Home FLOOR Hardwood Flooring: A Complete Buying Guide

Hardwood Flooring: A Complete Buying Guide

by MyNextHouseProject
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Harwood Flooring

Hardwood floors increase the aesthetic of your home and add to its value.

However, when buying hardwood flooring for your space, you have to consider many aspects.

From deciding the type of hardwood flooring, determining the budget to finding the right style and design, you may feel overwhelmed.  

This article covers all the essential aspects of hardwood flooring to help you make the right purchase decision. 

Outline

Why Should You Choose Hardwood Flooring?

Best Hardwood Flooring Options

  1. Solid Hardwood Flooring- Pros and Cons
  2. Engineered Wood Flooring- Pros and Cons

Hardwood Flooring Pricing Guide

Solid Hardwood Vs. Engineered Wood Flooring

Hardwood Flooring Checklist

Wood Species for Flooring

Style Consideration for Hardwood Flooring

Leading Flooring Brands    

Hardwood Flooring Room

Why Should You Choose Hardwood Flooring?

While choosing between wood flooring and carpeting is still a dilemma, hardwood is worth investment. Carpets are cozy, but they come with washing concerns. And you have to change them every few years. 

Hardwood floors allow you to express your arty interior dreams. Their attractive color and natural beauty of wood add a dramatic effect to your space. No matter if you decide to install small square parquet flooring or large wide planks, hardwood flooring looks fascinating.

It is a long-term, satisfying, and durable investment.

 

What are the Best Hardwood Flooring Options? 

Though there are various hardwood types to choose from, solid hardwood and engineered hardwood are one-of-a-kind options. 

The reason why homeowners love them is their durability, originality, and uniqueness. Unlike vinyl or laminate planks, every piece is different from another and made of 100% real wood. 

 

But which should it be: solid hardwood flooring or engineered wood flooring?

Let’s walk through their pros and cons and find what is distinctive about each. It will help you decide which one is better for you.

 

1. Solid Hardwood Flooring 

Interior architects and builders have been using solid hardwood floorboards for decades now. They are homogenous products from side to side and top to bottom and are cut from the solid wood logs.

Solid hardwood is classic, durable, and robust. From hard cheery to soft pine, you can find hardwood floors in every type of wood possible. 

Pros

Easy Maintenance

Hardwood flooring is easy to maintain and fix if damaged due to any reason. If gaps spring up between planks because of environmental elements, just waiting for the weather to change may permit the wood to even up itself. 

If the gap is more significant than a dime, seek professional help to tighten up the hardwood. 

You can fix scratches with touch-up kits available at many local home improvement stores. You can handle visible scratches by coating the flooring.

 

Provide Healthy Air

Hardwood flooring resists the growth of parasites like dust mites, fleas, or spores. They keep from drawing any animal dander, allergens, or molds, keeping the indoor atmosphere clean and protected.

Solid hardwood flooring is the best option if you have kids at home as they are more prone to allergies. It is hypo-allergic and doesn’t trap bad odor, making it a healthy choice. 

 An underfloor heating system can also be installed with hardwood flooring to keep the house tender. However, always consult with your manufacturer before installing hardwood flooring with a radiant heating system. 

 

Quick Installation

Prefinished solid hardwood flooring is easy to install. However, site-finished flooring would require quite a lot of work to sand the floorboards before installing them. Always seek the help of a pro for solid hardwood floor installation.

 

Trendy Forever 

Hardwood flooring is always a worthy investment for you.

Yes, it is durable and lasts for decades unless you experience a flood or fire. 

Decorating or carpeting trends may change, but hardwood is always in style. 

 

Easy to Maintain 

Hardwood flooring is durable and lasts a very long time. It’s regular for houses and buildings that are above 100 years old and have been cared for appropriately. 

The maintenance requires occasional cleaning and sweeping with a simple wood floor cleaner. To maintain the durability of the hardwood flooring, avoid applying wax and acidic cleaners.

 

Offers Amazing Variety

When you choose hardwood flooring, you can find a massive range of choices. Select the one based on its availability and your budget. 

No single plank offers a similar color or shade, which makes it more reliable while increasing its artistic appeal.

If you get bored with the tone, you can stain the floor for a new touch. To give your floor an exotic look, different types of wood can be mixed and matched.

 

Holds High Value

Having hardwood flooring enhances the worth of a property, and such floors are considered as an upgrade to most potential customers. 

Although the upfront cost and installation procedure is an investment in time and money, it never goes waste. Real estate buyers pay more for hardwood floors. And houses with hardwood floors sell quicker than homes with carpets.

Cons

 Higher Cost

Hardwood floors are more costly than any other type of wood flooring. So, it might not be an affordable option for everyone.

Moreover, installing a solid hardwood floor is complicated and requires relevant expertise. So, you’ve to cover up installation costs as well. It also requires periodic refinishing, which is an additional cost.

 

Low Resistance to Moisture

Solid hardwood flooring is not an option for wet areas like bathrooms, basements, and laundry rooms. The mold can grow beneath, and the floor may swell.

Moreover, you can mop the solid wood floor, but over-flooding of water could damage the floor’s surface.

 

Prone to Temperature Fluctuations

It is more prone to temperature fluctuations. It shows expansion and contractions, so avoid installing it in areas with changing temperature.

 

More Prone to Scratches

Solid hardwood is less resistant to scratches and scars.

Hardwood floors in high traffic areas, mainly where there are kids or pets, will be prone to scratches.

Engineered Wood Flooring  

2. Engineered Wood Flooring 

Engineered wood floors are considered the latest option as compared to solid hardwood. Fused with crisscross layers of thin wood slices over a plywood base, engineered floorboards are chic and robust. The bottom plywood layer helps floorboards resist contraction and expansion. 

Let’s see what the benefits and drawbacks of engineered wood flooring are. 

Pros 

DIY Installation 

With its multiple installation methods, engineered woods makes it easy for you to DIY install the flooring. 

An experienced weekend warrior can either float, glue the wood or stable it. Engineered floorboards even come with locking mechanism. 

 

More Resistant to Moisture 

With the veneer top and plywood base, manufacturers assemble engineered floorboards in crisscross multilayers. 

Unlike conventional hardwood, engineered wood resists humidity and stands up high temperature or moisture.  

Thus, when exposed to moisture or humidity, each layer of the floor uses its natural tendency to resist expansion and contraction. 

 

Increases Resale Value

The resale market doesn’t make any distinction between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood. 

So, it’s a considerable investment. 

Or maybe, you’ll be able to quote higher prices than those who have solid hardwood flooring. 

 

Compatible with Radiant Heating 

We all love to steep onto a soft, cozy surface in the morning. And radiant heating is the best investment for this. 

Engineered floors are compatible with radiant heating. High-quality engineered planks withstand high temperature.

However, don’t forget to check with your manufacturer before installing wood over a radiant heating system.  

 

Sanded and Sealed

Want your hardwood floor with a glossy finish?    

Engineering flooring is your best pick. 

Prefinished engineered boards are consistent, have tonal variation, and no flaws or bubbles. 

What more? 

You can walk on them right after their installation. And their protective sealers give off the unpleasant smell.

Cons

Pricey than Solid Wood 

Saving money on engineered wood is not so fast. High-quality, engineered wood may cost you more than solid wood. Though the price may vary depending on location, the average cost is between $4 to $7 per square foot. If you want to save on cost, be prepared to welcome low-quality. 

 

Fades if Exposed to Sunlight 

No matter if you cover the area with a rag or furniture, engineered wood will fade if exposed to sunlight or UV rays. It not only lightens the wood but also creates bright spots. Consider using curtains to minimize the reach of direct sunlight to the floor. 

 

Prone to Dents and Scars 

Do you have a pet or you like wearing heels? Your floor is at the risk of scratching. 

Though it requires less maintenance, engineered wood is still susceptible to scratches, dents, and scars. 

 

Not Moisture Proof

Do you think engineered wood is suitable for your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry rooms? 

Hold on!

Though they withstand moisture and humidity, engineered planks are not entirely waterproof. 

Installing them in high moisture areas is at the risk of bacteria and mold growth underneath. 

Moreover, on getting wet, the planks will clasp and shift. 

 

Low-quality Base

While quality wood comes with a strong base, some manufacturers cut production costs by using low-quality base material such as fiberboard. It makes flooring unstable and susceptible to damage. 

 

Needs high-maintenance 

Do you think that engineer floors require minimal maintenance? Think again.

Engineered floors need proper cleaning and maintenance like solid hardwood floors. 

You have to sweep them and vacuum away dust daily. To clean the floor with water, use a quality microfiber mop. Avoid flooding the floor with excess water. 

 

Ready to count numbers? Let’s see how much these floors are going to cost you.  

Hardwood Floor Pricing Guide 

The average price range for solid hardwood flooring:

  • You can find unfinished domestic solid hardwood floors at prices ranging from $2 per square foot to $5 per square foot. Imported and exotic hardwood may cost more. 
  • Prefinished solid floorboards start at the price of $4 per square foot and go up to $12 per square foot. However, most hardwood planks fall in the range of $4 to $10 per square foot. 
  • If you decide to choose unfinished floors, it will cost you up to $2 per square foot to get them finished by flooring pros.

So, the rational decision is to buy prefinished flooring. 

The average price range for engineered wood flooring:

  • It starts from $2 per square foot and goes up to $10 per square foot. Most products fall in the price range of $4 to $7 per square foot.
  • The pricing of engineered floorboards depends on its thickness. Flooring with thickness 3/8 inches is cheaper that ¾ inches flooring. 
  • Where most engineered floors are prefinished, you can save on $2 to $2 by DIY finishing them. 

The higher the price, the better the quality. So, if you don’t want to compromise on the quality of the flooring, go for wood floors with higher rates.

 

Solid Hardwood Vs. Engineered Wood Flooring: Side-by-Side Comparison

   Solid Hardwood

   Engineered Wood

  

  Aesthetics 

  Unusual, natural look, pieces look different from each other, wide range of wood type and finish options

  Natural look, pieces look different from each other, wide range of wood type and finish options

  

  Material

  100% solid wood

  100% wood but composite

  

  Width and thickness

  Thickness: ¾ inches

Standard width: begins at 2 ¼

Plank width starts from 5 inches and goes up to 11 inches

  Thickness: from 3/8-1/2 inches

Standard width: 3 1/4, plank size starting at 5inches

  

  Cleaning and maintenance

  Requires regular vacuum or sweep and occasional mopping

  Requires regular vacuum or sweep and occasional mopping

  

  Refinishing 

  Can be refinished multiple times

  Refinishing frequency depends on the veneer. Usually, it can be refinished once or twice.

  

  Installation method

  Nailed, stapled. No floating

  Nailed, glued, floating, stapled

  

  Installation off limits

  Don’t install below basements or in areas with most moisture

  Need caution in basement, kitchen, bathroom

  

  DIY or not?

  Better to take help from pros 

  Yes, mainly for floating method

  

  Cost

  Ranges from $2 to $12 per square foot

  Ranges from $2 to $10 per square foot

  

  Hardwood Flooring Checklist 

No matter if you prefer solid hardwood flooring or engineered wood flooring, always test its reliability. 

Here is a flooring checklist to consider before buying a wood floor. 

 

Sampling is Smart

Before making the actual purchase, get a sample of both flooring choices. Compare them side-by-side on their place of installation. Consider different perspectives and angles for both and see which one works the best for your space. 

 

Consider Traffic Pattern

Entrance to the home and its rooms are common high-traffic areas.

Consider buying high-quality, robust, and durable hardwood for bedrooms and other areas where kids and pets are frequent visitors. 

For less rushed areas, consider either high-quality engineered or solid hardwood flooring. 

 

Check for Consistency 

Don’t confuse engineered and solid hardwood for color or grain. There are always distinct variations between the two. The flooring may have an identical pattern that your eye can’t pick until installed side-by-side. So, always check for consistency in floorboards. 

 

Avoid Measurement Mistakes

To determine how much flooring your room will need, measure its square foot by multiplying its length times width. Consider buying extra flooring to cover bad samples, mistakes, and damage. 

 

Preparing for Installation

Before installing hardwood or engineered flooring, unpack it and allow to sit for at least a day or three days. It is crucial to prevent unsightly gaps and buckling floorboards. Allowing to sit for a few days will help flooring find the temperature and moisture equilibrium with the room levels. 

 

Don’t Forget to Check for Certification

Low-quality wood used for flooring may emit toxic chemicals and substances that could cause health issues. Certification by the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry ensures that wood flooring comes from managed forests. Check manufacturer certification and packaging for the product. 

Cherry Hardwood Flooring

Wood Species for Flooring

Cherry

Pricing: Highly expensive

With dimensional stability and glossy finish, cherry is soft, beautiful hardwood. American cherry, also known as black cherry with pink and red hues is the most popular. Being photosensitive, it is best for places with no direct sunlight. 

Walnut

Pricing: Highly expensive

Though there is a wide variety of walnut wood, the American walnut is most prevalent throughout North America. It is soft, has a vibrant brown color with purple hues, and charming swirling scraps.

This lightweight and non-photosensitive hardwood is an excellent option for upper floors. However, scratching degrades walnut flooring wood. 

Oak Hardwood

Pricing: Mid ranged

One of the most popular hardwoods in the flooring industry, oak is classic yet exotic wood. White oak and red oak are its wide varieties where red oak features reddish hue. And white oak has a pale brown color with a pink tint.

Though oak hardwood can stand up massive impacts, it is susceptible to scraping. 

Maple

Pricing: Inexpensive

Maple’s grain pattern makes it stand out from other hardwood species. It is highly durable, resistant to moisture, and requires minimal daily maintenance. Maple also has a uniform texture, light color, and luxurious feel. 

Hickory

Pricing: Mid ranged 

Notable for its extreme strength and durability, Hickory can last for a lifetime if maintained properly. It is mostly available in reddish-brown colors with dramatic grain pattern. Hickory is an ideal flooring choice for busy areas, especially where kids and pets pay frequent visits. 

Ash 

Pricing: Inexpensive

This light-colored wood with a natural look and active grain is available in 15 different varieties. Ash hardwood has medium hardness, can withstand heavy traffic and impacts, making it an ideal option for hand-scraped floors. However, ash hardwood floors require regular cleaning. 

Teak 

Pricing: Highly expensive

The strongest and hardest hardwood for heavy-traffic areas, teak adds to the traditional charm and chic swag of your space. This wood requires oil to maintain its gloss. 

Pine

Pricing: Inexpensive

With its vibrant color and divergent grain pattern, pine is most conventional among all flooring wood types. It lasts for several years but is more prone to scratches and dents. It requires extra maintenance. 

Beech 

Pricing: Mid ranged 

Beech hardwood can attain heights of 100 to 130 feet with a diameter trunk of 3 to 5 feet. Its color is typically pale cream with brown or pink hues. The wood is thick with straight grains and medium texture, making it resilient, durable flooring hardwood. 

 Poplar, Ebony, Alder, Brazil Tigerwood, Mahogany, Birch, and Douglas Fir are some other popular and durable woods used for hardwood flooring. 

Beech Flooring

Style Consideration for Hardwood Flooring

Finish 

The finish options for hardwood flooring are two; prefinished and site-finished. 

Prefinished hardwood flooring. Already finished from the factory and arrives in ready-to-use condition for installation at home. Prefinished flooring is stronger, more robust, and easy to install. This type of hardwood comes with a manufacturer’s warranty of 5-35 years. 

Site-finished hardwood flooring. It is not finished from the factory and arrives like a raw material. It requires enough work to make it look unique and stunning. You can sand and finish this type of hardwood with your choice of color and pattern either DIY or by hiring a pro. It usually comes with 3 to 5 years warranty. 

Size

Width of the hardwood planks offers a great deal to the look of your floor. You can use strips, usually thinner and less than 3 inches wide, for small spaces. However, for lounge and other large rooms, planks are an ideal option as they’re wider floorboards and look more artistic.

Grade

The better the grade, the cleaner your hardwood floor will look. Always opt for a lucid or a steady grade for a bright appearance with minimal nubs. The hardwood of lucid grade has fewer color options and somewhat straight grain pattern. However, cabin and milkwood grades have a less glossy look. 

Color

The choice of color mainly depends on the type of wood species you’ve chosen for hardwood flooring. Usually, exotic species aren’t stained because they look distinctive with their natural color.

However, most of them are photosensitive, and direct exposure to sunlight can fade their gloss. Dark and rich color hardwood can be a thing for floors without direct exposure to sunlight. 

Edge details 

Though edge detail doesn’t have much consequence on the hardwood floor look, taking it into account is never a waste. 

You may opt for beveled edges, square edges, or eased one. 

Beveled edge detail gives a spectacular appearance, pointing each board as an individual. 

Square edges hide the borders between each board, ensuring a seamless appearance. 

Place of use

The kitchen, living room, home workspaces, dining room, and hallways are usually covered with hardwood flooring. However, the use of hardwood flooring is on-trend for bedrooms and other rooms of the home as well. 

Depending on the place of use, choose the kind of wood and type of hardwood flooring. For heavy-traffic areas, use more durable and robust hardwood.

For less-busy rooms, you can use less expensive wood flooring. Consider glossy and exotic wood floors for rustic rooms. Durable hardwood is recommended for the rooms with extra moisture. 

Installation

If you want to DIY, install a hardwood floor, opt for flooring that doesn’t require staples, nails, or glues so that you may fix it quickly. 

However, it is always good to call a professional for solid hardwood flooring installation. DIY installing floorings that require staples, nails, or glues is not a good idea. It may result in damages. 

Texture

You may choose between smooth, hand-scraped, wire-brushed, or distressed texture. 

Mohawk Flooring

Leading Flooring Brands 

Mohawk

The world’s leading flooring manufacturer vertically integrated production and distribution and now offers 30+ categories flooring options including wood, stone, laminate, and vinyl flooring.

The company has an extensive range of leading brands such as Unilin, Pergo, and Quick-step. Mohawk sells its flooring through specialty floor stores and home centers. 

 

Armstrong 

Armstrong World Industries, Inc. is a global leader in the manufacture and design of floors and ceilings. 

The company offers hundreds of flooring options along with exotic and domestic hardwood flooring across North America. Armstrong’s commitment has made it a leading manufacturer of the realistic, resilient wood flooring that needs minimal maintenance. 

The company has 15 top manufacturing facilities in the United States, Australia, and China. 

 

Burke 

The proprietary 20-color Uni-color system of Burke’s products provides you with custom color options to fit your needs and style preferences. This flooring color coordination, along with durability and functionality, has made Burke a leading flooring manufacturer. 

Though the company offers a wide range of flooring products, the natural wood planks, and solid, concrete, stone and hand-scraped wood flooring are at the top of their line. 

Columbia Flooring

Columbia Flooring 

Known for its superior design, sustainability, and technology, Columbia is another leader in the hardwood and laminate flooring industry. 

Being a domestic hardwood manufacturer in America, the company offers unique, natural, and original products. Their three top categories of hardwood flooring include domestic exotics, character floors, and the fabulous Oak hardwood floor collection. 

Wicanders

Leading flooring manufacturer with their business operating in 80 countries, Wincanders is known as the biggest cork flooring company. The cork is 100% natural, recyclable, and durable raw wood material. 

Wincanders incorporates the bark of cork oak tree in their products, ensuring natural thermal insulation, walking comfort, silence, and impact resistance. 

Lumber Liquidators

With several stores throughout the United States, Lumber Liquidators offers a wide variety of cork, engineered hardwood, laminate, and bamboo floors. 

The other flooring brands include Shaw, Tarkett, Mannington, Kentwood, Pergo, Kronospan, and Forbo. 

Wrapping it Up

Selecting the right type of flooring for your space may feel daunting. By weighing the pros and cons of hardwood and engineered wood flooring, considering types of wood for flooring, style requirements, and pricing factor, you can make a rational decision. 

 We hope this comprehensive hardwood flooring guide helps you get the best for your humble abode. 

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