If you’re looking for a flooring option that is beautiful, durable, easy to clean and all the rage, hardwood flooring is for you.
Hardwood flooring has been popular for a number of years, and the trend doesn’t seem to be going away. In fact, its popularity only continues to grow.
After all, real hardwood has all those important traits, and will last for decades. Its style doesn’t go out of style. And it will increase the value of your home.
In fact, if trends evolve or you change your mind, you can refinish hardwood to alter the color or vary the style. Your preference may change in a few years, or maybe fashion will change or you decide to renovate your home.
No problem with hardwood, as refinishing is much easier and less expensive than installing a different flooring. Once hardwood is installed in your house, you won’t regret your decision.
But just because you’ve made the choice of hardwood flooring, that doesn’t make your further decisions simple. There are still plenty of considerations in choosing hardwood, installing hardwood, and what you do with it once it’s in your home.
So let’s look at everything you need to know about hardwood flooring.
How to Choose Hardwood Flooring
There are other options available for your floor, from carpet to stone to ceramic tile. But hardwood really has that timeless, classic look, with the durability and adaptability that continues to make it a top choice. In fact, that can be the biggest draw in the purchase of an older home: Is there original hardwood flooring under the shag rug?
Whether you’ve purchased a home or are building a home, or you’re renovating an existing home, once you’ve decided on hardwood, the first step is figuring out how to choose hardwood flooring.
After all, hardwood flooring is not all the same, as the products aren’t created equal. It’s not just about choosing color, although that’s one important decision. But there are other factors to consider.
Let’s look at the 4 facets of how to choose hardwood flooring.
1. What Type of Wood Do You Want?
Once you decide on wood, there are a few choices among “wood:”
- Oak, the dominant choice in North America. Oak is durable, widely available and therefore reasonably priced, and handles stain well. The natural grain makes it a popular choice as well. White oak is one of the most popular options.
- Walnut, also popular. Walnut is a little bit softer than oak, but has a deeper color if your choice of finish is darker. You won’t have to make big adjustments to make it darker, because it’s naturally dark.
- Other choices include maple, ash, hickory and cherry.
It’s really about what kind of shade, color, and grain you want.
2. Do You Want Solid Hardwood or Engineered Wood?
Your first choice is likely solid wood, as the feel is tangible. It’s solid. It’s also quieter than engineered wood. Those thick planks of hardwood are still a top choice.
However, you can also opt for engineered hardwood, which is made in several layers. The top layer is obviously hardwood, but thinner than a traditional solid wood plank. Below that are other layers bonded to the wood that keep the floor from shifting, contracting or expanding. Since wood can move, the layers prevent that natural movement.
For instance, engineered wood is better for basements or other areas where there are concrete subfloors. That’s because it can be glued directly onto concrete, or glued onto a soundproof mat over concrete. Solid wood is usually placed over top of plywood.
Engineered floors can also be better if raising the level of the flooring is an issue. That’s because installation of solid flooring over a sheet or two of plywood can raise the level and impact the height of the ceiling, or interfere with doors. If you don’t want to shave doors or install new doors, engineered flooring may be a better choice than solid flooring.
Engineered flooring is also ideal if you want to add radiant heat underneath.
There are some precautions with engineered wood, however. For instance, your choice is a factor if you want to be sure that you can refinish your floor at some point in the future. Because that process requires sanding, you have to be sure you don’t choose a product with a thin top layer. It may save you money in the short term, but it reduces options for you down the road.
It’s better to choose higher quality, with a thicker layer, which in fact may be higher priced. But that investment provides you a better product and the option of changing the look in the future. And the reality is that all hardwood will need refinishing at some point, simply due to wear and tear like scratches and a dulled surface.
In fact, a thick layer on engineered wood may give you as much “usable” wood, which can be refinished, as you would get in a solid wood option. With solid hardwood, the segment of wood that you can sand and refinish is the portion above the tongue and groove.
3. Do You Want Prefinished Flooring? Or Finish it After Installation?
You can also choose whether you want raw hardwood that will be finished after it’s installed, or prefinished wood that is already covered with stain and topcoat.
With prefinished wood, you know exactly what the color looks like, making it easier to select. It’s also easier to use a sample to make other decisions, like wall covering, paint, cabinets or furniture, for instance.
It’s quicker to install prefinished hardwood, because you don’t have to stain and seal it after it’s installed.
But some people still prefer having the work done after installation, despite the risk of choosing a good contractor to complete the work.
With on-site customization, there’s more control over the sheen of the finish, and it generally ends up being a smoother finish. That’s because the product is nailed down and then sanded, and then all the planks are finished at once.
Finished flooring may have some differences between the planks. It may be a small difference, but if that consistency is important to you, raw hardwood may be a better choice.
4. What Size of Planks Do You Want?
The final decision is about the width of the planking itself. Part of that decision is about the look of the floor, but it’s also about price.
In the past, hardwood flooring was consistently made in strips two or three inches wide. But people are now considering wider planks to be more luxurious. The standard now is between four and six inches wide, although with some companies, seven inches is the norm.
But there’s a reason that wider planks look more luxurious and expensive – because they are. The wider the plank, the higher the cost, which is something to keep in mind.
The size of the room can also be a determining factor. For a very large room, wider planks may be a better choice for both the look and ease of installation. But while wider seams will give you a quicker installation and fewer seams, the contraction and expansion of the wood may affect the seams. Those natural changes in wood aren’t distributed across as many boards with wider planks, so the seams may become more prominent.
How to Install Hardwood Flooring
It’s likely best to hire a professional to install your flooring, but if you’re handy and think you can do it on your own, here’s how to install hardwood flooring.
First, make sure you have the right tools, which could be a nailer, a drill and the correct bits, a hammer and nails, a saw, and a measuring tape. Follow the instructions that should be supplied with the flooring to ensure you have all the correct tools you need.
Then, the steps you will follow will depend on the flooring choice you made. Engineered wood can be glued directly onto concrete, or glued onto a soundproof mat over concrete. Solid wood is usually nailed to a wood subfloor of plywood.
Make sure you know what you’re doing, follow the instructions, and measure carefully. It’s a good idea to watch a video on floor installation if you’ve never tackled a job like this before.
As well, if you do decide to pay for installation, you can save yourself some money by handling tasks like moving furniture and appliances, and removing old floor covering. That way you’re only paying for the actual installation.
How to Clean Hardwood Flooring
While it’s true that hardwood flooring is easier to keep clean than other surfaces like carpet, for instance, it’s still important to be meticulous about keeping them clean. After all, nobody likes a dirty floor. And hardwood flooring that’s dirty can end up damaged, meaning additional costs like refinishing, repairing or even replacing the flooring.
Think about how much gets tracked across your floor in a day, and multiply that several times if you have children or pets. Something as simple as a small stone can cause a major and noticeable flaw in the middle of your floor if it gets dragged across the wood.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to clean your floor regularly, even a few times a week, to keep dirt from building up. You can plan a regular sweep every few days and then a full clean once a week, for instance. It’s better than waiting until it’s so dirty that it’s a major chore, or you risk damage to the floor.
To handle your cleaning, invest in a quality microfiber dust mop. This is the best tool to clean dust and dirt, and it’s easy to run across the floor on a regular basis. It’s great for cleaning the seams and into corners, and it won’t scratch your floor like other cleaning tools such as a vacuum may do.
Some mops come with the microfiber cloth and a wet mop attachment. At least once a week, your floor should be mopped with a solution of water and vinegar. That’s a safe and natural cleaning solution that’s good for the wood, and safe for children and pets. It also doesn’t build up or require rinsing like some cleaning supplies.
You have two options: add ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar or a ½ cup of distilled white vinegar to a gallon of warm water. You can add a few drops of essential oil if you’re not crazy about the smell of vinegar. You can also use water alone.
Dust the floors first and then wet mop them, and don’t get the floors too wet. You don’t want water gathering in the seams or sitting on top of the wood.
Hardwood Flooring Cost
The cost of your flooring will vary depending on the type of wood you choose, whether you opt for solid or engineered wood, and the width of the planks you decide to purchase.
It also depends whether you will install yourself or pay for professional installation.
Here are some rough estimates.
Solid wood options can range from around $5 per square foot for softer woods like pine, up to $10 per square foot for oak. Installation would range between $5 and $8 per square foot.
If you want an exotic wood like mahogany or cypress, you’re probably going to spend up to $14 per square foot for the flooring and another $8 per square foot to get it installed.
Engineered wood flooring can range from $5 per square foot up to $12 per square foot, depending on the thickness, number of layers and the type of wood on the top layer. Installation will range between $3 and $10 per square foot.
Remember that what you pay for installation doesn’t just vary with the choice of flooring. It’s also depending on factors like where you live and the complexity of your project.
Hardwood Flooring 2019 Trends
While it’s true that hardwood is classic, and will last for years, there are trends in flooring and that’s the case with hardwood as well. When considering a trend, be sure to choose what works for your home, and what you love. You could be living with it for many years.
So here are the top 5 hardwood flooring 2019 trends:
1. Wide planks: As mentioned earlier, wide planks are all the rage, up to seven inches wide, and can make a room look more spacious.
2. Mixed width planks: Another option that is also good for the environment, as it ensures there isn’t any wasted pieces.
3. Matte or satin finish: A replacement for a semi-gloss or glossy finish. Matte can be too dull for some people, but satin sits between matte and semi-gloss and looks new longer as it doesn’t show the dust and scratches like a gloss finish.
4. The color grey: This created color is a hot trend and provides a more modern look than traditional wood colors.
5. Light or dark: Both ends of the color spectrum are trending – extremely dark stains or extremely light, almost white stains.
If you’ve decided to install hardwood flooring in your home, congratulations! Hardwood is an excellent choice for its beauty, but also for its durability, long-lasting quality, and flexibility of design and color.
Hardwood flooring will also add value to your home, and with our guide to everything you need to know about hardwood flooring, you are well on your way to choosing, installing, cleaning and enjoying your new floors.