Hardwood flooring is beautiful, classic, and allergy-friendly. Unfortunately, it isn’t the best option everywhere. Here’s where hardwood flooring belongs and where it doesn’t.
The Worst Rooms
Because of its superior qualities, some install hardwood flooring everywhere in their home and regret it. Here are our recommendations.
Bathroom: Water is like kryptonite to your hardwood floor. If you choose hardwood for the bathroom, expect to repair and replace it often.
Foyer: Nothing good happens to hardwood in the entryway. Dirt and sand are tracked in. Water and moisture from wet shoes seeps into crevices.
Laundry room: Opt for laminate or tile in this room. Done and done.
The Best Rooms
Dining room: Hardwood flooring will enhance your dining room’s design and maintain durability over time. Styles can complement your vibe whether formal or casual. Using soft pads on furniture will reduce noise and protect the hardwood finish.
Bedroom: Hardwood’s rich, appealing and romantic feel will complement your master suite lovely.
Living room: Hardwood stands up well to traffic, more-so if you maintain a no-shoes policy. The occasional spill won’t be a threat when if it’s cleaned quickly.
Home office: Increase productivity and provide an environment condusive to schmoozing with luxurious hardwood floors. It’s worth a shot!
Den: Hardwood floors accented with a large, comfy rug create a calm and cozy setting for unwinding with a book, casual conversation or a favorite show. It is safe to set your bookshelf on top of hardwood floors, and, as long as you don’t spill your wine on the floor, it will likely remain stain-free.
What About the Kitchen?
Hardwood has a place in every home, but not every room. Homeowners who love hardwood floors, especially with open floor plans. want to know if hardwood is okay for their kitchen. We say, “Do it… but consider the following.”
- Consider engineered hardwood. It has plywood base layers that resist moisture better than solid hardwood
- Always clean up spills quickly
- Follow the manufacturer or installer’s instructions and seal your floors regularly
Choosing the right flooring can feel like a headache. The wrong materials could lead to unexpected problems. Before making a decision, consider which materials work best in your climate.
Porcelain, Ceramic, and Stone Tile
Tile is suitable in almost any climate, but homes in colder regions might want to install heating underneath. That cool touch is a great in hot climates, including desert, humid, or tropical areas. Most tiles are water resistant and stand up to years of abuse, so you can mop to your heart’s content. While tile can last for many years, movement of the substrate can damage it in areas prone to earthquakes.
Linoleum & Vinyl
People often use the words vinyl and linoleum interchangeably, but they’re different materials. Vinyl is synthetic, but linoleum is a natural product made from ground cork and linseed oil. There are various, high-quality vinyl flooring options to realistically reproduce wood and stone patterns. The color is solid throughout, so it doesn’t show damage as easily. While they’re suitable in any climate, they can feel a bit cold underfoot. Both vinyl and linoleum are available in tiles and sheets. They also clean easily with a damp mop.
Carpet is soft and cushy and adds insulation and comfort in colder climates. Available in rolls and tiles, fuzzy and short fibers, there’s something for practically any living environment where water isn’t present. Basements and other rooms with persistent damp conditions can lead to problems with mold and mildew because the fibers and padding retain moisture. Everyday cleaning requires vacuuming, but stains are harder to deal with. Steam cleaning and spot treatments are necessary.
Newer high quality laminates have come a long way. Realistic wood texture embossed into their coating makes them practically indistinguishable from real hardwood. However, the edges of laminates swell in excessively damp conditions. Once the damage is done, the panel needs to be replaced. Only mop with a barely-damp mop.
Damp or dry conditions can be an issue for hardwood in some situations. Excessively dry conditions can dry out the wood, but high-quality sealers help to resist cracks. Dampness causes wood to swell and buckle the floor. Use a dehumidifier to regulate the humidity and help the floor stay put. Hardwoods feel cool under your feet, good in warm climates. They can be good in colder areas too. Ask a reputable flooring contractor to recommend varieties that work with radiant heat.
Engineered hardwood resists swelling and shrinking and is a good option for all climates.
Your home will benefit from the look of wood flooring; the decision whether to use hardwood or laminate may depend on if you have pets, young kids or high traffic.
Laminate wood flooring is made from composite wood pressed together at high temperatures. Then the image of hardwood is placed over the composite wood. Hardwood flooring is made of harvested trees. In general, hardwood is significantly more expensive to buy and to install.
Hardwood can get scratched and is susceptible to damage from excessive moisture and wearing in high traffic areas. If you have a lot of sunlight in your home be aware that hardwood can fade. Hardwood is gorgeous and can add considerable value to your home. However, laminate wood flooring has integrated UV protection into its surface. Laminate is more durable and resists moisture and wear and tear. Laminate flooring is also easier to clean. However, it’s not as visually appealing and low quality laminate may look artificial.
Flooring is one component of your home that will have to be repaired at some point. Hardwood can be repaired by sanding imperfections and refinishing. Laminate flooring doesn’t repair easily.
Wooden floors may lose their sheen or luster and need reviving with an application of wood floor oil. Different shades of oil are available, including: clear, natural Oak, Walnut, white, grey and black. Oiling your floor can be a great opportunity to achieve a new, unique look, or simply revive the original appearance of your hardwood floor.
Keeping your newly oiled floor looking fresh and revitalized is easy. Wipe any water spills immediately. Always remove shoes and footwear before walking on the floor to prevent scratches and damage to your floor. Apply anti-scratch felt pads to the bottom of furniture. Sweep your floor daily to remove dirt and dust. Clean with a wood floor cleaning spray and microfiber cloth on a weekly basis. Always use products that are specifically designed for hardwood floors when oiling. Always read and follow the instructions carefully.
New flooring is a great home improvement project that makes the whole house feel better. And if you’re thinking of DIY flooring installation, you’ll save about half what it would cost to hire a professional.
Know your subfloor. In most cases it’s either wood or concrete — each has dos and don’ts when it comes to choosing the right flooring. If installation guidelines aren’t included, look for them on the manufacturer’s website. Also search YouTube on the subject to get familiar with the process. Buy the proper tools or rent them from your local rent-it shop. Ask the staff how they should be properly operated.
Some flooring installations are designed for a DIY. Here’s a quick rundown on skill levels needed for various flooring installation projects.
For the easiest install, DIYers should go with the floating floor. Engineered wood flooring is available as a glue-down, nail-down, and floating floor system with snap-together edges.
A laminate floor with a floating system is very DIY-friendly. You’ll need some skill and patience to meander doorways.
A rented flooring nail gun makes nailing down hardwood flooring easier once you get the hang of it. Your biggest challenge is dealing with warped boards to keep rows straight.
Ceramic tile flooring installation requires moderate to high levels of skill. Laying out the design and understanding how to start off a ceramic tile floor installation are keys to success, especially when it comes to notching tile around obstacles.
Tile is a great option for people with pets. Tile is a durable, easy to clean, liquid-proof surface with tons of different design options. But, for animals with bladder-control issues it might be a challenge to keep the grout clean. If you’re dreaming of wood floors, but don’t want to risk it, consider faux-wood tiles.
Luxury vinyl is another great option for pet owners. It’s durable, quiet, long lasting, and resistant to moisture, dents, and scratches. It’s affordable and most vinyl floor tiles and mimic stone or wood patterns beautifully.
Laminate is an extremely strong artificial wood product. It has a sealant layer that resists scratches and scuffs. Laminate is less expensive than concrete, wood, or most tile. The only possible issue with this laminate flooring is that the layer that protects it is very slippery.
If you must have carpet, consider something specifically designed to resist pet stains and odors. A nonwhite neutral color won’t show dirt as quickly. Vacuum often to keep fur from building up.
Pets don’t have to ruin your dreams of having hardwood floors. Make sure dog nails are kept trimmed and messes are wiped up immediately. Go for the hardest wood you can find, such as teak, mesquite, or hard maple. Consider engineered hardwood with the most scratch-resistant finish available. A matte or low-gloss look will hide scratches better. Finish your floor with a scratch-resistant finish. Also consider distressed or reclaimed wood.
Hardwood floors start out rough. After the pieces are planed for a smooth finish, a tongue and groove is cut into their sides. Engineered floors are created from several layers of wood veneer pressed tightly together and can be laid directly on top of concrete slabs.
The best method of floor care will partly determined by its finish. Caring for waxed wood flooring is similar to a floor coated in polyurethane. However, waxed floors should be cleaned with a cleaning/waxing compound to lift dirt and add a fresh coat of wax. Polyurethane-coated floors should be cleaned with water and vinegar.
To find out if your floor is covered with wax or polyurethane drip some water onto it. If the water beads and remains on the surface, it’s probably polyurethane; if it soaks in after a few minutes, it’s probably coated with wax. Alternatively, wipe the floor using a rag dampened with mineral spirits. The cloth will develop a waxy feel if the floor is waxed.
The varnish-like layer applied to your floor is the finish. Each style of finish brings its own visual appearance to the wood and slightly different levels of protection.
Lacquers are a popular for creating a smooth, low maintenance finish. All lacquered finishes are more resistant to splashes and scratches. They also slow the color-changing effects from sunlight much more than oiled floors. The satin finish is slightly glossy.
Matt Lacquer finish looks like an oil or wax finish, but is more resistant to scratches. Lacquer finishes slow the color-changing effects from sunlight much more than oiled floors. This is the most popular way to finish your floor.
A beautiful textured effect can be created by treating each board with a wire brush. The finish makes the wood a little more resistant to scratches and gives it a deeper, more pronounced grain. This finish is often combined with a Matt Lacquer or a Natural Oil.
Distressed floors offer a unique, aged appearance but the process is time consuming and labor intensive. It involves carefully scraping and bashing the floor but this unique finish gives a real depth of character.
This is the most traditional treatment for flooring and gives a natural, classic look for your floor. Generally speaking, oiled floors offer less protection against sunlight and your floor will change its color much quicker than lacquered floors. Oil needs to be reapplied more often than lacquer, but luckily this is very easy to do.
Some of our floors are supplied unprotected, natural and ready for any finish you want to apply.
If this is your first time refinishing floors, you’re probably better off hiring a professional. Not only will your floors look better and last longer, but they will be finished much faster if you hire a professional. You’ll also want to consider the value of your time vs the small amount of savings you’ll gain by doing this yourself. If you’re looking to save money you may be able to do that by moving the furniture, ripping up the carpet/staples yourself, and buying the polyurethane and stain yourself (try Walmart or Amazon).
There are some real risks and downsides if you attempt to refinish your own floors. Most novices sand the floors too deep and therefore shorten the life of their hardwood floors. Skilled professionals know how to avoid this. If you sand unevenly, you can create divots and dips in the floor, and these can be permanent. Even if you hire a professional later, the weight from the machine will follow the profile of the floor. Pine and/or older or softer wood floors are more susceptible to sloppy sandings, so be extra careful if your home was built before the 1920s.
Regardless, be sure to throw away all the materials safely. Keep bags of saw dust containing chemicals least 12 ft away from the house. The sawdust can spontaneously catch fire, especially in hot weather.
The brunt of the wear and tear on your home is received by its floors. They’re put to the test daily by dirty shoes, spills, and scratches from
pet claws, furniture, sweepers and more. The question is: how long before they need to be replaced?
Carpet generally lasts about 10 years. Tile, wood and laminate flooring can last as long as 25-30 years. Typically the amount of damage they face over the years is the determining factor.
If your carpet can’t seem to be restore it to its former glory with cleaning, it’s probably time for replacement. Smells that have penetrated the carpet padding can be challenging. Some stains from bleach, wine and pets won’t completely go away especially if they seep through to the padding below.
Carpet wear and tear is hard to reverse. Matting is a prime indicator when a deep cleaning does nothing to restore the carpet’s form. Rips and tears are also signs that the carpet needs to be replaced.
Solid hardwood floors can be sanded and refinished. Costs range between $3 and $7 per square foot to refinish the floors. However, replacing the floors with an alternative material like laminate or engineered hardwood may possibly cost less. If wider planks or a more durable material is what you’re looking for, replacing instead of refinishing the floor could be the better option.
Ceramic tile can last a lifetime. Broken tiles can be replaced. Stained grout can be cleaned and sealed. Unfortunately, the style of the tile can become outdated. Also, if your tile floor seems to be continually cracking, it may need replacing and your new floor should be outfitted with an uncoupling membrane. This membrane will add flexibility between the floor and the subfloor and help distribute the load of the floor evenly, thereby reducing the chance of cracking.
Whether the floor has seen water damage or just simple wear and tear, thin laminate or vinyl tile clearly displays when it’s at the end of its life. If it’s peeling up this shows that the adhesive is starting to fail and the floor should be replaced.