With what seems like countless combinations of species, finishes, colors, and textures, selecting the hardwood flooring option that will make you most happy and be most reflective of your style can seem daunting and impossible. Have no fear! My Flooring Guy is here to shine some light on our suggested selection process and considerations. We are confident that if you follow these suggestions, you are sure to see your personal style shine through in both your flooring and your décor. Let’s get started!
As you begin your design journey, have a basic vision in mind and have consider your style as well as your lifestyle. Ask yourself questions like “How do I want to feel when I am in my home?” and “What do I want others to think of when they visit?” Here is a list of things to consider and keep in mind as you move forward with your personal design process:
- Furniture Color and Style – Are you keeping your current furniture or replacing it?
- Color and Style of Immovable Fixtures (fireplaces, kitchen cabinets, wall units, built-ins)
- Home Accent and Wall Colors
- Level of Foot Traffic in your home
- Pet Traffic
- Maintenance Level desired
Your selection process can be broken down into four major parts: Wood Species, Texture and Design, Color Selection, and Finish Selection. Let’s take a closer look at each.
Wood Species Selection
When selecting which type of wood to use for your hardwood flooring, the very first thing you need to establish is how durable your floor needs to be. This is determined most commonly by these factors:
- How heavy is the foot traffic in the house?
- Are there animals in the house and if so, do they have claws?
- How much time do you have to devote to maintaining and cleaning your floors?
If you have heavy foot traffic and/or animals in your house, your concern about durability should increase. In this case, you would want to consider Maple, Hickory, Oak, or Brazilian Cherry. If you have light foot traffic and/or if your pets are declawed, you can consider the softer woods such as Walnut, Cherry, and Birch. Another thing to consider when choosing your hardwood species is your stylistic preference when it comes to grain, knots, and filled cracks. Maple has a fine grain which will create a more Traditional or Classic feel. While Oak has a fine grain as well, it does tend to have more knots and filled cracks in it which makes it a great choice for Rustic, Modern, and Contemporary looks. If you are looking to make a big, bold statement, choose an exotic wood such as Tigerwood, Brazilian Cherry, or Camaru. Hardwood floors do require a lot of maintenance to keep them looking their best for as long as possible, but we all know that life happens in spite of what we want our hardwood floors to look like. If you find that you have to clean up spills often or if you have a dirt that gets tracked in from pets, muddy work boots, or children, consider choosing a texture to pair with your wood species choice.
Another important choice, which is purely stylistic, is the width of the planks or boards. Anything less than 3 inches is considered a board and anything 3 inches and above is considered a plank. Thinner width boards tend to be losing popularity since their claim to fame in the 1970s, while thicker width boards (8-12 inches) seem to be the next big thing. The most common width range for planks though is between 5 and 7 inches.
Wood Texture and Design Selection
There are many different textures you can choose from based on the look you are trying to achieve. Most textures share common benefits such as:
- Hides every day dirt and wear
- Extends the durability of the floors
- Lower maintenance because dust and spills are removed more easily and do not spread as quickly
The most popular textures right now are Hand Scraped, Distressed, and Wire Brushed. Choosing a texture can also help you achieve a one of a kind look.
If you don’t have to consider durability as much, you can also look into some popular design choices that allow you to create visual interest and express yourself be deviating from the standard installation pattern of hardwood. The current most popular design choices right now are:
- Mixed or Random Width Boards – incorporates boards and planks of various widths and even sometimes various species to create a Vintage or Early American Craftsman feel.
- Chevron – Luxurious European look, gives a flow of direction from its arrow shape
- Herringbone – Avant Garde look, Timeless, Sophisticated, detailed but subtle
Woods that are less exotic are great for creating a more dramatic look for both Chevron and Herringbone designs. Due to their placement patterns, designs such as the ones listed above increase the durability of the floors because the planks and boards are less likely to expand or separate over time.
Wood Color Selection
There are several ways to go about getting just the right color on your hardwood floors. You first have to choose between the two major color categories: Stained or Natural wood. Both of these choices to have their benefits, but the choice remains mostly stylistic in nature. When choosing a color it is good to keep in mind that lighter colors are best for small spaces because they open up the room and make it look bigger while darker colors are great for large spaces and bold statements.
Stains are prefect for matching your new flooring to existing flooring within your house, if you are looking to create a more unified and less variable look, or if you are looking for a custom color either because the color you want and the wood you want do not match up, or because you want to make a bold and colorful statement. Stain is applied after the sanding process, but before the finishing process of your installation. See below for some common stain colors. Remember that if you do not come across a stain color that works for you, My Flooring Guy can have a customized color created for you.
Natural Wood Options
If you have chosen a wood species and want to retain the natural color of the wood itself, one thing to remember when making this choice is that natural wood varies vastly in its natural colors, grains, and knotwork. Some woods vary less dramatically than others. If you are not using a stain, you will need to choose between an oil-based or a water-based finish. Oil-based finishes tend to add a slight honey or amber hue to the wood while water-based finishes retain the actual true color of the wood.
Finish Level Selection
When we use the term “finish level”, we are referring to the level of shine that will remain on your floors. This ranges from matte to high-gloss with the most popular finishes being matte, satin, and semi-gloss. As a rule of thumb, matte, satin, and semi-gloss tend to hide surface scratches better and high-gloss is known to create a bolder, more detailed and dramatic effect. For maximum protection, be sure to apply 2-3 coats of finish to your floors.
There you have it, it’s now time for the best part…..SHOPPING!!! Remember that when you are considering samples, it is very important to view the samples in your home and at different times of the day because light dramatically affects the way your floors will look and be perceived. My Flooring Guy wishes you all the best and we are always here to help and to consult our clients on both quality and design options.