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Hardwood Flooring: Pros and Cons to Wooden Floor Types

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If you’re installing hardwood floors in your home, you have some decisions to make. Different types of wood floors are available, with various kinds of wood, installations, and patterns offering all sorts of choices—from planks you can stain with the color you want to easy-to-install prefinished boards.

Types of wood floors

The classic solid hardwood floor is oak, but in the stores you will also see a range of wooden floor types from maple to fir, walnut, birch, cherry, and beech. Pine is also used a lot in Country-style and reproduction houses, where it’s stained dark for an old-fashioned feel. The thing to note about pine is that it dents and scratches easily.

Bamboo floors have become popular recently. These are hard and durable and—because bamboo grows fast—considered more eco-friendly than other wood flooring.

Installation types for wood floors

Once you’ve decided on a type of wood floors. next you will find it comes in three basic installation types:

  1. Strips: narrow tongue-and-groove boards cut in random lengths
  2. Planks: tongue-and-groove boards that come in various widths as well as random lengths
  3. Wood tile: most often patterned and laid in geometric patterns in a parquet style

You may also come across “floating” floor systems that have several veneered strips on top of a tongue-and-groove backing board.

Wood flooring may be factory prefinished or unfinished, with the latter sanded and finished after it is put in place. Most hardwood floor types and woods can be refinished. But a floating system—because it is veneer over backing—is finished in the factory as the boards are being made; it can’t be refinished.

Hardwood flooring: Pros

The first advantage to a hardwood floor is the look. A classic hardwood floor creates a warm décor, and it also feels good under your feet. Most homeowners and buyers will agree that wood floors are beautiful and much more attractive than tile or carpet.

In addition to a wood floor’s warm look and feel, most homeowners find it easier to match furniture with it than with carpet. Wood is neutral, whereas carpet requires you to deal with a color palette. The neutral quality of wood becomes extra valuable when you are redecorating a room. Tile and carpet can limit your design and furniture choices, but a wood floor—whether you want to go ultramodern with steel and plastic furniture—can be stripped, sanded, and refinished with a light or clear stain to give the room a clean, bright feel.

The warmth of a hardwood floor goes beyond the look, however. A wood floor is a wonderful insulator that retains heat, which makes it comfortable to walk on and gives off a cozy feeling.

Hardwood floors are resilient and long-lasting. With proper maintenance and care, they can last centuries.

The greatest advantage of hardwood flooring is that it is easy to clean and maintain. While spills and stains on a light-colored carpet can be a disaster, on a hardwood floor you can simply wipe them away. You can sweep or vacuum a wood floor anytime, and you can wash it regularly without damaging it or wearing it out. lf you use a floor cleaner and polish at least once a month, you can make your wood floor shine.

Hardwood floors can also be sanded and refinished multiple times, which means that every 10 years or so you can repair any scratches and restore the floor’s good-as-new glow.

Finally, if you or your family members have allergies, you will really appreciate that wood floors don’t trap dust and irritants the way carpets do. Once you sweep or vacuum, you’ll know just by looking at your floorboards that they are clean and dust-free.

Hardwood for flooring: Cons

The biggest problem with hardwood floors is that they’re vulnerable to moisture and humidity. Even a small amount of moisture can deteriorate the wood, so you need to be careful to mop up spills fast and, if you have a leak, get it fixed fast.

The worst type of damage to wood floors can come from a leak that penetrates between the boards and the subfloor. This can happen—and go unnoticed for a long time—if a pipe bursts ever so slightly and water leaks down inside a wall and flows into the flooring.

Hardwood flooring is not suitable for every room. Because of its vulnerability to moisture and humidity, you should not put a wood floor in your bathroom or laundry.

Before you install hardwood flooring, check your floor substructure. If it is uneven or unstable, it will make the installation of the hardwood floor problematic and later cause it to bend and open.

Some finishes on hardwood scratch easily. High-heeled shoes and pet’s sharp claws can leave dents and scratches. But if you finish your floors with one of the modern, hard-poly finishes, you will have fewer problems than if you use shellac. Although, there’s another side to this, too: If you scratch a shellac finish, you can repair just the area where the scratch is located; whereas, if your finish is polyurethane, you will most likely have to refinish the entire floor.

Another disadvantage of a hardwood floor is noise. When you walk on it, especially with hard leather boots and shoes, the steps can be loud. Some people find wood-floor noise a nuisance but, if you’ve got your heart set on a hardwood floor, you can mitigate this concern by using area rugs.

For most people the biggest drawback to a hardwood floor is price. A real hardwood floor can be expensive, with the cost of the boards and planks added to the price of hiring a professional to install them.

Wooden flooring costs

Hardwood floors cost about $8 to $13 per square foot, installed, depending on type, quality, and finish. Floating systems are generally the most expensive of the hardwood floor types.

When installing a wood floor you must think about the cost of occasionally resanding and refinishing it. This doesn’t need to be done often, especially if you are careful about your maintenance. About every 10 years you will want to redo your floor to repair damage and restore the wood to its original, glorious finish.

If you are thinking of installing a wooden floors of any type, consider the expense as an investment in your home. It will add a lot of value whenever you decide to sell. While wood is definitely more expensive than other flooring (with a large, upfront cost), it will almost definitely add back more value to the home than what you spend on the boards. And, studies have shown that you will be able to sell your home faster than similar homes that have other types of flooring.

Updated from an earlier version

The post Hardwood Flooring: Pros and Cons to Wooden Floor Types appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

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