Wood floors come in a variety of colors, grains, and topcoats, so it's easy to install a floor that perfectly matches your home whether you have country or urban décor. However, all these choices mean you'll have a lot of things to consider when you pick out the wood you want to install. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Harder Wood Resists Scratches
One of the most important considerations is probably the hardness of the wood you choose. While pine may be one of the most affordable options, it is also a soft wood. That means it is easier to damage than other types of wood. Your dog could scratch it, or you could dent it with furniture legs. A harder wood such as maple or oak is a better choice when you have kids and pets in your home. To see how wood is ranked according to hardness, you can look at a Janka chart. It lists wood from the softest, which is pine with a rating of 690, to the hardest woods that have a rating of 3684.
Narrow Planks Are More Stable
You can buy wood flooring in thin strips or wider planks. The trend is to install planks several inches wide, especially in large, open rooms. If this is the look you want, be aware that wide planks may eventually gap in the seams. That's because the stress from contraction and expansion isn't spread out across a series of strips or smaller planks. The pressure applied to a large board may cause it to move enough to warp or create gaps.
This might not be much of a concern if you keep your home climate controlled all year. But if you like to keep your windows open most of the time, your floors will be subjected to temperature swings and fluctuations in humidity that cause the planks to swell and contract. Also, if you plan to install a wood floor in an area of high humidity, such as a bathroom or kitchen, smaller planks may be a better choice when it comes to stability.
Pre-finished Planks May Be Best
You can buy hardwood flooring that has the finish applied before the planks are installed. Doing this ensures you know for certain what the finished look will be. Otherwise, you'll have to imagine how the planks will look once they are installed and have the finish you choose applied. Buying pre-finished planks makes the installation process go quicker and it eliminates a lot of mess associated with sanding and staining the floor. There are a variety of finishes you can choose. Some are oil-based and others are polyurethane. You can get a glossy finish or a matte coat. You can even have a topcoat applied with a wire brush that gives your new planks a distressed look.
Wood Color And Grain
If you want the coating on your floor to let the natural wood show through, then you'll want to think about the color and grain of the wood you choose. This is a matter of personal preference, but you should be aware that each type of wood has its own distinct color. Different species of oak, for example, have slightly different colors. Also, some types of wood have more prominent grains and knots than other types. Plus, the way the lumber is made causes the grain to look different. Rift-sawn boards show the wood grain in long, straight lines. Plain-sawn boards show the grain with peaks and curves. You should look at several different lumber samples to get a feel for all the color and grain combinations available.
There's a lot that goes into choosing the wood for your new floor, but the effort is worth it. Unlike vinyl or carpet that you'll replace in a few years, your hardwood floor should last for many decades. It may be the last flooring you need to install, so you want to make sure you pick something you love. For more information on hardwood flooring, try this out.