At some point in our lives each one of us have marveled over the beauty and warmth of older traditional homes with original hardwood floors. Whether revitalizing you home through renovation or building a new one, modernizing a similar style creates a look of timeless beauty with that extra touch of class and luxury to your home.
The rise in use of eco-friendly products for homes has further increased the demand for hardwood floors which lasts for generations making it a highly sustainable flooring option.
Hardwoods are naturally more durable as they come from slow-growing, broad-leaved trees. The timber has a higher density than softwoods, which gives them enhanced durability and strength.
Hardwoods can be
- Tropical hardwoods: Kapa, Cumaru and Sapele. Native to Africa (West and Central), Asia and South America.
- Temperate hardwoods: Ash, Cherry, Oak and Maple. Found in Eastern United States, Canada, Europe, China, Japan and certain parts of Russia.
- European hardwoods: Mainly Oak and Beech. Oak has been a valued wood for furniture for centuries.
12 Benefits of Hardwood floors
- Ease of maintenance: Daily sweep and occasional mop will keep the floor looking beautiful for years. If required a quick sand and varnish will restore its beauty.
- Healthy indoor air quality: Hardwood doesn't hide unsafe particulate matter, making for a healthier, safer living environment, especially for allergy sufferers.
- Warmth and Comfort: Pleasurable to walk on, it’s naturally warm since wood is an excellent insulator. The numerous tiny air chambers per cubic inch, hold in heat.
- Easy restoration: Scratches or dents in hardwoods can easily be fixed by sanding, varnish and waxing, rather than having to replace the damaged area.
- Strength: Hardwoods are more durable as the slow-growing trees cellular structure is denser, compared to faster growing softwoods. Oak and Iroko are considered most durable and strong.
- Superior Esthetics: The beauty of hardwood as flooring is its fusion with any type of style or décor.
- Variety: The wide range of appearances they bring in a host of colors, depending on species chosen - from the lightly-colored ash to the reddish-looking sapele.
- Exclusivity: The natural patterns in the wood ensure no two hardwoods will be the same, providing you with a unique product
- Better acoustics: A well installed hardwood floor doesn’t allow hollow sounds or vibrations
- A great long-term investment: Hardwood Flooring Is Expensive. But you get what you pay for. If you opt for the cheaper, veneered alternative it’s not going to last, whereas hardwoods like mahogany, oak and mango are extremely tough so they’ll be able to withstand the scratches and few dents and last for years. It’s a life time investment.
- Eco-Friendly: Great ecological choice since hard word can be reforested. Faster growing types of wood flooring materials like bamboo make this a plausible reality.
- Ageless quality: Regular sanding and varnishing and waxing will keep it looking as beautiful as new.
Choosing the Right Hardwood Floor
A few aspects to consider when choosing the hardwood floor that right for you. Which room you want to design? What’s the look you are going for?
Solid wood flooring is 100% hardwood milled from lumber. As a natural material it reacts to changes like moisture and extreme temperatures, causing wood to shrink or expand. All solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished if needed over the years. Solid hardwood is not recommended in bathrooms.
Engineered wood flooring
Built up of three to ten layers of wood, called plies, that are glued together. Planks made with a thinner top layer of hardwood, bonded to other layers designed to prevent the floor from shifting during expansion and contraction cycles. This multi-ply structure gives superior stability, greater than solid wood, which reduces concerns associated with weather change. Engineered wood can be installed below ground level making it a great choice for basements. As opposed to solid hardwood engineered wood can’t be sanded and refinished as many times.
Longstrip hardwood flooring
Longstrip hardwood floors are engineered floors with the top, finish layer made up of several thinner wood plies glued together to make a single plank. The center core of a longstrip plank is usually a softer wood material and is used to make the tongue and groove.
What’s your style?
If you’re leaning towards the traditional, Ash and Oak maybe the choice for you. Their grains are classic and timeless and available in a range of stains and finishes.
If your flair is towards contemporary, the smooth and unidimensional esthetics of maple or unique pattern of an exotic hardwood like Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry), Tigerwood, Cumaru, Sucupira or Sapele could be your choice.
For those who love the warm, cozy and earthy look, Hickory or Cherry Hardwood will pique one’s interest.
Finally for a worldly approach to a space, Walnut is a great wood to consider.
What do these hardwood species have to offer?
Species is the type of hardwood, like oak, maple, cherry, hickory that is used to make flooring. Species can be either domestic, grown in the U.K. or exotic, grown elsewhere in the world, typically in tropic or sub-tropic areas.
Each species has its own natural visual characteristics in three areas:
- Color – naturally occurring or applied with stain
- Grain – refers to the lines visible on a cut board
- Texture – naturally occurring or added during manufacturing
Commonly preferred Domestic Species
American Cherry, Ash, Beech, Hickory, Maple, Birch, Red Oak, Walnut, White Oak, Yellow Birch, Yellow Pine.
Popular Exotic hardwood species used in hardwood flooring
African Padauk, African Teak, Amendoim (Brazilian Oak), Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba), Brazilian Teak (Cumaru), Brazilian Walnut, Kempas, Merbau, Santos Mahogany, Sapele, Tiete Chestnut, Tiete Rosewood, Tigerwood, Timborana (Angelium).
Logs are cut in three different ways: Plain sawn, Rift sawn and Quarter sawn. These yield three different grain patterns. In a more rustic property, a plain sawn looks fabulous and just right whereas in the city, the quarter sawn adds a bit of life.
Wood Finish Design
For a contrast look a dark finish on your floors with light furniture or vice versa will look fantastic. You can also match your floors to other accessories in your room. For a sophisticated decor, an ultra-sleek, high gloss with dark stained floor will add panache. Purists will love the rich colors offered by mahogany or honey hues. Rustic lovers will be drawn towards antiqued or even hand-scraped hardwoods in a variety of colors. Hand-scraped hardwood flooring has a time-worn appearance. The color finish complements any design, from rustic to modern.
In considering your options, take into account the rooms involved, feel confident in your selection and enjoy the timeless elegance of the hardwood flooring beauty for years.