Installing wood flooring is a home upgrade many people plan for years.  Hardwood flooring can increase the resale value of your home, update your look for a beautiful interior environment and create a user friendly space that is ideal for people and pets.  While planning for a hardwood flooring remodel, there are many options to choose from and decisions that must be made before the flooring can be purchased and installed.  Hardwood flooring is a long term commitment and a big investment, not a decision to make lightly. To help you choose the perfect floor for your home and family, carefully consider the following factors.

Color of Your New Hardwood Flooring

There is a huge selection of wood types and colors for hardwood flooring.  On the lightest end, pine is a very light blond.  Walnut can be nearly black.  In between is a wide range of reds, yellows, greys and browns.  The color you choose will set off your home decor and can even be the defining factor for determining which decorating styles create the greatest aesthetic appeal in your architectural space.  Spending some time looking through hardwood flooring pictures on Pinterest and in our before and after gallery can help you visualize how different new floors would look in your space.

Hardness

hardness ratings for wood flooring

Janka Chart showing some popular wood species for flooring.

Another consideration is where the flooring falls on the Janka hardness scale. The Janka scale is based on how hard the wood is and helps determine how well your flooring will hold up to wear and tear over time. In general, the higher up on the scale, the more durable the wood.  For homes that expect to sustain a lot of traffic, families with children and pets and certainly commercial establishments, a higher Janka rated flooring is the better and sometimes necessary choice.  A harder hardwood will show less wear and tear and will need less refinishing as the years pass.  Good examples of higher rated woods are Brazilian Cherry, American Hickory, Teak and Mahogany.

Although harder woods are better for high use areas, all hardwood flooring can be scratched or damaged, and lower Janka rated woods can sustain a lot of damage with proper care.

Solid vs. Engineered or Laminates

What kind of hardwood flooring is best for your home?  There are laminates, which are a comparatively economical and easy to install choice of flooring, engineered hardwoods which fall in the middle and a wide range of solid hardwood flooring options.  Deciding which is the best choice depends on the space and use as well as your budget.

What’s the difference?

Solid hardwood flooring is made from real solid hardwood. This is what most people think of when discussing hardwood flooring for a home, but that is partly due to the fact that other flooring options mimic the look and feel of solid hardwood extremely well.  Solid hardwoods are available as prefinished, sanded and top coat sealed boards, or you can buy them unfinished to be finished on-site after installation.

If the location of the install experiences drastic changes in temperature or humidity throughout the year, like in a basement, you may want to give engineered hardwood flooring a go.

Engineered hardwood flooring is also real wood. Engineered hardwood flooring is great for places which experience a lot of humidity or temperature changes, such as basements or very wet climates.  Engineered hardwood flooring is sold in interlocking pre-finished boards that snap together easily.  Made from strips of wood tightly-packed in a mesh formation, engineered hardwoods are topped with a layer of real wood from about any species, then coated with a durable top coat to resist scratches and water damage.  You never want to leave standing water sitting on engineered hardwood flooring, but with proper care, this type of flooring is extremely durable.

Laminate flooring is a very economical choice that creates a beautiful effect of any wood you could desire.  Made from many layers fused together in a lamination process, laminate flooring is topped with a high quality photograph, giving infinite design options.  Laminates are then finished with a strong scratch and water resistant topcoat for long life.

Domestic vs. Exotic

So many species of wood in the world, and there have been floors made from most of them.  Always consider where the wood is coming from when installing new hardwood floors.  You can choose either a domestic species or an exotic hardwood imported species.

exotic wood species for flooring

This African Walnut has a unique and beautiful wood pattern.

Grown in North America, domestic species include Maple, Red Oak, American Walnut, Hickory, American Cherry and more.  They are usually less expensive than exotic hardwoods and are more common in appearance.

Exotic woods are native to and grown outside of North America, in either South America, Africa, or Australia. Brazilian Cherry, Tigerwood, Walnut and Teak, Australian Cypress and Carribbean Heart Pine are some popular exotics.  These travel further distances so usually are more expensive than domestic options.  Always consider the harvesting practice for exotic hardwoods to ensure you are purchasing wood harvested in sustainable ways in renewable forests.

Pre-finished or Unfinished Hardwood Flooring?

Pre-finished wood flooring usually costs less than unfinished wood floors.  It is much less labor intensive to install pre-finished hardwood, and durable factory topcoats don’t bring the fumes or mess into your home. Factory topcoats are very sturdy, lasting a long time to keep indentations and scratches from appearing in your floors. Finishes vary from brand to brand, but most pre-finished options have at least 7 layers of topcoat to withstand years of heavy use.

If you’re trying to match an existing floor, unfinished wood may be the better choice.  It is also easier to maintain the architectural integrity of a space when finishing the flooring on-site where stains can be custom mixed and applied.

DIY Hardwood Flooring or Professional Installation?

For many people, this question is easy to answer.  If you’re not the DIY home construction type of person, you’ll definitely want to have your floors professionally installed.  If you frequently do home repairs and remodel projects, you may already know you’re going to do this yourself.  If your skills fall somewhere between construction contractor and never picked up a hammer in your life, then it’s really going to depend on which type of flooring your want to install and how much time and patience you have for doing it when compared with your skill level.  We can answer questions for you and give you a free estimate for both DIY and installed hardwood flooring projects.

Price of New Hardwood Flooring

What is your budget for a new floor?  As with all remodeling projects, it’s very important to get a reliable estimate before starting.   Be sure to include delivery and installation costs, as well as any taxes.  If you’ll be installing your flooring yourself, account for the cost of tools and supplies.  Preparing the sub-floor is another step that needs to be tallied for cost and time, though some types of flooring need very little sub-floor preparation.