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4 Things to Know About Hardwood Flooring Options

Hardwood Flooring Options
Hardwood flooring is one of the most sought after types of flooring in a home. Your hardwood flooring options are many and varied, so how do you make the best choice? There are 4 main things to know in order to make an informed and smart decision.
These 4 things are not the only aspects of hardwood flooring that you should take into consideration. As always you must think about the aesthetics and the overall suitability of any flooring option.

1. You have several styles to choose from.

Strip: Strip flooring comes in strips of 1 ½, 2, and 2 ¼ inches wide of varying thickness. This is the normal style of hardwood flooring in use in most homes. The strips can be arranged in various patterns for a unique look.
Plank: Plank flooring comes in only a few thicknesses but in a variety of widths. This gives a different look than strip flooring due to the width of the planks. Plank flooring is visually more like the look of decking and can be a pleasant departure from the norm.
Parquet: This type of flooring is one composed of small pieces of wood. These pieces can be arranged in many different patterns and often use different types or stains to give a custom designed flooring look. These types of floors are often mosaic in nature. They are the costliest hardwood flooring option to put into place and often require professional installation.

2. You have different types to choose from.

The following are the most common types of hardwood flooring for home use. Each option includes the average price at the time of writing, and the Janka score of the wood. The Janka score is an objective measure of the hardness of a wood. To give you an idea of what this score means, balsa wood is 100 on the Janka scale, while Brazilian Ebony has a score of 3692.

 White oak ($4.6) – White oak is brown in color but can have a grayish cast. The grain is similar to red oak, with more burls and swirls. It is harder and more durable than red oak. White Oak has a Janka score of 1360, with the high rating making it a good choice for entryways and hallways.
Beech ($5-$6) – Beech has a reddish brown color and a very consistent grain. It is quite durable and has excellent shock resistance. Beech has a Janka score of 1300 and is best suited to high traffic areas and common areas like kitchens.
Red oak ($3.30) – Red oak is the most popular flooring option it has a reddish in color with a coarse grain, it’s a stiff and dense wood that resists wear, but not as well as white oak. Red Oak has a Janka score of 1290 and is widely used in bedrooms and living rooms.
Cherry ($5) – Cherry wood is a light brown color. Because it’s a soft wood, cherry isn’t often used for a whole floor. Instead, it makes an excellent decorative or accent wood. Cherry Wood has a Janka score of 950 which makes it less useful in high traffic parts of your home.
Paper Birch ($3-$11) – Birch can range in color from light yellow to dark brownish red. It’s somewhat softer than red oak, but is still a strong wood. Paper Birch has a Janka score of 910 and is more suited to lower traffic areas.
Pine ($4)- Pine is a yellowish brown color and contains a lot of swirls and knots. It has a natural resistance to insects and is about as hard as red oak. Pine has a Janka score of 870 which is well down the scale from the industry standard of red oak, some home owners use this softer wood to have a floor that will dent and scratch allowing it to acquire character.
Douglas fir ($4)- Douglas fir is a yellowish tan color. This wood is about half as soft as red oak and can dent easily. It is only appropriate in certain flooring situations. Douglas Fir has a Janka score of 660, making it best used for houses that do not see much traffic.
There are many more exotic woods that are available as well that are not listed here. Further information on exotic hardwoods can be found at the references below.

3. You have two types of cuts to choose from

 Quarter cut: In this type of cut the source tree is cut in a radius towards the center, straight line grain patterns are the result. This is the more expensive option and is less common.
Flat sawn: These type of planks are cut straight across and leave the grain pattern in flame like patterns. This is the more common pattern and the one most home owners are familiar with.

4. Different grades are available

The different grades of wood relate to the quality of the wood. Every tree is not created equal, and even within the same tree there can be flaws. The grades of wood are below.

Clear: No visible defects allowed. Look of the wood planks is consistent in each lot with no large differences allowed in grain or color.
Select: No visible defects are found in the wood, planks are straight and unwarped, the wood requires no additional work to be used as flooring material. Some variation in coloring and grain is allowed to incorporate more variation in the wood species.
Natural: Some defects are allowed including small knots, some splits and wormholes. It contains the full range of colors and grain within a species.
Rustic: Allows many defects, larger knots and splits are accepted. The full range of color and grain within a species are allowed in this grade.

Final Thoughts

The choice you make from the many hardwood flooring options that are available ultimately must be the one that fits your specific situation. Balance between cost and aesthetics is as important in choosing hardwood flooring as it is in any other material.

References
http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/home-diy/flooring/hardwood-floor3.htm
http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20413594_20830971,00.html
http://flooringhardwood.com/html/flooring_hardness.html
http://www.wood-database.com/