How To Choose Wood Flooring: Choosing Wood Floors

Colorful wood floor samples

What is in a floor? Well, a lot, actually. If you have decided to put new hardwood flooring into your home, there is much to consider. What type of look do you want to create? How much wear and tear do you expect on the floors? How much do you want to spend? What about color matching and quality of woods? Here are some guidelines and tips for how to choose a wood floor, geared toward homeowners exploring the hardwood option.

  1. Window Shop. Before creating a budget, and before making a bulk purchase, do some window shopping for flooring. Head to lumber yards and stores that specialize in hardwood floor supply and installation for examples. See what your neighbors, friends and family have in their homes as well. Get samples and decide on a look that you want. Consider the shade, finish, and hardness of the wood.

  2. Color. What shade do you want for your floors? Hardwood floors can be red-brown, mustard, cherry, chocolate, white-purple if you really want it. What goes best with your décor? If you have a dark home, consider lightening it up with some white oak or yellow pine. If you want to create a vintage look, consider the darker hues. Try to match the floors to your furniture and walls. If you are not "talented" with color matching, ask a professional or just get the opinion of several friends.

  3. Width. Hardwood flooring comes in strip, plank, and long-strip varieties. The strips are the narrowest, while the long-strip is a collection of smaller planks fabricated together.

  4. Hardness. If you have a household of five children who love to play ball and roughhouse indoors, soft pine is not the ideal choice for wood flooring in your living room. Certain woods dent more than others. The distressed look is desirable for some people, but for others, it is not practical. Ask about the hardness of the wood before making a decision. At FloorFacts is a chart you can use as a guideline.

  5. Edges. There are three fundamental ways that individual hardwood floor planks and strips are married together-flush, beveled, and eased edge. In the flush installation, there is no visible gap between planks or strips. In the beveled edge model, there is a v-like shape that is formed in between each strip or plank. The eased edge option is a shallow version of the beveled edge, and tends to hide some of the unevenness that your flooring may naturally have. The flush installation gives a more modern look, while the beveled and eased look are considered, by some, to be more rustic.

  6. Finish. There are pre-finished and unfinished hardwood floors. Go to a warehouse or showroom and see what option for wood floors suits you and your home. If you decide on unfinished flooring, you will need to apply a sealant and/or stain. The most popular options are a satin stain and a polyurethane oil stain. The first is a darker yet understated look, while the polyurethane gives the floors a "pop" or shine. There are many choices for wood floor finishes so be sure to choose one that will look best in your home with your other furniture.
  7. Budget. Now that you've done some window shopping and comparisons, consider the price tags on some of these floors. In case you cannot afford installing three thousand square feet of Brazilian cherry wood, ask a professional what type of wood most closely mimics this type of wood. There are always more affordable options and compromises to be made. Hardwood flooring is priced per square foot and square foot installed, so make sure to get an exact quote from your supplier or flooring store before you commit.
  8. Other options: Laminate flooring. One way people avoid the cost associated with new hardwood floors is to not put in hardwood floors. Laminate flooring is considered a nice substitute for hardwood floors because it looks like hardwood flooring but will not dent, stain or fade. They are more water-resistant and can handle scratches better. Make sure you are satisfied with the feel and look of the laminate compared to wooden floors, however, since laminate is an imitation, not an exact substitute for hardwood.


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