Hardwood flooring is the gold standard for residential flooring. Homeowners and potential buyers love the look, benefits, and durability of hardwood flooring. Installing hardwood flooring instantly increases the value of your home. Hardwood flooring is also incredibly versatile. Just a few decades ago, almost all hardwood flooring was made of only two or three types of wood. Today, premium hardwood flooring is made from a wide variety of woods from all over the world. If you’re considering hardwood flooring for your home, TrustDALE has many certified businesses that can help make your dreams a reality.
The Benefits of Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood flooring is one of the oldest types of flooring. Long before anyone had dreamed of vinyl, engineered products, or even wall-to-wall carpeting, homeowners were installing hardwood floors. And hardwood remains a very popular flooring material today.
Hardwood flooring can instantly enhance the look of any room. The variety of hardwood flooring means that it is suitable for almost any style or decor choice you may make. Typically, dark flooring makes a room look smaller, so it’s best to use in open spaces. Lighter flooring can make a small room feel more spacious. In fact, with so many woods available these days, choosing a floor is almost like looking at paint swatches. The options of wood type, combined with the variety of stains, finishes, and patterns available make your selection as unique as you are.
Wood flooring can also benefit the air quality of your home. For people who are sensitive to dust, pollen, or dander, hardwood flooring can be a breath of fresh air. The worst offender when it comes to air quality is carpeting, which can trap dust and other particles even after extensive vacuuming. But even tile, vinyl, and laminate flooring can trap pollutants. They all have grout and embossing, which can harbor hard to clean dust and pollen. If you really need clean air, there is no superior flooring choice to hardwood.
Hardwood is also incredibly durable and long-lasting. The floors can be kept clean with just some sweeping and occasional mopping. For a deeper clean, hardwood floors can be steam cleaned. Spills can easily be wiped up. If well maintained, hardwood floors can last for generations. Unlike many other surfaces, hardwood floors can be sanded and resealed many times over, extending their useful life for decades or even centuries.
Types of Hardwood Flooring
For much of American history, hardwood flooring made use of the locally available materials. Oak was very common across the Northeast and New England. In other areas, people used maple, pine, and other local stock.
Today, hardwood flooring is made from tree species found across the globe. Some materials are considered exotic and may come with a higher price tag. However, many materials are quite affordable. Combined with the choices of stain, plank size, and pattern, the options begin to number in the many dozens.
When choosing a hardwood material for your home, there are several factors you should consider. First, you need to decide what shade or color you are looking for. While some stains and finishes can dramatically change the look of wood flooring, it is best to start with a type of wood that is at least close to your desired color. Another consideration is the type of pattern you want. Some types of wood have very regular patterns, while other may contains swirls and burls that vary from plank to plank. Some of these highly irregular woods are called character woods. Another consideration is the amount of wear your floors will receive. While hardwood flooring, in general, is a highly durable flooring option, woods vary significantly in their natural hardness.
Hardwood Flooring Installation
Once you’ve selected your hardwood flooring, you can begin the installation process. Typically the installation will take a few days, though small areas might be complete in just one day. Whether your flooring is being finished during installation or comes pre-finished from the manufacturer will make a big difference in the installation. Prefinished flooring is typically quicker to install and much less messy.
The first thing your installer will do is move out your furniture. Most installers do this for you, but it is worth inquiring about in case you are expected to move some things on your own. If you have anything fragile or sentimental, you may want to move it out yourself even if the installers will be moving everything else. If you have molding or baseboards along the bottom of your wall, your installers will usually remove those before beginning installation. Of course, if you will be ripping up old flooring, that will take extra time and labor costs.
Once the floor is clear, the actual installation can occur. Depending on how much finishing was done by the manufacturer, your installer may need to cut, sand, and finish your hardwoods on site. Expect a lot of noise and dust. Your installer will use dust containment equipment, but no system is 100% effective, so cover anything that is particularly sensitive to dust. Once the floors are installed, the installers will clean up, removing as much dust as possible with vacuums and other equipment.
Hardwood Flooring Maintenance
Hardwood flooring is very durable, but it still requires some maintenance to look its best. One concern with hardwood flooring is scratching. To avoid scratches, place felt or rubber pads under heavy furniture and on the bottom of chair legs. It is also a good idea to put rugs or doormats by the entrance to rooms with hardwood flooring, especially from the outside. This will reduce the amount of dust and grime that gets rubbed into your floor.
Cleaning is pretty simple. Sweeping can be done as often as you like and will do most of the cleaning. You can use a damp or mostly dry mop as needed. Occasional steam cleaning is also an option. Many carpet cleaning companies also have specialized equipment for cleaning hardwood floors. But that kind of cleaning should only be necessary on an infrequent basis. To avoid stains, warping, and damage to finishes, wipe up wet spills promptly. Modern polyurethane finishes can increase durability and resistance to scratches, spills, and other damage.
As a floor ages and wears, it may need to be refinished. A wood floor can typically be sanded and refinished 10 to 12 times in its life. If the floors are refinished every 15-20 years, that could give them a lifespan of nearly two centuries. However, there is no rule that you have to refinish your floors on any schedule. Some original wood floors in historic buildings are still functioning after 250 years or more!
Alternatives to Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood flooring is sometimes used colloquially to refer to solid wood flooring. Solid wood flooring is your typical wood planks made of a solid piece of wood milled from a single piece of lumber. However, there are many alternatives.
Engineered wood flooring is made of layers of wood that are glued together at 90º angles to form a solid plank. Typically, the top layer, also called the wear layer, is made of a more expensive wood to give the best appearance. The inner layers may be of a less expensive lumber. The thickness of the wear layer determines the lifespan of the engineered wood plank. More premium engineered woods have a thicker wear layer and a correspondingly higher price tag. The use of 90º angled layers helps prevent the warping, cupping, or curling that can occur with solid planks.
There are also many wood-look flooring options. As the name suggests, wood-look flooring may not be made of wood at all but is manufactured to mimic the look of wood. Wood-look flooring may be tile, vinyl, or even stamped concrete. Often these options are cheaper or more durable than hardwood.
If you are looking for a good hardwood flooring company, TrustDALE has done a lot of the work for you. You can find a list of TrustDALE certified flooring specialists here. These businesses represent the best flooring companies out there and can provide hardwood as well as many other flooring options.