The perfect hardwood floor is out there, but the journey to find it can be overwhelming. We are here to help you find your way, take these first steps to selecting the right hardwood floor for your home.
Looks. The way a floor looks and fits into your design aesthetic is a critical factor in your selection. The first thoughts you have about your hardwood floor are likely to be based on the look you want, whether that’s a dark shiny floor, a rustic knotty floor or something light and bright. Obviously, some wood species lend themselves to a certain look, for example, a walnut plank will create a darker look than a maple plank. But, the finish that you choose will also impact both the color and sheen of the finished floor.
Durability. Once you have narrowed down your search by looks, it’s time to go a little deeper and think about lifestyle. Just how durable does your floor need to be? Are we talking about a house with 3 Great Danes and a pack of teenagers or is the abode more subdued? The way you live, and the people (and animals you live with) is a factor in which hardwood floor is right for you. The Janka hardness test measures the resistance of a sample of wood to denting and wear, we have rated some of our more popular species according to their Janka ranking. Red Oak, at 1290 on the scale, is known as the median because it’s not so hard that it’s difficult to saw and nail, nor so soft that it’s easily dented.
Sustainability. Where in the world your hardwood floor came from and how it was forrested have an impact on the environment and may be a factor in your decision-making process. Choosing wood that has been sourced locally and is FSC certified will reduce your carbon footprint, it could limit your choices (bye bye rare Brazilian tiger wood), but you can rest easy in the knowledge that your product had a positive environmental and economic impact. Obviously choosing reclaimed wood is a sustainable choice, but it does bring with it a more rustic look so it may not always be something that fits your space. Old growth timber is another option. Being an informed consumer will help you make sustainable choices, here are some key points to note.
- FSC Certification. FSC certification ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits. This information can be obtained by knowing your local mills, we only buy wood from lumber companies that can prove their products are sustainably managed, certified or not.
- Old growth timbers. Harvested from trees that have grown to maturity or reached the end of their life.
- Reclaimed wood. Timber and planks that have been salvaged from structures scheduled for demolition, true recycling of beautiful materials.
Location. Where your floor is going determines what kind of hardwood floor you should install. If your floor is going to the basement, being installed on top of a concrete sub-floor or radiant heat, is in a second home and will be subject to drastic changes in heat then an engineered floor is the right choice. Not to be confused with a laminate floor, high quality engineered hardwood flooring is constructed with a 4mm solid wood wear layer place on top of 9 layers of FSC certified plywood each glued in opposite grain direction to the last. This creates dimensional stability within the floor and allows for hardwoods to be installed in traditionally challenging locations. We wrote a blog all about engineered hardwood flooring – check it out.
Before you shop. Ask yourself these questions, then ask your flooring salesperson which hardwood floor they recommend for your situation.
- What is your desired color?
- What sheen do you want your floor to have?
- Who will be using the floor?
- Where is the floor located? And what is it being installed on?
- What is the one thing you won’t bend on – looks, budget or sustainability?
We have found that there’s no one floor that’s a perfect fit for every home, so it’s important to seek out knowledgeable flooring companies, people who work with wood and understand its unique properties, yes, people like Jewett Farms + Co. Come talk wood with us, check out hardwood samples and discuss your flooring needs.