Hardwood Floors Installing a wood Floor how to flooring how to hardwood floor

Hardwood Floors Installing a wood Floor how to flooring how to hardwood floor

Hardwood Floors

Hardwood Floors

If you wish to improve your home’s beauty and value, installing hardwood floors is one of the most effective and eye-catching improvements you can make. Hardwood floors add warmth to your house, and though they require some care and attention, the beauty of your hardwood floors will last much longer than that of carpeted or vinyl floors. And you can use them in a wide range of rooms — not only obvious places like foyers, corridors, and living rooms, but also bedrooms and even kitchens. For kitchens, just be sure to add an extra coating of protection, and wipe up large spills promptly.

There are a variety of different kinds of wood you can use for your floors. The first thing to consider is what kind of furniture and decor you already have, and to match the floor to that. Darker colors in the floor are for formal or traditional interiors; some of these darker shades may make a room look smaller. Lighter colors of wood are more casual and contemporary in appearance; these shades can open a room up more. Visit a showroom, look over different styles and designs, and spend some time talking with a sales representative about your specific needs.

Oak is one of the most common choices for hardwood floors; red oak has a strong, open grain and makes for a durable floor. White oak is used in timber framing; it is lighter in color than red oak, with a less pronounced grain. Maple is harder than oak, and is used for bowling alleys and basketball courts; colors range from light red to creamy white. American cherry, on the other hand, is a softer wood, and is used more commonly in furniture and cabinetry. Another softer wood is black walnut, which can range from light tan to dark brown; the grain is curly, and displays an elegant look. Other U.S. woods for flooring include ash (also used to manufacture professional baseball bats), beech, and birch; these are similar to oak in hardness.

Many dealers also offer exotic species of wood; one of the most popular is Brazilian cherry, also know as jatoba. This is a very durable wood, with a beautiful reddish brown color, interlocking grains, and a golden luster.

If you are going to install your new hardwood floors yourself, you then need to decide whether you wish to install traditional planks or strips, then sand the floors and stain them yourself, or whether you wish to install prefinished planks or strips — which are solid wood, but which need no sanding or finishing once installed. Prefinished floors require much less work on your part — and are recommended if you are reluctant to operate a drum sander (which can result in ridges and marks in your floor, if you are inexperienced) — but you must make sure the finish is sufficiently scratch resistant, and that the strips themselves fit together seamlessly. You won’t be sanding them down to make them level, after all.

Another option is engineered hardwood flooring: a sandwich of 1/16 to 1/8 of prefinished hardwood on top, with nonfinished plyboard underneath. The plyboard actually adds strength to your wood flooring, as it is laid cross-ways to the finish layer, but, because the finish layer is relatively thin, you will only be able to refinish these floors a few times in their lifetime. Also, it’s best to have any refinishing done by a professional, since there is little room for error.

Finally, there is laminate flooring, which is not hardwood but rather a synthetic flooring made to simulate wood. The inner core is usually composed of a melamine resin and other materials. Such floors can be attractive and cost less than real hardwood, but if you are intent on improving the quality and value of your home, most designers would recommend that you install the real thing.

Hardwood Floors Installing a wood Floor how to flooring how to hardwood floor

You also need to decide on the size of the boards you are installing. Wood strips are long pieces of wood that can vary in width from 1.5 inches to 2.25 inches. If you prefer wider pieces, planks are at least 3 inches wide. Planks can be more attractive, adding a country feel to a home, but they can warp more easily, particularly in moist climates (such as near the beach). Finally, parquet flooring configures small pieces of wood into geometric patterns. Sometimes, a parquet floor takes the look of small squares in alternating directions; or, a zig-zag look can be produced. There are several different patterns you can choose.

Installation methods differ as well. Some hardwood floors are directly affixed to the subfloor beneath, with nails, glue, or staples. However, floating hardwood floors are usually preferred: installation here involves laying a foam underlay directly over the subfloor (to absorb sound and protect against moisture), and then simply laying the strips or planks of hardwood directly on top, snapping them together in tongue-and-groove fashion. These floating hardwood floors are easy to install, and can be installed over many different kinds of surfaces.

There are many choices involved in planning and installing your hardwood floors, so be sure to do all your research beforehand. Careful planning and installation will ensure that you have beautiful new floors that you can be proud of.

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