How To Decide Hardwood Flooring Type

How To Decide Hardwood Flooring TypeThere are an amazing number of choices of hardwood floors on the market. When choosing for your home, you might want to consider several things – engineered vs. solid hardwood, wood hardness, light vs. dark or smooth vs. textured.

Before you choose a species of wood, you have to know whether you will be using solid or engineered wood. Solid wood planks are milled from individual pieces of wood, and usually cut 3/4 inch thick. They must be nailed to a wood subfloor, and therefore can only be used above grade (including the first floor of homes built on crawl spaces). Engineered wood is made up of thin layers of wood glued together with the grain in alternating directions. This gives the boards added stability when exposed to moisture and heat, and therefore they must be used when installing over a concrete slab, or in a basement.

Even though we consider all wood floor species “hardwoods”, they are not all equally as hard. Wood species are rated on the Janka Hardness Rating. This relative hardness is based on a test where they measure the pressure required to embed a steel ball into the wood. People often compare species to red oak, which is a very common species and has a Janka rating of 1290, which is near the middle of the scale. By comparison, Brazilian cherry has a rating of 2350 and white pine has a rating of 380.

The hardness is important for two reasons. Naturally, the harder the wood, the more resistant the floor will be to wear and denting. So choose a harder floor for a high traffic area such as the kitchen. However, if you are installing your own floors, keep in mind that the harder woods will be more difficult to work with. You will need better saw blades and nailers with enough pressure to penetrate the wood.

Hardwood floors, with a few exceptions, turn darker over time. Naturally, lighter woods are more susceptible to this phenomenon. However, lighter floors make a room appear larger and don’t show scratches as much. Darker floors often have a “richer” look, but will show dust and scratches much more. If you choose to use a darker floor in a high traffic area, a light area rug is a nice contrast and provides protection from wear.

There are several varieties of textured woods available today, designed to look antique or “distressed”. Most hardwood manufacturers now offer “handscraped” floors or sometimes machine scraped. There are also rough sawn, hand sculpted, and wire brushed floors, all of which provide a unique look for your home.

If you take all of these variables into account when choosing your hardwood flooring, you are sure to end up with a finished product that beautifies and adds value to your home.