Selecting Hardwood Floors
February 13, 2007
Here are ten things that you may not know about selecting hardwood flooring:
1) Red Oak is not the only choice
If you want your home to look like everyone else’s, this is a great choice. If you want your home to be unique try hickory, cherry, walnut, white oak, maple or many others. Go to flooring retailers or search the Internet and see what is available. If you really want red oak try using wider widths or character grade for variety and uniqueness.
2) 2 1/4 inch is not the only size available
If all you ask your builder for is a hardwood floor – you are going to get a 2 1/4 inch red oak floor. Why? It is the most common, most produced, most stocked, cheapest option available. You can buy sizes in 3” through 12”. You can put down a single width for a uniform look or multiple widths for a more random look. Typical random flooring patterns are 3”-4”-5”, 3”-5”, 4”-5”-6”. Have fun! Make your home unique! The wider the floor the more seasonal separations between the flooring planks can occur.
3) Import Species don’t support jobs in the United States
While there are vast amounts of imported species available, there are fantastic, interesting species of flooring available right here in the United States. Not all countries have managed forests and renewable resources. This is an important time to support our own economy.
4) All flooring is not select (clear) grade
The most common floors are select grade. These floors contain none of woods naturally occurring character marks. Look around your flooring showroom, almost every display is showing clear flooring. There are warm and inviting options. Look at a character grade or other grades. Make sure to see a photo of what the floor looks like, not just one piece.
5) Prefinished flooring is convenient
Have you ever been forced to leave your home for three days while the flooring contractor sands, stains and recoats your floor? If not ask a friend who has had it done. A professional flooring contractor will leave your home spotless, others can leave dust on all your furniture. Today’s factory finished flooring can be installed today and entertained on tonight with very little mess. With prefinished flooring each plank is allowed to move independently with humidity changes in your home. This makes those seasonal separations (cracks) in your floor less noticeable.
6) Colors can be cool – but mother nature is hard to beat
Some species of flooring are so beautiful in their natural color, they do not require any added color. Look up hickory, cherry or walnut flooring on the Internet and you will see what I mean.
7) Prefinish warranties are a gimmick
50 year warranty – WOW! Lifetime warranty – fantastic! Oh really? These are wear-through warranties only. Your floor will loose its “sheen” or luster and require refinishing long before you ever wear through the finish. The best way to make a floor last is to vacuum it often to keep away abrasive material that might scratch your floor. Remember a lower sheen floor shows less wear.
8) Not all flooring is smooth – texture is popular
Hardwood flooring does not have to be smooth. Many companies are offering hand scraped, distressed and reclaimed flooring. These floors have a classic look and add great value to upscale homes. They do not show much wear or scratches since they have a great deal of character interest to draw attention to different parts of the floor. These floors will be a guaranteed conversation piece with your friends and neighbors and are often the focal point at luxury home tours.
9) In a basement use engineered flooring
Most people use engineered flooring to glue down to concrete or in higher moisture areas. This flooring has a thin layer of hardwood with a cross banded plywood base. This makes the flooring more stable and does not require nailing like a solid hardwood floor.
10) Laminate flooring is not Hardwood flooring
A great steak does not taste the same as a picture of a great steak. If you want the beauty and warmth of hardwood flooring in your home – buy the real thing, not a cheap imitation.