Before any home improvement project, there are many factors that go into the decision-making process and choosing to make the switch to wood flooring is no different. It requires careful planning all the way around. From room selection, to pairing possibilities with furniture, from cost to style and pattern choices, and even the installation process itself – you are essentially giving your home a complete makeover. Overwhelming as all these decisions may seem, the transition to a new floor can actually be smooth and seamless.
Where do I Start?
Once you determine that it is time to make the switch to a new floor, the first thing you must do is decide which rooms in your home will receive upgraded flooring. Some people use wood floors as an accent to carpet or tile and will put it in the main room of a home and leave the hallways and bedrooms as they are or vice versa. If each room in your home is decorated differently, having a flooring pattern or color that changes as each room does might be too much strain on the aesthetics of the house. As a result, a balanced and single pattern that can encompass all design elements might work best. For example, herringbone flooring, along with other parquet designs, needs space to really let the pattern flare out so it works very well in great rooms. However, in narrow hallways it is better to keep a classic oak look, in the same color.
Exploring the Types of Flooring Available
The two main types of flooring material are solid hardwood and engineered wood. Solid hardwood flooring has been around for ages and was historically the choice flooring for the standard home. As concrete foundations became more popular than traditional joists, engineered wood flooring started to take hold as a viable flooring option as it is easier to lay over a slab. It is cheaper to produce and can be made to show any pattern or colour scheme perfectly.
Hardwood flooring has not lost its appeal though as nothing can replace the rustic feel and character that traditional hardwood flooring can express. Even though engineered flooring can look exactly like hardwood, there is something to be said for that creak beneath your feet as you walk on true aged hardwood.
Oak, being the most popular and classic choice for the type of wood, makes it the standard in flooring options. In many ways engineered oak flooring is considered comparable to traditional oak hardwood and you will find you have more options with engineered wood than with hardwood. Engineered wood for example, has the ability to show as little or as much of the growth rings that represent true oak wood as you like. In a sense, you can fine tune the amount of detail your flooring expresses. It is all about what you want in your home as each has their pros and cons depending on the buyer’s personal home décor style.
Matters of Upkeep and Cleaning
Just as with carpet and tile, hardwood and engineered flooring requires regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure the longevity of the life of the floor. The challenge is that wood floors are more susceptible to corrosion and damage through things such as spilled chemicals or applied heat.
Most hardwood floors are surfaced with a thin layer of polyurethane or some type of varnish which helps to protect the wood itself. Even engineered flooring has a layer of protection. This top layer on the flooring also extends the life of the floor slats themselves. If there is damage to any of the slats, or even just normal wear and tear, refinishing and resurfacing the floor is normal procedure rather than completely replacing it. There are also options to just simply rebuff the existing finish which should also be done on a regular schedule. Overall, the amount of work required to keep a wood floor looking its best is comparable to that of any flooring surface.
Endless Design Possibilities
Unlike other flooring alternatives, wood flooring has a plethora of design possibilities and patterns. Think of it like this: carpet is generally rolled out in identical pieces, from one end of the room to the other, while each slat of wooden flooring is its own unique piece that can be put together to create the most intricate picture.
Most flooring patterns are some type of parquet which is the geometric construction of flooring slats to create a visual effect. The most common of these is herringbone which is the ninety-degree intersection of each piece to create a chevron type of look. Herringbone dates back centuries as it was the choice pattern for early streets and structural floors. It is best displayed in larger rooms rather than tight hallways or small closets.
A parquet flooring pattern can be handmade to fit any room or style in the house whether it is a bedroom or grand foyer. Parquet designs are typically unique and can be made by the finest woods or even entirely out of recycled scraps. Physical design, coupled with the many colour and texture choices, create near infinite design possibilities for any room of the house.
However, its not necessary to have an intricate parquet design to highlight the natural beauty of oak flooring. Simply choosing a color and finish that highlights the natural wood grain and growth rings is an elegant option.
Another great design option is not just using wooden flooring for the floors. Anything from an aesthetic wall to backsplash to countertop can utilize flooring slats for a warm, rustic look. Wood floor slats are some of the strongest material used within the home and there is something to be said for that strength when it is used outside its usual purpose. For instance, against the force of a chopping knife if used for the countertop of a kitchen or on an island. Most commercial cutting boards today resemble a wood floor like pattern.
Installation Options – DIY or Professional Installers?
Once you have a plan for the type of flooring you want, the pattern for the rooms, and the overall layout, the last step is to install your new floor. There are different options for the type of installation but the main decision is whether to do it yourself or pay to have it installed.
The first thing to understand is there are multiple methods that floors use to go together. Some are more difficult to fit if you have no experience piecing together a wooden floor. Generally, most wooden flooring systems come with a “tongue and groove” method which fits each slat together snugly, leaving no trace of where one piece begins and another one ends. Another option is a floating floor installation which allows you to put the floor directly over an existing floor. When you nail down a floor, you forgo the option to remove it and use it again. A total flooring remodel can be expensive and if you were to move, taking the flooring with you does not sound conventional, but it could be a possibility with a floating floor.
Flooring in a home can usually be installed in a matter of a few days (depending on the size of the home and complexity of the patterns) when done professionally. It can take longer to do it yourself, especially if you have little to no experience. This is especially true with herringbone and parquet flooring, which is not recommended as a DIY project for anyone who has not installed floors before.
Paying to have a floor installed will also provide some insurance if let’s say a slat is broken or if the slats need to be cut to fit the dimensions of the room. Sometimes if the slats are not pieced together properly, they can break along the edges effectively ruining a perfectly good piece. A professional installer will handle this and have the necessary equipment to get the job done if you do not already. With a little preplanning and instruction, it is very possible to install your own flooring and can bring a feeling of personal satisfaction, but it is up to you to weigh the options for whether or not it is worth it to hire someone to get the job done.
Enjoy Your New Floor!
Making the choice to switch to hardwood flooring is one of the best options for upgrading your home. This improvement not only makes your home more beautiful and comfortable, but it can also improve your eventual resale value.
It can be a long process between choosing the type of floor and the various patterns and even how to install it, but in the end, you will be glad you made the choice. There are many guides available that can help you with your decisions, comparing costs and features and most flooring companies can give you samples to try in different areas of your home. There are usually samples that show the different colours and textures available so that you can get a taste of the types of floors and finishes and decide which ones work best and how you want to incorporate them.
In the end, your imagination is the only limit to how wood flooring can improve your home.