Hardwood flooring is usually a big, one-time purchase for homeowners. Today, there are so many different options that Tesoro Woods has created a hardwood flooring buying guide.
The first thing to decide when purchasing wood flooring is to decide between solid or engineered flooring.
Solid wood flooring is exactly what you think it is, one solid piece of wood. Because it’s one piece, solid hardwood flooring can be sanded down refinished more times than engineered wood flooring, but is usually the more expensive option.
Engineered wood flooring is real wood flooring that’s made of multiple layers of wood veneers. Because of its layers, engineered wood flooring can’t be sanded down and refinished multiple times depending on the wear layer thickness, but they are more stable than solid wood floors and less expensive.
Color and Species
Choosing the right color and species of wood flooring for you is strictly a matter of your style, budget and personal preference. Wood floors are categorized by three general types: light, medium, and dark.
Hardwood flooring can come in a variety of different colors, white, yellow, gray, brown, red, orange, and so on! Many of these colors are the result of staining. One of the most popular design options over the last few years is gray floors. Learn more about this year’s flooring trends, here. Another option is to leave the wood natural and unstained. The images above are all natural and unstained.
The wood species has a big impact on how your hardwood flooring will look. Exotic species are usually more red or orange in color, while Maple is very yellow and Walnut is a dark brown naturally. Different species will also have very different graining (the lines you see in wood flooring), even before the flooring has been cut and milled. Maples naturally don’t have much grain, while Oaks and Hickory can have more knots, but milling will impact the wood’s grain.
Thickness & Hardness
Engineered wood thickness typically features a thin layer of higher quality material on the top (the wear layer), with a more affordable material underneath (the veneers). Wear layers are usually less than ¾” thick, making refinishing more difficult. Learn more about wear layers here.
Wood hardness varies greatly depending on the species of wood. Pine and Walnut tend to be softer and more vulnerable to scratches and dents, while exotics or Hickory are extremely durable. Look for the Janka rating in the product specifications to determine the hardness of a piece of wood, which is measured by the wood’s resistance to denting and wear.
- Rift & Quartered: Rift and Quartered is commonly known for its traditional long-lined grain. It’s usually straight lines that are very close together with wavy lines, or flecks randomly. Read more about rift and quartered grain here.
- Mixed: A true mix of different flooring grains. Some boards have a straight, vertical lined grain, while other boards have a cathedral grain or flat grain, more of an arching pattern.
- Rustic: With the appearance of classic early American plank flooring, rustic wood flooring includes knots, cracks, color variation and other natural character.
- Select: Flooring boards that have been hand selected due to their uniform color and little knots, cracks, color variation and other natural character.
Edges & Ends
- Square: A clean-lined, uniform look with a crisp finish that looks very traditional and like a site-finished floor. Both the Great Northern Woods Collection and the Great Southern Woods Collection offer square edges and ends.
- Beveled: Deeper indent that can hide irregularities in the subfloor while providing a more rustic look. The Coastal Lowlands Collection, Brushed Patina Collection, Salvaged Pine Collection and the Coastal Inlet Collection offer beveled edges and ends.
- Oiled: With a real wood feel, natural oil finishes are safe in homes and spots can easily be repaired with a simple application of more natural oil. The Brushed Patina Collection features oiled finished floors.
- Urethane: A water-based, modern day finish that limits chemicals and VOCs in homes.
- Aluminum Oxide: Pre-finished floors have multiple coats of this for ultimate durability.
Gloss levels indicate how much shine is visible on hardwood floors. Gloss doesn’t impact durability, just the look of a wood floor. The three types of gloss levels are high gloss, semi-gloss or satin gloss, and matte gloss. Keep in mind that high gloss levels will show dust more than low gloss.
Please be sure to always review several flooring samples, not just images before purchasing; wood is a natural product and each piece varies.