Are you thinking about installing hardwood in your home in the greater Plainfield, Westfield, Scotch Plains, Morristown area? Need a little help deciding which kind of hardwood flooring is the right one for you? Don’t worry. At Floor Coverings International North Central New Jersey, we want to help you choose flooring that is matched perfectly to your specific needs. Get a head start on the design process here with our hardwood buying guide. Asking yourself these main questions will put you on the right track to getting the floor you’ve been searching for.
Solid or Engineered Hardwood?
Solid hardwood planks are made from single pieces of wood, whereas engineered hardwood flooring is a layered product with a hardwood top layer (or ‘veneer’) and plywood under-layers. Although essentially indistinguishable after they are installed, these two types of flooring do have slightly different properties and so are each more suitable for certain uses.
- High or Low Moisture?
High moisture rooms, such as kitchens and bathrooms, are not good places to install solid hardwood flooring. As solid hardwood absorbs moisture and then releases it through evaporation, it is prone to warping, splitting, and cupping. Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, is more moisture resistant, so you’ll want to go with it if the area you are re-flooring will experience high moisture levels.
- Above or Below Grade?
Rooms that are below grade (or below ground level) will also experience higher moisture levels than are recommended for solid hardwood. So, again, engineered hardwood is your best option if you are installing hardwood in a room that is below ground level, and especially basement rooms that have concrete floors.
- How Much Traffic?
For areas of your home that experience a lot of foot traffic, or those where children and pets may be hard on your floors, we recommend solid hardwood flooring rather than engineered hardwood. The thickness of solid hardwood planks allows them to be sanded and refinished multiple times. This makes them ideal for high traffic areas. Engineered hardwood can usually be refinished a couple times, but the thickness of the hardwood veneer limits how many times this can be done. With proper care, an engineered hardwood floor should last for decades, but not quite as long as solid planks.
How Hard Should the Wood Be?
Whether you decide to go with solid or engineered hardwood, you’ll want to also choose a species of wood based on the amount of foot traffic and other expected abuse your floor might endure. A wood’s hardness is measured on what is called the Janka Scale. Whereas something like cedar will fall around 900 on the scale, the hardest varieties of Brazilian walnut score around 3600. Some other examples are oak and maple, which will be somewhere in the middle of the scale between 1300 and 1500, and Brazilian cherry, which is in the neighborhood of 2200. You’ll want to review your choices and discuss their hardness with a design expert, but be sure to keep this measure in mind during the planning process.
The other important considerations are the grain pattern, color choices, and the width of the planks. With respect to grain, you’ll have to decide whether you want a prominent grain pattern such as what you would get with oak, or a more subtle grain like you’ll find with maple. And while the natural color of some wood species is lighter, like pine, and some darker, like walnut, you have many options with respect to color since stain choices are plentiful. The issue of width is similar. Most types of wood flooring have a few widths to choose from. Ultimately, these decisions are best made by looking at samples. Of course, at Floor Coverings International North Central New Jersey we will bring our mobile showroom to you so you can do just that!
Free Design Consultation
Thinking about the above questions will at least get you started on the wood flooring selection process. However, you really should speak with a designer who can identify flooring options that are best for you. Don’t hesitate to contact us to arrange your free, no-obligation design consultation and get the beautiful hardwood floor you’ve been dreaming about.
Photo Credit: Coprid