Choosing the Right Hardwood for Your Space
Hardwood has become a bit of a catchall phrase over the years. Types of hardwood have evolved as design and technology has advanced. From the most basic to the exotic, from hardwoods like oak to softwoods like pine, and from solid to engineered, there’s a wood flooring option for every taste level and every budget. You might think it’s as easy as choosing the best color that will work with your taste and décor, but think again. Here are a few tips that will help you decide what type of hardwood is right for each space in your home.
Kitchen and Main Living Areas
These spaces are typically the most used spots in the home, which means they get the most traffic. Both solid and engineered hardwoods are great for high-traffic areas like kitchens, living rooms, and entryways. If you’re not sure whether you want solid or engineered flooring, check out your subfloor. Solid wood must be nailed, stapled, or glued to a wood subfloor, whereas engineered flooring offers floating options for concrete subfloors. Also, if you like to change things up every so often, keep in mind that solid hardwoods can be sanded and refinished many times over; engineered woods can only refinished once or twice. If you do go for solid wood, opt for an actual hard wood such as oak, maple, ash, or walnut. These woods are slightly less susceptible to dents and scratches than softer woods like pine or cedar.
Hardwood doesn’t stand up to moisture and humidity very well, and obviously there will be constant exposure to these things in most bathrooms. It’s really best to use materials like tile or vinyl in the bathroom, but if you’re super smart about it, you can get away with hardwood. Engineered hardwood is a better choice than solid wood in this case. Just make sure the bathroom is well ventilated to fend off mold. Use rugs in “splash zones,” like in front of the shower/tub and sink. Also, be vigilant and proactive about leaks and spills.
Since bedrooms typically get much less traffic than most other rooms, go for what suits your taste here. For a lower cost and perhaps a more rustic, homey look, feel free to use a soft wood like pine, cypress, or cedar. Softwoods are just as dense as their counterparts, but as we mentioned above, they are a bit more pliant and more susceptible to scratches and dings. This makes less frequently used rooms perfect for showcasing a beautiful softwood floor. A caveat: kids’ bedrooms are probably not the place for this slightly less durable option.
Pro Tip: A Word of Caution Regarding Basement Spaces
Experts do not recommend using solid wood flooring in a finished basement, as it won’t stand up well to the ever-present humidity. Even if you can’t feel or see it, there is always moisture below ground. Engineered wood floors are more dimensionally stable due to their construction, so they will expand and contract less than solid wood when humidity levels rise.