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Solid Hardwood Flooring: A Starter Guide

Solid hardwood flooring lost favor with homeowners and contractors as engineered flooring became more popular. Yet there are many situations where hardwood flooring can be the best choice and a great value for the money. Let’s review where hardwood flooring can be an asset to your home, and then discuss your wood choices and other considerations.

Hardwood flooring can be used successfully in several areas of the home, including:

  • Dining rooms
  • Living rooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Hallways
  • Office areas or playrooms
  • Kitchens with some qualifications

Hardwood is not the best choice for areas of higher moisture, including basements, bathrooms, and perhaps kitchens.

How does hardwood flooring compare to other types of flooring such as engineered floors laminates, and resilient flooring?

A solid feel — Nothing will feel more solid underfoot than solid hardwood flooring, it will be strong and quiet.

Structural properties — Solid wood flooring has strong natural fiber structures that provide durability and a resilient feel when you walk on it.

Resale value — Solid wood flooring offers the highest resale value if you plan to sell your home later.

Price — Sold wood flooring is about equal with engineered flooring in price, with laminates quite a bit cheaper.

Refinishing — Solid wood is the only flooring which can be sanded and refinished a couple of times before it would need to be replaced. Other types of flooring are not good candidates for refinishing.

Installation — Solid wood should be installed by a professional to ensure it is laid and nailed correctly. If you insist on a DIY project other types of flooring are better for that.

Hardwood Flooring at Discounted Prices

Solid hardwood flooring is a general term for a lot of different woods. Some are domestically grown, others are imported usually at a higher cost. Here are some characteristics of hardwoods you should consider when choosing hardwood flooring:

The source — Domestic hardwoods are normally cheaper and include oak, maple, or beech. Exotics are imported, typically harder, have more dramatic colors, and include woods such as ipe, kempas, and a group called “Brazilian hardwoods”.

Hardness — The hardness of the wood can vary over the entire group of hardwoods. You want harder woods for higher traffic areas or areas where the floor will get more use such as a playroom. Heart pine and ash can be relatively soft, whereas mahogany and Brazilian walnut are quite hard.

Wood grain — Open grain woods such as oak and ash are more likely to splinter. Close grain woods contain closely packed fibers and result in a harder and durable surface. Close grain hardwoods include maple, red oak, beech, white oak, cypress, kempas, and Brazilian cherry or walnut. Bamboo is called a hardwood flooring but it is a grass, not wood, and the strength comes partly from the binders used in manufacturing.

Flooring sizes — Solid hardwood comes in typical thicknesses of 1/2 to 3/4 inches. Thicker is better if you plan to refinish the floor later. Hardwood flooring is often referred to as strips when less than 2 1/2 inches wide, and planks which can be several inches wide.

Staining, sealing, and maintenance — Staining hardwood floors is not required if you prefer a more natural look. Sealing is required for untreated hardwoods, but pre-sealed woods are becoming popular and eliminate having the sealant applied inside the home. The downside of pre-sealed hardwoods is the seams are not sealed as they would be if the sealant was applied after the floor was installed. That could be an issue in areas such as kitchens or dining rooms where liquids could be spilled. Maintenance is not difficult, but water should be used sparingly when cleaning hardwood floors. A non-water based floor cleaner or a dry dusting mop may be all that is needed. If the floor is scratched it can be spot sanded but you will need to re-stain and re-seal the affected areas.

Flooring.org is your best source for a wide range of hardwood flooring. We have an extensive inventory of domestic and exotic hardwoods at competitive prices. Call us today and let us answer your questions about hardwood flooring.

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