Top 6 Factors in Choosing Hardwood Flooring

So you know you want the warmth and beauty of hardwood flooring in your home. You’re just not sure which one you should purchase for your space -- there are so many great options out there to choose from!

Hardwood flooring can be a big investment. It’s a decision you don’t want to make lightly. To help you out, here are 6 factors to consider when choosing which hardwood flooring type is right for you.

1. Color

Hardwood flooring comes in a range of colors, from the lightest of pines, to the darkest of walnuts. The color of hardwood flooring you choose can help create a specific style for your space.

For instance, if rustic is your thing, take a look at some of the lighter-toned woods like Caribbean Heart Pine, Australian Cypress, or Hickory. If traditional is more your speed, try the darker, richer woods like American Walnut, Brazilian Cherry, or Santos Mahogany.

2. Hardness

Have you ever heard of the Janka hardness scale? The Janka scale helps reveal how capable a hardwood species is able to hold up to wear and tear. In general, the higher up on the scale, the more durable the wood.

If you have children or pets, or if you host many house parties, a hardwood with a higher Janka scale such as Brazilian Teak, Brazilian Cherry, American Hickory, or Santos Mahogany may be your best bet.

Janka Scale

Keep in mind, however, that not even the hardiest of hardwoods are totally resistant to damage, and that woods not as high on the Janka scale can withstand a lot of traffic -- if you take proper care of them.

3. Solid vs. Engineered

The way a type of hardwood flooring is constructed is something else you should consider. Depending on the location where you’d like your hardwoods installed, either solid or engineered hardwood flooring would work best.

What’s the difference?

Solid hardwoods are made of strips of real solid hardwood. It’s what’s commonly thought of when discussing hardwood flooring for a home. Solid hardwoods can be purchased unfinished then finished on site, or pre-finished, sanded and sealed with a durable top coat before it’s shipped out to you.

If the location of the install experiences drastic changes in temperature or humidity throughout the year, like in a basement, you may want to give engineered hardwood flooring a go.

Engineered hardwood flooring is also real wood. It’s made up of strips of wood tightly-packed to form a mesh-like pattern, with a piece of pre-finished solid hardwood on top. This design helps keep buckling and warping at bay. Almost all species of hardwoods can be made into engineered flooring.

4. Domestic vs. Exotic

Hardwood flooring is made from particular species of wood. It’s important to know where the species of your potential hardwoods come from.

Your options are domestic woods or exotic woods.

Domestic woods are grown in North America. Some examples of domestic woods include Red Oak, Maple, American Walnut, American Cherry and Hickory. They are more often less expensive than exotic hardwoods, and more common in appearance.

Exotic woods are grown in areas outside of North America, like in South America, Africa, or Australia.

Some examples of exotic woods are Brazilian Cherry, Brazilian Teak, Brazilian Tigerwood (Koa), Brazilian Walnut, Santos Mahogany, Australian Cypress, and Caribbean Heart Pine.

A big draw for many considering exotic hardwoods are their unique appearance. They come in a range of standout colors and grains. They can also be a bit pricier than domestic woods due to the time and space they must travel. Also determine if the process of milling the woods was environmentally friendly. Check to see whether or not they were grown in renewable forests when making your decision, as there are different guidelines throughout the world when it comes to harvesting woods.

5. Unfinished vs. Pre-finished

Unfinished woods are those that have not been sanded or stained before arriving at your home or other job site. Pre-finished hardwood flooring have factory finished with 8 coats of UV curable plyurethane.

Pre-finished woods typically cost less than unfinished woods. Less labor is required to install them, and the durable top coat given happens off site instead of in your home, creating a nicer finish and avoiding a bigger mess. The top coat of pre-finished woods also helps minimize indentations and scratches, so this may be a good choice for you if you have areas that receive a lot of heavy traffic and wear and tear.

Unfinished wood may work better for you if you’re trying to match an existing floor, or if keeping the architectural integrity of a space is important to you. It’s easier to match the stain of woods on an unfinished floor versus a pre-finished one.

6. Price

The amount of money you’re willing to shell out for hardwoods is another factor to consider when making your decision.

As mentioned previously, domestic hardwood flooring typically costs less than exotic hardwood flooring.

There’s also the option of purchasing discount hardwood flooring. Just be diligent and do your homework to ensure you’re really getting a deal.

There are also additional costs when it comes to purchasing hardwoods, like product delivery and installation costs. If installing your own hardwood flooring is right for you, that’s another way to save money. Do keep in mind there are costs for materials needed to complete an installation project.

With these 6 factors in mind, you can narrow down your list of hardwoods to pick the best one that matches what you’re looking for!