Hardwood Flooring: The Ultimate Flooring Guide

hardwood-floor

Hardwood floors are popular. Homeowners love to install them and buyers keep an eye out for them. There is something stylish about hardwood flooring that seems to make any home pop. Although the decision to ditch carpet may be simple, installation of a hardwood floor can be tedious, costly, and risky. There is a lot to consider when choosing surface material for the floors of your home. Hardwood in particular provides numerous choices.

Homeowners have to look into whether they want solid hardwood or engineered hardwood flooring. They have to factor in gloss, grade, and species of tree as well. Not to mention hiring a service. So if you want the surface or your floor to be hardwood, then here is a guide to everything you need to know. We shall start at the beginning and hit each step along the way. The first step for hardwood is deciding whether or not it is right for you. So let's look at the pros and cons.

Pros & Cons Of Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood Pros

Longevity

Hardwood lasts a long time. Hardwood floors are resilient and strong. A good floor will deliver years and years of service. Additionally, hardwood transcends style. Laminate flooring and carpet have the habit of going out of fashion. Hardwood fits any style that comes down the pike. Sure, it may require a little freshening up, but you will not have to tear it out and replace it like a shag carpet from the 60s.

Durability

Part of what makes hardwood flooring last so long is durability. A solid hardwood floor is strong. It can stand up to foot traffic, heavy furniture, and any other type of beating your family unleashes. It takes a lot of work to blemish hardwood floors and that makes them a very good choice for areas with high activity. It also saves a lot of money on maintenance fees.

Upkeep

Hardwood is easy to clean. It is also less time-consuming. All that is really required to maintain it is a tour with a damp mop and occasionally use a hardwood floor vacuum. It does not absorb the way that carpet does so spills can be sopped up quickly. Hardwood flooring does not hold on to germs, foul odors, or stains the way laminate and carpet does. This means that for minimal effort your floor will always look pristine.

Allergies

Another great thing about wood floors is that they do not hold on to dust. They also keep out major allergens like pet dandruff and pollen. If you or your loved ones suffer from allergies you will find more relief walking on wood flooring than other types of surface. Hardwood flooring is even recommended by the AAFA (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America) for individuals suffering from Asthma. 

Value

In terms of investment, wood flooring is a great way to add value to a home. As aforementioned, wood floors are a sought after amenity for buyers. If you add solid hardwood flooring to your domicile you can expect the sale price to increase. You can also expect the demand to increase as your home will become a more attractive option for buyers. Even if the flooring is scratched the value is still there. Also, wood floors can be sanded down and refinished multiple times. This means that you can revitalize your flooring and make it look brand new whenever you want.

Matches Most Styles

For the home decor advocates, a wood floor is a great framework for any room. Hardwood blends nicely with pretty much everything. Furniture, paintings, veneers, and even family photos will always match 100% with a hardwood surface. This makes decorating a whole lot easier, and the process of revitalizing a room becomes less of a chore. 

Cost

The main drawback to hardwood flooring is its overall cost. It can take more than a marginal sum of money to cover a given surface with hardwood. Luckily, most often this investment is returned but the initial cost may be too much bear. Depending on the size of the area you want covered and the type of boards you use, a hardwood floor can run as high as $15 dollars per foot. Unfortunately, this breaks the bank for many homeowners. Additionally, you will have to pay for installation.ext here...

Installation

Unless you are an expert at hardwood flooring, installing your own boards is a bad idea. Hardwood is not a DIY attempt. There are too many factors involved that can do more harm than good. This is why when installing hardwood it is best left to professionals. Unfortunately, using a service only adds to the overall price you have to pay.

Vulnerability To Moisture

Solid hardwood flooring does have its version of kryptonite and it is called moisture. Many see this as the fine print in owning wood flooring. Even a small drop of water can cause damage to a wood surface. Moisture is what causes wood to deteriorate. As aforementioned wood flooring is easy to clean up. Well, there is a 'but' involved as well. It is easy to clean, but if you leave a spill on the floor too long it will cause damage. Wet wood can also harbor mold and mildew. Most often, hardwood is treated and sealed to prevent this but any instance of moisture still must be dealt with quickly.

Limitations

A minor setback to hardwood is that placement is limited to certain areas. In league with water damage, it is not wise to put hardwood where moisture is present. So do not install boards in bathrooms or laundry rooms. You also cannot put hardwood in areas with a lot of humidity. Additionally, hardwood is limited to areas that are even. If the substructure of your home happens to be uneven you may not be able to install hardwood at all.

Loud

The main drawbacks of wood flooring are mostly cosmetic. First off, hardwood is loud. It creaks, it thuds, and it echoes. A lot of activity can raise quite the racket on a wood floor. It also enhances acoustics. Sound bounces off wood like a ping-pong ball. So even the smallest of noises will be amplified by hardwood. Another cosmetic factor is that hardwood is cold. It does not absorb heat the way carpet does. So walking on hardwood in the early hours of the morning feels like a trek through the snow. Hardwood floors are also hard. This may seem obvious but many homeowners overlook the fact that hardwood floors lack the cushy quality of carpet. 

Scratches

The most frustrating drawback of hardwood is that it scratches. No matter what you do hardwood flooring will scratch to some degree. Your floor will ultimately become a tapestry telling the room's history in a series of scratches. Often scratches add character to a room, and wood can be repaired which is a plus. If you have a situation that will cause a lot of scratches, like pets, then hardwood may not be the optimal choice for you.

Types of Hardwood Flooring

If we assume that you have looked at the pros and cons of hardwood flooring and are undeterred, then the next step is installing boards in your home. If you want this done right it will require some homework. Hardwood flooring comes with a wealth of flooring options. The first being the type of wood you use. There are two main types of hardwood flooring: solid hardwood and engineered hardwood. Once you decide on one of those you have to decide on the grade, species of wood, gloss, and sealant. It can be quite a lot to consider. Let's look at the main types first.

Solid Hardwood

Solid Hardwood is just as its name implies. It covers your surface area in a series of wooden planks (or strips if that is your preference). Each plank is made of the same species of solid hardwood. When most people think of a hardwood floor they are imagining solid hardwood. Solid hardwood is known for its beauty and authenticity.

Pros - Solid hardwood is durable and long-lasting. It can be sanded and refinished as many times as you want. It is available in various grades and species. The wood creates a warm, natural look in any room it is placed in. Solid hardwood can also take a lot of activity and is harder to scratch.

Cons - Solid hardwood is very susceptible to moisture damage. This affects what rooms it can be used in. It is also the pricer of the two types of hardwood.

Engineered Hardwood

Engineered hardwood is made up of several layers of wood with a hardwood veneer crowning it. It is more widely used because it garners a lower price and is a lot more flexible than solid hardwood. This means that engineered hardwood flooring can be placed where solid hardwood cannot. It also means that engineered hardwood lacks the durability of solid hardwood. Engineered hardwood flooring is wood flooring, however, and not a faux flooring like that looks like wood such as luxury vinyl.

Pros - Engineered hardwood stands up to moisture and humidity. It is also much cheaper than solid hardwood. It can also be placed in areas typically unavailable to solid hardwood such as basements and second floors.

Cons - It is not as durable as solid hardwood and needs replacement with more frequency. Replacement being the keyword because Engineered hardwood cannot be sanded or refinished. So any repair involved will require the wood to be replaced.

Grades and Species

Grades and species refer to the quality and appearance of the wood as well as what it is made out of. There are three main grades:

  • Select - Has minimal imperfections and a more uniform color.
  • #1 Common - Contains visible imperfections and variations in color.
  • #2 Common - Contains large knots and significant variations in tone and color.

Species refers to the type of tree used for wood. Each species has a different set of qualities. Cherry wood presents a red finish and is a bit softer than other wood types. Oak is a bit harder but can take more of a beating. Maple is known for having a distinctive grade quality that sets it apart. The list is endless. The main takeaway to look at its durability and of course price.

Sealent and Gloss

Sealant and gloss are two cosmetic aspects of hardwood flooring. They deal primarily with solid hardwood as solid hardwood requires both to be functional. A sealant protects solid hardwood from both damage and moisture. It also protects people from getting splinters off of solid hardwood. There are various types of sealant to choose from that affect the floor's sheen and level of protection.

Gloss affects the overall sheen of hardwood flooring. This is the amount of light reflected off the surface. A good sheen turns solid hardwood reflective and is very stylish. Depending on the type of gloss used both wear and damage will be more visible. Sure, it will feel like walking on a mirror but you will see the scratches in that mirror.

Wood Providers

We finally reach the conclusion of our guide. Once you determine what type of wood you want it is time price the places that carry it. This is the second part of budgeting. There are numerous locations that carry the boards necessary for hardwood floors. Once you find your source the only part left is contracting people to install it. If you are a DIYer you can skip that last part. Here are some of the most common providers to look into.

Home Depot

Home Depot is one of two mainstream choices for wood. It has the prices and name brands necessary for successful hardwood flooring. It is also more available than other sources with its nationwide saturation. It carries unfinished solid hardwood but not at the same scale as finished solid hardwood. Prices are competitive and there are always people willing to help you. They can also recommend top-tier installers.

Lowe's

Lowe's is another mainstream choice for hardwood flooring. They sell engineered as well as solid hardwood. Their solid hardwood selections come finished or unfinished and are available from top brand names. They also have a great loyalty service that provides extra value depending on volume. Lowe's is also a great source for installers.

Floor and Decor

Floor and Decor sets itself apart because it is specifically suited for hardwood flooring. If you are doing a DIY this is the place to go as they have everything you will need. They have engineered and solid hardwood. Their solid hardwood selection is huge. They offer both finished and unfinished solid hardwood as well.

Olde Wood

Olde Wood is where you go if you want your solid hardwood to be reclaimed wood. Olde Wood is more on the pricey side but that is because of the wood they carry. They have antique and unique types of reclaimed wood. Buying your wood from them ensures a very special flooring not found anywhere else. You will have to pay for it though.

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