Hardwood floors are an incredibly popular choice among homeowners. They look stunning and elegant, come in a wide variety of finishes and styles, and provide an easy-to-clean surface. With all these benefits, it’s not surprising that so many people choose to install hardwood in their homes.
If you’re thinking about installing hardwood in your house, but have never had this type of flooring before, you may have some questions. There are a wide range of options available and people often find that narrowing down their choices is overwhelming. To help make the process smoother, we’ve taken the time to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about hardwood floors.
Q: What are the differences between solid and engineered hardwood?
As the name implies, planks of solid hardwood are solid pieces of wood. According to the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), the thickness of hardwood flooring can vary, but generally ranges from 3/4” to 5/16”. Solid wood can be used in any room that is above ground. Engineered hardwoods are still made from real wood, but the planks are created by layering wood veneers. The layers under the top may or may not be the same type of wood as the wood that’s visible from the top.
Q: Which is better?
As with other home finishing choices, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. With solid hardwoods, if they become worn down or otherwise damaged over time, they can be sanded and refinished because they are solid pieces of wood. On the other hand, engineered hardwood will expand and contract less than solid wood flooring does during changes in humidity and temperature.
Q: What’s the best variety of wood to go with?
This is a question that requires a very personalized answer. Choosing the right kind of wood for your home is a matter of striking a balance. You need to first see what colors and grains you’re most attracted to. Once you have narrowed down the overall look, you need to choose one that will hold up to your lifestyle and will work within your budget. For instance, if you’re putting the flooring in a high traffic area or if you have small children or pets, you’ll likely want to look at harder options. If the room will only see light use, then a softer wood should be fine.
Wood grain might be a consideration, too. Pay attention to knots and grain pattern, as patterns in hickory and maple are different than the patterns you’d find in oak. Depending on your taste, you might want to spend the extra money for a unique grain pattern, or you may want to save money and go with a less-expensive option with a better stain.
Q: Should I choose a factory finished or site finished hardwood?
Again, with this choice, there are pros and cons to each option. Choosing a site finished product means that you have a wide range of options as far as the finish of your floor is concerned. Your hardwood floor will be truly unique and exactly what you wanted. Unfortunately, finishing a wood floor after installation means that there will be a lot of dust, noise, smells, and the floor will take longer to get to completion.
With a factory finished hardwood you have less choice in the finished look. You make your selection from what is available and there is no customization. However, floors are installed quickly and once they are, they’re done and you don’t have to deal with a lot of mess.
Q: Do certain sheen levels offer more protection than others?
Hardwood floors can generally be finished with a gloss, semi-gloss, or satin/matte finish. All offer the same protection to the hardwood, so the choice is a matter of preference. If you’re concerned about scratches, it may be best to go with a less shiny finish as glossier finishes tend to show scratches more. Choose the finish you like best, but keep in mind that with factory finished floors you may have fewer options.
Q: What is the best way to care for hardwood floors?
Hardwoods can be scratched by debris, so keeping them clean by sweeping or vacuuming is important. If you choose to vacuum hardwood floors, be sure not to use the beater bar as it will damage the floors. Using wet mops on hardwood floors is generally not recommended, as the water can damage the finish and even the wood over time. In higher traffic areas you may consider putting down rugs to further protect your hardwoods and move the rugs around from time to time to keep wear more even.
No matter the type of flooring you choose, there are a number of factors to consider. You’re going to be living with your hardwoods for a long time, so it’s a good idea to put some thought into your choice. If you still have questions, be sure to talk to your contractor or contact a LA Carpet flooring expert before making your final decision.