The reasons homeowners fall in love with wood flooring go well beyond its beauty. First, there’s the longevity factor. A solid wood floor can last for a century or more, thanks to a durable finish that can be easily repaired whenever it starts to wear thin. Wood also offers a solid, warm feel underfoot. Mother Nature designed this resource to be an excellent insulator. With thousands of air chambers per cubic inch, wood floors are much cozier than other flooring options. Another great benefit: hardwood floors are a breeze to clean — and simply incorporating them into your home increases its value.
The first step in selecting wood floors for your home is choosing a type, from vintage “found wood” to engineered wood products. But even with the wide variety of options out there, many people (especially wood-home enthusiasts) find themselves coming back to traditional, solid wood floors time and time again.
Here’s why: Inherently warm and long lasting, solid wood is a natural favorite for homeowners and designers alike. Most solid wood floors can be sanded and refinished multipled times, making them the best choice for longevity. Also, when finished onsite, solid wood floors can be stained to match trim or any other design element, including your frame. Since many timber homes are passed down from generation to generation, solid wood floors make sense from a durability standpoint, too.
Some tips: If you choose a solid wood floor in your home, make sure you consider a factory-applied finish, which will make installation much easier.
Just think: no dust from sanding, no fumes from finishing and no waiting around for the floors to dry. The finishes applied at the factory are also much stronger than the standard polyurethane applied onsite. Also consider your home’s activity level when deciding on a wood species. In homes with kids or pets, most floors (especially American hardwoods like maple, walnut and cherry) can weather a little abuse. Softwoods like southern yellow pine are great options, too — as long as you’re prepared for dents and scratches to surface over time.
Protect your wood floors in five easy steps.
- Invest in a vacuum designed specifically for wood floors and shake out your doormats weekly to keep dirt and gravel to a minimum.
- Wood floors often fade or darken over time. To minimize color variation, move your area rugs around — and even your furniture — once each season.
- A humid household can result in cracks as your floors expand and contract. Here’s a test: If the crack is no wider than the face of a dime, it will probably close up. Anything bigger may need repair.
- Some folks like the “worn in” look. If you’re not one of them, research tough finishes for your wood floors.
- Place rugs in high traffic zones, such as foyers and the area in front of the couch.
Lost & Found: A Few Facts Behind Reclaimed Wood Floors
A vintage version of solid wood, antique or “reclaimed” floors bring instant history into your home. (While some new woods are distressed to appear aged, these floors have truly lived for generations.) Many found woods have been salvaged from old barns or industrial buildings. Found flooring is also quite durable and environmentally friendly since it makes use of lumber that was originally discarded. Famous for its deep color (a result of oxidization) and one-of-a-kind character, a reclaimed wood floor will not look perfect, but will add loads of character to your timber home.
Things to Remember:
- Solid wood floors get pricey based on the width of the planks, wood species and any special treatments (hand-scraping, distressing, etc.).
- Planks must be nailed to a sub-floor, increasing the cost of installation and making them unsuitable for use directly over concrete.
- Changes in humidity can lead to squeaking and buckling. This sensitivity to moisture rules out wood floor installation in basements and most bathrooms.