What You Need To Know About Wood Floors
Are you in love with the warm rich look of wood floors? You aren’t alone, wood floors have steadily increased in popularity over the last five years. They can be found in new construction as well as in homes undergoing renovations. So what’s driving this trend toward wood floors? Actually it isn’t just one factor, there are two very important factors. One is wood flooring technology and the other one is affordability. Both are remarkably connected. Advances in wood flooring technology have made it possible for just about any one to afford the look of wood without the hefty price tag. Not so long ago one would expect to pay a small fortune to have wood floors installed. The materials alone were three to five times as expensive as other flooring options such as carpet or tile. Keep in mind that solid hardwood floors are still quite expensive but homeowners now have options in the forms of engineered woods and laminates.
In order to make a sound decision regarding your future floors you will need to know a few things. First you will need to understand the differences between solid wood, engineered wood and laminates. Then you will need to determine if you are qualified to install the flooring yourself or if you will need to outsource the labor. Finally you will need to outline what your flooring budget is and which wood flooring option best suits your current financial requirements.
Types of Wood Flooring
Solid wood is without a doubt the most luxurious and most expensive. Typically you can buy this wood in a variety of thicknesses like 3/4 and 3/8 inch in strips or multi-strip planks which are nailed to a wood or plywood sub-floor. As with engineered and laminate woods the multi-strip planks are precision cut to make installation easier and faster. A benefit that is seen in lower labor costs. Solid woods have a characteristic called hardness which is the degree to which the wood can withstand dents. Stability of a natural wood floor is it’s ability to withstand changes in states due to contraction and expansion. Natural solid woods are graded from select to rustic. The more select the wood the less the notable flaws such as knots or color variations. A top-notch premium select wood is expected to have a clear grain and uniform coloring.
Engineered or laminate wood is a man-made strip or plank made from laminations of wood cuttings from one or more species. With advances in technology these woods can be as hardy and stable as solid woods. Some can even be sanded down and refinished in the same fashion as solid wood. This is a viable and fashionable option for those who want the look of wood without the price tag. Engineered woods have evolved quite a bit in the last decade and now it is virtually impossible to tell the difference between solid wood and engineered wood by just looking. Engineered woods also come in every style of wood available in its natural counter-part .
Characteristics of Wood Flooring with Regards to Decorating
- Wood Species We are all familiar with the common woods; maple, oak, cherry, pine and walnut but exotics are rapidly replacing these tried and true wood species. Expect to see more woods with names like Brazilian Cherry, rosewood, purple heart, Bolivian Teak, mahogany, bamboo and cork gracing the floors of homes throughout the United States.
Color The color temperature of wood can range from the cool end to the warmest end of the spectrum . Color choices range from the blondest woods to the deepest black walnut.
Graining The tighter the grain of the wood the more smooth the texture of the wood. Conversely the more dispersed the grain the rougher the texture of the wood.
Layout The direction the wood is laid in can create an optical illusion. If you want to create the appearance of a larger room then setting the wood flooring diagonally will achieve that goal. To direct the eye to look first in and then out or across the room lay the flooring in narrow strips running in one direction.
Pattern Wood flooring is now available in the patterns from the simplest to the most complex. All visual treats that add a unique and custom feel to your home.
Finish Most wood finishes are either matte or glossy. There are varying degrees of matte and glossy to suit every decorating taste and style.
In general if you have a large area to cover and you are faced with complex room layouts then you should seek out a professional floor installer. For solid wood floor installations the expertise of a professional is highly recommended. Most engineered woods or laminate woods are created with the do-it-yourself in mind. They typically are very easy to install however having said that if you are faced with a floor that is not perfectly square or even (is there one?) then you may find yourself in a tough situation which will require cutting the wood to fit. If you don’t feel comfortable measuring and cutting the wood and possibly making mistakes then you should seek a professional installer to lay your engineered wood. It may be a bit expensive in the short term but in the long term you will save money by avoiding the additional purchase of another bundle or two of wood to replace the ones you butchered.
Decide what you can afford for both materials and labor and then add 15% to that total to give you your most likely budget costs. Shop around and compare. Keep doing that until you find the flooring that fits your style and budget.
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