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MANY considerations must be given when selecting a hardwood floor. The following will help with your selection process. Here we will attempt to share the many types, sizes, colors, application methods, and the variety of wood floor species on the market today. This information is a general, overall foundation in helping you start your search. Always look at several product lines, make comparisons as to wear warranties, thicknesses, type of construction, type and number of finish coats, as well as the many other considerations we will outline herein. See Styles & Trends in Hardwood Flooring.
The following Go2 directory is listed in the order of the selection process. ALL subtitles are detailed on this page. Many LINKS at this page will take you to our parent site HardwoodFloorsOnline.com, use the back button to return.


Start by asking yourself some simple questions:

What type of subfloor will the floor be installed over?
This will mandate the thickness and type of floor, glue down, nail down, or floating; each product and manufacturer specify differently. Some application may not fit your specific subfloor, traffic zones, and may cause early wear, or warranty concerns.

Where do I want a wood floor?
The area can determine type of product best for the traffic, size, and use of the room. Some rooms work well with wood floors, and other do not.

  • Entry/Foyer - This area is often where Custom One-Of-A-Kind designs are installed. A popular area for medallions, feature strips, accents and/or borders. Making a statement in this area is becoming more often than not. Using walk off mats outside and if there is no design, area carpets inside will help in keeping wear down. Foyers tend to be more formal than not, being for show to guest as opposed to everyday use by family members.

  • Kitchens/Family rooms; this is the number one place for wood floor installation in new construction. The ease of care, using both rooms as one, and the flow of traffic make this a very popular area for wood floors. NOTE: Kitchen wood floors should be screened (lightly sanded) and recoated as needed, say every 8-18 months, depending on the amount of traffic and cleaning habits. Good cleaning habits are very important part of maintaining a wood floor, high traffic or not.

  • Bathrooms - a working day to day bathroom would not fair well with wood floors, due to continued moisture exposure. On the other hand a guest bathroom would be fine.

  • Home offices, Bedrooms - Often this sets a semi-formal decor, with area carpets being used. Regular maintenance is required. NOTE: Rolling furniture, chairs, TV stands etc., can damage the finish very quickly, if used day to day. Make sure the floor is protected and/or the rollers are not made of metal or other damaging materials.


Is this a high traffic area?
The finish and color will be affected by this. Darker colors tend to show traffic quicker, where as natural wood colors of oak and maple do not. High traffic areas need special attention when it come to recoating. Screening (light sanding) should be a part of the preventative maintenance program for your wood floors in these areas. Application of 1 or 2 coats as needed (every 8-18 months) is a good sound way to protect your investment. Make sure the finish being applied is compatible with what is there and is of the shine that will work well in that area. Satin or low shine urethanes tend to show less traffic patterns than do the higher gloss finishes. Walkoff mats are strongly suggested for these areas, ie- working areas of a kitchens, entry ways, entries/doorways from the outside.

What type of wood do you like or will fit the area?
Some types are more traffic friendly than others; Is this species to "grainy" or busy looking ? Some species are harder than others. Maple is harder than oak; has less grain, yet maple can not be stained. Remember, the type of finish and number of coats can also determine how well your floor will fair in high traffic areas.

What color will work with the decor?
Some darker colors make rooms look smaller, show traffic patterns quicker. Lighter, or natural color of wood floor species can give an open, airy feeling, making the room appear larger. With today's color trends this is of the most popular selections now being made by the consumer, in home and office alike.

Who is helping you make these choices?
Builders tend to stay with they same product that has worked before for them, decorators tend to use color as the number one reason for choosing a particular product, which may not be suited for the area. Whether a prefinished or job finished product, have a sample of the wood floor material to make comparisons with other products and other materials, such as the fabrics, paint colors and textures being used in the room.

Who will maintain these floors?
That person needs to know the product as does the purchaser, most of time that is the same person, but not always. Knowing The Dos & Don'ts and Maintenance Procedures is very important. Make sure that information is provided to you and is a part of your contract. After the floor is installed, and this material is provided to you, this is a good time to purchase a wood floor cleaning kit, right from the get go !

All these question, as well as many others, are very important parts of the process in choosing the right hardwood floor for you. Not knowing all the answers could cause you concerns down the road. Most importantly, as we go through the selection process getting an experienced, and knowledgeable contractor who knows wood floors is one of the best things you can do.!

DO NOT depend solely on your general contractor or design consultant. In the end, an improper installation will only cost you the home owner, over and above, whether its more money, more down time or having to involve an attorney, or ALL of the above. Make sure you are dealing with a reputable wood flooring retailer/contractor.

The reason for the above questions is to determine what floor is right for the conditions where they will be installed; what conditions they will subjected to; and last but not least, is this the right floor for you?

Some floors are more pleasing than others, but may not work in your conditions, or may not work well with the traffic they will receive. The color you like may be OK with the decor, but bad for wear patterns. The type of wood, say pine for example, (not a hardwood), does not stain well and is softer than oak causing it to "dent" more. Many factors should play a part in your decision about the choices you make when it comes to hardwood floors.

This listing of what is available, as to sizes, the many colors, type of application and species we hope will help you in making an educated choice. Remember manufacturers products vary from one to the next.

Hardwood Floors can be broken into

Glue down methodGlued - using Manufacturers recommended adhesive 


Nail/staple methodNailed or Stapled (all 3/4" material) - as per manufacturers specifications of nailing schedule.


Make sure the above specifications are spelled out, this will ensure the product information is correct. This is very important as everyone involved in the process ( you, the architect, designers, builder/contractor and there associates) may not have the same specification details as you or the person helping you specify the job. Today there are a great number of products available, from thicknesses, widths, styles, colors, patterns, and varieties. Remember all manufacturers have their own "trademark" colors, sizes & styles. For instance natural oak colored floors has more than 30 names throughout the industry. If it's an unfinished product, to be job finished, the sky is the limit on color.

Finally, check several retailers/contractors, there samples, and Showrooms, (Visit our Photo Gallery for Design Ideas) . Ask for a sample that can be used to take to the areas that will receive the hardwood floor. Listen to input from your contractor, and design consultant. The floor you like may not suit the area. The color may not work with the overall scheme of the decor. Always ask questions, if in doubt, not sure, ASK ! Its much better the know ahead what to expect, than after the fact and the floor is in place. The more specific information shared commonly among ALL participating parties, the less chance of misunderstandings and problems will occur.

Ask these simple questions to your wood floor and/or general contractor:



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