The look and feel of a hardwood floor is both classic and timeless. With colours ranging from dark to light, and varying grain patterns and board widths, a wood floor can create a warm and natural atmosphere to any home.
This article covers the following topics:
- Solid Wood Flooring
- A Great Investment
- Environmental Impact
- Engineered Wood Flooring
- Floor Care and Maintenance
- Finishes: Smooth or Distressed
- Hard Surface Wood Look-Alikes
Solid Wood Flooring
Solid plank wood floors have been around for centuries, and are a classic addition to any home. Originally used for structural purposes, wood floors are now valued for their distinctive and timeless appearance. They are milled from timber and cut into planks, and then protected and treated with a glossy or matte finish. You can re-finish solid wood floors by sanding them down and having them re-treated with a coat of finish.
Solid plank wood floors are a natural product and as such, there are a few characteristics to consider. They are affected by humidity to some degree and can expand and contract slightly after installation. As such, it's a good idea to let them "rest" in your home for a few days or weeks prior to installation (consult your local Flooring Advisor for specific instructions). In terms of quality, every piece of hardwood is different with a variance in grain, holes, and colour; this lends to its natural beauty and is to be expected!
A Great Investment
Wood has outstanding insulating properties. It can help keep a room warmer in the wintertime and cooler in the summer, thereby saving the homeowner on energy bills over the long term. Since wood floors can be sanded and refinished several times, they can last a very long time. You may have even heard of stories where renovating homeowners find the original wood floors under other flooring types, and can sand it down and stain it to enjoy the original floor once more. Since solid wood flooring is made from the same piece of wood, all the way through, it is the only flooring option that allows for this kind of longevity.
It is not necessary to replace wood floors when they are worn or damaged. If it's one or two planks, you may be able to replace them with a spare. (Note: But a bit extra so you have matching spares on hand!) If the whole floor needs an uplift, just sand them down and refinish them. Their ability to last for a lifetime or more makes hardwood floors a good choice from an environmental perspective, since complete replacement of the floors is not necessary. Wood is also a renewable resource.
Engineered Wood Flooring
Engineered wood flooring has the same natural look as solid plank hardwood, but with added stability. It is very difficult to distinguish it from natural solid hardwood, but from a structural perspective it behaves differently. They are composed of two or more layers of wood in the form of a plank. The top layer, which is visible after installation, is normally the same as what you would get with a solid plank floor. However, the core is different. The core of engineered wood is made up of composite or other materials that are designed to create an increased stability, resulting in the ability to install it over all different types of subfloors, even below grade.
Engineered wood is incredibly versatile, and it's the most common type of wood flooring used globally. It does not have the same reaction to humidity, so it does not expand or contract to the same degree (if at all, depending on what you buy). It is also environmentally friendly since the engineered core often uses recycled wood chips. Engineered wood floors are usually easier to install and can be less expensive to buy as well.
Floor Care and Maintenance
A well maintained wood floor can last a lifetime. Keep floors clean with a dry mop and wood floor cleaning solutions. Due to the porous nature of wood, water and humidity can cause expansion and warping. Make sure to clean up any spills quickly, and never use a damp mop on your hardwood or engineered wood floors. If disaster strikes, wipe up the water and aim fans at the wood to help it dry out quickly. Even though it may warp initially, as the wood is given more time to dry it should return to its original shape, so have patience. Natural wood can also be slightly affected by sunlight, so try to shift area rugs around the room to balance the sun exposure that different parts of your floor receive. Choose harder woods for high traffic areas; softer woods may be more easily scratched by pets, toys or furniture. Use furniture protectors to help minimize the chance of damage. And of course, you can always call one of our Flooring Advisors with any questions or concerns and they will be happy to provide some guidance.
Finishes: Smooth or Distressed
Hardwood floors can be finished in a variety of ways. Smooth options are straightforward and usually come with a shiny finish. These have been the most popular choice until very recently, when hand scraped and distressed looks started becoming more trendy.
Hand scraped hardwood floors have ridges and a bumpier texture. When you walk on them, you can actually feel the variations in height under your feet. To the eye, they give the floor a much more rustic, casual feel, while still providing a sense of elegance and modernity.
Distressed floors go one step further. They may have scratches, gouges, fake wormholes and dents in addition to the hand scraping. Designers enjoy these floors because even though they are new, they can look centuries old and are a great match for antique or eclectic furniture. Parents and homeowners love them because they provide an incredibly practical solution to those who don't want to cringe every time active kids or pets leave a mark on the floor. Instead, those marks should blend right in and perhaps even accentuate the distressed look!
You can find smooth, hand scraped or distressed options at our End Of The Roll Flooring Centres in the hardwood section. It may also be worth looking at other hard surface flooring options, including Luxury Vinyl Tile & Plank and laminate, which can offer some of the design benefits available in hardwood but for a more affordable price.
Hard Surface Wood Look-Alikes
Photo technology and texturing have come along way and you can get a real wood look-alike with luxury vinyl plank and tile (LVP and LVT), sheet vinyl, and laminate hard surface flooring types. You really do have to see it and touch it to believe it, so drop by your local store and ask about these products. We have a large inventory available in store so you won't be forced to look at tiny samples, and we are sure that you will be amazed! Technology has created some great advancements in design and these hard surface floor coverings are a lot friendlier on the budget.
Contributed by Stephanie Gilchrist.
Learn how to keep your hard surface floors looking great while standing up to the toughest household conditions. By taking a few easy steps, your floors can maintain their "new" appearance for years to come.