Hardwood Flooring: The Pros and Cons
For homeowners or future homeowners, choosing the right flooring for a remodelling project is essential. Flooring can have a huge impact both in terms of raising your property value and contributing to an overall pleasant aesthetic.
Hardwood is a popular material option for flooring, as it is durable and comes in a variety of different styles and colors. Plus, you can customize hardwood flooring further with different finishing that can switch up the final look of this type of flooring.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about hardwood flooring, including the pros and cons to consider. Keep reading to learn what types of hardwood flooring are available for you to choose from, how to properly clean hardwood flooring, and more!
What is Hardwood Flooring?
Hardwood flooring is a type of flooring material that is made from 100% hardwood.
As for the term hardwood, this is used to describe wood that comes from broadleaved trees such as oak, walnut, or cherry trees. Unlike softwood trees, hardwood trees have a higher density, making them preferable for construction and interior design purposes.
In terms of property value, hardwood floors that have been recently installed or refinished tend to help boost a home’s value. Additionally, hardwood flooring tends to be a highly sought-after characteristic by future homeowners.
Does Hardwood Flooring Damage Easily?
Like any flooring, hardwood flooring can be susceptible to damage if not treated with care.
While carpeting and laminate flooring are more prone to peeling and discoloring, the most common damage seen with hardwood flooring is scratching.
It is important to try to avoid scratching up your hardwood flooring, as this can lead to more serious problems over time. For instance, if a hardwood floor has not been refinished in many years, the scratches can lead to cracks in the actual wood. In turn, these cracks can become more severely damaged by moisture and mold.
Ideally, you should not allow your hardwood floors to reach this point of damage, as it can be incredibly costly to fix wood flooring that has moisture and mold built up inside cracks. In some cases, the damage may end up so severe that the floor has to be replaced altogether.
Some best practices for keeping your hardwood flooring in good condition include:
Refinishing: Hardwood floors should be refinished roughly every 10 years, though more frequent refinishing may be required depending on how much regular wear and tear the floor receives. Along with giving your flooring a smooth and polished look, wood floor finishing helps to protect against deep cracks that can lead to water damage and mold.
Caution When Moving Furniture: One of the biggest culprits behind damage to a hardwood floor is furniture. Heavy pieces like couches and TV stands can leave major scratches and scrapes on your flooring, especially if the finishing is getting older. As such, you should always use caution when moving furniture and make sure to lift it off the ground rather than pulling or dragging it whenever possible.
Avoiding Excess Moisture: Excess moisture is the next biggest threat to your hardwood flooring, especially if there are already some deep scratches or gouges. You should avoid allowing excess moisture to build up on your wood flooring from spills, house plants, humidity, or rainwater from open windows. If your wood floors do get wet, make sure to dry them thoroughly as soon as you can.
Types of Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood flooring comes in a variety of different styles and colors, depending on the type of tree it comes from. Additionally, hardwood flooring can differ depending on whether it is finished or unfinished.
In general, hardwood flooring can be broken into two different categories: solid or engineered. Solid hardwood is flooring that is 100% wood. Meanwhile engineered hardwood is technically not “true” hardwood, as it includes a bottom layer made up of a stable material like plywood, for example.
One of the benefits of choosing 100% hardwood is that it can be sanded and refinished multiple times over its lifetime. The key to maintaining this type of wood is to follow the best practices listed above and not use it in basements where there is an excess build-up of moisture and humidity.
Pros of Hardwood Flooring
We have already covered some of the advantages of hardwood flooring, such as increased property value and the ability to sand and refinish it multiple times.
Here are 3 more key benefits to this type of flooring:
Overall, hardwood flooring is considered to be highly durable, especially when it has a high-quality finishing coat. For most homeowners, so long as they take good care of their flooring and make sure to refinish it as needed, hardwood flooring can last their entire lifetime.
As mentioned earlier, to keep your hardwood flooring in the best condition possible, it is recommended to refinish it around every 10 years. Moreover, certain types of hardwood — like cherry or live oak — are considered to be the most durable and can add more years to your flooring’s lifetime.
You can also select a hardwood that is more scratch-resistant than other types, such as hickory, hard maple, or white oak.
However, it is important to note that a floor’s finishing can still become scratched up. Thus, it is ideal to also choose a durable and scratch-resistant protective coating, such as aluminum oxide.
2. Diverse Aesthetics
One of the best things about hardwood flooring is the wide variety of different woods you can choose from. Each type of wood will have a unique color and grain pattern, allowing you to select the style that matches your vision for your home as closely as possible.
In addition to the wood itself coming in different colors, you can also choose from a vast range of different varnishes and finishings that can give your flooring a unique look as well.
Plus, if you want to mix things up, when it’s time to refinish your flooring you can select a different varnish or finishing to give your home a new aesthetic.
When choosing both a wood type and finishing, you should always try to select something that matches your lifestyle. For example, if you have pets, choosing a highly scratch-resistant wood is probably the better option for your home.
3. Cleanliness & Hygiene
With floorings like carpet and laminate, these materials can quickly become dirty and difficult to clean. Moreover, if these floorings are not installed properly or if the materials used are not high-quality, they can begin to peel up from the base floor, allowing for moisture, pests, and debris to build up underneath.
By comparison, hardwood flooring is much more hygienic and easy to keep clean. Unless you allow damage to get severe enough that you have deep cracks in your floor, nothing can get underneath this type of flooring. The only pest you really need to worry about is termites.
The best recommendation for preventing termite infestations is to use a liquid termite barrier that is applied around the outside perimeter of your home as well as underground. This liquid barrier works by blocking the termites’ path, inhibiting them from reaching your flooring.
Cons of Hardwood Flooring
Like all types of flooring, there are some disadvantages to hardwood flooring to be aware of as well. Though hardwood flooring certainly has the upper hand on other types of materials, it is important to be aware of the negatives so that you can plan accordingly.
Here are 3 cons to choosing hardwood flooring for your home:
1. Purchase & Installation Price
The biggest hurdle you are likely to face if you choose hardwood flooring is the cost.
On average, the price of hardwood flooring ranges from $5 to $15 per square foot — however, this is not the only cost you must cover. In addition to purchasing the wood, you must also pay for the installation, which averages around $5,000 to $15,000 per 1,000 square feet, and for the finishing, which averages around $5 to $10 per square foot.
If you are only adding hardwood flooring to small areas in your home, these costs are likely to be on the lower side. On the other hand, if you plan on using this flooring for large areas in your home — or even for your entire home — the total end price can quickly skyrocket.
There can also be additional labor and material costs, depending on what company you choose to install your flooring for you. The key is to plan and save accordingly before investing in this type of flooring.
2. Long-Term Maintenance
Hardwood flooring requires several types of long-term maintenance, including refinishing and preventative care to protect against termites.
In addition to these costs, long-term maintenance can also include finishing touch-ups. Touch-ups help to maintain a hardwood floor’s finishing for longer by buffing out scratches and only adding more finishing as needed. This process may be required more frequently but it can help you in the long run to avoid costly refinishing services in the future and elongate the time between refinishing.
3. Moisture Vulnerability
As we have discussed, one of the biggest threats to your hardwood flooring is excess moisture.
Depending on where your home is geographically, this may be a more or less difficult problem to deal with. If you live in an area with high humidity levels, your hardwood flooring is going to be more vulnerable to moisture build-up, meaning you will likely need to invest in dehumidifying devices.
Best Hardwood Flooring Brands
These days, there are many great hardwood flooring brands to choose from, ranging from major companies to local flooring suppliers in your area.
Some of the top-rated hardwood flooring companies include:
For local brands, good places to look for reputable companies are at your local chamber of commerce or by contacting your local hardware stores!
How to Clean Hardwood Floors
A great advantage to hardwood floors is that they are incredibly easy to clean!
For light dirt or debris build-up, a dust mop can easily do the trick. As for bigger messes, such as spills or grime build-up, use a cleaning solution approved for use on hardwood floors and a mop. After mopping, make sure to dry your floor thoroughly.
Avoid using vacuums on your hardwood floors, as these can result in scratching.
Which Rooms are Well-Suited for Hardwood Flooring?
In general, the rooms that are the most well-suited for hardwood flooring are bedrooms, offices, hallways, and living rooms. The key with hardwood flooring is to avoid installing it in rooms with heavy amounts of excess moisture, such as:
As for kitchens, hardwood flooring can be a good choice, so long as you are prepared to carry out the proper maintenance and not allow any excess build-up of moisture.
Hardwood flooring is an excellent choice for any home, as it helps to boost property value, gives you a wide range of aesthetic choices, and is relatively easy to maintain.
The biggest considerations when deciding whether or not to install hardwood flooring are the overall purchase and installation costs, as well as finishing and refinishing costs.
When you’re ready to invest in a hardwood floor, make sure to shop around for good deals and always work with reputable installation companies!