Which wood species do I choose?
That depends on your personal tastes in decorating/aesthetics. Do you prefer a more traditional look? You might try a domestic or imported species that has a refined look. Walnut and mahogany are good examples. For a more modern light wood, you might prefer maple. Oak and hickory are medium woods that give a room a snuggly, warm mood.
Also consider the members of your household and their typical behaviors. Do you have pets? Multiple family members? Lots of hustle and bustle? Consider buying a tough wood flooring material. Use the Wood Species Janka Hardness Scale to help you judge the hardiness of the wood. The more activity and wear and tear you expect, the harder the flooring should be. If you’re a young, active family with three children and multiple dogs and cats, you might choose ebony (which rates 3220 on the Janka scale); a single, sedentary person with one elderly cat could be very happy with a red oak (which clocks in at a modest 1290 on the Janka scale).
I’m getting hardwood flooring installed in my main room. I worry about acoustics and echo effects. Any advice?
An “echo effect” is common in an empty room with hardwood flooring. Once you replace your furniture and area rugs in a hardwooded room, those objects will absorb the “echo.” Upholstered furniture absorbs the echo slightly better than wooden furniture. You’ll be fine once you fill the room.
Our contractor suggests 550 square feet of flooring when our room size is only 500 square feet. Is he trying to rip us off?
No. You should typically plan to order 10% extra flooring than needed. This gives your contractor an allowance to custom fit around places like fireplaces, built-in china cabinets and bookcases, closets, and so on. The materials will need to be cut precisely to fit around these areas; after the flooring boards are cut, they are often not usable; thus, you order extra flooring to allow for potential “waste.” If the room to be floored contains few fancy built-in features to work around, you may need less than 10% extra flooring.
Should I get a job-site finish or a factory finish on my flooring?
That depends on a few things. How much noise, dust and disruption can you tolerate? Job-site finishing will create more noise, dust and disruption since the sanding and finishing are done at your property. And don’t forget to factor in drying time, which means you can’t walk on the floors right away like you could with factory-finished flooring. If you want a highly customized finish and can stand the disruptions to your senses, you’d be better off with a job-site finish. If you can’t stand noise and dust and aren’t too finicking about a highly customized finish, stick with the factory finish.
My contractor keeps talking about the wood needing time to acclimate to my home before he can actually install the wood. How long does it take for wood to acclimate?
It depends on the species of wood and how it combines with your home’s temperature and humidity. On average, it takes from two days to over two weeks for wood to acclimate.
What can I do to prevent gaps and cracks in my wood?
Wood is very sensitive to dryness. Although wood cannot take too much moisture, too little can cause it to dry out and crack and shrink and gap. Try to use a humidifier during the winter months to minimize the problem.
What does above grade mean?
Grade simply refers to the ground, the highest level of the earth outside the foundation. An “above grade area” is the part of the building that is above the ground line, or grade of the earth (this would be your first floor and any floors above).
What sheen should I use on my wood floors?
It depends on your tastes. If your flooring will be finished on site, you can customize the sheen. If you like a lot of shine and reflection, you might choose a satin-gloss finish. For a medium shine, use semi-gloss. Satin or matte will be least shiny and reflective. Keep in mind that your choice is mainly about aesthetics. However, a caution: the greater the sheen, the more you will notice scratches in the floor. If you think your floors will take a fair amount of abuse, matte might be best for you.
Visit our looking after your hardwood flooring page to learn more.