choosing hardwood flooring - samples of hardwood flooring

Choosing hardwood flooring for your home is an exciting, though potentially daunting, process. With hundreds of flooring types, textures, colors, and finishes to choose from, where is a style-oriented homeowner supposed to start? Luckily, there are several base considerations that you should undertake before selecting hardwood flooring for your home.  At Real Wood Floors, we strive to bring three things together; beauty, durability and budget, so that you feel we have brought value to your home. Considering these factors will help you find the perfect hardwood floor for your renovation project.

Floor Hardness

How busy is your home? Do you have pets, children, or lots of regular house guests? If you have a lot of activity going on in your home every day, choose a wood flooring option that is extremely durable and hard. You might consider selecting extremely durable, engineered hardwood flooring as it has several advantages over traditional hardwood flooring.

Harder wood species will withstand the dings, scratches, and dents that come from a busy household, especially if you have children or furry friends running around. If your home isn’t full of hustle and bustle on a normal day, you can opt for a softer wood species.

How to Determine Wood Hardness

The Janka Hardness Scale is a great reference when you’re trying to choose hardwood flooring. It is a table showing a rating for each species of wood, ranked by hardness. The Janka hardness test measures the resistance of a wood sample to denting & wear. The rating given to a particular wood species is a measure of the force required to embed an 11.28mm (0.444 in) diameter steel ball halfway into the wood sample. Here are some popular wood species used by Real Wood Floors, along with their Janka hardness rating:

  • Domestic Hardwoods at Real Wood Floors

    • American Cherry – 995 lbf. (pounds of force)
    • Ash – 1320 lbf.
    • Beech – 1300 lbf.
    • Hard Maple – 1450 lbf.
    • Hickory – 1820 lbf.
    • Plain sawn white oak – 1360 lbf.
    • Rift and quartered white oak – 1360 lbf.
    • Rift sawn white oak – 1360 lbf.
    • Quarter sawn white oak – 1360 lbf.
    • Plain sawn red oak – 1290 lbf.
    • Rift and quartered red oak – 1290 lbf.
    • Rift sawn red oak – 1290 lbf.
    • Walnut – 1010 lbf.
    • Heart Pine – 1225 lbf.
    • Southern Yellow Pine – 870 lbf.
    • Douglas Fir – 660 lbf.
    • Red Birch – 1260 lbf.
    • Yellow Birch – 1260 lbf.
  • Exotic Woods from Real Wood Floors
    • African Mahogany – 830 lbf.
    • Australian Cypress – 1375 lbf.
    • Brazilian Cherry – 2350 lbf.
    • Brazilian Teak (Cumaru) – 3540 lbf.
    • Brazilian Walnut – 3684 lbf.
    • Brazilian Rosewood – 2200 lbf.
    • Santos Mahogany – 2200 lbf.
    • Tigerwood – 1850 lbf.
    • Wenge – 1630 lbf.
Source: Wikipedia, Janka Hardness Test

Wood Species

Hardwood floors come in a variety of species, each with its own unique color, grain pattern, texture, and hardness. Many homeowners opt for oak or hickory species due to their strength, hardness, and durability. Other wood types, such as cherry and mahogany, are more exotic and expensive. Some homeowners tend to lean towards exotic wood species for their striking color and sleek appearance in comparison to more common flooring materials.

Depending on the level of activity in your home and your own style preferences, you can choose a species of wood that works best for your home.  With many of varieties available, you’re bound to find a choice that not only looks great, but will also offer you worry free durability.

Choosing Your Hardwood Flooring Finish

In addition to the wood itself, hardwood flooring is typically sealed with a finish that adds color and shine to the material. There are multiple finishing products you can choose from, but two of the most common are hard wax oil and polyurethane finishes.  Hard wax 0il provides a natural, matte finish and helps cover up scratches. In contrast, polyurethane creates a hard top-coat that resists wear and tear. While polyurethane does not need to be maintained as often as a hard wax oil finish, the maintenance process is much more involved with polyurethane than with hard wax oil.

If you have a lot of activity in your home, a polyurethane finish keeps your floors free from stains and damage in ways that a hard wax oil finish can’t. However, if you’re looking for a softer, more natural look and aren’t as concerned about wear and tear, opt for a hard wax oil finish. Choosing the finish and color on hardwood flooring can have as much to do with the final look as the species of wood itself, so be sure to discuss options with the experts at Real Wood Floors.

Hardwood Textures

Hardwood flooring comes in a variety of textures to fit your room’s aesthetic. Some hardwood floors offer a sleek finish and bright shine that helps a room look polished and elegant (think maple). Others look more worn and rustic for an antique, natural feel (think reclaimed wood). Whether you’re looking to add sophistication, a modern farmhouse look, or an industrial urban feel to a room, the texture of your hardwood floor can help you accomplish this style when choosing hardwood flooring.

Ready to discuss your home renovation vision or need help choosing the right type of flooring for your home? Contact the flooring specialists at Real Wood Floors today. Our Kalamazoo flooring experts will travel to your home and assist you with all your flooring needs.