How To Choose Hardwood Floor: A Guide to Species, Grades & Finishes

how to choose hardwood floor

Hardwood flooring is a coveted choice among homeowners for its warmth and natural beauty. However, selecting flooring materials isn’t just about choosing a preferred colour. In this article, we will guide you through the process of how to choose a hardwood floor and the specific features you should be looking out for.

How To Choose The Right Hardwood Floor?

Consider The Wood Species

When choosing hardwood floors, it is important to note that the floor’s appearance can vary between different wood species and different woods will offer different benefits for functionality. For example, oak flooring is a popular choice in North America due to its durability, attractive natural grain, and its ability to take stains very well. If you are looking to install a harder wood and want more durability in your floors, hickory and maple are harder wood species than oak. Other hardwood varieties available in North America in addition to oak, maple, and hickory, are walnut, ash, and cherry.  

One question to ask when deciding to choose the right hardwood floor is what kind of look or feel you are trying to achieve. For example, a light oak floor can help create a sleek Scandinavian feel, whereas a dark walnut can evoke a more traditional feel in a room. Consider the colour of the hardwood floors and see how it complements your space. Lighter woods can make a room feel more spacious and darker woods are known to add warmth and elegance.


Select The Grain Of Wood

When choosing hardwood floors, the grain pattern is one of the most important factors. Depending on the way a piece of wood is cut, it will produce a different pattern on the planks of wood and affect the overall look of the floor’s look and texture. There are 3 common methods of cutting wood to achieve certain patterns:

  • Plain Sawn: This is the most common and most popular. It has traditional wood grain with patterns commonly known as cathedrals. 
  • Rift-Sawn: This type of cut results in a long and consistent grain but no cathedrals.
  • Quarter-Sawn: This wood is similar to rift-sawn, but it has irregular specs that produce a unique pattern.

In addition, different wood species have unique grain patterns such as straight, curly, wavy, or knotty which can impact the overall appearance of the floor.


Selecting The Type Of Finish

  • When you are choosing the right hardwood floor, consider that most finishes fall into either of the following categories:

    Oil: This penetrates the wood and feels soft and matte. However, this kind of finish can make your floors susceptible to stains and scratches but it is easier to cover up scratches and do on-the-spot touch-ups. 
  • Polyurethane: Applying a polyurethane finish creates a hard topcoat on the wood surface that helps it become more resilient to wear and tear and is especially great for people with children and pets. If polyurethane gets damaged or scratched, you will need to replace a board or buff and refinish an entire section of the floor. 

The type of finish that you select will determine how you care for and clean up your hardwood floors and will affect the appearance and maintenance of the flooring. 

With extensive industry knowledge and experience guiding us, Smith Bros. Floors can offer you all the help in deciding how to choose a hardwood floor. We use only the best flooring and finishes to deliver a top-quality finished product to suit your specific needs. Contact us today to learn more.