Hardwood Flooring 101

Hardwood flooring brings warmth and beauty into our homes. We love wood’s timeless appeal and how its natural decorative qualities enhance the space around us. Hardwood floors are the epitome of lasting value and style. That’s why they’re at the top of most homeowners’ wish lists. Use this hardwood flooring buying guide to help you find the right hardwood floor.

Solid vs engineered hardwood flooring

Most homeowners don’t realize there are two types of hardwood floors: solid and engineered. Both are made of 100% real wood and look identical once installed. Both come in a wide variety of species, sizes and finishes and both can be refinished several times. But that’s where the similarities end.

  • Solid hardwood – Solid hardwood flooring is a solid board milled from lumber. As a natural material, wood reacts to environmental changes such as temperature and moisture, shrinking or expanding within its setting. In the home, hardwood can be installed in any room at ground level or above.
  • Engineered hardwood – Engineered floors are composed of multiple layers, called plies, that are glued together. This multi-ply structure provides greater strength and stability than a solid wood board. Superior stability makes engineered hardwood floors more resistant to changes in temperatures and humidity. Engineered floors can be installed in any room, including dampness-prone area like finished basements and bathrooms.

Hardwood flooring performance

Hardwood floors are not only beautiful, but they’re strong and durable, thanks to hard-as-nails factory finishes. Pre-finished options offer the best value and best resistance to scratches, dents, dings and all the inevitable accidents of a busy household. Engineered floors with their enhanced stability provide slightly more resistance to everyday wear and tear.

Hardwood buying tips

  • Hardness ratings – All woods floors have a hardness ratings to indicate how resistant it is to dents and wear. Domestic species like red oak, maple and hickory, and exotic species like Brazilian cherry, offer the greatest durability.
  • Cost – To determine the cost of a hardwood floor, you’ll need to know the cost of the boards (per square foot) and the cost of installation (labor and materials). In buying boards, the general rule is to allow 10% extra for waste. Materials include the underlayment and necessary trims and moldings to complete a finished look.