Column: What is the right hardwood species for my floor?
Replacing your old flooring with shiny, new hardwood is one way to attract buyers into your home. But if you thought that all wood flooring was created equal, you may want to dig a little deeper. Understanding the different types and species of hardwood floor is an essential part of selecting your flooring.
Hardwood can be divided into two main categories: solid and engineered. Solid hardwood is made from pure, solid wood planks. Engineered hardwood is made from pressed plywood that uses a thin wood veneer as the top layer. Because it is made from bonded layers of wood, it is more durable than solid hardwood, and less likely to be affected by temperature or humidity.
Once you’ve decided on the type of flooring you’d like to install, it’s time to select the species of wood. The physical makeup of the wood varies depending on the species of tree it has been crafted from. Most obviously, the species of tree will determine the basic color of the wood. But it will also affect the hardness, durability and insect resistance as well. The color also plays a big role in the overall look of the finished flooring. Generally, lighter wood is more appropriate for casual settings, while darker wood tends to look more formal. Again, there are no specific rules. The most common types of wood used to make flooring include:
• Red Oak – The most popular flooring option in the U.S. because of its rich color and tough grain.
• White Oak – Has similar properties to its cousin, the red oak, but is slightly harder and more durable.
• Pine – Pine’s recognizable swirls, knots and yellowish brown color has made it a popular choice for flooring and siding. It also has a natural resistance to insects.
• Cherry – Because it’s a soft wood, cherry isn’t often the best choice for flooring. However, it makes an excellent decorative or accent wood.
• Exotic – There are also a number of foreign wood species to choose from that are steadily growing in popularity. Woods from Brazil, Canada, China and other countries has been a trend among homeowners because of the unique look these woods create.
When choosing a wood species, you’ll want to take into account the relative hardness of the wood. Harder wood grain means that the flooring will be more likely to withstand the wear done by heavy furniture and foot traffic. Additionally, you’ll also want to decide if you want to install pre-finished or unfinished wood floorings. Pre-finished floors are generally more popular because they feature a factory-applied finish that is very durable.
Choosing the right hardwood for your home is a big decision. But with careful consideration and proper maintenance, the flooring you select can last for years to come. Weigh your options carefully until you find the perfect flooring to fit your home.