There are so many wood flooring options to consider when deciding to start a flooring project in your home. It can be a little overwhelming knowing which is best for your individual needs. Maybe you’re going for a certain aesthetic. Or maybe you have furry family members or children to consider and you want a wood flooring option that’s durable and easy to maintain and keep clean. Wall 2 Wall Hardwoods can help you decide which wood floor suits your needs best.
Differences Between Solid and Engineered Wood Flooring
When considering your flooring options, you must first decide if you want solid hardwood floors or engineered wood floors. Both are valid options, with some different properties.
Solid Wood Floors
Solid wood floors are what you think of when considering a traditional wood floor. Each board is made from a single, solid piece of wood. Installation requires access to the subflooring so that the wood boards can be nailed directly to the wood subfloor. You cannot attach a solid wood floor to concrete.
This type of floor cannot be installed in basements or any room below ground level due to increased moisture levels that could potentially cause warping issues. Cupping may occur due to the increased moisture. Cupping is when the wood floorboards expand due to increased moisture absorbed into the wood. This causes the wooden boards to push into each other, creating raised parts along the seams of the floor, making for uneven floors.
Engineered Wood Floors
Engineered floorboards are made with multiple layers of a mix of compressed wood, polymers, and resin and then topped with a layer of hardwood. The thickness of the top hardwood layer can vary. Engineered wood floors can be a great wood flooring option, as they have some benefits that solid hardwood floors don’t have.
For starters, engineered wood floors can be installed over previously installed flooring, as long as the surface is even. Since the floorboards aren’t nailed down, but rather fitted together by tongue and groove, they can lay over other surfaces and don’t require having an exposed wood subfloor to complete the installation.
Many engineered wood floors can be installed below ground level due to having the added polymers and resin, making the floors less responsive to moisture, though that does vary by brand. It’s best to check with the manufacturer before installing any engineered wood floors below ground level. Because of the increased resistance to moisture, issues such as cupping are less likely to happen. Engineered wood floors often cost less than solid wood flooring, making them a more cost-effective option.
Most Common Hardwood Floor Types
There are five wood species that are most commonly used for hardwood floors in residential homes.
Oak is the most common type of wood floor in the US. It grows in abundance in the US, making it an affordable option. It’s also extremely durable and is considered a very hard wood so it resists dents and scratches well. Oak expands and contracts less than softer hardwoods, making it less susceptible to cupping and any kind of warping.
Floorboards made from oak also have a preferred grain pattern, making them more aesthetically pleasing to homeowners when choosing the look of their flooring. Both red and white oak varieties are the two most popular oak floors installed in the home. Red oak floors have a more reddish hue, while white oak floors have more of an earthy golden brown and grey tone. Oak is suitable for high traffic areas and a good option for homes with pets, due to its resistance to dents and scratches.
As you probably suspect, American walnut is also grown in the US, making it another affordable flooring option. Walnut is a great for medium- to low-traffic areas, as it’s softer than oak. Walnut floors have a dark brown tone, with a straight grain pattern. Note that they may show wear in high-traffic areas in just a few years.
Walnut flooring provides a clean, sophisticated look, and floor planks are often consistent in color, providing a consistent look in the home.
Another North-American grown wood flooring option is the maple tree. They’re grown in both the US and Canada, so it’s also an affordable option. Maple is slightly harder than oak, making it less resistant to dents and scratches. However, it also makes it less able to absorb stains, which makes applying finish more of a challenge, and it can come out blotchy.
Maple floors have beige and tan hues, with a finer grain pattern. The grain patterns found in maple wood planks often have darker streaks, making it visually interesting. Maple floors are perfect for contemporary designs.
Cherry trees grow in the northern US and are known for their cherry fruits as well as being used for hardwood flooring. Cherry is a softer hardwood, so it’s more suited for low-traffic areas of the home, such as formal dining rooms or bedrooms. Since cherry wood is a softer wood, it makes it harder to work with, thus making it a more expensive wood flooring option.
This wood has a deep reddish-brown hue, with a distinctive grain pattern. And it can continue to darken from sunlight exposure for about six months after installation, so it’s advised to wait at least six months before installing any area rugs, due to potential color changes. Cherry wood is typically not stained, allowing the natural beauty to shine through.
Hickory is one of the hardest US-grown types of hardwood flooring, making it a perfect hardwood flooring option for high-traffic areas and for homes with pets, due to its natural resistance to dents and scratches. This wood is very low maintenance so it will require less refinishing than the other wood flooring options, though when refinishing is needed, it could be more expensive due to being more labor-intensive.
Contact the hardwood floor experts at Wall 2 Wall Hardwoods for assistance in choosing the perfect hardwood floors for your home. We offer the best in hardwood installation and restoration in the area.