How to Choose the Right Species of Flooring

Photo Courtesy: Bona

Photo Courtesy: Bona

Choosing the right species of wood flooring is strictly a matter of style, budget and personal preference. More than 50 domestic and imported species of wood are available to achieve a unique look.

Dark woods, such as walnut or mahogany, generally make a room seem more stately and refined.

Medium woods, including hickory and oak, create a warm and cozy feel for any space.

Light woods, such as ash or maple, usually make a room appear more open and airy.

Exotic species can offer even more color options. Bubinga, which originates in Africa, can appear pink, red or reddish brown, with purple streaks or veins. Australian Cypress ranges from cream-colored sapwood to honey-gold heartwood, with dark brown knots and holes throughout. Burmese Teak from Asia varies from yellowish brown to a dark, golden brown.

Once you decide on a look, consider how the floors will be used. Are you a retired couple living alone or do you have a busy family with young children and pets? Each wood species is rated for its hardness and durability using the Janka scale.

The Janka scale gives a good indication of how likely a wood is to dent or show other wear. For example, domestic black cherry is ranked at 950 on the Janka scale, while Brazilian cherry is ranked much higher at 2,820, nearly three times the hardness of the domestic species. Black cherry would be a good choice for an older couple because their floor will see less traffic, while the Brazilian cherry might be best for the busy family with small children and an active pet.

Source: National Wood Flooring Association

Types of Wood Floors

Photo Courtesy: Bona

Photo Courtesy: Bona

Advances in wood flooring during the past few years mean that you now can have wood flooring anywhere in your home or business. Where you want to put it, however, will determine the type of wood flooring you can use.

Unfinished and Factory Finished Wood Flooring
All wood flooring requires a finish. This is a protective coat that seals your floor against every-day wear.

You can buy unfinished wood flooring, and your installer will sand the wood and apply the finish on the job site. There are several finish options available. If you are looking for a specific color or need to match existing flooring, this option may suit your needs better.

Also available for purchase is factory-finished wood flooring, where the finish was applied at the manufacturer. This type of flooring has become as widely available as unfinished wood flooring. These floors require less time to install because the sanding and finishing process has already happened. The floors are ready to walk on immediately following the installation and have a harder surface.

Talk to your installer or retailer about what options best suit your lifestyle and needs.

Solid and Engineered Wood Flooring
Solid wood flooring is exactly what the name implies: a solid piece of wood from top to bottom. The thickness of solid wood flooring can vary, but generally ranges from ¾” to 5/16”.

One of the many benefits of solid wood flooring is that it can be sanded and refinished many times. Solid wood flooring can be installed above or on grade.

Engineered wood floors are real wood floors that are manufactured using three to nine layers of different wood veneers. The sub layers can be of the same species, or of different species. The grain of each layer runs in different directions, which makes it very stable. This means that the wood will expand and contract less than solid wood flooring during fluctuations in humidity and temperature.

The top layer of engineered wood flooring consists of high-quality wood. While this type of flooring can be sanded and finished, it cannot be done as many times as solid wood flooring. Engineered wood flooring can be installed above, on or below grade.

Source: National Wood Flooring Association