Tips for Choosing the Right Wood Flooring for Your Home
Shopping for wood flooring can be a daunting task. Here are some tips to help make choosing your wood flooring easier.
Solid versus Engineered Wood Flooring
The difference between solid wood floors and engineered wood floors is that engineered flooring is made with a thinner top layer of wood. This layer helps prevent shifting when the floors naturally expand and contract. It offers an advantage when installing the floors in basements or condos because the floor can be installed directly to cement. It’s also a good choice if you’re adding radiant heat to your floors. The more “usable wood” your engineered floors have, the better the quality.
Prefinished versus Site Finish
It might be hard to imagine why anyone would consider choosing hardwood floors that aren’t pre-finished. However, if you’re looking for a highly customized look, on-site finishing is the only way to go. You choose every detail from the depth of color to the sheen.
Type of Floor Finish
The finish is important, as it not only affects the look but also durability. Basically, there are two categories of finishes:
1) Oil: This finish penetrates the wood offering a more natural look that is softer and matte. You are less likely to notice scratches or even some deeper dents in oiled floors as the color of the finish goes deeper. The bad news is the floor is more vulnerable to spills that can change the color and leave marks. You also have to reoil the floors to keep up their appearance.
2) Polyurethane: This finish is available in different types of finishes from matte to high gloss. It is more durable than oil finishes, but if it does scratch, the scratches tend to be more noticeable.
For repairs, your only option tends to be sanding and refinishing or replacing the damaged board entirely. Hard polyurethane requires less maintenance, but if you do require maintenance, it is more work than oil.
The list of wood species used in flooring has gotten longer and longer. Exotic woods have become quite popular. Woods are measured by hardness using the Janka Hardness Rating. The higher the rating, the harder the wood.
Some popular choices include:
- Red Oak, 1290
- White Oak, 1360
- Maple, 1450
- American Cherry, 950
- Birch, 1260
- Walnut, 1010
- Hickory, 1820
- Yellow Pine, 690-870
- Ash, 1320
- Beech, 1300
Some exotic woods include:
- Amendoim, 1912
- Brazilian Cherry, 2820
- Santos Mahogany, 2200
- Tigerwood, 2160
- Kempas, 1710
- Timborana, 1570
- Brazilian Teak, 3540
- Tiete Chestnut, 3540
- Brazilian Walnut, 3680
- Tiete Rosewood, 3280
- Merbau, 1925
- Bamboo, rating varies
You can also choose a more affordable wood species and stain it to alter its look. Sometimes the custom stain costs just as much as buying the more expensive wood from the start.
The character of the floor can range from the width of the planks to the grain pattern and the natural color of the wood to purposeful distressing. Character is important, as it will affect how busy a floor looks on the floor while also setting the tone of the style. Woods with a lot of character can be overwhelming.
For example, a wide-planked floor with less noticeable grain, notches and knots will create a cleaner smoother floor. Floors with narrow planks, tons of character and defined grain will be busier and, in some cases, can even be distracting. A more formal room looks best with a less distinct character, while a rustic or whimsical home might benefit from more character. You can even now purchase floors made from reclaimed wood for a weathered look. The possibilities are endless.
If you are in the middle of choosing wood flooring would like more information, the experts at Empire Construction can help.