The Many Types of Hardwood Floors: Your Guide to Picking Wood Flooring


Learn about the types of hardwood floors and what each type of wood offers to your home's design and comfort. Consider this the ultimate guide to wood flooring.

Are you looking to install hardwood floors in your home?

Hardwood is a great flooring option. It's known for being versatile, durable, and low-maintenance. But, there are all different types of hardwood floors to choose from. How do you know what's right for your home?

Check out this guide to learn about the different types of hardwood floors.



Solid vs Engineered Hardwood Flooring


Hardwood flooring falls into two major categories: solid hardwood flooring and engineered hardwood flooring.

Solid hardwood flooring refers to flooring that's made from thick planks of solid timber. Engineered hardwood flooring, on the other hand, offers the look of the real thing. However, it's made from a thin top layer of hardwood that's bonded to other layers in order to prevent shifting when the wood expands and contracts.

In other words, engineered hardwood floors work to restrict the natural movement of the wood. Let's take a closer look at each the differences between these flooring options:



Thickness


The thickness of engineered hardwood floors can range from 3/8 to 1/2 inches. The standard width is 3 1/4-inch, and plank sizes start at 5 inches wide. Solid hardwood floors are typically 3/4-inches thick and the standard width starts at 2 1/4 inches. The plank width starts at 5 inches and can go up to 11 inches.



Finishing


Engineered floors are typically unfinished. However, some companies do make site-finished (also known as unfinished) engineered floors. Solid wood floors are becoming increasingly pre-finished. Around a quarter of solid wood floors come unfinished.



Sanding


You can only sand engineered floors once or twice lightly. After this, the thin upper layer starts to wear away. Solid wood floors, on the other hand, can be sanded numerous times. However, solid hardwood can become too thin after years of sanding, which will then compromise the structural integrity.



Installation


With engineered flooring, you have more methods of installation available, therefore making the process easier. Solid wood flooring, on the other hand, always needs to be stapled and nailed down.



Resale Value


If cared for properly, engineered floors and solid floors have approximately the same resale value. In general, hardwood floors are very attractive to potential buyers, as their known for being extremely versatile, durable, and low-maintenance.



Durability


Both engineered and solid wood floors are extremely durable. However, solid wood floors are the more durable of the two. Engineered hardwood flooring has a thin surface that can chip or de-laminate if it's stressed beyond normal conditions. Solid hardwood floors, on the other hand, will last for decades if they're well-maintained.



Moisture


Moisture is considered the enemy of solid wood flooring, as it can cause the material to easily warp and expand. If your solid wood floors become flooded, they have a slim chance of being salvaged. For this reason, solid wood floors are not recommended for basements, bathrooms, or other areas of the home that see a lot of moisture.

However, solid wood flooring does have some moisture-resistance, especially if you opt for site-finished wood flooring. Engineered wood flooring is more moisture-resistant than solid wood flooring. This is due to its sound plywood base.



Hardness


Solid wood floors have a greater range of wood hardness than engineered floors. You can get anything from an extremely soft wood that's only appropriate for utility areas to an extremely tough wood such as Brazilian walnut.



Installation Areas


When it comes to installation areas, engineered wood floors can be installed in kitchens as long as you take the proper precautions. They also do fine in bathrooms, and with the right subflooring, engineered wood floors can even be installed in basements that don't suffer from moisture problems.


Solid hardwood flooring does best in living areas, hallways, bedrooms, and dining rooms. While it's usually best to avoid solid wood in kitchens, as long as waterproof mats are placed near the dishwasher and sink, installation is okay. You should avoid installing solid wood flooring in bathrooms, but they'll be fine in powder rooms.



Hardwood Species


Now that you know more about engineered wood and solid wood flooring, let's talk about the different species of hardwood. Here are some of the top choices:



Oak


When it comes to oak, you have two main types to choose from: white oak and red oak. White oak is harder than red oak, which makes it a great choice for highly trafficked areas. This type of oak is characterized by grey undertones and smooth appearance.

Red oak is the most common hardwood flooring choice and is suitable for most flooring needs. You can find red oak in a variety of tones, from rusty brown to golden red to creamy pink.



Cherry


Cherry is slightly on the softer side, making it well-suited for low traffic areas. You should avoid installing it in brightly lit areas, as too much light exposure will cause it to darken over time. Those who like a smooth grain pattern and warm brown hues will enjoy cherry hardwood.



Walnut


Walnut flooring is characterized by its rich, deep chocolate tones and its large and straight grain patterns. For those who enjoy drama and sophistication, walnut is a great choice.



Hickory


Hickory is extremely durable and holds up very well in high-traffic areas. In fact, many schools choose it for their gymnasium floors. If you have a rustic/country style, hickory is an excellent option.



Maple


Maple is another highly durable choice that's suitable for most rooms. It's typically light-colored with some occasional dark streaks. This type of hardwood complements a variety of styles, including transitional, contemporary, and eclectic.



Types of Hardwood Floors: Wrap Up


As you can see, there are many different types of hardwood floors out there. Now, all you need to do is decide which one is right for you.

When you're ready to start shopping, be sure to check out our selection.