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Hardwood floors are one of the most popular types of flooring, increasing the resale value of homes and beautifying them in the process. But there are many considerations to make when choosing and installing hardwood floors, such as type, species, size, cost, and brand. This guide covers everything you need to know about hardwood flooring so that you can make the best choice for your home.
Hardwood floors can be comprised of a variety of wood species, such as bamboo, oak, or teak. Regardless of the species, all hardwood floors are stained to bring out their rich color and grain, as well as sealed to prevent nicks, dents, and other damage. Hardwood floors are rated from soft to hard, but the softest hardwood is still pretty tough. Over time, however, even the hardest species begins to show wear. Instead of having to replace it, as you would with carpeting, you can refinish a hardwood floor and restore it to its original appearance. The cost of refinishing a hardwood floor is much less than purchasing and installing a new one.
To find the right hardwood floor for your needs, you need to weigh factors like cost, foot traffic, and type. For example, the harder the wood, the less likely it is to be damaged, but harder woods are also more difficult to work with during installation, which may mean higher installation costs. Another factor to consider is the location of the flooring and the type of traffic you expect in that area. A high-traffic area is better served by a very hard species of wood, for example. The following sections outline the primary considerations you should make when choosing hardwood flooring.
You can choose between two types of hardwood flooring: solid and engineered. Solid flooring features a single species, while engineered flooring is constructed of layers of wood, usually at right angles. Consider the following factors when choosing between solid and engineered flooring.
Board size is another important consideration. Narrow boards are less expensive, but many people prefer the aesthetic of wider boards, which reduce the number of seams in the floor. The same idea applies to shorter versus longer boarders. The wider and longer a board is, the more expensive it is per square foot and the larger percentage of extra flooring you need to ensure it fits your room. A standard measure is to purchase 10% more square footage than you need, but this may increase depending on the shape of the room.
Costs can range from $1.75 per square foot up to $9 or more, depending on factors like species, width, and type. While engineered hardwood flooring is typically less expensive, the cost compared to solid flooring of the same species is usually just around $1 less per square foot. Additionally, prefinished wood may add another $1 per square foot compared to unfinished wood, but it also means you won’t need to finish it after installation.One of the most popular species, Red Oak, runs about $4 per square foot unfinished and $5 prefinished, with additional costs for wider boards. More exotic woods or those that are harder and more resistant to wear are more expensive, while softer woods are typically cheaper.
Be sure to investigate the suppliers of hardwood floors, reading reviews and comparing different qualities. Some suppliers specialize in inexpensive flooring, while others offer a wide range of prices. You should also look for reviews on issues like warranties, shipping costs, and available widths. In addition to customer reviews, you should read reviews from contractors who can offer the perspective of someone who handles hardwood floors frequently.
Solid hardwood flooring is installed by nailing or stapling it to a subfloor, which is more limiting than engineered floors, which can be nailed, glued, or floated on a variety of surfaces, including concrete. Once you decide between solid or engineered flooring, you need to figure out whether you want to install it yourself or enlist a professional to do it. While there are substantial cost savings to installing a floor yourself, it may invalidate your floor’s warranty. Additionally, professional installers usually guarantee their work, giving you the confidence that it will be done right. Installation costs vary depending on many factors, including the species of wood and its hardness, with mid-range hardwoods, like oak, costing between $4 and $8 per square foot to install, according to HomeAdvisor.
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There are many brands of hardwood flooring available. We outline three popular options below.
A brand offered by AHF Products, Bruce is one of the best-known hardwood flooring companies. They provide value and easy installation as well as wide distribution through big box stores. Limiting their species to only the most common — Hickory, Maple, Red Oak, and White Oak — Bruce provides a variety of finishes and widths.
Hurst ships nationwide and offers a variety of solid and engineered flooring, which comes in a range of domestic and exotic species.
Mannington specializes in engineered hardwood floors with two main collections: Hand Crafted and American Classics. With a strong environmental stance and a wide variety of woods and finishes, they offer many customization options.
When deciding on hardwood flooring, take your time and walk through your decision step-by-step, considering what you want from the flooring, what you are willing to pay for it, and how you plan to install it. Hardwood can last a lifetime, so consider your choicecarefully.