When replacing the flooring, one has much to consider. Carpeting has its advantages, but hardwood flooring is always a luxury. Choosing hardwood flooring involves numerous factors, from the technical to the finished look. If you are looking to go this route, consider these tips.
Natural or Engineered?
The first decision to make is whether you will install natural or engineered hardwood flooring. Engineered wood comes in as many variations as one can imagine and is generally more durable than natural wood. It can also be thinner, minimizing the decrease in floor-to-ceiling height and optimal for under-floor, radiant heating. Engineered wood also has less movement than natural wood. However, the natural product has a one-of-a-kind look and feel and is quieter underfoot.
Granted that you are going with natural hardwood, it is time to figure out what species you want. White oak is the most popular choice in the United States for its clean, neutral coloration, durability, and ability to receive wood stain. If you want a darker, warmer look, walnut is a good base to have. Other common species include maple, cherry, and ash.
The next step in choosing hardwood flooring is to select a finish. The choice is between oil and polyurethane. Oil finishes give a quiet, softer look, which is excellent for concealing scratches and dents. Because it is a softer finish, wear and tear happens more readily but is easier to fix. Meanwhile, polyurethane finishes make wood more resilient. However, it may be more noticeable and difficult to fix when damage occurs without replacing the whole board.
Natural wood has grain patterns, and the cut of the wood can change how dynamic this pattern can be. Plain-sawn is the most common, resulting in the classic hardwood look complete with “cathedrals.” Rift-sawn produces straight-line grain patterns, and quarter-sawn has dynamic, almost 3D ripples across the lines. Rift and quarter-sawn boards are often combined in flooring.
Traditionally, wood boards were only 2-3 inches wide. Now, their width can span from 4-7 inches. Wider boards look more luxurious, but the wider the board, the more expensive it is. Larger rooms often use wider boards.
Last but not least, the color you choose will affect the feeling of the space. If you have a smaller house, using one uniform hardwood will make the house feel more spacious. In general, uniformity is key. If you use more than one color, make sure they complement each other and the home’s color palette.
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