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Hardwood floors are the brass ring for a lot of people, and for a number of reasons.   They look fantastic for one thing, with colors and patterns that impress designers and craftsman, and nearly everyone else, with a timeless appeal.  They add a unique warmth which is matched only by how sturdy they feel when you walk on them.  And as far as structural strength of a property goes, hardwood floors add significant value that positively affects the whole.

red-oak-solid-hardwood-flooringAs such, it seemed to make sense to me to create a miniseries about some of the things you should consider when buying a solid hardwood floor.  I plan to talk about how to judge a space for install, how to choose species, ways to prepare a site for the installation, and finally how to preserve your investment of hardwood flooring.

This is the first installment the series about choosing solid hardwood flooring, and an important one; 5 ways to judge your space for hardwood floor installation.   Solid hardwood floors are sturdy, and renowned for how long they can last.  But, one of the most important steps in ensuring success is to make sure that your chosen site can support a solid hardwood floor installation for the long term.  Here are 5 ways to do that:

  1. Is your site on-grade or above grade? Put simply, solid hardwood will not perform as well in basement installations due to dampness and how that dampness effects the natural tendency of the wood to expand and contract, as well as absorb.  If you’ve got a basement site, consider engineered wood floors which are designed to account for this.
  2. Is your subfloor made of wood? Unlike laminates, engineered floors, and some bamboo floors, solid hardwood cannot be floated; it must be firmly attached  directly to a subfloor.  This means wood is good, and concrete slabs mean, once again, you should look at engineered floors for that genuine wood surface.
  3. Is your site prone to excessive moisture? There are those who install solid hardwood floors in places like kitchens.  But, this is a riskier move then installing them in your livingroom.  This is because it should be well understood that moisture is the arch-enemy of any hardwood floor.  And kitchens present a greater risk of excessive moisture, and staining.   Hey, even Superman has kryptonite.
  4. Is your site climate controlled? This can seem like a given.  But, if you’re thinking of installing your solid hardwood floor in a cottage or summer house which is not temperature controlled all year around, you may be in for trouble.  Solid hardwood is a natural material.  It expands and contracts according to temperature and humidity, and needs your attention all year round.
  5. Is your site known for children and pet traffic? Now, it should be understood that just because you have kids or pets, it doesn’t mean that you can’t also have hardwood floors.  But, it should also be understood that this is a factor which may affect which direction you want to go in terms of placement of runners and mats, as well as the hardness of the species you’ll invest in.

So there are five areas to consider when you’re judging your site for a solid hardwood floor installation.   And I managed to hint at some of the other factors I’ll be talking about later in upcoming installments too.  Stay tuned!



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Rob Jones

Rob served as Editor-In-Chief of BuildDirect Blog: Life At Home from 2007-2016. He is a writer, Dad, content strategist, and music fan.