Hardwood floors are a classy, attractive choice for many homes. They're easier to keep clean than carpet, and they provide many years of long-lasting quality. Once you've decided that hardwood floors are right for you, there are three more important decisions you need to make in order to determine which hardwood floor option is best for your home. Here's a look.
Do you want stained or natural wood?
If you have a lot of other natural wood throughout your home or you're trying to maintain a rustic, beach-like look, then you may wish to leave your hardwood floors unfinished. In this case, you'll need to choose a higher quality wood since you can't rely on a stain to hide any of the imperfections.
Keep in mind that if you do have natural wood installed, you can later stain it if you change your mind or decide to transform the look of your room. You can't go the other way around. If you choose finished, stained wood, you'll have to stick with that same look for the life of the floor. However, the stain and finish do offer some protection and make the flooring easier to clean.
Do you prefer solid wood or engineered wood?
Solid wood flooring is exactly what it sounds like: pieces of wood cut and assembled to form a floor. Engineered wood is thin pieces of wood veneer attached to the top of pieces of plywood or other low-cost wood product.
You likely won't be able to tell the difference between solid wood and engineered wood flooring just by looking at it. To decide which is better, you really need to think about how you plan to use the floor. You can sand down, strip, and re-finish solid flooring many times, but you can't do this with engineered wood. On the other hand, engineered wood tends to be sturdier and more resistant to damage, making it a good choice in rooms that get a lot of foot traffic.
What species of wood should you choose?
Oak, maple, and cherry are the most popular options because they are very durable, have a nice, straight grain, and stain easily. Oak is the hardest woof of the three, making it suitable for high-traffic areas. Cherry is the softest, so it works well in bedrooms. Oak has a broader grain pattern, whereas cherry and maple have a finer grain with smaller pockets. Ask your flooring company or New York Hardwood Floors to see samples of each wood; this is the easiest way to determine which you like best.