Hardwood flooring is a popular choice among property owners. If you’re looking to install one, you will have joined millions of others who also have a taste for wood floors. Most hardwood flooring reviews focus on reasons for choosing this type of flooring. What is evident, though, is the elegance of wood flooring that has made it remain in style for centuries. The beauty seems to be ingrained in people’s hearts.
Modern technologies are helping to make hardwood floors even more stylish. Today, you can have your floor touch on both the antique and the modern. The versatility offered by hardwood flooring is equally incredible. You can use it on residential as well as commercial spaces, plus, there are a variety of styles to choose from. But that’s not to say that hardwood flooring doesn’t come with its downsides. It only means that the advantages outweigh the drawbacks- and by far.
Should you choose hardwood floors over other kinds of flooring? That’s up to you to decide, but we came up with this hardwood flooring review to help you make that decision. Here, we will go into detail about what entails hardwood flooring; the pros, cons, facts about it, choosing the right types, best brands, and more. Let’s journey together.
- 1 The Pros of Hardwood Floors
- 2 The Cons of Hardwood Floors
- 3 How to Choose Hardwood Flooring of the Highest Quality
- 4 Small Pricing Guide for Hardwood Flooring
- 5 Major Brands and Suppliers of Hardwood Flooring Materials
- 6 Final words
We will start by looking at the advantages and disadvantages of hardwood flooring.
The Pros of Hardwood Floors
Easy to Maintain
Hardwood floors are one of the simplest to keep clean. In addition to the regular sweeping or vacuuming, you will only need to mop it often to keep it germ and stain free. No fancy cleaning materials or equipment are necessary for maintenance. Also, the floors don’t get discolored by spills. You will find taking care of wood floors easy, provided you start it on the first days before dirt builds up. Wipe spills immediately they occur, and you will have no trouble with your hardwood floor. To help prevent cases of damage, ensure that you use furniture coasters, especially for heavy pieces such as sofas.
A hardwood floor is a valuable investment. Most home buyers prefer homes with this kind of flooring. Any home having it is bound to sell quickly, easily, and for top dollar. Should you consider selling your home, this type of flooring would make a favorable renovation project to make your home more saleable. Also, in the case you need refinancing, a hardwood floor could come in handy. It would increase the value of appraisal for your home. Among the valuable materials used in the construction of your home will come the floor. You would only need to ensure high-quality wood, design, and style to add to the overall value.
We are talking about hardwood here, which can be really hard to withstand damage. But that will largely depend on the type of wood you choose, with some wood species such as Oak being quite durable. Despite what people say about hardwood floors being susceptible to wear and tear, the hard types of wood can handle high human traffic. Besides, you can always refinish the wood to restore it to its former condition.
Easy to Refinish
True, hardwood floors get damaged easily. But then, they’re equally easy to repair. Not only that but also with restoring them to the look they were when new. What’s more, you won’t pay through the nose for this restoration; it’s pretty affordable since it only involves sanding the wood and applying new finishing. It means that the hardwood floor you have in your home shouldn’t cause you sleepless nights just because you have children around. Once the kids grow older, you can get the floor to its former brand new state without having to replace anything.
The source of the wood used to make these floors is a renewable one. It doesn’t harm the environment, so long as the cut trees are replaced. It makes hardwood floors one of the most popular with builders who care about environmental issues. Not all wood is sourced responsibly, though. It’s upon the one buying the wood to ask their supplier for a certificate showing compliance with international rules on forestry. As a responsibility, ensure you ask for these documents from your hardwood flooring company. There are endangered species such as Mahogany, and doing so will see you act your part in ensuring the floor in your home is truly environment-friendly.
The US Asthma and Allergy Foundation recommends that people having with asthma live in homes with hardwood floors, and for a reason. This type of flooring repels a variety of allergens which include pollen and pet hair. As a result, conditions that trigger allergic reactions are uncommon in homes, offices, and businesses whose floors are hardwoods. Besides, cleaning these floors to get rid of dust is easy. It leaves no possibility for the presence of allergens, creating healthy environments for people susceptible to allergies.
Hardwood floors never become unfashionable, as evidenced by their high popularity over many years. Other floors styles come and go, but the good old hardwood floor remains. If you install it, you will not need to worry about replacing it in the future for the reason that loses style. Granted, you may need to refinish it, but that’s all there will be to it. It’s the timelessness of this flooring that makes it popular with people looking for long-term investments on their properties.
How do you find the graining of hardwood to be? The natural appeal is irresistible. It’s no wonder, then, that many people fall for floors made out of wood. The visual characteristics of hardwood are so strong they complement everything in the room. For a more natural look of your home, you would do well to consider natural tones such as chocolate colors. Also, choose wide planks for a better and more conspicuous flow of the grain pattern for enhanced beauty.
The Cons of Hardwood Floors
Requires Skilled Installers
A DIY approach may be possible for some types of flooring, but definitely not hardwood. This floor requires a professional to install. Wood expands and contracts continually, and the right gaps need to be left to allow for this. Otherwise, you may end up with a twisted floor, or one with gaps too wide. Knowing how to drive nails into wood is, therefore, not enough to make you feel confident to install a wood floor. The contractor you hire should also have the experience and expertise one these floors unless you want a floor you will need to replace soon after installation.
Hardwood floors amplify sounds, especially where carpets have not been placed on the floors. This may not be a significant problem for people who consider the increased acoustics a part of the beauty of these floors. If you find the noise a bother, you can apply ways to minimize it, such as using carpets to muffle it out. You could also choose planks made from cork or even vinyl. They offer the same look like that of hardwood, but without the noise or sound amplification.
Unlike soft types of floors such as carpeted ones or those made from cork, wood floors don’t absorb pressure. They can be hard on the feet, causing discomfort or even aches. If you have to stand on a wood floor for extended hours or have babies playing on it, you would need to take action. Minimize the hardness while still maintaining the visual appeal of your hardwood floor by doing this; place rugs or mats at specific places in the home. It could be at the areas where you spend long hour standing, or the play areas for your babies spend time the most.
Although not as cold as other types of flooring such as tile, hardwood floors can get cold as to cause discomfort. Their temperature may drop considerably in winter to become uncomfortable to the people living in the home. However, it’s mostly people suffering from conditions that are aggravated by cold such as joint pains who would be affected the most. Seniors may also find a cold floor less cozy. To work around this problem, install radiant heating systems underneath the floors. They’re low-cost and easy to obtain. Note that not all hardwood floors should have these radiant heaters used with them. Consult your installer to advise you on compatibility before buying the heaters.
Investing in hardwood flooring can be a costly affair. Some species are pretty expensive, with some planks costing as much as more than 10 dollars for a single foot. Some styles and finishes are costly, too. They require that you have adequate funds to cater for everything once you start. If you’re planning for the floor to only cover a small area, the high cost may not be a problem. For bigger spaces, you may need to set aside a sizeable budget for it. However, you can always keep expenses down by scouting around for suppliers offering lower prices. You could also opt for unfinished wood which is not as expensive. Or, you could consider buying leftover wood pieces from sellers who purchase wood in bulk.
Susceptible to Water Damage
Hardwood floors can get damaged by moisture. As a result, they’re not suitable for moisture-prone areas such as the bathroom. Also, places prone to flood water such as the basement. The liquid that gets soaked into the wood would cause warping and deform the planks. It would also result in unsightly discoloration and the growth of mold. If you choose to install this kind of floor in a damp place, you would need to take measures to prevent water damage. Lay a water vapor screen underneath the flooring to keep moisture away so it doesn’t reach the boards. Ensure, too, that you control the humidity in your home.
If you have a wood floor in your home, you know how easily or often it gets scratched. If you have pets around, it can be even more problematic. The scratches may seem hard to prevent, and they are, because that’s the vulnerability of wood. The good news is that you can easily fix the scratches on your hardwood floor as easily as they occur. Do so by filling them up with wax wood filler. In cases where the scratches are all over as a result of many years of damage, you need not worry. Sanding the wood will eliminate them to give the floor an entirely new look.
How to Choose Hardwood Flooring of the Highest Quality
In the case you have decided to go for a hardwood floor, there are factors you will need to consider to ensure quality. They include:
Hardwood floors are mainly divided into three grades: select, number 1 common and number 2 common. The grading is based on the visual characteristics of the boards used. The characteristics are the length of boards, variations in the colors, tone the imperfections, and knots.
Select grade flooring shows better uniformity both for color, tone, length. It’s the most expensive flooring but also one that’s highly appealing to the eyes.
Number 1 common grade
The boards used for this floor grade are less perfect. They have knots, color and graining variation that’s easy to pick with the eyes. The length of the boards also varies to a noticeable degree. The cost is this grade is moderate, and is the grade to go for if you desire a quality wood floor for a modest price.
Number 2 common grade
This grade constitutes boards that are visibly rustic and imperfect. The knots are larger, and tone varies significantly. The grade is much less costly compared to the other ones. Because of the rustic nature of the boards in this grade, having them installed in your home can give it a traditional feel and add to the beauty
The tavern grade is the last-and the least grade regarding quality. It’s also the least common. The boards feature edges that are broken, knots that are bigger and a host of other imperfections. The flooring is the least expensive and usually used in areas that are not frequented by people.
Note that grade does not in any way affect a wood’s strength or lifespan, but is merely a measure of its visual quality. Grading is, therefore, a tool to gauge the floor’s aesthetic appeal only.
Type of Wood
Different wood species have different levels of hardness. The degree of hardness is measured using the Janka Test, a tool that was developed to rate wood species to different values on a scale. Using this scale, you can choose the type of wood suitable for the flooring of your home. Top on the scale are the rare trees such as the Brazilian hardwoods. In the middle of the scale are Acacia, Maple, and Oak species. Pine, a popular choice for country floors, occurs down on the scale, being one of the species with the lowest hardness. The hardness of a type of wood determines its durability. Depending on the amount of human and pet traffic you anticipate on the floor, you may want to choose a hard species.
Type of Surface Finish
Your hardwood flooring will require a sealer for protection. Pre-finished options already have layers of a sealer applied while the unfinished ones do not, and you need to apply one yourself. Sealer options include wax, oil, water-based polyurethane and Aluminum Oxide. Oil and wax are mostly applied during floor installation. Their finish is moderately durable, not going for more than five years before you require to do a refinish. Water-based polyurethane is applied for factory finishes as well as during installation. It gives your new hardwood floor a sturdy, thick, and clear look. Aluminum Oxide is used primarily on pre-stained floors and is the most durable of all types of finish. It can last for as long as 25 years. But then, a floor with an Aluminum Oxide finish can be pretty expensive. You have to be prepared to adjust your budget if you want to use it.
The Thickness of Boards
The quality of your hardwood floor is affected by board thickness. You should choose a medium thickness which is about three-quarters of an inch. Boards that are thinner than that may not withstand human traffic, while boards that are thicker serve no purpose and only cause unnecessary costs. The idea is to have boards that you can comfortably sand in future to remove signs of damage. Also, boards that will not strain your budget. Ensure wood you buy is sawed to even thickness, and that the edges are intact.
The Level of Gloss
The level of maintenance your wood floor will need largely depends on its sheen level. The higher the gloss, the higher the maintenance requirements. It makes selecting the right gloss essential:
- A high gloss (70 percent luster) means more demanding and frequent maintenance. Smudges and stains will be more noticeable, requiring you to clean the floor more often.
- Medium gloss (55 percent luster) is more desirable. It has a right amount of shine but won’t need you to clean it expertly to maintain the luster.
- Satin finish (40 percent luster) is the next in level to medium gloss and is easier to care for. It won’t offer great lustre but is enough to make your floor appear aesthetically pleasing.
- A matte finish is in the same level as high gloss concerning maintenance. It reveals smudges easily, just like a high gloss floor.
For a classic hardwood floor that requires little to maintain and still looks stylish, you would do well to select either of these: medium gloss or satin. These types of finishes don’t reveal stains, smudges, scratches, and other forms of damage or dirt easily. However, if you’re attracted to a floor with a high level of luster, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t choose high gloss or matte. It all boils down to your taste, provided you’re ready to take care of the floor without complaining.
Floor Color and Dimensions
Color and size may not affect quality, but they determine the visual appeal of your floor. Colors of medium tone are not preferable since they don’t show dirt easily. Compared to dark ones, they also appear more classic while helping to conceal the tiny bit of dirt and stains. Designers will advise you to use wide boards for contemporary homes. They look more modern and blend well with current trends. Long narrow planks, on the other hand, are suitable for the traditional or rustic look.
Vintage Wood – Why Consider It?
Also known as reclaimed wood, vintage wood can save you a lot of money if you happen to choose it for your flooring. It’s made from wood retrieved from ancient constructions and, therefore, an environmentally-friendly option. Ensure that you ask about the processes used to reclaim the wood. Also the uniformity of the board sizes as well as the moisture content in them. Make sure you buy from a company with a good reputation. Because there’s no method to grade vintage wood, you will need to rely on the trustworthiness of your supplier. Alternatively, you can ask to see the pieces before making a purchase.
What about Engineered Hardwood?
I’ll cover completely engineered wood in another post. For now, suffice to say engineered hardwood is a low-cost alternative to solid wood. It’s also a low-maintenance type of wood, plus it’s easier to install. Made to resemble solid wood, engineered hardwood comes in three installation options; nail-down, click-on and glue-down. Should you opt for engineered hardwood flooring, ensure it’s the quality type. Choose the one with varied tone and graining for the visual appeal. Consider the kind of finish, too. In spite of the cost, engineered wood with an Aluminum Oxide finish is more quality. For thickness, it should be higher than ⅝ of an inch.
Convenience vs Customization – What to Go For?
Which is better, prefinished or natural wood? Prefinished wood offers more convenience since most of the work is already done for you. But then, you might have your preferences regarding the finish, and you don’t want someone to predetermine it for you.
The Convenience of Prefinished Wood
With this type of flooring, not much is required and you can use it soon after it’s installed. There are no toxic chemicals and fumes to worry about, and no dust or debris settling on the finish and affecting its look. However, this option comes with one drawback. You will have to pay for the factory made finish, and dearly so.
The Customization Advantage of Unfinished Boards
Unfinished floorboards are, on the other hand, more preferable if you have own tastes. You will get the chance to create a finish of your choice and to the level of gloss that resonates with your heart. Unfinished boards cost much less. But before you think them the cheaper option, take a minute to think about the chemicals you will have to purchase, and about the price you will pay to hire a qualified person to apply them. You will notice that unfinished boards are not that low-cost in the long run. Their main advantage lies in allowing for customization.
Small Pricing Guide for Hardwood Flooring
There are several costs involved in the installation of a hardwood floor. You should factor them all when budgeting for the project. You don’t want additional charges or expenses cropping up midway into the installation and ruining your budget. The costs include installation expenses, materials used, labor, and waste. Always add an allowance of 10 percent of the total cost to the budget. That amount will cater for the unforeseen expenses that may come up late into the process. When purchasing flooring materials, make the allowance for waste by ordering between 5 and 10 percent more products.
Cost of Flooring Per Square Foot
The average prices for a square foot of hardwood flooring are between $3 and $20. This pricing is for the common hardwood species. A floor made from the wood of exotic hardwoods will cost higher than that.
Cost of Installation
Contractors will charge an average of between 3 and 7 dollars for each square foot of the floor. This cost is exclusive of other works to the floor such as the installation of vapor screens.
Cost of Onsite Finishing
The average cost of finishing wood onsite is between 2 and 5 dollars. That’s only an average, and rates will vary from one contractor to another. The best thing is to scout around for the best offers.
Major Brands and Suppliers of Hardwood Flooring Materials
If you’re ready to install your hardwood floor, you may want to know more about the reliable suppliers you can get flooring products from. Here is a list of them, with more about their services.
If experience matters to you, then this supplier should be your top choice. They have more than 20 years in the business of selling hardwood flooring materials. Over the years, Hurst Hardwoods have built a name for themselves. They have been offering a wide range of products that earned them satisfied customers. Their prices are excellent, with generous discounts on some products. Based on their popularity as well as the reviews they have received online, their products are, undoubtedly, of excellent quality. The variety of wood species and hardwood flooring material they stock is also extensive. You’re unlikely to miss anything at their store.
This store supplies a variety of hardwood flooring materials. Most of the wood products at Home Depot are pre-finished. If you’re looking for moderately priced materials for your wood floor, they’re the store to choose. Their prices range from 3 to 5 dollars a foot for natural Oak wood of the standard thickness. Home Depot is a brand manufacturer with a good reputation. It’s a household name with builders and home designers, and are known for selling quality products. They also have all the certifications required by the law to show compliance with all the set rules.
The variety of products offered by this company is fantastic. The prices are reasonable and choosing them as your supplier could be one of the best decision when installing your wood floor. The only one thing you will have to contend with is that their business is purely online. If you believe in a physical store, this may not be the supplier for you. Still, they don’t take small orders. They have a minimum amount of purchases you can make with them. It can mean being locked out if you’re involved in a small project. It’s a major disadvantage about the merchant. However, their prices and the free samples you can order are a big attraction.
This is another company worth considering for your wood floor project. They have favorable ratings on online forums, an indication that they offer quality products and services. Of notable elegance is their array of reclaimed wood. The images of the vintage boards displayed on their site are breathtaking. If you’re looking for an antique wood floor, you would do well to get your materials from this company. The only concern about this merchant is their high prices. At 8 dollars a foot, it’s a bit on the higher side. But that may not be that much of a problem considering that the quality of the products on offer is guaranteed.
Floor and Decor
Floor and Decor is a reputable supplier worth considering. The unique thing with them is that they sell floor decorations and coverings. They also stock various floor installation materials, including the ones you can work with yourself without the need for any installation skills. Their prices for wood are excellent, ranging from 3 to 6 dollars a foot. The only concern about the products from this supplier is about the guarantee of quality. They stock flooring products from manufacturers who are not well-known.
Lowe’s stock both natural woods and the engineered type. They also offer a variety of products to suit all your hardwood floor needs. Their prices are fair, and you will find their products to be within your budget. Their honesty is worth noting. Lowe’s website contains products reviews that frankly state the pros and cons of each. It makes it a company worth trusting because they’re not likely to lie about quality.
There, we have come to the final part of our hardwood flooring review. I hope you found it useful in highlighting all you wanted to know about the floors. If you were looking to invest in this kind of flooring, you can now do so from an informed viewpoint. Your decision will not only be based on preference but also knowledge. Hardwood floors are excellent in many ways. They add both style and value to your home. They’re durable and can be restored without having to replace anything. They’re also easy to maintain. You can now comfortably start your hardwood floor installation project. Choosing this type of floor is a decision you will forever feel proud to have made.