Beautifying Your Home with Hardwood Floors

One of the most impressive ways to make a huge difference in your house is to change the floors.  If you are in Florida or some other southern coastal area, tile is a very popular option. However, for most of the rest of the country, wood floors are increasing in popularity very rapidly.

One of the reasons for the surge in popularity is the improved finishes available. Keeping them clean and new looking is easier than it used to be, and the durability has grown much better with newer types of wood available.

In the past, only the typical ¾” hardwood was available. It is nailed down, usually by professionals with the proper tools to do the job well and quickly. The floors are then sanded with professional sanders and then followed by two to four coats of polyurethane.  One should plan on having them re-sanded and re-coated every few years if you have children or pets that are hard on the floors.  A large variety of wood types and shades are available.

Today there is a much broader selection of wood floors to choose from, including engineered wood floors.  These are often 3/8” to 1/2” thick and the thin surface of finished wood is pre-finished and applied on top at the factory. These make very durable floors with less maintenance than real hardwood floors. The downside is they are very difficult to repair should they be deeply scratched. You cannot sand them out and re-coat. This type of wood floor comes in a larger variety of colors and shades. It is usually glued down, though sometimes can be nailed. It also performs well on concrete floors, where real wood will not work.

I personally have had this type of wood in my home now for over seven years and it shows very little wear of any kind. The washer did leak one time and a little water got under the wood near a threshold.  It did slightly buckle and I had to change a piece. Fortunately it was not in the middle somewhere. Normal surface water from the kitchen does not bother it.

Another option in recent years, and becoming very popular, is a laminate flooring.  This is proving to be a very hard surfaced product and almost indestructible.  Again, there is a much larger variety of colors, grains, and sizes than conventional wood floors. The product itself is a composite material overlaid with a photo produced, very hard and durable covering. I have this product in four foot by eight inch pieces in my office. I have been rolling around on it with a large desk chair for a long time and you can’t find a mark on it.

My wife and I have a cabin in the north Georgia mountains that I built a couple of years ago. When it came to the floors, we decided to use the laminate. I do not lay flooring, but decided to try this one myself. This product is installed over a very thin cushion material, and then “floats” on your subflooring. It is not glued or nailed down. Makes it ideal for cement floors. I installed about 700 square feet in one day with help of a friend.

Each piece snaps together on the previous piece, forming a good solid floor. You only have to cut the end pieces to fit the room. Beware, you may go through some saw blades due to the hardness of the material.

So, how much does wood flooring cost?  Well, of course that depends on the product you use and whether or not you install it yourself.  That said, you can normally hit somewhere between $3.00 and $7.00 a square foot.  Installing wood flooring is great investment and a way to dramatically transform the look of your home.

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