Wood flooring installations are among the most popular home renovation projects in the United States, and for very good reasons. Available in a wide range of designs, colors and grains, wood flooring sets the tone of a room, creating distinct moods and ambiances, while also retaining the capability of absolutely wowing guests. From oak, mahogany, maple and walnut to pine, bamboo and cork—each possesses its own unique attributes and characteristics and speaks volumes about a living space, and even the homeowner.
Besides aesthetics, wood flooring also boasts utility. Easy to clean and maintain, it’s an ideal choice for low-moisture areas of the home, such as dining rooms, living/family rooms, bedrooms, and even kitchens.
Many factors affect the appearance of the wood, from the cut to the finish, to the hardness and durability, and everything in between. Selecting wood as your flooring material of choice is only the first step. When it comes to choosing the specific variety you will be using, it’s beneficial to have as much background as possible, to make this decision easier.
The following is a helpful breakdown of some of the most popular types of wood flooring:
Oak flooring is available in several varieties, including red, white, distressed, hand-scraped and reclaimed, and embodies a richness, depth, beauty and elegance all its own. As with most hardwoods, it can be refinished and sanded to remove any minor scratches. Oak flooring can increase the value of your home, due to its exceptional quality and longevity, as this type typically lasts for decades.
Mahogany is held in high regard for its stunning appearance, and is considered to be fairly durable, falling somewhere in the middle on the hardness scale. As with many types of wood, its colors can change over time, ranging from light to deep reds and browns. Genuine mahogany is one of the most expensive woods on the market, providing added value to those floors and furnishings comprised of it.
Maple flooring, while demonstrating a similar level of hardness and durability as oak, is generally a bit more cost efficient. Available in white or red, the lighter variety of maple is typically used for flooring. While it will eventually turn to a shade of amber, maple can be refinished to enhance its natural color. It can also be polished if needed, to remove any scratches and imperfections that may develop over time.
Walnut is a particularly unique grain boasting a higher level of hardness, enabling it to withstand exposure to water better than most. Unlike other hardwoods that range from white to red, walnut exhibits a solid brown color that lightens, over time. Additional finish can be applied for an extra layer of protection from moisture, discoloration, and general wear and tear.
Pine is a softer wood, and so tends to be more susceptible to showing scratches. This doesn’t mean it lacks durability, however. A popular variation is reclaimed pine, which is typically harvested from barns and older buildings, making it an eco-friendly, sustainable option.
Bamboo, while exhibiting the durability of wood, is technically a variation of grass, making it one of the most environmentally friendly options. Available in multiple grains—horizontal, vertical, and woven or “stranded”—bamboo flooring has a warm, inviting look and is popular for its ability to repel scratches from pets.
Cork is perhaps the most underrated type of wood flooring on the market. Don’t be fooled: It’s not just for your wine bottles! This sustainable option is spongy, yet durable when resealed periodically. With the proper care, cork floors can withstand normal wear and tear, guarding against stains and sealing out moisture. It is also one of the least-expensive types of flooring to choose from.