Hardwood flooring can be a major asset to you home in terms of creating value as well as contributing to the overall design. When choosing hardwood flooring, many factors have to be considered before determining which type and style is right for you. While that might sound like a tall order, you needn’t worry — we’ve gone ahead and outlined the five principal factors that’ll need your attention before you invest in hardwood flooring.
Type of Wood Flooring
Before you even consider the wood species, you’ll want to think about the type of wood flooring you’ll be installing. Before going any further, it should be noted that there really isn’t a ‘best’ type of wood to use — the best type of wood is one that satisfies your aesthetic, budgetary, and durability requirements.
- Engineered Hardwood — This type of hardwood is composed of wood fibers that are held together with adhesives. There are numerous benefits with this type of hardwood flooring, including its versatility. The cross layer fabrication of this floor type makes it less prone to constriction and contraction, making it ideal for use in any room.
- Solid Hardwood — This type of hardwood is milled right from solid wood logs. Solid hardwood has been an industry staple for years and is often used in furniture, construction, and cabinetry, as well as flooring.
- Prefinished Hardwood — This type of hardwood has been finished in the factory and ready for installation right out of the box. The principal benefit of this type of wood, is the fact that you won’t need to spend hours applying and breathing in the finish.
- Site-Finished Hardwood — This type of hardwood is typically sanded, stained, and finished after the installation is complete. Not quite as durable as prefinished alternatives, but many homeowners like the opportunity to choose from a wider range of finishing colors.
Choice of Wood Species
As you can probably already imagine, the many different hardwood species can vary greatly in terms of durability, grain patterns, and color. It goes without saying that homeowners want to strike a balance between a wood that can stand the test of time and look good doing it.
When it comes to domestic woods, the most commonly used are oak, maple, and cherry due to their hardness and stunning visual appeal. The most widely used exotic wood types include mahogany and Brazilian cherry; while these may not be as durable as their domestic counterparts, they’re prized for their remarkable beauty.
Grain, Color, and Appearance
The style of hardwood you choose depends on the aesthetic you’re trying to create. For example, if you’re going for a rustic look, consider a wide plank, hand-scraped grain oak wood, paired with with warm earth tones around the room.
For a more modern look, consider selecting a clear grade of maple hardwood with very little in the way of wood grain in a matte sheen, accompanied by a white or gray color pallet in the surrounding space.
Remember that other factors can play a role in appearance other than the finish and wood species. For example, wood comes in several different grades, each determined by the wood’s physical characteristics. While all grades are equally strong and easy to work with, each can look strikingly different.
- Clear Wood: Has very few marks and a generally consistent color and appearance.
- Select Wood: Emphasizes natural color deviations and may contain character elements like knots other characteristics.
- No. 1 Common: Has a bit of everything – from knots and wormholes, varied colors throughout.
- No. 2 Common: Generally a bit more rustic in appearance than the other grades.
Type of Finish
A wood’s finish protects the wood from sunlight, moisture, scratches, and anything else it might come into contact with. There are several common finish types that you’ll want to consider:
- Wax: is low luster, easy to apply, especially good for antique flooring in historical or century homes.
- Water-Based Polyurethane: is a standard floor finish that’s fast to dry and easy to apply.
- Oil-Based Polyurethane: is widely used for by professional finishers with strong odor during application.
- Shellac: is a non-toxic, natural product that is not as tough as the polyurethanes, and more susceptible to staining.
Cost and Installation
Like any other home improvement project, the cost of installation can vary wildly. Before you give the green light, make sure you get an estimate. While the cost of installation can vary from one company to the next, it’s not the only factor that can drive the price up. Essentially, there are three basic factors that will determine the cost of your hardwood flooring installation:
- Materials Used: Different types of hardwood are priced differently, and can change with the abundance and quality of the available supply.
- Floor Size: Of course, the larger the floor, the more material and time (labor) it will take to complete the job.
- Pattern: Generally speaking, most floors have a simple pattern of staggered wood planks aligned in the same direction. For more of a visual punch, intricate patterns can be created during installation — but this means additional labor costs to plan out the pattern and cutting the wood to accommodate the pattern.