When buying hardwood flooring for your home or building work, you have a lot to choose from. Your personal choices and budget will determine, eventually what you get from the market. There is a lot of decisions to be made and these decisions start with the type of hardwood flooring to choose, either solid or engineered. Then off to the type of wood used in making the hardwood, the grade of the flooring material, the design, dimensions, edge details, flooring style, and the likes. This article covers almost every aspect of hardwood flooring, to help you make the right choice for your home or building project.
TYPES OF HARDWOOD FLOORING
There are two main types of hardwood flooring, engineered hardwood flooring, and solid hardwood flooring.
Solid Hardwood Flooring
When most people talk about hardwood flooring, this what readily comes to mind. Solid hardwood flooring is a type of flooring that makes use of real wood pieces from preferred species of wood in constructing hardwood floor planks.
No matter the wood species used in making a solid hardwood floor, it always reflects the charm of natural beauty. It is also durable and can last a lifetime if it installed well and maintained right.
The major disadvantage is the cost when buying it and the effect of moisture on it. Rooms with high humidity cannot make use of solid hardwood flooring.
Engineered Hardwood Flooring
It is called Engineered flooring because it’s not all natural. The engineered hardwood materials together to form hardwood floor planks for home users. There is always a layer of real hardwood, though thin, at the top (and sometimes at the bottom) of an engineered hardwood flooring plank.
This type of hardwood flooring can be used even in high humidity because water cannot affect it. The composite can expand and contrast easily without getting damaged by temperature and humidity change.
The major disadvantage of engineered hardwood flooring is that cannot be sanded and refinished like the solid hardwood flooring. It is also not as long lasting as the solid hardwood flooring and another fact is that it does not add much resale value to the home.
It is noteworthy to point out that engineered hardwood flooring is not laminate flooring.
TYPE OF WOOD
In making hardwood flooring, especially the solid hardwood flooring, different species of wood are used. They are locally grown wood species and there are those that are exotically imported from other countries. The species of wood chosen will tell on the finish of the hardwood flooring.
CHERRY HARDWOOD FLOORING
Cherry is available in so many varieties and it is one of the most widely used for hardwood flooring. The American Cherry is the most popular of all cherries, also known as black cherry, has red and pink hues as well as wavy tight grain. Cherry is a soft hardwood, but then it comes out in a lustrous finish and maintains dimensional stability. Cherry hardwood is best used where there is no direct sunlight as it is photosensitive. You must also keep in mind that it is very expensive.
WALNUT HARDWOOD FLOORING
This is a popular hardwood flooring wood species also with several varieties. The American walnut is so common in North America with its rich brown color and purple hue. It has rich beautiful swirling grains and like cherry; it is also a soft hardwood. Walnut is not photosensitive but scratching will degrade it quickly. It is also lightweight, making it a very good option for the upper floors. Walnut is also very expensive.
OAK HARDWOOD FLOORING
Oak hardwood flooring has this old warmth and classic look. It is also very popular in the hardwood flooring industry. There two major varieties, the white oak, and the red oak. Red oak is much lighter with a reddish hue while the white oak has a pink hue throughout with a pale brown color. Evidently, the major difference between the two oaks is just the color. It blends well with furniture and decorations and it is suitable for traditional home styles. The pricing of oak hardwood flooring is mid ranged and although it can withstand heavy impacts, it is also prone to scraping.
MAPLE HARDWOOD FLOORING
Maple has a set of grain pattern that is different from all other wood species. It has this rich feel and looks with its uniform texture and light color. It is one of the hardest of all the woods used in making hardwood flooring planks and it is highly durable. It is resistant to heavy impact and this is why it is the best choice for homes with pets and children. Maple hardwood flooring requires little regular maintenance and it absorbs stains in a great way. It should also be noted that maple is inexpensive and readily available in the market.
HICKORY HARDWOOD FLOORING
Hickory hardwood flooring is one of the strongest and hardest in all of America. It is notable for its extreme durability and strength. It shows minimal wear and tear from use and if maintained properly, can last a lifetime. It is usually on sale with tan to reddish brown and is less available in creamy white colors. With its dramatic grain pattern, hickory is a beauty when used for hardwood flooring. It is also great for homes with children and pet because of its extreme durability. Since hickory is so hard, cutting it to shape difficult and as such the cost of installation is always on the high side.
ASH HARDWOOD FLOORING
There are up to 15 different types of ash hardwood variants. The wood is generally light in color and it is characterized by its whitish hue. It has a warm and natural look from its active wood grain and its light color complements it. Ash hardwood flooring is best used in a house with chic style. It has medium hardness and can withstand heavy traffic, but it also soft enough for one to stand on top of it barefooted.
Ash hardwood flooring absorbs stain very well and its average hardness makes it the best choice for hand-scraped floors. Ash hardwood flooring gets dirty easily and so requires frequent cleaning because of its light color. It is quite cheaply and readily available.
DOUGLAS FIR HARDWOOD FLOORING
Douglas fir hardwood flooring is notable for its extremely uniform appearance. When you cut a plank, the next plank cut will look very identical to the previously cut planks, if the wood is a Douglas fir. It has a color which looks more like the mixture of orange and brown and has long straight grains. When you are in search of long flooring boards, then Douglas fir hardwood flooring is your best option. It is, unfortunately, one of the softest types of hardwood and so it damages easily if proper care Is not taken during installation and while in use. It is also a cheap hardwood flooring and requires regular maintenance.
TEAK HARDWOOD FLOORING
Teak, notable for its durability, is becoming fast popular among the species of wood used for hardwood flooring. There is no other hardwood as strong and as hard as teak. If you install teak in the place that receives more traffic in your home, with lots of children and pets. Teak will still stand the test of time. It is the hardest and strongest and most durable hardwood flooring. Tea holds its natural oil even though it looks great to finish, stain and varnish. Most people love to leave teak hardwood flooring unfinished and allow it to age naturally in its beauty. Teak adds upscale swag and traditional charm to home when used as hardwood flooring. To maintain its luster, teak requires oil now and then. Some people sell the endangered species of teak and buying such is against the rules. It is best to buy teak from sellers with forestry stewardship counsel certified teak. Because of the cost of importation, teak is a very expensive hardwood flooring type.
BIRCH HARDWOOD FLOORING
Birch has long been a fashionable species for all means of home construction as well as hardwood flooring. The species is so copious that birch is an inexpensive type of hardwood. It’s a good in-between on the subject of functionality, style, and price. Birch hardwood flooring has lucid, gorgeous wood grains. Together with its creamy white to yellowish white color, it looks gorgeous in just about any home. Birch also takes stains very well. It’s easy to stain it with a diversity of colors for a more customized look. The disadvantage of birch is that it’s an extremely soft wood. It’s highly vulnerable to both dents and scratches. Birch is also fairly unstable. It expands and contracts as warmth and dampness levels change. It’s best to only use it as hardwood flooring in areas with negligible dampness. Birch is an inexpensive type of hardwood flooring.
PINE HARDWOOD FLOORING
Pine is almost certainly what the average person thinks about when they think of hardwood flooring. It’s the most conventional type of hardwood as regards appearance. It has an amazingly rich color, particularly when stained, and features appealing pinholes and knots in addition to a divergent grain pattern. Pine hardwood flooring is also prominent for the way it ages. Let it naturally age over the course of several years, and you’re sure to love its facade even more than you did when it was first installed. Thanks to how rapidly pine trees grow, and their overall large quantity, pine is known as an environmentally friendly hardwood flooring alternative. The chief negative side of pine hardwood flooring is its virtual softness. It’s more likely to be scratched and dented than other woods, leading to more time used up on care and maintenance. Pine is one of the most inexpensive types of hardwood flooring.
MAHOGANY HARDWOOD FLOORING
Mahogany gives a deep, dark, rich floor. Mahogany develops in warmer climates such as Mexico and in South America. While costly, it’s resilient and durable.
BRAZIL TIGERWOOD HARDWOOD FLOORING
Grown in Brazil, Brazilian Tigerwood is costly and very durable with a Janka rating of 2,160.
ALDER WOOD HARDWOOD FLOORING
One of the Birch family, Alder is well thought-out as a soft hardwood and a less pricey substitute to cherry or maple. Some general names are Red Alder, Pacific Coast Alder, Western Alder, and Oregon Alder. Once taken for a weed or irritant tree by loggers of the Pacific Northwest, where Alder grows efficiently, this fast-growing tree can effortlessly reach heights of 100 to 130 feet. Cabinet makers first found out the ease of working with this wood, and its uses have skyrocketed over the years from cabinetry to trim, furniture framework to flooring. Many who once tried to obliterate this species now encourage its growth. Fine, consistent texture with usually straight grain patterns sets off the light tan to reddish brown color of the wood, which takes stains well for deeper, comfortable color choice. Estimated cost per square foot, installed, ranges from $3.00 to $6.00 with an added $3.00 to $5.00 fixing charge.
BEECH HARDWOOD FLOORING
Indigenous to parts of Europe, Asia, and the Eastern United States, this slow-growing hardwood can attain heights of 100 to 130 feet with a 3 to 5-foot diameter trunk. Disease defiant, these giants has been identified to live for 300 to 400 years. The lumber from Beech trees is characteristically a pale cream color that may hold pink or brown hues. The straight grain and excellent to medium texture makes for solid resilient flooring. The thickness of the wood does make it hard to stain, still. For generations, Europeans have acknowledged this wood to be outstanding for smoking meats, sausages, and some types of cheeses. The ‘beechwood aged’ logo of Budweiser is from their brewmaster using personally treated beach slats stacked at the base of their fermentation tanks. Expect to pay just about $4.00 to $10.00 per square foot for installing the flooring.
EBONY HARDWOOD FLOORING
Ebony hardwood is the king of hardness when it comes to hardwoods. This extraordinary hardwood will not float on water. Ebony hardwood is widely grown in Asia and Africa, while the leading exporters worldwide are India and Ceylon. Ebony has grown to become an uncommon good due to deforestation and little to no afforestation. The wood is a thick black wood and it is principally used for carving ornamental pieces, decorative items, and even tribal masks. Some of the special types of Ebony hardwood have veins of deep red in succession through the grain and are very good for unique artworks when polished. Because of its scarcity, Ebony hardwood is tremendously costly. Normally, prices of ebony hardwood are usually about 40 to 60% higher than even Burma teak which is also one of the costliest hardwoods available in the market.
POPLAR HARDWOOD FLOORING
Poplar hardwood is also known as Tulip Poplar and Yellow Poplar, named according to their color. Poplar hardwood is one of the biggest of the hardwood trees towering as high as 130 to 160 feet with 6 to 8 feet trunk diameter. Poplar is that state tree of Tennessee, Indiana, and Kentucky. It is characterized by light cream or yellowish brown color. The grain is usually uniform with medium texture, and it is always straight. Poplar hardwood also has streaks of gray or green sometimes. Well thought-out to be one of the softest of the hardwoods, this low compactness wood is cheap and economical. Poplar hardwood is used as a utility wood because it is perfect for making pallets, furniture frames, cabinetry and so on. Poplar can be easily painted or stained and so when it is used for flooring, it can be made to match any color of décor. Poplar lasts for a long time before degrading and it is perfect for those who love lighter flooring. When coated with Varathane, the beauty of the grain comes to live the more. It costs around $1.49 per square foot and installation can cost far more.
The style options of hardwood flooring to choose from are just 2. They are the pre-finished and site-finished hardwood flooring.
PRE-FINISHED HARWOOD FLOORING
The pre-finished hardwood flooring is already dried and finished from the factory and is usually ready for installation upon arrival at the home. There is no need for the stress of sanding or finishing yourself. Pre-finished hardwood flooring is by far easier to install. It also comes with a great deal of longer guarantee since the finish tends to be stronger and tougher. The pre-finished hardwood flooring usually comes with 5 to 35 years of warranty.
SITE – FINISHED HARDWOOD FLOORING
Site-finished hardwood flooring will come in like a raw material. The wood is raw upon arrival and it involves lots of work to get the flooring to its unique taste and form. Buyer will need to sand and finish to taste either by paying a professional to get it done or done it by himself. The only advantage of site-finished hardwood flooring over the pre-finished hardwood flooring is just the finished look. You can have any color, any pattern and any finish on top of it, the options are limitless. Warranty is usually around 3 to 5 years only.
When it comes to the main varieties of hardwood flooring available as far as width dimension is concerned, there are just and these are the strips and the planks. The strips are usually thinner and are less than 3 inches in width while the planks are any hardwood flooring board that is wider than 3 inches
When you want to work on large open rooms or sitting area, it is best to make use of the wider width boards while in small spaces, the strips are best.
The board thickness is another thing to consider when getting a hardwood floor for your home. The thickness that is usually available is the ¾ inch and 5/16 inch.
When talking about the color of your hardwood flooring, it boils down majorly to the kind of wood species you have chosen. Nevertheless, there are other design options that can be considered in regards to the finished color of your hardwood floor.
Long-term exposure to sunlight can change the color of your hardwood floor, even though the wood species determine the color of your floor, there are some stains and finishes that can also be applied to your floor to change the color totally and permanently as well.
Glossy finishes are available that can be added to the floor to make the hardwood floor shine brighter and the gloss also protects the floor from damages and scratches over time. Although gloss is great on hardwood floors, they tend to reveal scratches on the floor better than low-gloss finish hardwood floors. The low-gloss hardwood floors tend to hide scratches better
Lastly, there is texture. There are textures like distressed wire brushed, smooth and hand-scraped common to hardwood flooring. The texture changes how the floor feels underfoot and can as well improve the overall atmosphere of the floor.
Hardwood flooring grade basically reflects the wood’s appearance.
Always make sure you choose a lucid and opt for a good grade for a clean appearance with nominal knots. Hardwood of this grade also tends to have few color types and moderately straight grain patterns.
Milkwood and cabin grades, however, have a much less unspoiled look. Most also have color variations all the way through the same strips and planks.
The Edge detail of a hardwood floorboard doesn’t have an enormous consequence on the appearance of hardwood flooring but it is still worth taking into account.
As the name implies, it simply means how the edges of each strip or plank are cut. The most frequent options consist of micro-beveled, square, beveled and eased.
A beveled edge detail shows a spectacular appearance that points out each board as an individual.
A square edge detail shows a gorgeous, seamless appearance where the borders between each board are hardly conspicuous.
Other factors to be considered in buying hardwood flooring includes these presented in this fourth part of the article.
Do-It-Yourself installation is one thing that comes to mind when buying hardwood flooring. The cost of installation is sometimes more than the cost of purchase of hardwood flooring boards. To do it yourself, when it comes to hardwood flooring installation, it largely depends on the type of hardwood flooring chosen when buying. Factors like the size, the wood species, the width and thickness of the boards are to be considered. If you are bent on DIY installation, then go for hardwood flooring that does not need staples or glues or nails to install and fix it in position. These types of floors are best when you are to call on a professional installer.
When it is hardwood flooring, it is always the best and safest to call in a pro to do the installation. Although there are some hardwood flooring types that allow DIY installs to get it done at home easily, then it is best and there is a peace of mind when you have a professional installer do it for you. Your thousands of dollars spent on purchasing the floorboards will be safe from damages due to the installation.
The prices on hardwood floor vary from the type of wood used in making the floorboards to the sizes and the type of hardwood floor. The type of hardwood floor and the difficulty of installation also affect the cost of a particular hardwood floor. When you make use of DIY, it is always cheaper than having a professional do the installation.
When you call in a pro installer, the price is also affected by the size of the room to be floored with the hardwood boards and also the inclusion of stairs, fireplace, closets or immovable furniture and the likes.
The average cost of installing a hardwood floor in your home is around $4,430. Although owing to the space to be covered, the price can range between $1,180 to $10,000.
Soft hardwoods like Pine can cost around $3 to $6 per square foot while installing them can cost about $5 per square foot.
Hardwoods that are so hard and are high end like teak can cost between $8 to $14 per square foot while the installation can cost up to $8 per square foot.
Cherry and oak and other mid-range hardwood species can cost between $5 and $10 in the material purchase and between $4 to $8 for installation.
$3 to $10 is enough to get a square foot of engineered hardwood flooring material on the average, while the cost of installation can be up to $10 per square foot a well.
WHERE IT IS TO BE USED
The important places to be covered by hardwood flooring in the house includes the kitchen, The Living Room, Dining Rooms, Foyers, home offices and any other place in the house. Nowadays, hardwood is more prevalent as the choice of flooring in many rooms in the house.
Here are some wood species and where they are best used in the house:
White Oak hardwood flooring is denser and heavier than red oak and as such, it is recommended for areas with high traffic or usage in the house.
The red oak has a reddish natural tone. The stains on the red oak have varying hues and as such are perfect for places where color and beauty is required.
The colors of yellow birch vary from light reddish brown to creamy yellow. It wears out beautifully and as such can be used in high-traffic areas of the house as well.
These are harder and more durable than the oak and as such can be used in sitting rooms and even kitchens. They have wide-ranging grains and stains makes it more beautiful.
Beech is best for contemporary flooring. It has a consistent grade and simple grain with color ranging from pale white to reddish brown tone.
Hickory hardwood is very hard, in fact, it is popular for its stone-hard nature. It is very lightweight, and it is extremely durable. It has characteristic knots and sap pockets with its reddish brown to white color. It is best for the upper floors and high-traffic areas in the building.
Maple is best for rooms as it is one of the hardest hardwoods available in the market. It has several varying color options, and it is best for casual environments.
With brownish and pale yellow color variations, bamboo flooring is one of the best floorings for a home office area. It has a smooth texture and straight grains.
Walnut is characterized by its dark and affluent colors such as a dark chocolate brown with a purple shade. This is perfect for formal or rustic rooms and can look very theatrical.
Wenge is an exotic wood with its bold dark color and contrast. They are best in rooms where the bold dark color is needed. When it degrades, it grows even darker.
Rosewood is also a dark hardwood, but it is also dark and dense. It is good for rooms where a cool environment is needed, like the bedroom.
Acacia is a good hardwood that does not decay. With its dark reddish brown color, it can be polished with a gloss finish to make it look more appealing. It is good for humid rooms in the house.
Teak has a scent of leather when freshly cut. It has some form of resistance to termite attack and it is a very good hardwood flooring material. The color ranges from dark golden yellow to a rich brown with even darker chocolate steaks. Teak is a good wood for hardwood flooring and can be used almost anywhere in the building because of its resistance.