With an option for any décor, wood flooring is a leading choice for today’s homeowners. While its natural beauty may be at the top of the list, there are numerous reasons for its popularity. When cared for properly wood flooring can last a lifetime and add value to your home should you choose to resell. When created from a sustainable natural resource, wood flooring is an eco-friendly option unlike many other coverings. And, wood flooring doesn’t harbor dust mites or mold, which are common causes for indoor air quality issues that affect all family members, especially those who suffer from allergies. But, what else do you need to know about wood floors?
Hardwood vs. Softwood
As the name suggests, hardwood flooring is made from the botanical group of trees known as hardwoods, which have broad leaves, produce a fruit or nut, and generally go dormant in the winter. There are numerous species of hardwoods, including oak, maple, cherry, yellow birch, ash and many others, all of which are wonderful, sturdy options for flooring. On the other hand, softwoods or conifers are the group of trees that have needles, such as cedar, pine and spruce. Before making a selection, it’s important that homeowners understand the qualities of these different groups and species. While some homeowners like the way a floor changes over time and takes on its own “character”, others may be bothered by the small dings and pock marks that can accumulate with a softer wood.
Although red and white oak are still the most common selections for hardwood flooring, walnut and softwood pine have been gaining popularity. As far as finishes go, black and dark browns are on the rise, and look great with formal or traditional interiors. And, rift and quarter-sawn oak, which refers to the cut of the boards, is another current trend. Also, boards with a longer length and wider width are being seen frequently as well.
Old Becomes New Again
Cerusing is an old furniture finish that you’re starting to see on floors now. It’s a seven-step process, similar to whitewashing, and the look can be subtle or dramatic depending on the color and type of wood. Also, parquet flooring is making a comeback as well. Frequently made from different wood types and grains, these designs are unique and eye-catching. Classic patterns include herringbone, basket, and chevron, and more ornate designs use mosaic patterns to create floral themes, sunbursts, and abstract art. Just remember parquet flooring is like a rich dessert – a little bit goes a long way. The use of reclaimed lumber continues to be a very popular option. Reclaimed wood flooring has a distinctive look and adds a unique piece of history to your home. Most companies track where their lumber comes from and then pass that info on to the customer. Wood is salvaged and repurposed from all over the globe so you could end up with flooring from an old steel mill in Pittsburgh or from original Guinness beer vats in Ireland. Also, some types of wood, such as American chestnut and heart-pine flooring, are only available through reclaimed lumber nowadays.
Care and Maintenance
Wood floors are easy to maintain, but proper care is very important. Routinely sweep and vacuum to remove dirt, and never use wet mop, as standing water can dull the finish, damage the wood, and leave a discolored residue. A slightly damp mop or terry cloth pad is recommended instead. Additionally, avoid using any type of chemicals on the wood, which can cause additional wear and failure when recoating in the future. A little bit of vinegar and water will work just fine, or a high-quality wood floor cleaner, such as one from Bona, is another recommended option. Lastly, putting plastic or fabric glides under furniture can prevent scratching and scuffing as it gets moved around.
Location, Location, Location
Hardwood floors are a great choice for almost any room in your home, but are not recommended for a full bathroom or rooms that are below grade, such as a basement or sunken living room. If you want the look of hardwood in these areas, consider installing engineered flooring instead. Solid engineered wood is made from several layers of wood, stacked in a cross-grain configuration, and bonded together with heat and pressure. This allows the flooring to be less affected by changes in humidity and temperature, making it a suitable option for any room in the home. If you find the vast amount of information on wood types, finishes, and other options overwhelming, your design-build contractor can help you narrow down the best choice to complement your décor, lifestyle and needs.