room where you will install your flooring is another important consideration. Bathrooms, kitchens, and mudrooms are prone to moisture, spills and other accidents. With engineered or surfaced finish wood, you’ll have better protection in these environments.
Type of Flooring
There are two main types of hardwood flooring that you have to choose from. These are:
- Solid wood flooring. This is when the entire floorboard is made completely of hardwood.
- Engineered wood flooring. This innovative type of flooring uses just a thin layer of hardwood at the top, but it is stabilized by a wood core board beneath. It looks like hardwood, but it’s engineered for durability.
Hardwood floors require some gentle maintenance to withstand the test of time. The finish used on the floors directly affects how you should clean and maintain your flooring.
- Prefinished flooring is the most popular for DIYers. The planks come pre-finished with a certain type of chemical or stain and a protective top coat layer.
- Unfinished flooring is more often used by professional installers. The planks are purchased unfinished and finished on site after the installation, which can be customized and tailored to a homeowners wants and needs. Finishing floors on site can also add extra protection with chemical agents added in to prevent moisture or scratching.
Type of Wood
There are many types of wood available for use as a hardwood floor. These range in colors, sizes, patterns and hardnesses. Check out this list of the various types of hardwood available for purchase. The options are endless!
- American Cherry. This wood is one of the most versatile because it has a medium Janka rating (or hardness rating) and an attractive color. The wood is sensitive to light, which makes the wood darker and richer as it’s exposed. This is a benefit for some homes, and a downfall for others.
- Ash Hardwood. This light colored wood is so naturally beautiful that it is rarely stained. It’s also highly textured, so the large pores require special treatment. It is one of the most durable floors and it offers exceptional shock resistance.
- Black Walnut. For people looking for a rich, grainy wood, Black Walnut is a good choice. This wood is also sensitive to the light so it darkens over time, making it richer and more beautiful. It is just slightly harder than the American Cherry with its Janka rating at 1010.
- Brazilian Cherry. This is another rich, red flooring. Unlike the American Cherry wood, this is much harder, ranking at 2345 on the Janka scale, which makes it more durable in high traffic areas.
- Oak is one of the most common types of wood used in flooring. That’s because it is durable and more neutral in coloring. There are two types of oak that are commonly used for flooring; white and red. White oak is harder than red oak, but both are considered extraordinarily durable.
Each type of hardwood floor is given a grade. The grades of hardwood flooring pertain to the the uniformity of the planks. Depending on which grade you choose, you could have more knots and grain marks, or a more consistent coloration and aesthetic. There are set standards for grades, however, manufacturers can name them according to their liking, for example, “Clear” grade may be referred to as “Premium”. If this is the case, the manufacturer should have an explanation of their grades listed.
In both prefinished and unfinished wood grades, the “clear grade” tends to be the highest quality and most popular.
As with any major project, there are costs involved. After you’ve narrowed the pool of options or chosen your hardwood floors, you will want to consider the costs above the price of the materials. These include:
- Depending on the style of installation you choose, your installation cost could vary and how much flooring will be needed to accomplish the style. You will need to price out professional options when using a solid wood floor.
- Destruction of old flooring. To remove old flooring, your installers might charge extra.
- Subfloor preparation. If you plan to have radiant heat, or if you have an inadequate subfloor, it will cost more to repair.
- If your flooring is going to be site finished (meaning it is finished after the installation) your costs will increase.
- Moldings are generally more expensive when using hardwood. Price out all aspects of your installation before making a decision.
There are many considerations to make when buying hardwood floors. If you are ever unsure of something, it is best to ask an expert before making such a large investment. You’ll be able to sleep better at night knowing you made the right choice, instead of spending years wondering after it’s all said and done.
You don’t just want a sturdy floor; you want something that’ll look great in your home too!
The style of your hardwood floors should reflect the style and decor of your home. Here are a few tips to help you find the perfect match for your tastes:
- Modern homes should try grey, white or dark flooring. They’re neutral colors that can make a big impact on the look of a modern home.
- Traditional homes should opt for oak, cherry, or hickory. These are the colors and types of wood that will match any style and decor.
- Rustic, country, and coastal homes can make a statement with weathered or reclaimed woods. Find floors with antique finishes and random width planks.
- Exotic woods are extra unique and might need a little extra consideration. Always get samples for your home before you install of woods, such as teak, tigerwoods, or acacia. Keep in mind that these are more sensitive to temperature changes as well.
Have questions? Need a little bit of extra help? We’re here for you. Start a chat with one of our flooring experts in the box on this page and get a fast answer to your hardwood flooring questions.