What is the best wood floor for me?

Find The Flooring That Fits Your Needs

When it comes to choosing the perfect hardwood flooring for your needs, you have many options to choose from. Everything from the look of the wood to the installation process needs to be taken into account before you can make your final decision. The best hardwood floors are the ones that enhance the interior design of each room in your house or office and retain their beauty for a long time to come.

Are you looking to install a hardwood floor on your own? Then you will definitely want good information on the wood that will get you the look you need and offer the least amount of hassles during installation. There is a lot to consider with your next hardwood floor, so let's get right to finding the hardwood flooring that meets your needs.

The Wood Floor Installation Process

If you want your hardwood floor to last for a long time, then you need to install an environmental barrier under the hardwood floor itself. This is a rolled product that you simply lay down before you put the hardwood floor over the top. It will prevent moisture from getting to your hardwood, which can be a real problem in areas where the air gets humid.

Engineered Hardwood

Engineered hardwood floors come in planks and is the best hardwood floor substitute for real hardwood. The top layer of engineered hardwood is real wood, which means that you can still get that real hardwood look. But the back of each engineered flooring plank is made of reprocessed wood and, in some cases, ground up stone or metal. This is an extremely durable type of flooring product that can be very simple to install.

Engineered hardwood is also ideal for an office or commercial setting. Because of its durable nature, engineered wood can withstand the abuse a floor goes through with office chairs and equipment. Through it all, this type of flooring retains its beauty and keeps your commercial space looking its best.

Engineered hardwood is designed to be clicked together like a puzzle. You have the option of installing engineered hardwood with glue and nails, but it is not necessary. Engineered hardwood can be installed as a floating floor. A floating floor is not anchored down in any way. The advantage to a floating floor is that it tends to feel softer when you walk on it, and the wood material can expand and contract with the change in temperature without the fear of buckling or cracking.

Real Hardwood

The rich, deep beauty of a solid wood floor really comes out when you use real hardwood in your room. The swirls of the wood grain create a character for your floor that will mesh well with any room decor. The downside is typically the significantly higher cost in both purchasing the floor, and installation.

Real hardwood floors must be nailed to a plywood subfloor in order to be installed properly. Some installers also utilize glue between the planks to create a more durable floor. It takes a lot of practice to be able to properly install a real hardwood floor, but it becomes easier when you get rolling.

An advantage of real hardwood is that you can strip it and resurface it often to bring back its original beauty. A real hardwood floor can be an investment that will literally last a lifetime, but is less commonly seen these days given the significant advances that have been made with engineered wood flooring.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring also comes in planks that fit together like a click and lock puzzle. You can buy wood laminate flooring that looks like any kind of real hardwood on the market, but the difference is that a laminate floor does not have a layer of real wood on top. Laminate flooring uses photo images covered in a protective coating.

The technology used for laminate flooring helps to create durable planks that have an extremely convincing look to them. You can install a laminate floor as a floating floor and not worry about glue or wood. The most difficult part about laminate flooring is getting the right cuts to install around corners and in doorways.

As with engineered floors, laminate works well in commercial spaces. Laminate is easy to maintain and relatively inexpensive, which means that it can give your office a warmer look without breaking the company budget.

What About The Subfloor?

The subfloor is the foundation of your room and the surface that will support your floor. As a general rule, hardwood floors are not heavy, so you would not need to take any special support considerations into account prior to installation. But there are many situations where choosing the right floor is crucial.

Installing Over Concrete

Are you refinishing your basement or your garage and need to place a hardwood floor over a concrete floor? If that is the case, then the best wood flooring solution would be a floating floor.

Since you cannot drive nails into concrete, that eliminates real hardwoods from consideration. But you can install an engineered wood floor that looks exactly like the hardwood that you wanted. Laminate flooring will also work and, if you are on a budget with your renovation project, then laminate would be the ideal solution.

Wavy Subfloor

One of the most important things to remember about installing any kind of hardwood flooring is that it needs to be installed over a completely flat surface. If your floor foundation has waves to it, then you will either need to put a level layer over it, or tear out the old wood and replace it. Do not install any kind of hardwood floor over a wavy base as that can damage the floor and cause a variety of other problems.

Fitting Your Floor To Your Room

Your home is your showplace, so you want a floor that matches your decor and enhances your design. Your office is the place where you spend a great deal of time each week, and where you bring clients to impress them. That is why the floor in your commercial space needs to be attractive as well as durable.

The look of your floor is affected by many things. The wood species will determine the grain and color, and there are specialty options (such as hand-scraping) that can add texture to the floor.

Real hardwood and engineered wood have finishes that include aluminum oxide and ceramic products to create a durable protective coat. You can also get an oil finish on engineered wood that glistens when the sunlight passes through the window.

You always have the option of putting a hardwood floor in every room of your house or every office in your commercial space, but it is important to choose the ideal floor for each situation. The way you use your space and your design priorities will help dictate which type of flooring you use.

Living Room

Engineered pine floors in your living room will utilize the natural light and bring a bright atmosphere to your house that few other floors can give. Your living room is the room where you entertain guests and enjoy time with your family. It is the room where you want that perfect floor to caress the color of your walls just right and set off the furniture perfectly.

In this main display room of your house, you will want to utilize real hardwoods or engineered flooring. There is a variety of colors and patterns to choose from, and these types of flooring can handle the high traffic that occurs in most living rooms.

The warm, deep color of a cherry wood floor would be ideal for a room that wants a more colonial or rustic look. If you are planning a contemporary look to your home, then go for a lighter tone such as white pine or oak.

Take your time when considering the wood species you want for the hardwood in the main room of your home. For example, an exotic Brazilian cherry offers a unique grain and color that may look perfect in your home. Look deep at the different patterns and designs that are available and bring the beauty of nature into your house with a real hardwood floor.

The Kids' Rooms And Recreational Rooms

Your kids are going to give any floor you install a real run for its money. The same ceramic and aluminum oxide coatings that protect real hardwoods are also used for engineered flooring as well. You can get that rich hardwood look with engineered flooring, which means you would not need to compromise beauty to get the durability you need.

Laminate flooring can also be ideal for the kids' rooms, as well as a garage or basement recreational room. Laminate flooring tends to be less expensive than engineered flooring or hardwoods, which makes it easy on the budget. But laminate is just as durable as engineered flooring and it has a real hardwood look.

Rooms With A Lot Of Moisture

If you want to have the beauty of hardwood in a room that generally contains a lot of moisture, such as the bathroom or kitchen, then go with an engineered floor. An engineered floor has a top layer of protected real wood with an underside that is extremely durable. Engineered flooring tends to work much better in moist rooms and parts of the country where the air tends to get humid.

Real hardwoods do not do well in environments of sustained moisture because the water can warp and crack the wood. Laminate can work better than hardwoods in moisture, but significant moisture can cause laminates to break down over time and that would mean replacing your floor.

High Traffic Areas

In reality, any hardwood floor is going to be able to withstand high traffic areas. Real hardwoods and engineered floors are great for high traffic areas because they are durable and can retain their beauty despite the abuse of constant traffic. Exotic engineered hardwoods such as Brazilian cherry and bamboo are very hard woods that would work well in high traffic areas.

The Right Floor With The Right Look

Finding the right floor for the look you want all starts with the wood species you choose. Pine and oak are common woods used for many types of hardwood floors, and for good reason. Even on a laminate floor, where the wood grain is a photographic image, the look of an oak or pine floor is unmistakable.

The purpose of a hardwood floor is to enjoy the beauty of nature while getting the durability that you need for everyday life. You need the right floor with the right look in each room of your house. Choosing that right floor requires an understanding of your options.

Wood Grain

As we discussed earlier, the species of the wood determines the grain. But the great thing about natural hardwood is that no two trees are ever the same. Pine has that bright color to it and those swooping lines that are so familiar. But the thickness of the lines and the patterns you get are different in each piece of natural wood, which gives you a unique look.

With engineered flooring, you can get wide planks that accent the grain and allow you to take full advantage of the color. Exotic hardwoods such as Acacia and Brazilian Cherry will offer deep colors that turn your engineered floor into a major conversation piece.

Then there are woods like mahogany, where the grain is subtle but the color is rich. A mahogany floor accented by mahogany furniture makes a strong statement and bursts with natural beauty.

Some wood grains can be very pronounced and create beautiful effects. Tigerwood is a species that gives your wood floor wide stripes against a deep, brown background. The effect of enhanced wood grain in a hardwood floor can be unlike anything you have ever seen before.

Add Some Texture With Hand-Scraped Floors

If you want to really feel your floor under your feet, then consider a hand-scraped hardwood floor. Hand-scraped engineered floors are excellent for rural, rustic and colonial designs, and they come in rich colors such as oak, walnut, cherry and hickory.

Walnut hand-scraped floors can deliver offsetting colors that add character to any room, while the butterscotch look of hickory would be ideal for a living room or study.

By staying in touch with the latest hardwood flooring trends, you can get ideas that will make your interior design stand out. Whether you are installing a few square feet of hardwood or you have whole house to cover, you can use the latest trends to make your best ideas come to life.

Dark, Rich Colors Are In

The look of a mahogany floor or the character of a dark walnut hand-scraped hardwood has become extremely popular in homes all over the country. The contrast between a dark floor and light-colored furniture works in a contemporary or rustic setting. A dark Brazilian cherry with a deep grain can add color and intrigue to your room's look.

Gray Hardwoods Are Starting To Become Popular

Antique white oak flooring is starting to become extremely popular in family rooms and living rooms. The flooring has a certain sanded finish to it that makes it appeal to the visual and tactile side of any design. If you want to add some more character to your white oak floor, then go with a white wash coating to enhance the bright tone.

Wide Planks Give A Very Rustic Feel

Wide plank hardwoods such as pine and oak are starting to show up in city lofts and suburban homes. Driftwood flooring planks have helped to lead the way with this new trend and it they are growing rapidly in popularity. The washed look is ideal for a basement recreational room, or for any room that has access to a great deal of natural light.

As you plan your flooring project, you should take the time to utilize the many options set out before you. A good floor lasts for many years and adds character to any room or office decor. Explore your options and find the ideal flooring for your house or commercial space.