In general, hardwoods are more durable and more resistant to damage from impact. However, if you maintain your softwood floor, it should last just as long as a hardwood floor. Following are popular wood flooring choices:
* Oak. A durable hardwood with a tight, dark grain, Oak is the most popular wood flooring.
* Maple. The second most popular hardwood. Maple has a lighter color and a less pronounced grain.
* Ash. Another popular hardwood known for its uniform light texture and grain.
* Pine. A popular softwood often found in older homes. In fact there’s an 800-year-old church in Brno, Czech Republic that still has its original pine floors a testament to the longevity of well-maintained softwood floors!
* Birch. A softwood similar to pine. It tends to have more knotholes.
* Fir. Another common softwood that has large patches of dark grain.
Specialty woods are more expensive, however, they are often quite beautiful. If you have an ample budget, you may want the luxurious look of specialty woods. Walnut, teak and cherry are popular choices.
* Standard Width. 2 1/4-inches wide. Occasionally you may find 1 1/2-inch widths. Strips are laid parallel using the interlocking tongue-and-groove edges to hold them together.
* Plank Width. Up to 7 inches wide. Often used to give the room a different aesthetic feel they want the look and feel of wood floors, but they don’t want it to look like everybody else’s! Random is a popular choice that has a very custom feel. These floors consist of planks of two or three different widths. Homeowners often choose this type of floor because it has a more energetic feel and lift.
After you’ve chosen your wood type, and the width, it’s time to choose the pattern! Patterns are fun ways to dress up your wood floors.
Straight is the most common pattern. It consists of wood strips laid parallel to each other along the length of the room. It’s also the least expensive pattern.
* Diagonal. Diagonal is a nice way to dress up a room without adding a lot of extra cost. It consists of the wood strips laid at a 45-degree angle to the walls. (NOTE! Any pattern besides a straight pattern will be more expensive because you will need more wood and the installation takes longer.)
* Parquet. Parquet is another popular hardwood pattern consisting of individual square modules laid in crisscross fashion. It looks like a checkerboard.
* Herringbone. Herringbone is a beautiful pattern that’s similar to parquet. It has individual square modules with wood laid at a diagonal angle!
* Perimeter Border. Perimeter border is a design accent that you can add to just about any wood flooring. By adding a different pattern to the edges of your wood floor, you give your floor a design touch that helps to frame it. It works very well in more formal rooms like dining rooms or living rooms. It’s also a nice way to separate adjacent rooms that don’t have any walls between them. Some homes have a lot of free-flowing open space. By installing a perimeter border between two adjacent rooms, you give the visual impression that the rooms are separate without interrupting the open flow.
Modern wood floors can be just about any color or shade you want. Different kinds of wood respond differently to stains. Here are some options:
* Natural. Natural is “wood color” at its most basic form. These kinds of stains have very little pigment, so the natural wood can show through.
* Light. Light is a very popular shade of stain because it darkens the grain and adds a subtle tone to the wood. Many people are very selective of their wood. This is a good choice of stain because it’s similar to natural … only with a little more punch.
* Medium. Medium is another popular choice. It’s darker than the light, so both the grain and the wood will have an obvious pigment.
* Dark. Dark gives wood floors a very rich feel. WARNING! Be careful with this choice. Dark floors will make your room feel dark. If that’s the design effect you want, then great! However, if you want a brighter room, you may want to choose a lighter shade of stain.
* Custom. Custom is what you choose when you want to play! You can choose from a wide selection of colors and styles to fit any room. (A nice design choice for a living room may be a natural wood floor finish with a forest green perimeter border!)