Choosing the best hardwood floor type for your home depends on your budget, preference, and style. After reading this hardwood flooring guide, you’ll know about the different types of hardwood flooring, wood species, and how they compare in price and performance. With realistic expectations, you’ll be able to make a good choice for your home or business.
What to Consider When Selecting Your Hardwood Flooring
When you’re choosing a hardwood floor, there’s three main things you’ll want to consider:
- Types of Hardwood Flooring
- Popular Wood Species, Colors, & Grain Patterns
- Prefinished vs Unfinished
Most of the time, you won’t consider these separately, but they’ll factor in as you examine your current décor, plan your budget, and learn more about different flooring types, species, and finishes.
1. Types of Hardwood Flooring
There are two main types of hardwood flooring: solid and engineered. Vinyl and laminate are different types of flooring often lumped into the same category. If your floor isn’t made from wood, it’s not hardwood flooring.
Solid Vs Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Solid hardwood is a natural, unique, and timeless flooring option. Each plank of solid wood flooring is made from milled wood. Above all else, your wood floor will be one-of-a-kind. The appearance of the wood depends both on the tree and how it’s lumbered. The way the lumber is milled determines the amount of sapwood and heartwood in each wood plank. This, in turn, gives the wood its distinct colors, grain patterns and textures, which influence how it accepts hardwood floor stains and finish.
Engineered hardwood flooring is constructed from multiple layers of wood or other materials, with a veneer of real hardwood on top. The construction depends on the manufacturer, the process, and the materials used. For example, waterproof hardwood flooring planks are made with a waterproof core. Read the waterproof hardwood flooring guide here.
Solid hardwood flooring is often more expensive, but it’s also very durable. Installing hardwood insulates your space and strengthens the overall integrity of your entire flooring structure. You can also refinish solid hardwood multiple times, which is like getting a brand new floor. Usually, you can refinish engineered hardwood, but it depends on the thickness of the veneer.
Engineered wood flooring is more dimensionally stable than solid wood. This means that planks won’t shrink or swell as much as solid hardwood will in response to humidity levels and changes in temperature. This can be a critical factor if you have a particularly damp or humid environment in your home.
Another advantage of engineered hardwood is that you can install it on, above, or below grade. This means you can install hardwood flooring upstairs and in the basement without issues.
2. Popular Wood Species, Colors, and Grain Patterns
The species of hardwood you choose has defining features that almost always comes down to budget and individual preference. One type of wood is not necessarily better than another, and each species is distinctly beautiful.
As you’re talking to flooring professionals, feeling out different products, and reading articles, you’ll notice there’s a range of different wood species available. Each species has different characteristics, colors, patterns, and Janka rating. And some are assigned different grades to denote their overall quality relative to price. It’s also important to note that every unfinished type of hardwood will look different over time, depending on the amount of sunlight the room receives and the finish you use.
Here we look at the most commonly available hardwoods used in both solid and engineered hardwood flooring.
White Oak Flooring
White oak hardwood flooring is popular for its beauty and durability.