Laying It Down: Wood Floors

If it seems as if installing hardwood floors is something that should be left to the pros, you might be right. If you want to include complicated angles or a herringbone pattern, hiring installers could be your best bet. However, if you are doing a straightforward layout with interlocking planks, perhaps you could conquer the task yourself. Here’s everything you need to know before you get started on the project.

Materials
Gone are the days of the narrow oak plants you used to see in turn-of-the-century homes. These days, wider planks and larger pieces of wood in general are the norm. Fewer seams in a living space make the room seem bigger, it seems, so that’s the way manufacturers are leaning. Another trend in natural wood floors is unfinished planks; that is, wood that is sanded and waxed but not shined to the high gloss of finished floors. Even painted planks or unusual wood colors such as grey have risen in popularity in recent years.


Usage
Before you commit to wood floors of any sort, think about how you use each of your spaces. For high humidity areas such as bathrooms, mudrooms, or laundry rooms, tile or vinyl is a better choice than wood. Softer woods should be installed in rooms that get less traffic. Hardwoods are fine for heavy use depending on how they are finished.

Types of Floors
There are a couple different options when it comes to choosing materials. By far the most expensive option is real wood, where planks of solid wood are floated or nailed to the subfloor. Engineered wood is less costly because it is a veneer laid over plywood or particle board, but it cannot be sanded and refinished. Some people like the durability of laminate, which isn’t wood at all, or bamboo, which is a grass.

Other tips
 If you decide to go with wood floors, be sure to take the time to acclimatize the planks. After you purchase them, bring the planks into your home and let them sit at room temperature for several days. This will eliminate shrinking or expansion when you are installing them. Wood floors also will require routine maintenance such as frequent dust mopping and vigilance to clean up spills immediately.

Wood floors have been popular for decades, and they might just be perfect for your home. However, there are some special considerations to take into account before you get to the installation. These tips should help you get a better idea of what you are getting into by choosing wood flooring.

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