A new wood floor adds beauty and value to your home. There are many design decisions you will need to make before installation day, but three decisions will be the most important when it comes to the quality and maintenance needs of the floor. Consider these decisions before you begin to look at all the flooring options that are available.
Softwood or Hardwood
At its most simple, softwood comes from conifers and evergreen trees, while hardwood comes from deciduous trees. Generally, hardwood has a more complex structure that often makes it more suitable for flooring. This makes it more dent resistant. Maple and oak are common examples of hardwood flooring. It can cost more than softwood, but it is a durable option in areas that see a lot of foot traffic and therefore are more damage-prone.
Although not as complex, some softwood is quite dense and this makes it suitable for flooring use. Pine and fir are the types most commonly used for flooring due to their density. They aren't quite as damage-resistant, so you don't want to use softwood in a dining room or main entry. These lower-cost woods are more suitable for low traffic areas, such as in a bedroom.
Unfinished or Prefinished
When it comes to quick installation and durability, prefinished shines. The factory finish is applied perfectly and then it is heat set, so it will likely last much longer than finishing that is applied onsite. The main two drawbacks with this option are cost and choice. Prefinished boards can cost more than their unfinished counterparts, and you may have a limited choice in finish colors.
Unfinished flooring is much more common. These will need to be sanded and then a finish will be applied after installation. Unfinished flooring costs less and you can have it finished in any color you choose. It is also much easier to sand these down and refinish them in the future, which makes future color changes easier as well.
Oil or Water Based Stains
If you decide on unfinished wood and will be finishing on-site, you must also decide between oil or water-based stains. Oil-based stains require less time to apply simply because you won't need to apply as many coats. These stains also trend darker in color. The main drawback is that it does take oils longer to dry and they will off-gas during the process.
Water-based stains require more coats but each coat dries much more quickly, and with less off-gassing. Water stains tend to be lighter in color and they may not be as durable as an oil-based stain, so they aren't suitable in areas with high traffic.
Contact a hardwood flooring installation service for more help with choosing the right product for your home.