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Choosing Your Hardwood Floors: Characteristics 

Last modified: 2018/03/30 | 4 mins

Once you know which type of wood you want to install, the following step will be to determine which are the desired characteristics. One of the main things to do is to choose which type of essence you are looking for. Different options are available for all tastes and budgets. 

Types of wood or essences for hardwood floors 

Amongst the most popular essences are oakmaple and birch wood. Wood coming from deciduous trees will give off a more conventional look. For their part, coniferous trees, such as fir trees, will work for a look that is more associated to a rustic style.

Other wood essences that are available: Cherrywoodwalnut tree and ash tree, to name only a few. If you have a generous budget, exotic woods are the way to go. For example, Mahogany flooring is a very classy option. Of course, it’s all a question of taste. Another interesting option, and eco-friendly to boot, is bamboo.

Even though bamboo is not considered a tree, its resistance level is on par with that of other types of wood. It is also allergen-free. 

Practical advice: if you’re having a hard time deciding, ask the manufacturer if you can take floor board samples back home. This way, you’ll be able to get a better idea of the final results, testing with natural and artificial lighting.

For more information about hardwood flooring materials, check out our article: Choosing your hardwood floors: the materials

Hardwood floor Grade

Wooden floor boards are usually categorized by grade. Each type of wood has its own natural colour and even when it has been treated or coloured, wooden knots or stains can still appear. Manufacturers will grade the wood according to the uniformity of the colours, as well as the presence of knots. Since this is a natural material, no two boards will end up being identical. These details end up giving the floor a more authentic look. If you’re looking for a rustic style, which is especially suitable in a cottage, hardwood floors with lots of knots will fit well with this type of look.

How to set up the floor boards

Depending on the length of the room, the way that the floor boards are oriented can give the impression that the room is either smaller or larger. Therefore, one should not underestimate the importance of finding the best way to set up the flooring. For example, in a room that is long, boards should not run across the room’s width. There would be too many boards and the result wouldn’t look as nice.

Don’t hesitate to ask for the opinion of an expert in order to make the right choice! Hardware and decoration stores often have qualified staff. The width of the floorboards itself affects the final appearance of the room. Boards that are too small or too large can have a considerable impact on the way the room is perceived.

The finish

Depending on personal tastes or on the amount of foot traffic passing through the area, different types of varnish are recommended. This part of the process is important as it allows for a longer life-cycle for the floor. To get a floor surface that is very shiny, a glossy finish is the way to go.

This option works best for rooms which already have a good amount of lighting, as the ground will reflect the light more than with any other type of finish. Somewhere between a glossy and a matte finish is the semi-gloss finish. This is type of finish is most commonly used on pre-varnished floorboards. For a room which sees a lot of traffic, or for homes which include children and pets, the best option is the matte finish.

As implied by the name, the surface is not as shiny as with the other types of finishes. However, in the long run, it will look nicer and will be more durable. In other words, it will not tarnish quickly. And since in normal homes, people tend to move furniture around, walk or run, scratches are bound to happen. On matte finish floors, these scratches will be much less apparent.

Hardwood floor maintenance

Even if a floor is very durable, proper maintenance will help keep it looking good for as much time as possible. Ask the manufacturer if they recommend any specific product to clean it. Normally, vacuuming should be enough. Also: avoid using a wet mop directly on the floor. In the end, changing floors is a long and complicated process.

That’s why it’s so important to make the right choices and to pick the right people for the installation process. Whether you will be hiring directly through the manufacturer or finding your own floor specialist, make sure you get all the information you can about how the floor will be installed, as well as the warranty. Don’t hesitate to do a quality control by taking out a few floor boards from the box to make sure that they have a certain level of uniformity. This could avoid you a few bad surprises.

The cost to install, restore and buy materials for hardwood floors

Hardwood floors have a long lifespan and therefore, are generally worth the investment that occurs during the installation process and in periods when they need to be restored. Here is a general look at how much you should expect to pay: 

- Installing a hardwood floor : $4 to $12/square foot

- Removing an old hardwood floor: $2/ square foot

- Restoring a hardwood floor: $2/ square foot

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