When renovating an existing building or undertaking the construction of a new house, your choice of flooring is one of the most crucial decisions that you’ll need to make. However, out of the many flooring options available, there are certain that surpass their peers in quality and overall aesthetic. Offering natural qualities alongside a classic edge of sophistication, hardwood remains a consistently superior choice of flooring.
But while we can all agree that hardwood flooring in Vancouver is an excellent option, you still need to choose from the various hardwood products available. Not all are created equal, and there are factors you’ll need to consider that will impact not just the appearance of your floor, but its durability on a long term scale.
Solid Hardwood vs. Engineered Hardwood
The first thing that you’ll need to decide on is whether to go with the traditional form of solid hardwood, or the alternative of engineered hardwood instead. Ultimately, the choice will depend on your budget, with solid hardwood generally coming at a higher cost. However, it still helps to get an idea of the differences between the two, so that you can make this decision with complete knowledge that you’re choosing the best flooring for you.
While solid hardwood flooring is made of thick planks of solid timber, engineered hardwood is constructed from layers of plywood and a thin top layer of hardwood. There’s no denying that there are certain areas of the house where engineered flooring simply makes more sense, such as a basement with concrete subfloors. Nevertheless, solid hardwood offers better value in the long run, despite the higher initial costs associated with this option. While both types of flooring offer excellent resale value, solid hardwood will last much longer than engineered wood. In addition, it’s quieter when you walk on it, making it a pleasant option for living areas or workspaces.
Prefinished vs. Site-finished
You can either buy hardwood planks with a raw face and then have it finished after installation, or you can also go with pre-finished solid hardwood, meaning that the planks will arrive with your chosen stain and top coat already. It’s wise to evaluate which option is better for your purposes, as each has its own respective advantages.
With pre-finished solids, you already have a clear idea of what the outcome will be, meaning that you can plan for the rest of your interior design even before the flooring installation is complete. The installation process is also much quicker, because there’s no need to apply sealant or color during the process.
However, site-finished flooring also offers certain advantages. For one, it’s going to be customized specially for you, allowing you almost full control of both the level of sheen and the stain. You also receive the benefit of smoother floors, since the sanding is only completed after the planks have been installed. The finish is also applied after this stage – given the amount of influence that this step can have on the final look and feel of the flooring, many find it very useful to have more control over this final process.
Polyurethane vs. Oil Finish
If you decide to go with site-finished solid hardwood, there are many finishing products that you can choose from. However, while this selection of individual products is significantly diverse, these are generally categorized into two types: polyurethane and oil.
While an oil finish offers a matte and soft look, a polyurethane finish makes your wooden floor impervious to damage and stains due to the hard topcoat that it creates. In addition, although oil finishing products may make your floor susceptible to scratches, the scratches are less noticeable and you can easily do a spot-retouch. With polyurethane, you’ll need to either buff and recoat the whole floor, or replace the board altogether.
Types of Hardwood
The most popular and widely available hardwood in North America is oak -especially white oak, – which features an appealing natural grain. Walnut also isn’t far behind, whose softer feel and deep color is ideal if you’re aiming for a richer and warmer feel. You can also consider other hardwoods like ash, maple, hickory and cherry.
There’s no wrong or right choice when it comes to wood grain, with this stage all a matter of personal preference. The pattern of the grain usually depends on how the logs are cut: while plain sawn logs have the undulating traditional patterns, boards that are rift-sawn have long and linear grain, and quarter-sawn wood boards have iridescent rays. When deciding upon the grain that you wish to incorporate into your flooring solution, it’s a good idea to think about the ultimate look that you want to create, and then decide which aesthetic you think will best contribute to fulfilling your vision.