What You Should Know Before Selecting Hardwood Flooring Angies List

What You Should Know Before Selecting Hardwood Flooring Angies List

What you should know before selecting hardwood flooring

Peter Zvara, co-owner of Snoqualmie, Wash.-based Zvara Custom Wood Floors. says there are few houses built anymore that don’t have hardwood flooring. Between new hardwood installations, expanding existing hardwood installations and repairs, his company sees an increase in projects each year, he says.

Zvara says hardwoods offer many benefits over other flooring types: They’re easier to maintain because they can be swept, vacuumed or wiped with a damp mop, and they’re well suited for those who suffer from allergies.

“Unlike carpet, hardwood flooring does not have fibers or embossing that can trap dust, pollen, pet dander and other allergens that can occur,” he says.

There are many factors to consider when selecting hardwood flooring. Different types of hardwood boast different colors, grains, hardness and costs.

Hardwood hardness

The actual hardness varies in each type of wood, so flooring pros say homeowners should consider their lifestyle when determining how hard of a wood to purchase.

Paul Saulnier, owner of highly rated Saulnier Wood Floors in Peabody, Mass. says wood hardness is measured on the Janka scale — the higher the number, the harder the wood.

Forest Hill, Md. member Bruce Berlin says he chose to replace 2,000 square feet of flooring in his home with natural red oak specifically for its hardness. “I have two German shepherds who shed a lot,” he says of his dogs, who love to run around the house. “And they track in dirt a lot. Hardwood holds up to that a lot better than carpet, and I prefer the look to tile.”

Todd Reeves, owner of Juxtaposition Hardwood in Arvada, Colo. recommends harder wood if you have children or pets. “Any harder species like red oak, white oak, hickory or Brazilian cherry will be good,” he says. “I recommend staying away from walnut. It looks good, and a lot of people like it, but it’s soft.”

Atlanta member Joel Shallenberger factored hardness and durability in his decision. “I needed a material that would be able to hold up with two kids under 5 and two dogs.” Shallenberger says he chose a white oak floor from highly rated Southern Woods Flooring of Bethlehem, Ga.

Hardwood styles

Homeowners should also consider style when selecting a hardwood. While many woods can be stained so the color is to each homeowners’ satisfaction, some woods stain more easily than others. Peter Zvara says white and red oak are the most popular hardwoods because they’re a safe choice and can be stained a multitude of colors. Sydney Zvara, co-owner of the highly rated Washington company, adds that oak offers great flexibility. “Oak takes color so nicely, so you can have espresso, cherry and other finishes,” she says. “Red oak floor can be refinished up to five times and hold up.”

Cherry floors feature a reddish tint. (Photo courtesy of Peter Zvara)

Peter Zvara says he believes a majority of homes use North American red oak. Saulnier says white oak also proves popular.

Sydney Zvara says that medium brown is a popular stain color for high-traffic areas. “As a wife and mom, I would recommend colors more in the medium range, because even though right now it is very fashionable to have deep colors like espresso, if you have kids or pets, it’s difficult to maintain and shows dirt easier,” she says. “The same goes for light colors. I would probably tell someone to go with more of a sheen more than a high gloss, because kids will scratch it and that will show.” A glossy stain makes the floor appear more shiny, while the grain refers to the appearance of the wood’s texture.

Frederick, Colo. member Hunter Collins and his wife chose walnut flooring for their family room, living room and dining room because of its look. “We put the wood in areas that aren’t going to be high traffic, and we framed it in tile,” he says. “We chose it because the grain is beautiful and without staining it has a deep chocolate look that we really liked.”

Hardwood costs

Reeves says hardwood prices fluctuate due to supply and demand, and that rare woods cost more and exotic species will sometimes double the cost. He says the cost of red oak has increased by nearly 70 percent in the last year.

Peter Zvara says North American red oak, currently considered one of the cheapest, sells for around $2.85 per square foot. Maple ranges from $3 to $3.45. Exotic woods are the most expensive, ranging upwards of $7 per square foot. But installation and finishes typically cost the same, regardless of wood type, he says.

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