Get “The Look” with Hardwood Floors

Hardwood FlooringWhen people redo their floors many choose to do so with hardwood. Churches do it for the acoustics, gyms do it for the shock absorption, realtors do it for the increase in home value, the environmentally-conscious do it for the planet and allergy-sufferers do it for increased air quality. Then there are others that do it because it simply looks good.

For the style conscious buyer there are many things to consider in a new hardwood floor: the species of the wood, the grade, the cut and the style. Each of these elements affects the quality and the look of the finished floor. The species of wood used for the floor will determine the overall color and natural color variances. With more than 50 different species to choose from, one must figure what characteristics they prefer. First would a darker or lighter species work better with the décor.

A lighter species would be a maple or an ash while a darker species would be rosewood or a wenge. Some like wood with a reddish-tint to it and might prefer a mahogany or a bloodwood. Certain species of wood have interesting color variances that some find appealing. The merbau species originates from places like the Philippines or Australia and is known for appearing to have gold flecks within it.

The grade of the wood refers to the number of variances that exist from board to board. Clear wood is the most uniform in color, select wood has natural color variations and common wood has the most color variations with more streaks and knots.  Sometimes the grade of wood is listed as first or second grade wood. First grade wood is comparable to the select wood grade while second grade wood is most like the common wood grade.

The cut of the wood refers to how the board was cut and created after chopping down the tree. There are three variations available: plain sawn, rift sawn and quarter sawn. The most popular is plain sawn, because it’s cheaper and easier to produce. Plain sawn boards are wider and have more color variation. Quarter sawn boards wear more evenly because they expand and contract vertically, but are more expensive. The most stable and most uniform in appearance comes from rift sawn, but it is also the most expensive cut.

Three styles of wood floors exist for consumers to choose from: strip, plank or parquet. The strip style has an elongating effect on a room due to it thinner boards and linear layout. The plank style is also linear but utilizes wider boards. Parquet floors are non-linear and can be laid in a variety of geometric patterns.

Stylish buyers who figure out what type of each element work best for them can take their floors to the next level with customization. Customization can be accomplished through the use of medallions, distressing, mixing woods, mixing materials, painting or staining. These options should be explored prior to the installation of the new floor with an experienced professional.

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