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How To Compare Wood Flooring


Wood flooring has been around for hundreds of years as a flooring material   The natural beauty sets a certain standard of quality in a home.   It is hard (should be) but yet has a warmth which brings softness to a room as opposed to a stone floor.  There is an inherent magnificence in the different grain patterns and natural coloration. Dumfries House via Architectural Digest / Photography by Derry MooreOld growth hardwoods from the early 1800’s are still going strong in this historic home almost 200 years later.  It is possible to find some of the old growth woods as reclaimed, but new is not the same oak, pine or ash which is available today.  With globalization there are stunning wood species from Africa or Brazil very suitable for durable flooring.

So how do you decide what wood is the right wood for your home?The Janka Hardness Scale is the one and only test of the hardness of wood species.  This is a test rates the force of which it takes to embed a ball bearing into the surface of a plank of said wood species.  What this means to the consumer is how easily the floor will dent and scratch.Please note, this is the measure of a plank, NOT a veneer.  Veneer floors are generally not as hard as a solid plank and even less so as the depth of the veneer diminishes.

How you live determines how well the floor will hold up.  Consider pets, lifestyle and the worst offender: stiletto heels.  With pets and kids, harder is better.  If you live in your bare feet and aren’t putting it in a kitchen, softer can be suitable.  Kitchen’s are where most of the dropped items (pans & silverware) occur.Appearance is pure esthetics.  It the species visually appealing or not?   Do you prefer a grain pattern?  Light or dark? Zebrawood (1575) and Wenge (1660) from Brenco Exotic Woods, a company very mindful of their logging practices and reforestation.

When it comes to cost for wood floors, cheap is never better and over the long run a thin veneer will never be the better choice.  Real wood floors add value to a home.  It helps to research the manufacturer as well, not all companies offering the same species are the same.  For instance all wood and bamboo manufacturers are not created equal.  Click here to see who I use and recommend for Bamboo flooring.

True story:  I had a client who loved walnut for their floors.  To save money (on an entire first floor) they went with a less expensive pine and had it stained to the pretty brown color of walnut.  It didn’t take a month and they were kicking themselves for having chosen the less expensive option.  The floor looked years older because of the softness.

When it comes to wood or grass (bamboo) floors your happiness is a direct correlation to the hardness of the wood species and quality of material.  Natural wood floors are not steel, they will ding and show wear but how much determines the beauty over time.  Colors can be trendy which is why selecting a floor which can hold up to at least two sandings allows the homeowner the option to freshen and possible change the stain color.  A cheap wood floor will result in a bad wood floor, buy the best you can afford.

Janka Scale chart via Quality Flooring.

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