Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floor in updated kitchen
Photograph provided by Coyle Carpet One

When it comes to livening up a room, nothing compares to the unrivaled beauty and richness offered by hardwood flooring. Still symbolic of luxury and style, hardwood floors have grown in their versatility, able to even more aptly suit any homeowner’s tastes while requiring less maintenance than ever before.

Most people start with picking a wood species. One of the advantages of hardwood over luxury vinyl plank is there are no repeated patterns on the face of the boards, making each room truly its own. Some common domestic species, like white oak, maple, and cherry, create a consistent look across the room as they have less-prominent grains and more-even coloring. However, if you want something more exciting while staying domestic, hickory is known for having eye-catching color variation and red oak for having a wide range of deep grain patterns. Exotic hardwoods, like Brazilian cherry, tigerwood, and Santos mahogany, offer the most unique grains, rich colors, and typically have a high hardness rating, but aren’t right for every homeowner and budget.

Another factor is the plank width. Narrow planks create a formal or traditional style, and wide planks create a more casual or relaxed atmosphere. Most opt for an in-between size (five to seven inches) to capture the appeal of narrow planks while keeping things comfortable.

Probably the most crucial design element comes down to color. Staining the floor can mean working with the grain for some extra pop or highlighting characteristics inherent in the wood species chosen. Darker floors make a large space feel cozy, and lighter colors feel casual and open. Of course, it’s important to consider how the floor will work with your walls, furniture, appliances, and other accents.

The last thing to consider is how much luster, or gloss, to give the floor. Higher gloss means the light will be more reflective, giving a shine that works well in modern and formal spaces. But if a room has a lot of foot traffic, consider going with a low luster finish to hide footprints, scratches, and scruffs—very important if kids and pets are a factor.

As mentioned, one thing everyone who owns hardwood floors is quick to appreciate is how quick and easy they are to care for and maintain. Some might think it’s necessary to have all sorts of wood-floor cleaners, cleaning solutions, and other homemade cleaning supplies, but that’s not the case. In fact, homemade hardwood-floor cleaners and other nonrecommended cleaners can damage the finish or void the floor’s warranty.

To properly care for hardwood flooring, vacuuming with a hard-surface vacuum (brushless) or sweeping twice a week will give you the best results to ensure your space is free and clear of loose debris. These floors are also ideal for robot vacuums, especially if you have a pet. A microfiber mop is also nice to have for picking up dust and allergens from crevices and seams.

Always keep in mind that hardwood is susceptible to warping when exposed to water. Though most discoloration can be fixed through resurfacing or refinishing, once warping occurs, there is nothing practical that can be done aside from replacing the plank. Also be sure to stay clear of ammonia-based cleaners, acrylic finishes, wax-based products, detergents, bleach, polishes, oil soaps, abrasive cleaning soaps, and acidic materials.

To further prevent warping, keep the relative humidity in the area between 30 to 50 percent and the temperature between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll want to use interior and exterior doormats at entrances to keep sand, dirt, grit, grease, and oil off the floor, but be mindful of the material; stay away from rubber, foam back, or plastic mats, as they may trap moisture.

And if you’re a pet-owner, keep nails trimmed and paws clean. Dogs tend to do the most damage to hardwood flooring, especially large breeds. Steer away from softwoods and try to stick to harder species. Another option is distressed or reclaimed wood, which already has blemishes and scratches, so your pet will just add to the beauty of a floor you already love.

Hardwood floors can make a home feel like anything from a rustic cabin to a chic contemporary bar and lounge, and they maintain a flow and look throughout each floor, giving cohesion to all spaces. With such a range of options and modern conveniences in technologies, there’s never been a better time to invest in a hardwood floor.

Submitted by Coyle Carpet One.

Coyle Carpet One
250 W. Beltline Highway
Madison, WI 53713