Design and Lifestyle:

Choosing the Right Hardwood Flooring

When choosing the ideal hardwood flooring for your specific project, it can be overwhelming considering the sea of styles, colours and finishes to choose from. A good place to start is to think about the room or space and how it is typically used. For practical reasons, your ultimate choice meets both your aesthetic and performance expectation. The process of choosing the right hardwood flooring can be broken down to considering the species of wood you prefer, what colour or finish works best in your room, the style and appearance of the floors and the different grades and cuts of the flooring.

The room and your lifestyle needs – Type of room

Considering the kind of room being renovated is a great starting point and can definitely inform the type of hardwood flooring that is available to you or is ideal for the space. Take for example, flooring in a kitchen—this type of renovation project may be best for a certain colour or finish quite different from that of a bedroom or a formal dining room. Dark coloured hardwood flooring usually translate into a more formal look, and can also bring out the warmth in other elements of decor, perfect for a dining room. Consider also whether the room is ever exposed to the outside and if dirty shoes might track through the room; if so, you might need to ask your representative for more durable finishes. As well, think about what type of transition you’ll have between the new and old floors and adjoining rooms.

Since all hardwood flooring can suffer from water damage, both solid hardwood and engineered floors are not designed for heavily wet areas like bathroom floors or laundry room flooring. Cupping (edges are raised) and crowning (centre becomes swollen, edges sloped down) are just a couple side effects of a water-related disaster. Kitchens, in general, are an okay place to install both flooring types as long as the floors are well maintained and are free from standing water.

Traffic

Some types of hardwood floors and finishes hold up better to heavy use. If the room will have a lot of foot traffic, children or pets, you’ll want to choose a harder species. Think about how the room will be used and what kinds of activities will take place there. In high traffic areas, choose a natural coloured hardwood floor in matte finishes since these are better able to conceal scratches, small dents, and dust.

Room aesthetics

Size, sight line to the rest of the home, and flow between rooms are all things to consider when choosing hardwood flooring. Consider also the lighting in the room, and how the placement of windows, skylights and indoor lighting affect the look of your floors. In large open spaces, flooring often becomes a central element of decor, Bold and deep colours such as various shades of red (Jatoba or Santos Mahogany) or oak and ash stained in similar colours can be the type of hardwood flooring capable of adding immediate character to a large office, public interior or other large spaces.

Some rooms are built with low ceilings; for this type of renovation project, it is best to go with a light coloured wall and light flooring colour to create the illusion of space. Dark coloured floors in small room with dark walls can make the space look gloomy and dense.

Species and Performance

Hardwood flooring comes in a wide range of species, finishes and colours. Each variation can bring about a completely different feel and ambiance to a room.

Species

Each species of wood is characterized by its own grain, colour and pattern. Your personal preference and the type of look you wish to achieve are the biggest factors in which species you might choose. There is a big price range within the variety of species as well. Some of the more popular species are Oak and Maple, Birch, Ash, Beech, Cherry and Walnut. Popular exotic woods include Brazilian Cherry (also know as Jatoba), Lapacho (also know as Brazilian Walnut) and Merbau. Different species have different hardness levels (measured by the Janka scale), which affect their durability.

Janka hardness scale for wood flooring species

The Janka hardness test is a measurement of the force necessary to embed a .444-inch steel ball to half its diameter in wood. It is the industry standard for measuring the durability of various species to tolerate denting and normal wear.

Colour and Finish

Wood comes in many different colours and tones, which can have a big influence on the appearance of the floor. Any species can be stained different colours to achieve different looks and effects.

Consider what look you want to achieve and how the floor colour plays into that aesthetic. Remember that hardwood floors last a very long time, longer than many home fashion trends, so choose a look that will have longevity. Think about the other features in the room and whether you’re looking to accent or contrast other colours in the room. The lighting in the room will also influence the colour so plan to look at a sample in the room where you’re planning to install the floors.

if you prefer a classic look, go with natural unstained wood, or traditional shades of brown, such as chestnut or walnut stains. On the other hand, dark and black tones are a popular choice for chic and modern interiors, artists’ studios or urban condos. When choosing colours for your hardwood flooring, take full advantage of flooring samples. Trying out the wood in your actual space, on site, and in natural light, can be extremely helpful. Remember, the colour and finis of your wood floor should not exactly match the colour of your walls or furniture. Colours that contrast or complement each other create a more harmonious look.