There’s nothing quite like hardwood flooring to improve the beauty and value of your home. Hardwood floors can instantly update any room of your home, giving it warmth and character. Hardwood is known to last for years when properly maintained, as well, making this an investment in your home that is guaranteed to last.
Choosing a new hardwood floor can be difficult when you’re faced with the many choices out there today. Solid hardwood flooring vs. engineered, factory finished vs. unfinished, the many different wood species and finishes are all considerations that you’ll need to make as you choose your new floor. Use these tips to help you choose the right hardwood floor for you.
One of the first things you should consider as you choose your new floor is where it will be installed. Hardwoods come in many different durability levels, as well as different types. Solid hardwood flooring, for example, which is made of one piece of wood from top to bottom, can only be installed at or above grade. It also isn’t recommended in damp or wet areas like kitchens and baths. So, if you want hardwood in your basement or kitchen, you may want to consider engineered hardwoods, which are made up of several layers of wood, each running in a different direction. This makes a more stable floor, which will not be prone to swelling damp areas.
Timing of Installation
Your next consideration should be whether this floor is going into new construction or if it’s replacing a current floor in your home. This is important, because some hardwoods come unfinished, or ready to be finished at time of installation, while others come with a factory finish.
A factory finish means that your hardwood is ready to be walked on the second it’s put in. No need to wait for the finish to cure. Unfinished hardwoods are fine for new construction, because the home is uninhabited. But if you want to enjoy your new flooring right away, with no dust or VOCs from the polyurethane, a factory finished floor is your best bet.
Factory finished floors also tend to hold up longer and more consistently than unfinished floors do, so while you may pay more for the flooring upfront, you’ll refinish it less often and you’ll pay less for installation costs.
The finish of your floor and whether it’s solid hardwood or engineered can make a difference in its durability, but so can the floor’s Janka score. The Janka score is the hardness of the hardwood; floors with higher Janka scores are less likely to scratch, gouge, dent, and otherwise become marred through day to day use.
Pine has one of the lowest Janka scores available, while hickory has the highest Janka score of any domestic hardwood. Exotic hardwoods also tend to have higher Janka scores. If you choose a hardwood with a lower score, make sure that it’s factory finished, and consider an engineered hardwood rather than solid; these characteristics will help it last longer without refinishing so you can enjoy your floor longer.
Style and Finish
While you may think that style and finish are two of the most important factors to consider, they should ideally come after considerations such as location and durability to ensure that you’re getting a quality hardwood floor. Once you’ve narrowed down your selections, it’s time to determine what you want your floor to look like.
There are numerous style considerations for your floor including:
- Width and size of the planks
- Direction or pattern the planks are installed in
- Color or stain of the floor
- Texture of the floor – polished, handscraped, etc.
When considering what style to choose, let your home’s existing architectural and interior design attributes be your guide. For example, a very contemporary home will look best with a narrow, highly polished hardwood in a very dark or light color. A Rustic Modern home, on the other hand, would look best with a wide, warm-colored hardwood floor that has been hand or wire scraped to give it some texture and a more rustic look.
Remember that while you can refinish your hardwood floor, you won’t need to do this for many years if at all possible. So, take the time when considering your style and finish to choose one that will work well with your home’s overarching style, and avoid falling for something that happens to be trendy right now. Your hardwood floor is an investment in your home, and most classic hardwoods like maple tend to work well with nearly any style of home. Therefore, finding a style and finish that’s complementary to your home will have the longest staying power and the biggest payoff in your investment.
Get the Right Hardwood for You
With so many choices available, you’ll have no trouble finding the right hardwood floor for your home. Make sure that you consider things like its location and durability first to get the best fit for your lifestyle, and enjoy your new floor for many years to come.