There are many decisions to make when decorating your home. Some decisions, like the type of flooring, impact the other decisions, and help tie the style of a room together. When choosing hardwood floors, decisions such as the width of the planks, the color and grain of the wood, whether to use a distressed or smooth finish and if you want pre-finished wood or to finish the wood after installation, all affect the design style of your room. This article can help you evaluate your lifestyle and home to decide which options will be right for you.
Location: The first question to ask is where the flooring will be installed. Concrete floors, basements and places with moisture will require engineered hardwood where layers of wood ply are covered with a real hardwood veneer. This type of engineered wood is also used when a radiant heating system is under the floor. Solid hardwood floors are sensitive to extreme moisture and temperature variations. The next question about location would be what type of traffic the area sees. High traffic areas will require a harder wood and a more durable finish.
Type of Wood: Some of the more common types of hardwood are Maple, Cherry and Red or White Oak, all very durable hard woods. Brazilian Cherry or Mahogany are exotic woods with unique color and grains; also available are White Ash, Hickory, Pecan and Pine. Each type of wood has its own unique texture and grain as well as individualized color. The manufacturer will use various cutting methods to bring out the grain in the wood.
Color: Once you’ve chosen the type of hardwood, it’s time to select your color and finish. When choosing color you can coordinate or contrast your cabinets and furniture. Lighter woods are generally used for a more casual feel while darker colors add a formal feel to the room. With modern staining methods it is not necessary to stain the wood its original color. You can choose the wood for its grain and then stain it from a wide variety of choices to match your décor and style decisions.
Plank Size: Plank or strip size will also help determine the look of your room. Narrow strips 3” and below will expand the look and feel of your room; wider planks can make a larger space feel more intimate. Wide planks can also be used to create a rustic or antique look.
Finish: Most hardwood floors come pre-finished from the manufacturer. The boards have been sanded and stained and given multiple layers of finish, which gives a better protected surface. Manufacturers use sophisticated methods to finish your floors in a way that makes them very durable. Sanding and refinishing every few years is no longer necessary unless the floor experiences extreme wear and tear. A lower gloss finish or distressed looks are best for high traffic areas as they minimize the appearance of dings or scratches. High gloss finishes are best for formal areas. The manufacturer will use ultraviolet lights to several coats of urethane for durability. Aluminum Oxide chips can also be added to the floor’s finish for a longer lifespan increasing the resistance to abrasion. Polyurethane or Acrylic-urethane can also be used as a transparent wear layer. Acrylic Impregnated engineered floors while not solid hardwood are very durable and the color and finish go through all layers of the wood so scratches and dings are virtually invisible. Pre-finished floors will come with a manufacturer’s warranty; unfinished floors may have a limited warranty from the installer.
On-the-Job Finishing: Most manufacturers prefer to use pre-finished flooring as installation can be done in a day and there is much less mess. If you choose a hardwood floor that is unfinished, the sanding, staining and finishing will be done after the floor is installed. This may take several days and involve greater mess. Unfinished floors are used when there is a need to match an existing trim or cabinetry. In-home finishing allows better color matching and the opportunity to have the floor leveled more completely as it is installed.
Whichever type flooring you choose, you can have all your questions answered at Murray Floor & Window Coverings in Billings, Montana. We are experts in Hardwood Flooring and can guide you through the entire process from selection to installation.