4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying Hardwood Flooring

By: Robert Thomson

Traditional hardwood floors have the unique ability to bring out the charm and beauty of a home. Who can resist their rustic character and warm glow? But there's more to buying hardwood flooring than just deciding on whether or not you want maple or oak. Ask yourself these four questions when shopping for hardwoods to help you find the perfect fit for any flooring project - large or small.

What Type of "Look" Are You Creating?

Hardwood floors can truly "pull" a room together - helping you highlight a lovely piece of furniture, a work of art, or simply bring an air of comfort and warmth to a room. With this in mind, you'll want to decide which species of flooring accentuates your decor. Many types of hardwood flooring are smooth-milled, giving them a seamless appearance. Others are purposefully antiqued or distressed to give the floors a more "lived-in" look that's casual and comfortable - like your favorite pair of jeans.

Which Hardwood Flooring Style is Best for Your Needs?

You'll need to decide between different styles of hardwood to find one that is the right balance of price, durability and beauty. Solid hardwood floors are, naturally, complete hardwood. There's also engineered hardwood flooring, which is less expensive and uses a high-density fiberboard core with real hardwood veneer. If you have your heart set on a specific species of hardwood, you'll also want to know how hard your hardwood really is. For example, southern Yellow Pine is "softer" compared to Brazilian cherry according to the Janka Hardness Scale.

How Much Sunlight and Foot Traffic Will the Room Get?

Certain types of hardwood flooring fare better in sunlight and won't fade or lose their luster over time. Many exotic Brazilian woods are sensitive to light, as are other favorites like walnut. Some floors can have a UV protective coating added. You can also move furniture and rugs around periodically to ensure that equal parts of light hit different areas of the floor, and one side is not lighter or darker than another.

Foot traffic is another consideration. Hardwood floors stand up very well to foot traffic and won't show its age over time the way certain other types of floors, like carpet, can. For high foot-traffic areas, a harder wood like maple, hickory or oak would better handle wear and tear as opposed to a softer wood. Here again, the Janka Hardness Scale can be invaluable in helping you decide between durability, price and looks to find the perfect solution.

What Kind of Warranty Do You Need?

The right warranty can protect your hardwood floorsfor years to come. Most hardwood floors come with a warranty against structural damage, and also a warranty on the finish that's used (if you choose to have it finished). With this in mind, you'll want to find a warranty that offers you the amount of protection you need for your particular lifestyle and the kind of traffic your floors will be getting. It's worth working with a reputable hardwood flooring store to make sure all your questions are answered and warranties are clearly explained.

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Charlie Dima writes out of Earth City, MO about home improvement tips and hardwood flooring. Always looking for the most affordable prices and well-known brands, she looks for information on hardwood at www.carpetone.com/hardwood.aspx more often than not.

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