Wood Flooring

From timeless classics to new exotics, options abound for wood flooring.

Wood flooring offers a timeless, classic appeal. It’s as durable as it is beautiful, bringing warmth and elegance into your home. And today, you can choose from a variety of types, styles, colors and even species of wood, from domestic to exotic.

Basic choices in wood flooring include:

  • Solid wood, which is one piece of wood from top to bottom
  • Engineered wood, which is a manufactured product in which layers of wood are pressed together, with grains running in different directions
  • Laminate, which is made of several materials bonded together, including high-density fiberboard, and then topped with a high-resolution image of real wood to lend an authentic appearance.

Each type has its own set of pros and cons, says Gary Dunn, marketing manager for Hiller’s Flooring America. “Laminates are very hard to dent or scratch, but you care for them like wood floors,” he says. “You also have an endless selection of colors and different gloss levels, from very low to high. And laminate won’t change color if you put an area rug down.” On the other hand, many people prefer the character and texture of real wood floors. “And real wood can be refinished,” Dunn notes. Which option is best for you depends also on where you want to install it and how it’ll be used. For instance, hardwood shouldn’t be installed in rooms below ground level.

In addition to selecting a material to use, you must also decide on design elements for your flooring. “One of the biggest trends we’re seeing is a movement away from the traditional look of the 2-inch strip to wider planks that are three, five or even seven inches wide,” Dunn says. “These wider widths are known as planks, and they can help make a room look bigger because you’re using fewer pieces.”

Another major trend starting to make its way to the Midwest is the use of a full bevel edge on the strips or planks, Dunn says. “It’s actually an old look, going back to the 1800s when every floor had a bevel to catch sand and dirt and keep it off the main surface so that it wouldn’t scratch and wear down the finish,” he explains. “The bevel can also give the look of more texture. It’s super-retro.”

And of course, some homeowners are trying to go green with their floors by using renewable wood products that are both environmentally friendly and affordable, Dunn says. Bamboo and cork remain popular options. New on the scene is Lyptus®, which is grown on plantations in Brazil that preserve native ecosystems. With a look that evokes mahogany or cherry, Lyptus offers a fine grain pattern free of knots and holes, and it can be finished to suit your color tastes.

Wood floors are known for being easy to maintain and clean – if you use the right products and follow manufacturer’s instructions. “Never use a bucket of water and a mop,” Dunn warns. “And don’t use oil soaps, which can leave a residue that makes it difficult to clean and may cause color changes over time.” Instead, seek out cleaners designed specifically for wood floors – you may have to head to your local flooring store for these products, rather than a grocery store. Use a damp cloth to wipe up spills when they occur. Have kids or pets? Consider a lower gloss floor, which hides scratches and damage better.

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If you have questions about building or remodeling, call Rochester Area Builders at (507) 282-7698.

Copyright 2007 Rochester Area Builders, Inc. No part of the Remodel It Right Handbook articles may be reproduced or printed without written permission from Rochester Area Builders, 108 Elton Hills Lane NW, Rochester, MN 55901. Phone (507) 282-7698.