How to choose the best wood flooring
White and pale grey wood floors are perfect for low-traffic rooms, and their light colour will enhance space in a small room brilliantly. Contemporary and light-reflecting, they will however show up dirt and dents pretty quickly.
Warm, honey-toned wood floors will disguise dirt and create a welcoming feel, ideal for a large, open-plan space that you want to feel cosier. Less contemporary than paler wood floor finishes, mid-toned wood is perfect for creating a relaxed, more traditional finish.
Dark wood floors will create a more formal, intimate feel in a room, but can also be used in industrial-style spaces for a smart, contemporary finish, especially if used as a backdrop to show off light-coloured furniture.
Your Guide to the Different Types of Wood Flooring
Unfinished or Finished?
Unfinished hardwood flooring is a good option if you want a custom stain applied before the final finish, or if you want to match the color of existing flooring. After hardwood flooring installation and staining, the flooring is given several coats of protective finish. If you’re thinking of adding hardwood flooring in your kitchen, unfinished flooring is a good choice because the finish will penetrate and seal the seams between boards, helping to prevent water from seeping between boards.
Solid or Engineered?
Solid hardwood flooring is all wood and comes 5/8 to 3/4 inches thick. Because it’s solid wood, it can be sanded and refinished many times. However, it’s susceptible to changes in humidity, and isn’t recommended for below-grade basements.
What Species Is Best?
The best hardwood floors are made with wood species that are readily available and — you guessed it — very hard. Oak flooring, maple flooring and cherry flooring are all good choices. Other species include bamboo (which is actually a grass), walnut, ash and mahogany. You’ll pay a premium price for more exotic species, such as teak, jarrah and mesquite. Check to make sure the hardwood flooring you choose comes from sustainably harvested forests.
How Hard Can It Be to Choose a Hardwood Floor?
Choose the Wood Species and Color
Browsing through flooring samples to choose a type of wood and a color for your new floor is probably the most enjoyable part of the process. At this stage, much depends on personal preference and your overall vision for your home.
Consider Wood Grain and Character
The way that logs are sawed into boards has a big effect on the grain pattern that’s visible in the floor.
Prefinished or Site-Finished?
Another major decision is whether to buy prefinished flooring, sold with its final color and topcoat in place, or unfinished flooring that can be stained and finished by an installer after it’s put down.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A HARDWOOD FLOOR
THE FLOOR AND THE ROOM
Floor – walls – ceiling: the three fundamental elements that together create the room’s feel. The interaction between these three surfaces can change the overall impression, depending on the choice of colours, patterns, lighting, etc. The floor creates the room’s base, weight and character, and it is also the basis for the other elements, including the choice of furniture and other decor. The floor is where fashion and style meet function.
THE FLOOR IS THE FOUNDATION
A floor is so much more than just something to walk on. The floor, with the walls and ceiling, contributes the room’s fundamental feel. When designing your home, you should perhaps consider the floor first. The floor is the base – whilst you can always repaint walls and ceiling, the floor is of a more permanent nature. The appearance of the floor, i.e. the colour, surface, pattern and hardness, can vary a lot between different wood species. From light, calm Birch or Maple, through Oak and Beech, to dark and vibrant Walnut or Jarrah. Find out as much as you possibly can about different species and what they can mean for you in your home. Your floor sets the mood.
WHAT WOOD FLOOR COLOUR SHOULD I CHOOSE?
Light, dark or natural? The colour of the floor has a strong impact on how the room is perceived. A dark floor “swallows” a lot of light, but it also creates a sense of warmth and cosiness. A light wood floor reflects the light and adds space to the room.
What to Ask Before Choosing a Hardwood Floor
Where will the wood be going?
Installing hardwood floors on a second story is much different than doing so in a basement. A space beneath ground level is what’s known as below grade. A floor that’s even with the outside ground level is on grade, and any floors above this are above grade. Where you’re installing the wood will limit your recommended options.
What is the subfloor made of?
Find out what kind of subfloor you have. The three most common types are concrete slab, plywood and particleboard. This will help you determine whether you can install solid wood floors, or if an engineered wood would be best.
What are your living habits?
Think about how much abuse your floors will take and learn about specific wood species and their durability. Do you have kids and pets? Have large parties often? Or are you a single person who travels a lot?