The very word “hardwood” evokes special images of richness, charm and character that improves with age and lasts for a lifetime. Hardwood floors are not only beautiful but tough, and can be used in most rooms in the home including kitchens and basements, although these warrant special treatments. All types of hardwood have unique natural beauty that fits in with any décor whether modern or traditional country styles.
When purchasing hardwood flooring a choice has to be made between solid and engineered hardwood: Solid hardwood is normally milled from a single piece of hardwood and can last for decades. Being a natural material it can be sanded repeatedly, however, it is susceptible to humidity and temperature changes and is unsuitable for use in damp spaces. Solid hardwood needs to be stapled or nailed to a wooden sub-floor.
Engineered hardwood is artificially created by bonding layers of wood together to form a cross-grain construction. The layering method provides greater stability that can withstand extreme temperature changes and higher levels of humidity, making it more suitable for basements and bathrooms. Engineered hardwood can be installed over concrete sub-floors and as well as radiant heating elements. It can be glued or stapled, or “float” – being affixed to itself instead of a sub-floor.
Types of Hardwood
The best hardwood for floors is made from wood that is readily available and very hard. Oak, maple and cherry are most popular due to their hardness. Other choices include walnut, mahogany, ash and bamboo (actually considered to be grass and not wood). Wood species used for hardwood flooring vary greatly in color, durability and grain patterns. Other exotic types of wood like Brazilian cherry and mahogany are prized for their striking appearance but are not as durable. More exotic species such as mesquite, teak and jarrah fetch premium prices. Hardwood comes in a wide range of colors from blonde to black with anything in-between, depending on the finish and the species.
When considering wood flooring ideas, check that the wood you purchase comes from naturally sustainable harvested sources. Engineered hardwood uses less wood than solid hardwood. Reclaimed hardwood flooring is another option which can be found at salvage yards. Salvage flooring is a good choice when renovating an older home as it is likely to show some charming signs of age and wear.
Hardwood flooring textures can look new and shiny or have an antique look to add character to the room. Manufacturers offer “distressed” hardwoods that are hand-scraped to give the wood an appealing time-worn appearance even though it is brand new.
Busy households with lots of kids and pets require the hardest wood species possible like red oak which can withstand a lot of wear and tear. Softer species such as pine will soon show scratches and dents. While engineered hardwood may be chosen due to location, installation method and sub-flooring, keep in mind that scratches and dings can be sanded and refinished over and over on solid hardwood whereas engineered hardwood can only withstand limited refinishing depending on the thickness of the top layer.
When looking for wood flooring ideas keep in mind that they are susceptible to water damage and can become scratched and gouged. Installation should generally be left to professionals although some manufacturers supply wooden planks that can be locked together for glue-less installation for the DIY enthusiast. Hardwood flooring is the gold standard when it comes to flooring and can increase the value of a home with its classic durability.