Selecting the perfect hardwood flooring can feel like navigating a labyrinth of choices. Each option whispers its own tales of color, texture, and longevity, effortlessly transforming a house into a home.

Within these lines, we embark on unraveling the mysteries of wood species, the whispers behind each grain pattern, and the silent but steadfast decisions that guard against wear over years of footsteps and life’s spontaneous dances.

From the warmth of oak to the exotic charm of bamboo, every plank offers a slice of nature’s genius just waiting to ground your space in style and substance.

Here, we’ll dive deep into tips that pave the way to an informed choice about hardwood flooring. Understand essential aspects like:

  • Durability, considering activities and traffic in your space.
  • Installation methods, ranging from nail-down to floating floors.
  • Finishes and textures, to amplify your interior aesthetics.

By the article’s end, you’ll stand well-equipped, navigating through options with the finesse of an expert, ensuring that your floor isn’t just installed, but truly belongs.

How to choose hardwood flooring

To choose hardwood flooring, consider the following factors:

  1. Type of Wood: Decide between solid hardwood and engineered hardwood. Solid hardwood offers durability and can be sanded multiple times, while engineered hardwood is more cost-effective and resistant to temperature and humidity changes.
  2. Wood Species: Popular options include oak, maple, walnut, hickory, mahogany, ash, and walnut, each with unique characteristics like color, grain patterns, and hardness.
  3. Room Suitability: Consider where you plan to install the flooring. Solid hardwood is not recommended for basements or kitchens due to moisture, while engineered hardwood is more suitable for such spaces.
  4. Finish and Maintenance: Choose between matte and glossy finishes based on your preference. Matte finishes are low-maintenance and hide imperfections well, while glossy finishes offer a sleek look but may require more upkeep.
  5. Width and Thickness: Wider planks create a contemporary feel, while narrower planks offer a classic look. The thickness of the planks affects durability and longevity.
  6. Ethical Sourcing: Ensure the wood is ethically sourced and the manufacturing process is environmentally friendly.
  7. Cost Consideration: Calculate the room’s square footage and add extra for cuts and waste to estimate the total cost. Factor in additional expenses like thresholds and moldings.
  8. Maintenance: Different finishes and wood types require varying levels of maintenance. Consider the ease of cleaning and the durability of the wood when making your choice.

How to choose hardwood flooring for every occasion

Surface resistance

One of the first things that every floor must have is adequate resistance for the room where it will be installed. Several factors determine the wood flooring strength, but perhaps the first thing you see is the strength of the enamel or surface.

The finish of the material will determine if it can be used in high traffic spaces or if it is better for quiet places. Although hardwood can withstand scratches, depending on the protective layer this will be more visible.

During the manufacture of hardwood boards, the surface is protected with a clear coat that prevents the design from being damaged. Although there are many chemicals used for this process, generally two stand out: oil and polyurethane.

It is possible to identify which is the coating used in the hardwood in a simple way. Those that are protected with oil have more natural finishes and colors. Although it seems unbelievable, by subjecting the wood with a layer of oil, the finish becomes matte and not shiny.

This natural result is what makes oil options so appealing, however, stains can damage their beauty. On the other hand, polyurethane creates a much more resistant outer layer, so it will even be difficult to scratch it.

Of course, the differences in resistance are accompanied by certain details to take into account. Polyurethane woods are not immune to damage, so they can always crack or chip at some point. If this happens, you will have to change the entire part. The oil can be damaged more easily, but retouching them is just as easy, being able to simply polish them to hide the damage.

Resistance to liquids

If there’s one thing wood floors, in general, are not very good at, it’s dealing with water and moisture. Hardwood is no exception, but they are a much tougher alternatives that can adapt to most humid environments. The only drawback of this will be its price, so it is advisable to use another material if possible.

Solid hardwood or break-proof?

Now, you also have to ask yourself, what is more important, the solidity or the design of the wood? Maybe at some point, you have seen that there is something called engineered hardwood and did not know what it was.

To put it in simple terms, engineered wood is a siding that uses very little hardwood, leaving it exclusively on top to create the design. The rest of the table is a compression of different materials and layers that give it additional resistance to different types of forces.

Again, each choice has its advantages and disadvantages, so you should not be guided only by the most scientific name. As we mentioned, engineered hardwoodis manufactured so that the plank does not suffer from deformations. But, in this process, the layer that is real hardwood has been drastically reduced, leaving very small thicknesses in some models. This means that you will not be able to sand them many times in the future.

Solid wood does not have this problem. Solid hardwood can be sanded and repaired multiple times without the risk of it reaching a critical point quickly. In addition, the designs are more natural and realistic with solid hardwood.

However, you have to be careful with the solid hardwood installation. You must respect the expansion joints or, otherwise, the planks will break.

The personalization factor of hardwood floors

To learn how to choose hardwood flooring, there is another important thing to keep in mind when buying:customization. With hardwood, there are two types of customization available.

The first is that the material is completely finished at the factory, meaning that the design, color, and sealer have been applied. The second gives each user the possibility to create their patterns since it is a block of raw wood.

Sometimes, no matter how much you look in stores, you will not find a wood pattern that you like or that matches what you already have built. For these cases, there is wood without finishes. As we mentioned, its main advantage is that it can be taken with an expert and they will make the design you want at the moment. This translates into a longer waiting time to be able to use the final wood. Moreover, it could be more expensive if you need to apply different protective layers.

You can found pre-finished options in any store. Thanks to the growing market, the variety of wood designs has grown exponentially, so it is very easy to get something that you like. These are full of advantages inherent to the fact that the same manufacturer has manufactured it from raw material to finish. If you don’t mind ditching customization, then your best bet is to go for fully prepared hardwood.

Another advantage of pre-finished ceramics is that they can include a texture. This is a different design from the original wood plank, which helps to hide wear and tear due to its stronger patterns than wood. It is an option that will remain attractive even over the years.

Great variety to choose from

One of the greatest qualities of the material is the many wood species in nature. From hardwoods to softwoods, from dark to light colors. Even their grain patterns are totally different. All of this can change the appearance of a room.

In the case of hardwood, there are many wood species to choose from. The most popular are cherry, maple, ash, and walnut. The latter is especially useful when you want to combine dark colors, or if you want to create a contrast with a bright color.

Installation must be taken into account

Once you have the material, it is time to install it on the ground. There is no way to determine the exact value of the installation, as this will depend largely on the type of hardwood you purchase. It does not matter if it is solid or engineered wood, they all have a similar installation process.

In this regard, you can save a bit of money if you do the installation yourself. Sawmills always have tools on sale that you can purchase for the job. Wood planks with tongue and grooves are even easier to install, and you just need a hammer for the job.

To make the installation work easier, you should select a plank width that is multiple of the width or length of the floor. In this way, you will save unnecessary cuts.

If you hire someone to do the work, you should estimate that the installation would cost about half the total cost of the hardwood you purchased.

Selecting a hardwood floor for each case

Depending on our specific needs, we may need to find a specific wood for cladding.

Although they have similar physical properties, some stand out in certain areas. For example, maple, pine, and cherry are woods with average strength and a design that attracts a lot of attention. That is why they are exported in large quantities and are affordable. They are recommended for places with little traffic or for homes where only adults live.

The Red Oak is a natural alternative when you need a very durable and scratch-proof floor. The closest thing to it is the engineered hardwood. This provides a perfect solid surface for living rooms and rooms where there will be children and pets.

You can also opt for exotic species, such as mahogany or Brazilian cherry. They are special woods with much more striking designs and with better qualities for the floor, but their cost is also much higher.

FAQ On How To Choose Hardwood Flooring

What types of hardwood floors are most durable?

Hardwood flooring varieties like oak and maple are celebrated for their hardiness. These species withstand heavy foot traffic ingenly, making them ideal for homes bustling with activity.

How does the hardness scale affect my choice?

The Janka hardness scale measures wood’s resistance to wear and dents. Higher ratings, found in woods like hickory, mean better resilience, critical in high-traffic areas or homes with pets.

What should I consider about hardwood floor finishes?

The finish on your hardwood flooring not only enhances its appearance but also its longevity. Polyurethane provides a durable, water-resistant surface, while oil finishes offer ease of repair and a natural look.

Is there a cost-effective hardwood flooring option?

Bamboo flooring stands as an economical yet durable choice. It offers a unique aesthetic and sustainability that appeals to eco-conscious buyers, without breaking the bank.

Can I install hardwood flooring over concrete?

Yes, but with specifics. Engineered wood flooring, known for its stability and moisture resistance, is particularly suited for concrete subfloors. Remember to include a moisture barrier to thwart potential water damage.

How do I choose the right color and style of hardwood?

Consider the room’s size and the natural light it receives. Lighter woods can make a small room feel larger, while darker woods often enhance larger spaces with abundant light. Trends like wide plank floors or distressed finishes can add drama and character.

What is the difference between solid and engineered wood floors?

Solid wood planks are cut from single pieces of wood, offering a classic, traditional look. Engineered wood consists of a real hardwood veneer attached to multiple layers of other wood types, providing enhanced stability.

How important is the underlayment for wood floors?

Underlayment acts as a cushion, reducing noise and providing moisture protection beneath your hardwood flooring. It’s essential for floating floors and can enhance the longevity of your flooring significantly.

How does the environment affect hardwood flooring?

Wood expands and contracts with temperature and humidity changes. Climate considerations are crucial; for instance, places with high humidity levels might be better suited to engineered wood options to minimize warping.

What maintenance is required for hardwood floors?

Regular sweeping and vacuuming to remove debris are key. Use manufacturer-recommended cleaners and avoid water exposure. Periodic refinishing can restore the look of your floor, depending on the thickness of the wood and the type of finish used.


Embarking upon the journey of how to choose hardwood flooring unveils layers of consideration, each significant to crafting not just a surface to tread on, but a foundation that resonates with the aesthetics and functionality of a living space.

  • Embrace the Character of Wood: Each grain, hue, and finish brings a unique narrative to rooms, echoing personal style and the home’s overall theme.
  • Consider Longevity and Purpose: Select hardwoods like oak or maple that endure the daily ballet of footsteps and furniture shifts. It’s not just a floor; it’s a long-term investment.
  • Mind the Underlay and Installation Terrain: Ensuring that each plank is supported with suitable underlayment will safeguard its endurance and enhance comfort.

As the final plank is laid and every tool is put to rest, the true essence of a home begins to shine through—a testament to thoughtful selection and meticulous placement. Bearing witness to life’s moments, hardwood flooring isn’t just chosen; it’s destined to become a part of the story you wish to tell through your home.

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