The Many Benefits of Hardwood Flooring
Are you considering putting in new flooring in your home and trying to figure out which option is best for you? Here is a list of the benefits of hardwood floors to consider when deciding which flooring choice is best for your project, home and family.
Wood floors are the most environmentally friendly flooring option on the market. Unlike other flooring materials, trees can regrow after they are cut down, which replenishes the material that is harvested. In the U.S., the hardwood forests that provide flooring products are growing more than twice as fast as they are being harvested. Although it usually takes hardwood trees about 40 to 60 years to mature (depending on the species), wood flooring can last well beyond 100 years in service when properly maintained. Wood also stores carbon during its service life. This means any manufactured wood product, such as furniture, cabinets, wood floors, or even picture frames, continues to store carbon as a manufactured end-product. That’s why wood flooring is classified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a carbon neutral product.
Wood floors also reduce the amount of waste in our landfills because they can last for many generations and require fewer raw materials to produce than other flooring options. Wood floors can also be recycled into other materials. Wood is combustible, which means it can be used as fuel or as a heating source. Finally, if the wood does end up in a landfill, it is biodegradable, which means it will decompose. This ultimately reduces its volume of landfill waste.
One of the best ways to reduce landfill waste with wood is to utilize it for reclaimed flooring. This is a process where old wood is used to make new wood flooring. Reclaimed wood can come from a variety of sources, including wood salvaged from old barns or factories, and logs recovered from river and lake bottoms. Flooring made from reclaimed wood is truly unique and displays significant character and tells a story about the history of the floor.
Wood floors are designed to withstand the traffic of busy families, including pets. Wood floors are extremely durable. They can withstand the playfulness of a puppy and still look beautiful for decades. Just be sure to pick a species that can endure your puppy’s rambunctious spirit, sharp nails, and occasional accidents. Here is a handy guide that ranks the most popular types of flooring on the Janka scale of hardness: https://www.woodfloors.org/durability.aspx. Also, if you do have fur-babies, wire-brushing is a technique that can add character to your floor and help hide toenail scratches and might be worth considering.
When properly maintained, wood floors can last for hundreds of years. Solid wood floors can be sanded and refinished numerous times during their lives, and can even be stained to give them a completely new look. Decorative items like medallions and borders can easily be added to existing wood floors to provide an updated look as well. Best of all, over time, wood floors can adapt to any décor and style changes without having to be replaced.
Hardwood floors add significant value to your home. A survey of real estate agents concluded that homes with wood floors sell faster and for more money than homes without wood floors. The survey further concluded that the increase could be as much as 10% more, which is a substantial increase in overall home value. In fact, 80% of Homeowners in this survey agreed that wood floors add the MOST value to their home.
One of the greatest benefits of hardwood floors are the amount of options you have as a consumer in terms of type of wood, solid vs. engineered, cuts of wood, stains, types of finish, etc. No matter what your style, you can find a floor that is sure to fit your décor and your lifestyle.
Solid wood flooring is made of one piece of wood from top to bottom and can be used in any room that is on or above ground (not below-grade like basements). One of the many benefits of solid wood flooring is it can be sanded and refinished many times.
Engineered wood floors are also made of real wood, but include multiple layers of strong plywood, with the top layer made of high-quality wood of the species you specify (oak, hickory, walnut, etc.). Because engineered wood floors expand and contract less than solid wood flooring, they are ideal for basement installations. Depending on the wear-layer you choose, you can sand and refinish these floors just as many times as a solid wood floor.
Wood floors are manufactured in almost any width. Some of the most popular styles are strip, plank, and parquet. Each style is available in a variety of species, colors, and widths, so choosing the right one is a matter of preference. Strip flooring is less than 3” wide and often makes a room appear larger. Plank flooring is equal to or greater than 3” wide and often creates a more casual look. Parquet flooring varies in size and generates a geometric, non-linear look.
Many factors impact the appearance of wood flooring, including its grade and saw cut. Wood grades are determined based on the physical characteristics of the wood. For example, character grade usually means there is more character (i.e. knots and imperfections) in the wood to give it a more natural appearance. Additionally, the angle at which a board is cut determines how the finished product looks and performs as well. See diagram below which demonstrates the different cuts of wood and how that affects the appearance.
For more information on types of finish options, check out this link from the National Wood Flooring Association: https://www.woodfloors.org/finishes.aspx
When it comes to flooring, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finds that hardwood floors improve indoor air quality. Hardwood does not harbor microorganisms, allergens, or pesticides that can be tracked in from outdoors. They also minimize the accumulation of dust, mold and animal dander which makes wood floors a healthy option for your family.
While outdoor allergens can be hard to control, there are ways to minimize the impact of allergens that occur indoors. Frequent dusting, vacuuming, and washing will minimize many indoor allergens, but these activities can stir them up as well. One way to prevent allergens altogether is to eliminate many of the areas where they can gather.
Flooring is one aspect of the indoor environment where the number of indoor allergens can be controlled. Certain types of flooring, such as carpet, are simply better for allergens to harbor. Small microorganisms, pollen, dust, dust mites, mold, animal dander, and other substances tend to accumulate in carpet fibers. Other flooring types, such as wood, tend to minimize the accumulation of allergens because there are no fibers to trap these substances. Taking steps to minimize these kinds of allergens can result in improved indoor air quality.
According to a study at Duke University, Children living in homes with all vinyl flooring were found to have higher concentrations of a toxin linked to respiratory disorders, skin irritations and reproductive disorders than children in homes with no vinyl flooring. The concentration of benzyl butyl phthalate metabolite, a semi-volatile organic compound (SVOC) also linked to multiple myeloma, was 15 times higher in the blood and urine of children living in homes with all vinyl floors.
The study spanned three years and examined 203 children from 190 families, analyzing indoor air, dust and furniture.
Hardwood floors are surprisingly easy to maintain. Routine cleaning involves sweeping, dust mopping, or vacuuming using the bare floor setting to remove dust and dirt. Clean spills immediately with a dry or slightly damp cloth. Don’t use wet mops or steam mops, which will damage the finish and the wood over long periods of time. It’s best to use a cleaner made specifically for the finish on the floor, which is something your flooring professional should provide or recommend to you when the job is completed. Over time, when your wood floors start to look a little dull, they can be renewed through recoating. This involves applying a new coat of wood floor finish. To keep wood floors looking and performing well for generations, follow our recommended guidelines. Individual maintenance schedules will vary depending on use, wear and tear, and lifestyle.
As you can see, hardwood floors have a lot of beneficial qualities. If hardwood seems like the right choice for you and your project, please contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our experts. We can help you choose the flooring that is right for your home, lifestyle and decor.