Why Choose Natural Hardwood Floors?

Previously Published by Tomorrow’s Contract Floors

A new floor gives any space—residential or commercial—a fresh, inviting look. Rooms you avoided before come alive and beckon you to spend time in them. That’s certainly true with the installation of a new hardwood floor, which is why you can be confident that a floor made with solid hardwood will never go out of style.

Advantages of Hardwood Flooring

Many people opt for the natural look of a hardwood floor for obvious aesthetic reasons. Hardwood adds elegance, beauty, and warmth to any space. It’s also a great investment that’s sure to add to the property value of your home or business.

Hardwood floors offer plenty of other benefits, too. They’re easy to clean and maintain. Consider, for example, their stain resistance compared to carpeting. A spill on a carpet can be a huge headache to clean up. But not with a wood floor. If you spill something, all you need to do is wipe it up. No fuss, no muss.
natural hardwood floors
Another big advantage to hardwood floors is their longevity and durability. With proper care, your wood floor’s hard surface could last a lifetime. Even after the finish has long since worn off, you can simply sand and refinish your hardwood floor for a look that’s literally as good as new. In the long run, you may reap a significant cost advantage since refinishing a hardwood floor is less expensive than completely replacing it.

Hardwood floors are also extremely versatile. They look good with almost any interior design theme. And even if you change the furniture, the wall art, or other decorative elements, you can still count on a hardwood floor to provide a complementary fit.

Disadvantages of Hardwood Flooring

Although hardwood flooring offers many benefits, it’s important to consider a couple of disadvantages. First is the cost for materials. The initial outlay for solid hardwood is considerably higher than for most other types of flooring, laminate, vinyl plank, carpeting, and sheet vinyl. No question—the up-front cost of a hardwood floor can be a genuine deterrent.

However, in the long term, the cost factor gets turned on its head. Consider that a hardwood floor will last many decades and is destined to hold its value over the long haul. Consider too, the higher maintenance costs associated with other flooring products such as carpeting. All in all, a hardwood floor can be a smart, long-term investment.

Aside from the initial cost, another potential disadvantage of hardwood flooring is its susceptibility to moisture damage. Wood is hygroscopic, meaning it will swell or shrink depending on the moisture level of the surrounding environment. Wood is not a great choice for a room that will experience wide swings in relative humidity or where water will typically be present, such as a bathroom. Instead, you’ll likely want to look at tile, vinyl, or some other water-resistant product.

Types of Natural Hardwood Flooring

One especially appealing aspect of hardwood flooring is the array of choices available. While most people opt for one of about five different types of hardwood for their floor installation, the number of hardwood species one could choose from runs into the hundreds. Let’s take a look…

The five most popular choices

Oak, whether red or white oak, is by far the most common type of natural hardwood used for wood floors. Because oak grows in abundance and is widely available as a flooring material, it is generally the most affordable choice among hardwood species. Like most other hardwoods, oak is durable and stands up well to foot traffic, making it a great choice for any flooring application.

Maple is the second most common type of hardwood floor. Many species of maple can be used for flooring and they vary quite a bit in terms of price, quality, hardness, and grain pattern. Some species of maple provide a swirling grain pattern that is quite prominent, while others yield a more uniform look and color.

Hickory is also a commonly chosen material for hardwood floors. Its knotted, grain pattern and color variance make it an interesting and attractive choice for almost any interior environment. Hickory is more expensive than oak, but it’s also a harder wood, which makes it quite durable and resistant to dents and scratches.

American Cherry is another popular hardwood, though used less often than oak, maple, or hickory. Expect it to be more expensive. It is also softer than many other hardwoods, making it more susceptible to dents or scratches. The attraction of cherry is its beautiful, deep reddish-brown color and its distinctive grain pattern.

Walnut is yet another favorite choice for hardwood floors. Like cherry, walnut tends to be more expensive. American walnut is softer, while Brazilian walnut is extremely hard, so never confuse these two types. Though the wood can vary widely in color and grain pattern, walnut floor planks typically don’t exhibit as much variation, giving a more consistent look.

Although these five types are among the most popular, many other excellent choices exist, such as ash, mahogany, or bamboo (which is actually not a hardwood at all but a dense, fast-growing grass). Realize that you’ll pay a premium for certain exotic species, such as teak or jarrah.

Read our article about the top flooring choices for your home or business.

How to Address the Moisture Factor

Use of a non-invasive, pinless moisture meter provides a fast way to assess the moisture content of hardwoods.

As mentioned, excessive moisture can damage any type of wood or wood flooring product. Proper care and maintenance—such as cleaning up spills or quickly addressing potentially disastrous issues like flooding—help ensure the longevity of your hardwood floor.

Beyond that, it’s also crucial to pay attention to moisture before, during, and after installation. Always make sure that the hardwood flooring is delivered in advance and is given time to properly acclimate to the interior environment where it will be installed.

Use of a non-invasive, pinless moisture meter provides a fast way to assess the moisture content of the wood. The meter’s moisture readings should then be compared to the equilibrium moisture content (EMC), which is the moisture content of the wood when fully acclimated to its surroundings.

EMC can be easily calculated based on ambient relative humidity and temperature. Some handheld meters, such as the Orion 950 by Wagner Meters, automatically calculate EMC for you. If the wood is within +/- 2%-4% (depending on width) of EMC, it is properly acclimated and ready for installation.

If hardwood flooring is to be installed over a concrete subfloor, it is also vitally important to pay attention to the concrete’s moisture condition. Never assume that a concrete slab that seems dry at the surface is sufficiently dry and ready for your wood floor installation.

Water is an essential component of concrete, and as such, a substantial amount of moisture may be lurking below the surface. This hidden moisture could wreak havoc with your hardwood floor, causing all sorts of potential problems, such as warping, buckling, crowning, cupping, staining, mold, or mildew.

The best way to prevent these problems is to evaluate the concrete’s moisture condition using an in-situ relative humidity (RH) test kit, such as the popular, easy-to-use Rapid RH L6. RH test results give an accurate, reliable indication of when the concrete is dry enough to safely install the hardwood floor.

Hardwood: A Great Choice for Any Home or Business

By taking these moisture-related precautions, you can have peace of mind knowing that you’ll enjoy the beauty, elegance, and durability of your hardwood floor for many years to come. If you’re looking to spruce up your home or business with a gorgeous new floor, it‘s hard to go wrong with the natural look of hardwood.

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