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By: Kevin Ahern on January 12th, 2016

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Your Essential Guide to Hardwood Flooring


Hardwood is a valued flooring material coveted by many homeowners. The timelessness and beauty of hardwood is difficult to beat: it never seems to go out of style or lose appeal.

If you’re a homeowner thinking about installing hardwood floors in your home, it helps to understand the range of options available to you. Once you know your choices, you can make an informed decision that will help ensure that you buy the best hardwood for your needs.

Different Types and Colors

The appearance of a plank of hardwood will vary by species, with different species of presenting different grain patterns and characteristics. Some of the most commonly chosen types of hardwood include:

  • Oak - This strong, popular hardwood option absorbs stain easily and evenly, which means that it can be made as light or dark as you want.
  • Hickory - Hickory can have deep color variations from one board to the next, and can have stripes of color running through each board. This gives hickory a striking character that can stand out in any home.
  • Maple - Maple is lighter in color than oak and doesn't accept stain as well, which means that maple is often left as a blond color.
  • Cherry - Cherry flooring is desirable for its warm, reddish overtones. The color of cherry can dominate in any room. This flooring often darkens with age.

High Gloss or Low Sheen

Your hardwood floor will be protected with a layer of a sealant like polyurethane. Some products are high gloss while others produce a matte finish. Since high gloss finishes show dirt and grime easily, some contractors recommend a matte finish for rooms that get a lot of foot traffic. If you wish to have a high gloss finish on your floors, its best to use that type of finishing product in rooms of the house where foot traffic is less intense.

Hardwood Vs. Engineered Wood Vs. Laminate

In recent years, alternatives to hardwood flooring has become available to homeowners. The two most common options include engineered wood and laminate. Engineered wood is made from glued together pieces of wood veneer. On the surface, engineered wood can't be distinguished from standard hardwood flooring. Engineered wood is often less expensive than traditional hardwood planks.

Laminate is made from a fiberboard core with a photographic image of hardwood imprinted on the top. Laminate can be easier to clean than hardwood flooring, but it doesn't have the same look or appeal of hardwood. Laminate is significantly less expensive than hardwood, however, which makes it perfect for a homeowner on a budget.

For more information about hardwood flooring, contact a contractor with installation experience and a deep understanding of the subject. If you live in the New Haven area, contact Litchfield Builders. With over 20 years of experience, we can talk to you about all the options available to you and what would look the best in your home.Request a free construction consultation