If you live in a household with children and/or pets, a hardwood floor may be a better choice than carpeting or flooring materials such as tile, ceramic or concrete. However, as a homeowner, you may also be concerned about how hardwood can stand up to the wear and tear caused by energetic kids and boisterous pets.
The good news is that there are hardwoods that will stand up to rough use. The bad news is that, like all wood, hardwoods will eventually scratch and dent over time. This is why you will have to periodically refinish and sand your hardwood floor to keep it looking good.
Fortunately, solid hardwood has a long life expectancy and can even last for a hundred years. You can refinish it multiple times to refresh its appearance and remove or hide damage. The best type of refinishing to use is polyurethane with an oil base. You can also lengthen the time before you have to refinish again by adding an extra coat.
In addition, you can avoid damage to your floors by not wearing shoes indoors since the dirt you track in might cause scratches. You should also place felt pads underneath entrance mats, area rugs, and furniture. You can also put entrance mats in front of all entrances to your house. This will catch dirt, salt, and other debris that you bring in.
Read on to discover the best home flooring choices and which hardwood floor types would be best suited for your home and family.
What Are The Best Hardwood Floor Types?
There are a number of soft woods that you should avoid since they will scratch and dent very easily. These include American Cherry, American Walnut, pine, cedar, and fir.
Becoming familiar with the Janka Scale can also help you decide which hardwood is best for your particular requirements. This scale measures the relative hardness of various woods by measuring the force needed to embed a 0.444-inch steel ball into wood up to half of its diameter.
Under the Janka Scale, the hardwoods from South America score the highest, while those from the US are on the lower end of the scale. The softest woods are the Southern Yellow Pines, the Cedar and the Douglas Fir.
What Features You Should Look For
- Pre-finished. These hardwood floors have aluminum oxide layers that provide a more durable finish. The strong coating also makes it more scratch resistant.
- Handscraped. These types of finishes help hide the accidental damage that pets and children may cause. This is because they have a distressed look that helps hide scratches and dents.
- Lighter colored. This will help in concealing damage from scratches.
- Matte finishes. Since these finishes are not shiny, they can also help mask damage to the floor.
Recommended Hardwood Floor Types
Here are some suggestions for particular hardwood varieties that you might want to consider:
This is one of the most commonly used hardwoods in the US. It has a strong grain so it hides dents and scratches better than other hardwoods. It is also easy to change the color of oak floors since this type of wood readily absorbs stain.
The two most popular species of oak are white oak and red oak. However, the names do not reflect the actual color of the wood, since they are named after their bark. White oak has brownish and gold tones, while red oak has more pinkish undertones.
This is one of the hardest local woods and is actually a little harder than oak, as measured on the Janka hardness scale. It has lighter graining, which gives maple a more contemporary look.
However, it also has a number of drawbacks. It tends to turn more yellowish over time, particularly in rooms that receive a lot of natural light.
It also does not accept stains as well as oak, resulting in a somewhat blotchy look. It is also generally more expensive.
This is another wood that is native to the US and is also considerably harder than oak. It also effectively hides scratches. However, it costs more than oak.
Although many hickory varieties have color variations, even within a piece of lumber, they are known for having lighter hues. This helps make rooms with hickory flooring feel more welcoming.
As its name implies, this hardwood comes from Brazil and is notable for its rich red color, which darkens and deepens as it ages.
However, this wood tends to have a lot of variation in color across individual planks. It is also harder than most other hardwoods.
One disadvantage is that it has smoother graining, which is less good at hiding scratches. This means that you may have to do more maintenance work to remedy any damage.
This is one of the hardest hardwoods, being almost thrice as hard as red oak. It comes from South and Central America.
Like Brazilian Cherry, its color also darkens over time. It also has large color variations within planks.
Its main disadvantage is that it is very expensive, and costs more than other hardwoods like oak. On the other hand, it is very durable and hard to damage. It is also resistant to both moisture and pests, meaning that you won’t have to spend a lot of time doing maintenance.
This wood imported from China can be as hard as hardwood, depending on the type you choose. It is not an ideal choice for households with pets or children, but if you want this material, use strand bamboo. Although it is more expensive than other varieties of wooden floors, it will hold up better to wear and tear.