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Before You Buy, Get the Facts

When you started planning to install hardwood floors in your home, you may have had your heart set on an oak floor, or solid wood versus an engineered wood. Here are FIVE questions that will help better inform your decision when choosing the hardwood floor you want in your home.

  1. What type of wood will match the style of my home?

Are you a fan of contemporary, sleek-looking homes with clean lines, right out of the pages of Architectural Digest? Natural maple is a good choice for you because it has a very clean look without much variation in the grain. Also, gray-stained oak and woods with no knots work well to achieve that modern look you want.

If you prefer a traditional style with loads of character, consider hickory. It has a log cabin feel, mixing lighter and darker boards. You may also want to consider wood boards that have knots or wider planks to complement this rustic style.

Whichever you choose, keep in mind that many designers can do very interesting things with all types of wood floors. Sometimes the stain and grain pattern will give you a very exciting result. So don’t discard the possibility of using a wood you hadn’t considered.

  1. Where am I installing this wood floor?

The location of your wood floor will affect your options. Here’s why: Solid wood is fine for above-grade levels. This means any floor above the ground floor. Below grade floors, such as the basement, should be engineered wood because its veneer layer will help protect against moisture damage.

Also think about the traffic patterns in your home. Depending on the wear and tear you expect, this should be a major factor in determining the hardness of the type of wood you choose.

  1. What type of subfloor do I have?

If your subfloor is a concrete slab, you’ll have to use engineered wood, because concrete can be porous and allow moisture to get into your floor. If you have plywood as the subfloor, you could use solid wood because it can be nailed into that material and moisture won’t be an issue. Plywood is the most commonly used subfloor. It’s the most versatile with hardwood flooring. Particleboard, a cheaper version of plywood, would need to be replaced with plywood if you want to install solid or engineered wood on top.

Another question to ask is whether or not your subfloor is straight or uneven. If it’s very uneven, you’ll want to avoid hardwood floors with longer planks. Instead, go with something that disguises the unevenness and adds interest to your flooring.

  1. How much wood should I order?

It’s generally a good idea to order 10% more than the size of the room. For instance, if you’re installing flooring to a 500-square foot room, you should get 550 square feet. If you’re selecting flooring for a perfectly square room, you might be able to go a little less than 10%. Sometimes it’s necessary to have more or less (there could be some left over) when you have to cut around stairs, bay windows, closets or a fireplace. Ask professionals like those at Sequoia if you have questions about what amount of material is necessary.

  1. We’d like to “go green” in our house. What are our options?

Check out former blogs on this site where we talked about the benefits of cork, among other materials. If you’re going green, congratulations on choosing wood flooring. It’s proving to be highly sustainable with 50% more trees available. But be careful. Avoid those materials that may be lookalikes, which aren’t actually as “green” as you thought. For instance, while laminate may be the cheapest flooring option that seems to look like wood, it’s actually just printed paper affixed to a wood-chip base or dense fiberboard. It can’t be repaired or sanded if it’s scratched or dinged. Even though Bamboo is being called a hardwood, it isn’t. It’s a grass grown in tropical areas and it’s glued together. The glue contains potentially cancer-causing, toxic chemicals. So don’t be fooled by materials that others say are “green.” As a good rule of thumb, check wood species guides carefully to make sure that what is being called a particular wood really IS that wood.

To learn more about flooring options, keep checking our blog for more tips and information. Sequoia Ltd. is your flooring partner, dedicated to helping you make the best flooring choices for your home. Talk with us today!