Hardwood flooring has been around forever, in both cottages and castles. Whether rough, hand-hewn planks, or elaborately laid parquet, wood has always been dependable as a durable surface with a host of other benefits. Today’s modern hardwood flooring maintains its durability, is easier than ever to care for, and is available to enhance every architectural and decorating scheme.
If you’ve bought a house without wood floors, or are refurbishing a home you’ve lived in for years with carpeting or other flooring that has seen better days, it’s time to consider hardwood. Here are some of the reasons:
Real wood lasts for lifetimes. If a plank is damaged, it can be replaced without replacing the whole floor. If the overall surface becomes scratched over time, it can be refinished. And maybe the best thing is that wood only grows more beautiful with use.
There’s nothing like the warmth of a hardwood floor to make a house feel like a home. And not only do you sense the natural welcoming properties of wood, you feel them, too. When the temperature drops, wood doesn’t feel cold to your feet the way that stone, tile, and many engineered products do.
Wood flooring is available in as many varieties as there are trees. Whether your style is traditional, contemporary, ultra-modern, or rustic, there is a wood floor for you. Acacia, oak, maple, hickory, birch, walnut, teak, and other woods come in a wide range of colors and natural grain patterns, and in looks that are smooth and lustrous, hand-scraped, or distressed.
Depending upon the overall effect you have in mind, you can choose from planks as narrow as 2 inches to as wide as 6 inches, squares of sophisticated parquets, or tongue and groove planks pegged for a truly custom hand-made effect. You can also select an installation pattern that adds extra flair, such as a random pattern of different widths, a diagonal pattern with the boards running across the room at a 45 degree angle to the walls, or a herringbone pattern with the boards laid out in a diagonal zigzag.
4. Ease of Care
With the correct finish on it, a wood floor needs only sweeping or damp mopping with vinegar and water to keep it clean. The most popular surface treatment is a clear, water-based polyurethane that can provide a glossy, satin, or semi-gloss finish that lasts for many years. A low-gloss, natural look can be achieved with an oil sealer reapplied every three to five years. Another natural finish is hard-oil wax, with a low luster gleam that’s easy to touch up and only requires reapplication every two to three years. You can buy your wood flooring pre-finished or do the job yourself. The only exception to this is if you want the most long-lasting of all finishes: a factory-applied aluminum oxide coating that will last without another touch for up to 25 years!
Wood is a natural product, of course, so it’s eco-friendly right there. But wood flooring is available in many varieties that come from sustainable forests and tree farms. Wood floors use less water and energy to produce than other flooring options, and ultimately can be entirely recycled. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also reports that air quality is better in homes with wood floors.
You may have heard a lot about bamboo as a sustainable natural flooring material. While it looks like wood, bamboo is actually a grass — and the fastest-growing plant in nature — but when it’s split, laminated, and bonded together under high pressure to make planks, it’s resilient, durable, highly resistant to moisture, and twice as rugged as oak. While it’s not really hardwood, if eco-friendliness is your prime objective, then you should certainly consider bamboo.
6. Resale Value
Almost every home buyer appreciates and values the high-end qualities of real hardwood floors. If you’ve recently been house-hunting yourself, you know that the first thing people do when they see carpet is ask if there’s hardwood underneath. When you put your home on the market — no matter how far in the future you expect that to be — real hardwood floors are going to be a major selling point.
P.S. The Next Best Thing Where You Can’t Have Wood Flooring
Hardwood flooring is not for damp areas like bathrooms, below-grade installations, basements, or over radiant heating systems. Instead, you can achieve the same effect with engineered hardwood, which is more flexible and adaptable to swelling and contracting because it is made of real hardwood veneer fused with under-layers of fiberboard that offer bounce-back from the warping effects of moisture and heat. With a combination of solid hardwood and engineered hardwood that matches it, your whole house can have a seamless look that ties it all together from room to room.