Hardwood Buying Guide
Choosing and Installing Wood Floors
Before you start searching for your perfect hardwood flooring, ask yourself these questions:
- How will the floor be used?
- What type of stain or finish do you want?
- How will the floor be installed?
- What is your budget?
Choosing the Wood for Your Floor
There are also other factors to consider when choosing the wood itself.
Wooden Floor Construction Types
If you want a dust free, stain-resistant, and low maintenance option, then you need solid wood flooring.However, bear in mind that solid wood becomes weak when it comes in contact with water and has lower resistance towards moisture.
They can also get a little creaky and noisy sometimes. Solid wood floors can be used above ground and are not recommended for use below ground level or in bathrooms.
Engineered hardwood is also a plank but it has three to five layers of wood, laminated together in a cross-grain construction. This makes it more stable.
An engineered wood floor does not expand and contract like a solid wood floor. However, engineered hardwood is sensitive to harsh sunlight over extended periods of time. It is also prone to dents, scratches, and scars.
Oak is known as the king of hardwood flooring as it is durable and is resistant to stain. In many design circles, white oak is popular, because of its unique color. You also have red oak, which is different from white oak owing to its pink/red undertones.
Maple hardwood flooring is pale with slight color differences depending on the grade. Sometimes, it can contain dark mineral streaks as well.
Cherry is usually softer than the other hardwood flooring options, but it is well known for its charming and graceful color variation. Cherry flooring has a tendency to darken with age.
Birch hardwood flooring is of two types—yellow birch with a creamy white color and a slight yellow undertone and red birch, which is golden brown with red undertones.
Walnut is also another great choice because of how natural it looks. It has a rich, almost chocolate brown color and adds warmth to any room.
Hickory is one of the hardest wood species and is sought after because of its natural finish and unique graining. The colors range from creamy whites to dark browns.
Bamboo is made of rapidly renewable grass. Bamboo flooring is eco-friendly and an optimal choice for those who are looking to build “green.”
Bamboo floors are durable, last long, and are fairly easy to maintain. They lend a contemporary and exotic look to any space.
However, bamboo flooring is slightly more susceptible to dents and scratches. In a highly humid areas, these planks can plump. They can also tend to shrink in dry environments.
Cork flooring is both comfortable, sustainable, and DIY-friendly. Cork is made from the bark of the cork oak tree. It is turned into cork flooring by grounding the material and creating sheets. The sheets are then baked in a kiln.
This type of flooring can withstand high pressure because of the many small air pockets it has inside. It is both sound and shock absorbent.
Cork floors can withstand heavy foot traffic and furniture weight.Cork flooring is suitable for play areas and commercial spaces and ideal for kitchens.
Exotic Wood Flooring
Exotic wood has more color variation and unusual patterns. Many people choose exotic wood species because they provide a natural warmth and a unique appearance.
It all comes down to your preference in color. What type of wood do you need for the room or area that you are flooring?
Most local wood species come in a variety of colors. Check the lighting at your house as it will play a vital role in how the color gets reflected. Before making your final selection, ask our store experts for samples to look at in your home.
Types of Grains
Grains refer to the patterns of wood that gets exposed when the logs get cut. Traditional wood grain or plain-sawn has rippling patterns known as cathedrals.
Rift-sawn boards has a long and linear grain, without the swirls. Quarter-sawn boards grains have irregular patterns.
If you are buying hardwood flooring for a more rustic property, you might prefer plain-sawn, traditional grain pattern. If you are looking to create a contemporary décor, you might prefer the quarter-sawn.
Width and Thickness
Previously, almost all hardwood flooring was installed in two to three-inch planks. However, today many people use wider planks – going up to seven inches. Wider planks look (and are) expensive and luxurious.
The perfect plank width for you really depends on where you are installing your flooring and the look you want to create.
Traditional types of hardwood flooring usually comes in ¾ inch thickness. The main advantage with thick solid hardwood flooring is prolonged durability, some lasting over 100 years. Thinner wood flooring of 5/16, 3/8, or 1/2 inches thickness offers versatility and are a little less vulnerable to moisture.
Which type of finish do you like? You can buy hardwood planks with a raw finish that gets finished by a professional after installation, or prefinished, which arrives with the stain and topcoat already applied.
You can also consider buying prefinished hardwood planks. These are already stained and finished with a strong coating.
Distressed finish: Do you like the vintage and antique look? A lot of people do, but who has the time to wait for wood to age gracefully? Just opt for Nebraska Furniture Mart’s distressed surface finish flooring and transport yourself back in time.
Hand scraped finish: Hand scraped flooring also gives you that distressed and old look. As the name suggests, is made to look worn by scraping it by hand. These come in harder finishes and the more subtle scraped looks as well.
Wire-brushed finish: Wire-brushed flooring is a new, hot trend. It is a texturizing technique that cleverly hides scratches and stains. So, if you have pets, kids, or just want a cool looking flooring that sparks visual interest, wire brushed flooring is the way to go!
Smooth: Smooth wood floors give a traditional look to your space. The kind of look that has been used in structures for hundreds of years.
Hardwood Trim and Molding
Hardwood floor trim or moldings are necessary items that often get ignored in the buying process. They are practical as well as attractive. These pieces are designed to cover edges and gaps in your flooring while looking sophisticated and providing continuity.
So, remember to buy trim pieces that complement/ your flooring and cover all those unsightly gaps that can take away from the beauty of your new hardwood floor. Currently, Nebraska Furniture Mart does not have an option of buying trims and moldings online. But come over to one of our stores and we’ll be happy to serve you there!
Professional Hardwood Flooring InstallationGet Details on Wood Floor Installation Steps
Nebraska Furniture Mart has a great team of Professional Flooring Installers. They will help you with the end-to-end process of flooring installation including:
- Labor, which includes moving the furniture out and moving the flooring materials in
- Preparing the base floor for the new flooring material
- Removal of smaller debris and material while leaving the larger pieces for future repairs
Main Methods to Install Wood Floors
There are three main ways to install wood floors:
- Nail-down: The most commonly used method of installing hardwood floors. This basically involves nailing (stapling) the material directly on to the subfloor.
- Glue-down: As the name suggests, this method involves using wood flooring adhesive or glue to stick the flooring to the subfloor.
- Floating: This, unlike nailing or gluing the material, involves ‘floating’ the floor above the subfloor. It is best suited over existing flooring.
Hardwood floors are quite tough and scratch-resistant. Use of a good top-coat to finish the floor goes a long way toward reducing scratches and staining.
Hardwood flooring if maintained properly, is very durable. Depending on how high the foot traffic is in your home, you may need to refinish the floor every 8-20 years. Applying protectors and sealants in-between refinishes can extend the durability as well.
Installation Differences Based on Wood Type
Engineered Hardwood Installation
This flooring can be installed in basements and also on different surfaces like wood and concrete. Engineered wood floors have different installation methods depending on their type.
Some engineered wood floors have a tongue and groove that can lock together, whereas others need to be glued or nailed down.
Solid Wood Installation
These are solid planks of wood that can be installed pretty simply. They can be either glued down or you can use nails for durability. With solid wood floors, you have the option of re-sanding and refinishing them to change their look.
Cork Flooring Installation
Most cork floors can be glued down or installed using the click and lock method. This requires a sealant, which prevents the seams from swelling. However, since cork is soft, it is more prone to dents.
Bamboo Flooring Installation
Flexibility is ensured during the installation of bamboo flooring. They can be glued, floated, or nailed to the subfloor.
Nebraska Furniture Mart offers in-home delivery for most flooring options. Hardwood flooring is also available for same day purchase and Drive-Thru Pickup.