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Finding the Right Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood is a top selection for flooring. What options are suitable for you?


For years, homeowners have liked hardwood flooring. These floors are an investment because they’re timeless and long-lasting. On top of that, you can select from different colors, stains, and grains to get the look you want.


One advantage of wood flooring is you don't need to replace it, unlike carpet or tile flooring. Instead, you can resand or refurbish it, saving money over time.


Even though wood floors have many benefits, they have a few downsides. For example, wear and tear can easily dent and scratch them, and mold, detergents, water, and termites can damage them.


If you’re considering replacing or updating your floors, follow these basics to help you find the right hardwood flooring.


Refinishing vs. New Floor Installation

A new hardwood floor has a lot of selling points, but it may be outside your budget. In that case, you can refinish your current floors to make them look brand new without the high price tag.


If you need help deciding which way to go, have a professional look at your floors. You can more easily decide if refinishing is right for you with an accurate opinion.

Of course, if you refinish your current floors, you'll spend less than you would on installation.


Contemplations for Choosing the Right Hardwood Flooring

Choosing the type of hardwood you want, you'll select from engineered or hardwood flooring and prefinished or finished on-site. You can also select from different wood types and plank widths.


Engineered vs. Solid Hardwood Flooring

Solid hardwood planks are single pieces of wood, while engineered hardwood incorporates multiple layers of hardwood. Interlocking options make establishing engineered hardwood easier.


Another plus for engineered hardwood floors: They lessen moisture issues you’d usually find in standard hardwood flooring.


Prefinished vs. Finished On-site

Prefinished hardwood floors are completed at a factory, and a coat of polyurethane tops each board. Site-finished hardwood is dispatched to your home incomplete, and the process of sanding, staining, and sealing is accomplished after the floor is installed.

Prefinished boards have a more uniform color and staining; some come with anti-scratch coating. But with site-finished planks, you can select stains and finishes that work with your interior. Many flooring specialists can provide on-site recommendations to help you find the best match for your home.


Unfinished boards cost less per square foot, but prefinished boards cost a bit less overall because of installation.


Wood Types: Grain and Color

Wood flooring comes in various styles and shades, including grains and light and dark colors.


Grain

The way the wood flooring is cut and sliced defines the grain. Your floor’s wood grain is like its own unique fingerprint. Because no two look alike, this feature adds character to your home. The three typical types of wood grain are flat, straight, and curly.


Color

Wood flooring is available in a wide range of colors. Trending colors include beige and gray tones, natural-looking wood, and dark charcoal or black stains.

Look for wood colors that complement your home’s overall layout and lifestyle. Darker wood floors will exhibit scuffs and scratches more quickly, while wear and tear will be less visible on lighter floors.

Remember that laying stains on-site will alter the natural colors of the wood. Most floor teams will help you select stains that hit your goal hues.


Plank Width

The plank width of your hardwood floors can make a difference in your finished floor design. You can make a room look larger or smaller depending on the width.

If you select wider wood planks, you'll get a rustic or modern upscale look to your home. The wider the planks, the fewer the seams you’ll have. Wide plank flooring ranges from five inches to 12 inches.

More narrow plank flooring boards can work well in smaller spaces and add a clean, contemporary look. Standard plank widths are between three inches and 4.75 inches.


Alternatives to Hardwood Flooring

Despite wood floor benefits, they aren't in everyone’s budget. Here are some alternatives for a great look minus the hefty price tag.


Bamboo

Bamboo flooring is a budget-friendly option that comes from the bamboo plant. The bamboo is sliced, shredded, and heated to form wood-like boards.

Pros

Bamboo floors withstand pests and are durable, easy to maintain, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. They also cost much less per square foot than most solid hardwoods.

Cons

These floors react to moisture, so they're not a good option in a humid climate. They also may show scratches more quickly, and the range of tones and finishes is more limited.


Laminate

Laminate flooring is made of multiple layers of products combined through lamination, and it resembles wood flooring.


Pros

These floors come in planks or tiles that snap together, making them manageable for DIYers.

They aren't made from trees and are highly durable (great for high-traffic areas). Maintenance is manageable, too.


Cons

Once laminate floors lose their sparkle, they can’t be refinished. You’ll have to replace them.

Because laminate is made with plastic and sometimes formaldehyde, it isn't environmentally friendly.


People with chemical sensitivities should ensure that any laminates conform to health regulations.


Moisture may damage some laminate flooring, so it shouldn't be used in bathrooms or laundry rooms.


Luxury Vinyl Planks

Luxury vinyl plank flooring is made of several layers of vinyl and often contains a layer of long-wearing urethane. It's available in many styles and resembles different wood species.


Pros

The installation utilizes a click-lock floating process that's easy to DIY.

You can select from several thicknesses and qualities. Durability makes LVP floors a good choice for homes with kids and pets.


Cons

The material used in LVP isn't sustainable.

It likely will have a lower return on investment than wood floors.





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