Easy Guide to Hardwood Flooring

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Whether you're building, renovating, or remodeling, if you've decided on hardwood flooring, you know that this choice is only the first of many. You'll have to decide on the species, appearance, finishes, and styles. Often, this process can be overwhelming. Here is a rundown to help make these decisions a little easier.

From Cherry to Maple and from Cypress to Walnut, there are more than 50 different species of this type of flooring available to consumers. Each species has its own color and grain, including some that even have tones of purple within them. If you want a lighter look, consider Ash White or Bamboo. For a darker hue, think about one of the Walnut varieties. Maple is a favorite with many because of its uniform, elegant texture and neutral color. Look through species galleries and consult with a professional as to which may be the best for you.

Basically, the appearance of your hardwood flooring has to do with its grade and its cut. Clear means that there are minimal marks and it is uniform in appearance. Select means the wood has natural color variations that include knots and streaks. Common 1 and 2 choices have even more natural characteristics. These are often chosen for character. Common 2 is the more rustic variety. You may also come across these grades as first (similar to select), second (similar to Common 1), and third (similar to Common 2). There are also three types of cuts. Plain sawn, the easiest and most common, gives a varied grain appearance. Quarter sawn, while more expensive, offers greater wear resistance and a uniform grain appearance. Rift sawn is similar to quarter sawn, but without the ray flecks (shimmering flake figures) found in quarter sawn.

Surface finishes are durable, water resistant, and low maintenance. They remain on the surface of the hardwood flooring, acting as a protective layer. Surface finishes include water based, oil based, acid cured, and moisture cured. Wax finishes work by soaking into the pores of the species, forming a seal. Although a wax finish seals your floor, the finish will show spots from water and other spills. Acrylic impregnated finishes are injected into the material, and are used mainly for high traffic, commercial areas, like restaurants. They are really strong and really durable.

You can choose between strip, plank, and parquet styles for your floors. Strip is usually an inch and a half to three inches wide, making the room look larger. This is the traditional style, and it's considered more formal than the others. Plank is three to seven inches wide. It's also linear, but creates a more casual feel because of the width. Parquet is usually geometric, with a non-linear look, ranging from a simple design to something more complex.

Selecting hardwood flooring is more than just choosing a species and calling it a day. There are many different elements that allow consumers to get the look and feel that works best within their home's style. These types of floors add value and beauty to any house, which is why they are so popular.