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My Balsam Hill Home: How to Choose the Perfect Hardwood Floors

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Hardwood floors add classic charm to almost any dwelling. Solid wood can last for more than a century and is a great way to increase the value of your home. There are more choices of hardwood floors today than ever before, and because this requires a significant investment, you will want to choose carefully. My Balsam Hill Home uncovers the factors that will help you decide the right hardwood floors for your abode.

Wood Species

Contemporary Entry by Elk Grove Village Carpet and Flooring Signature Innovations LLC

Hardwood species vary mainly in durability, grain pattern, and color.  Domestic species, such as oak and maple, are among time-honored favorites because of their hardness. Yellow birch, white ash, beech, cherry, and walnut are likewise popular. Exotic wood, such as mahogany and Brazilian cherry, may not be as durable, but are loved for their striking appearance.

Each wood species has its own unique physical character. Oak exhibits a distinct grain while maple is very subtle. Exotics are very popular because of their distinguished grain patterns and color. Your choice should depend on your taste and the effect you want to achieve. In general, finer grain evokes a more formal appearance. Conversely, dynamic grain exudes a casual look.

Wood Hardness

Traditional Kitchen

The relative hardness of wood is determined by the Janka Rating System, a measure of the force required to drive a 0.444 inch steel ball into the wood until half the diameter of the ball is embedded. Basically, the higher the number, the harder the wood.

Because hardwood floors are natural products susceptible to dents, it is extremely useful to check the Janka rating. This is a good measure of the ability of the wood to withstand denting over the years. Choose the wood hardness that suits your lifestyle. If you have a busy household with pets and kids, you might want to consider the harder wood species in the Janka scale.

Board Width

Traditional Other by Other Metro General Contractors

Wooden floor boards come in standard widths of 2 1/4, 2 1/2, and 3 1/4 inches, although wider planks of up to 8 inches are gaining popularity. Widths can easily change the look of a floor, so it is good to consider the effect you want to create.

Narrow strips (less than 3 inches) give the illusion of more space, and are preferred for smaller rooms. They also evoke a more classic feeling. Meanwhile, wider planks showcase the natural beauty of the wood and impart a rustic look. Because wooden floor boards can make a room appear shorter or longer, planks can easily create an optical illusion with the length of the room.

Parquet offers a different look from typical hardwoods. With its distinctive geometric design, parquet floors suit formal spaces.


Traditional Kitchen by Lake Oswego Interior Designers & Decorators Nordby Design Studio

Hardwood floors come in a variety of colors depending on the species and finish. Most domestic species are finished in tint. Stained hardwood floors can bring a range of effects in a room. Darker hues impart a cozy yet opulent look. Lighter tints create a breezy and contemporary vibe. Again, the right color depends on the feel you want to incorporate in your décor. A practical choice would be a versatile hue that would outlast any trend in home design. But should you want a new color in the future, you can always have your solid hardwood floors sanded and refinished.

Meanwhile, exotic species are prized for their natural color. As such, they are typically ‘unstained’ and preserved in their normal state. Many are photosensitive: they achieve their desired rich color when exposed to sunlight.

Texture & Finish

Traditional Hall by Elk Grove Village Carpet and Flooring Signature Innovations LLC

The surface treatments of hardwood floors vary substantially, ranging from smooth and glossy to hand-worked and textured. Popular options are hardwood floors that look shiny and new, and brand new wood that looks antique.

If you want a room with a relaxed and casual atmosphere, consider distressed, hand-scraped or wire-brushed hardwood. This gives your floor an appealing timeworn appearance and is also a smart way to disguise heavy use over the years.

Meanwhile, hardwood floors with satiny smooth or high-gloss surfaces bring a more formal look, and work great for sleek and contemporary rooms.

Ultimately, the perfect wood for you is the one that matches your taste and, more importantly, your lifestyle. Find design inspiration in our post: 5 Marvelous Ways to Highlight Hardwood Floors.


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About the Author
On the Balsam Hill blog, we hope to provide our readers with inspirational decorating ideas the entire family will love. Beautifully appoint your home for every holiday with our decorating tips and tricks.