Hardwood Flooring Installation
It’s hard to beat the natural beauty and allure of hardwood flooring. Hardwood flooring comes in a wide range of colors, grain patterns, plank sizes and wood species. It is typically easy to find a style that adds classic appeal to your home’s interior.
Hardwood floor colors span the spectrum from dark oak and hickory to reddish cherrywood to light ash, pine and pale birch. In addition to those species, wood flooring is often made from maple, walnut, beech, bamboo, teak and many other wood types. This is why choosing the right floors for your home can be a formidable task.
Modernize created this guide to help homeowners learn more about the pros and cons of hardwood flooring, where it works best (and where it does not), and how to find a hardwood flooring contractor in your area. Keep reading to learn why hardwood floors are a popular choice for both new construction and remodeling projects.
How Much Does Hardwood Flooring Cost?
Hardwood Flooring Installation
Hardwood is one of the most popular flooring options for kitchens and living rooms
Easy to Clean
Multiple Wood Options
Lasts 10+ years
The cost of your flooring installation will vary depending on the type of hardwood planks you choose. Real hardwood planks can cost as much as $12 or more per square foot. Higher-end hardwood options, such as imported walnut and mahogany, often cost more than $12 per square foot.
|Hardwood type||Cost per square foot||Quality|
|Maple||$6.50 to $11||Basic|
|Pine||$4.50 to $6.50||Basic|
|Ash||$9 to $13||Mid-range|
|Cherrywood||$5 to $15||Mid-range|
|Imported mahogany||$8 to $18||High end|
|Imported walnut||$11 to $20||High end|
Keep in mind that engineered wood flooring is an option if you like the look of hardwood but have a smaller budget to work with. Engineered wood looks and feels much like real hardwood. Lower-end engineered hardwood can cost as little as $3 per square foot.
7 Factors to Consider Before Installing Hardwood Floors
If the time has come to replace worn or outdated flooring in your home, there are many reasons to consider hardwood over other flooring materials. There are so many options available – it’s important to choose the right kind of hardwood flooring for your needs. Here are some factors to consider:
- Design. Hardwood flooring offers nearly limitless design options since wood species vary by color, grain pattern and texture. Different types of finishes also can compliment the wood’s natural luster.
- Plank Size. Hardwood planks vary in width, and that size has a tremendous impact on the visual appearance of the flooring once it’s installed. Traditionally, floor planks were milled to 3-inch widths, but wider widths such as 6, 8, 10 and 12 inches are more commonplace today. Wider planks have fewer seams and can make small rooms and narrow hallways appear more spacious.
- Solid or Engineered. Solid hardwood planks are milled from single pieces of wood and have a tongue on one edge and a groove on the other. They are either prefinished or sanded, stained and finished on site after installation, and they can be sanded and refinished multiple times if necessary. Engineered hardwood, meanwhile, is made by gluing together alternating layers of plywood or fiberboard underneath a hardwood veneer. The alternating layers make these planks much more dimensionally stable. They will not contract or expand. However, the thin hardwood veneer does not lend itself to sanding and refinishing.
- Wood Species. There are many types of domestics trees harvested for wood flooring. However, the most common include oak, hickory, maple, ash, birch, cherry and walnut. Each species has different qualities and characteristics such as appearance, grain and color.
- Finish. Plank flooring can be finished in a clear gloss with high or low sheen, or it can be distressed by hand scraping or wire brushing, techniques that will change the overall appearance of the floor.
- Durability. Wood’s hardness is rated by an industry standard called the Janka Hardness Test – the amount of force needed to mechanically embed a steel ball into the wood. Red oak, at 1290 on the Janka Hardness Scale, is the industry median. Ash (1320), maple (1450), and hickory (1820) exceed that mark. Brazillian cherry is the hardest flooring on the market at 2350 on the Janka Hardness Scale.
- Cost. Hardwood flooring can be either moderately expensive or extremely pricey depending on the species you choose. Domestic hardwoods tend to be less costly than imported hardwoods. Installation, meanwhile, usually varies by the complexity of the job. For instance, prefinished planks are typically easier to install than unfinished planks that are completed onsite.
Discuss these factors with a flooring contractor prior to beginning your new project to help ensure you stay within budget and fully enjoy the final results.
Types of Hardwood
When choosing between types of hardwood, or hardwood species, there are a few factors to consider. In addition to the color and appearance you desire, it is also important to think about cost, quality, and hardness. Hardness can be measured by determining the hardwood’s place on the Janka Hardness Scale. The higher the rating on the scale, the more durable and resistant to dents and wear-and-tear the hardwood will be.
Here are a few options when it comes to hardwood types for you to choose from.
|White oak||Light beige||1360 lbf|
|Teak||Rich brown||1155 lbf|
|Ash||Creamy beige||1320 lbf|
|Black walnut||Dark brown||1010 lbf|
|Cherrywood||Light reddish brown||950 lbf|
|Brazilian cherry||Deep reddish brown||2350 lbf|
|Mahogany||Very deep reddish brown||800 lbf|
|Ebony||Almost black||3220 lbf|
In addition to style and beauty, hardwood floors offer many benefits for homeowners. These include:
- Easy to clean. Like concrete floors, hardwood floors are easy to maintain. Sweeping or vacuuming removes daily dust and dander, while regular damp mopping with a wood floor cleaner can remove any built-up grime or stains. Some hardwood flooring shows streaks, so you may have to use a dry towel after mopping.
- Long-Lasting. We mentioned above about hardwood’s durability ratings. There’s a reason why many homes on state historic registers still have their original flooring – hardwood lasts. To achieve the optimal lifespan, make sure to care for your hardwood floors routinely.
- Hypoallergenic. Wood doesn’t trap dust, dirt, dander and similar allergens. So long as you routinely clean your floors, you can enjoy fewer allergens present in your home.
- Value. Wood floors are an excellent investment. On average, homeowners can expect to recover between 70 to 80 percent of their original investment, as well as appeal to a wider range of potential buyers during resale.
- Aesthetics. Hardwood flooring’s visual appearance seamlessly blends into both traditional and modern design schemes.
Hardwood does have some potential drawbacks to keep in mind. A few disadvantages include:
- Cost. Exotic wood species, while beautiful, can make your flooring renovation budget soar. Likewise with top-quality domestic hardwoods. Natural hardwood planks also are very labor-intensive to install, which further escalates the total cost of new hardwood flooring.
- Noise. Hardwood doesn’t dampen ambient noise like other flooring options. Area rugs can help improve a room’s acoustics.
- Damage. Even the hardest wood flooring is susceptible to scuffs, scratches, dings and dents, especially in high-traffic areas. It is also prone to water damage. You may have to refinish your hardwood flooring down the road.
- Limited Usage. Hardwood floors are a natural fit for most areas of the home. Although hardwood can be installed in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms, you should pay heed to the fact that wood and water don’t mix. Water leaking or spilled from bathtubs, showers, toilets, sinks, dishwashers and washing machines will likely cause unsightly buckling and warping in your hardwood floors over time. Also, replacing even one or two damaged planks is a difficult repair job.
Pre-Finished vs. Unfinished Hardwood Planks
When choosing hardwood for your flooring installation, you will have the choice of either pre-finished or unfinished hardwood planks. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages.
Pre-finished hardwood planks are stained and sealed prior to being installed in your home. Any type of hardwood species can be pre-finished. Pre-finished hardwood planks allow for an easier, less messy, and less smelly installation process. It also comes with a more durable surface that is scratch and stain resistant, and can be refinished when necessary. On the downside, pre-finished hardwood comes in less design options and typically costs more than unfinished hardwood.
Unfinished hardwood planks will arrive to your home in their natural form, free of any sealant or finishes. You might want to choose unfinished hardwood if you want a custom stain or finishing applied. Typically, unfinished hardwood is sanded and then sealed with protective finishing in your home during the installation process.
Unfinished hardwood planks may be desirable to you if you prefer the beautiful seamless look of no lines between hardwood boards. This will result in a flat flooring featuring planks that blend well. On the other hand, unfinished hardwood installations take longer to complete and are also a bit messier, since sealing and finishing happens in your home.
How to Find Local Hardwood Professionals
Wood flooring is one the most beautiful coverings you can install in your home. However, due to the incredible range of products available, choosing the right hardwood flooring can be intimidating.
Modernize can put you in touch with great flooring contractors in your area that can help you pick out the perfect hardwood for your flooring renovation project and budget, as well as get the installation done correctly.