Hardwood Flooring 101: How to Choose the Right Type for Any Room in Your Home
Discover how to select the right hardwood flooring for a beautifully upgraded look anywhere in your home.
Your floors are literally the foundation of every room in your home. They set the style of your decor and they serve the ultimate practical purpose of providing comfort for every step you take. With lots of exciting new hardwood products on the market, there are more choices than ever these days. So how do you make sure you get the best of both — style and practicality — when you’re selecting new hardwood floors?
To help you explore your options, here is Darmaga’s ultimate guide to hardwood flooring. Learn the different types and why each has its own advantages in different rooms throughout your home. Then, once you’ve built up your personal knowledge base, stop by our showroom to explore the many styles of hardwood floors in person.
1. Solid Wood vs Engineered Wood
Like the name suggests, solid wood hardwood flooring is made of a single, solid piece of wood. Once laid, it can be coated, sanded, re-coated, and re-sanded over and over when you need it.
Engineered wood is real wood too, but it’s not one piece. It consists of many layers of wood laid crosswise to one another and bonded together. The result is a super strong flooring material that withstands moisture and temperature variations better than solid wood.
Choosing the type of finish will take a bit of studying before you understand your options. Finishing products can do a lot of different things for your floors and your home, making this much like a lifestyle choice.
Case in point: if you have kids, you may want to consider polyurethane. It creates a hard, resilient topcoat on your hardwood floors, helping them stand up to the wear and tear of kids.
- Polyurethane. This finish is good in the kitchen, where you might have spills, dropped food, and lots of traffic. It’s water resistant and considered impervious to stains and damage. You may scratch the polyurethane but the wood underneath remains protected. You will, however, need to keep up with the maintenance and have them refinished every so often. If there’s a major scratch, it may require significant repair work, like replacing an entire board.
- Oiled Hardwood Flooring. Oiled wood floors give a natural, matte glow to any room. Plus, they’re much easier to maintain than floors with a polyurethane finish. If you get a scratch on an oiled hardwood floor, you won’t notice it as much as you would on a floor finished with polyurethane. The scratches in oiled wood have a tendency to disappear into the grain, much like a wood cutting board. Got a more serious deeper ding? Simply sand it out and reapply the oil.
- Hand-Scraped Hardwood Flooring. For a rustic look, many homeowners opt for a “distressed” look to their floors. Think of a wood floor that has texture, where each plank is unique with its own combination of imperfections.
You’ll be surprised to learn that hardwood flooring comes in lots of different styles, so check them all out before you decide.
- Wide Plank Hardwood Flooring. When people think of hardwood floors, they typically visualize the traditional, two- or three-inch oak planks you see in old homes everywhere around Toronto. While that was once the gold standard, today’s options have expanded to include planks that are twice as wide. It’s a way to make the room feel special and more luxurious. The larger your room, the wider you can go with your hardwood planks.
- Patterned Hardwood Flooring. Wood is a beautiful, natural material that inspires not just fans of home decor but artists as well. Thanks to generations of wood stylists who have honed the art of creating patterned flooring, you can get endless inspiration from browsing the different patterns available for a truly customized look. Just to give you a taste of what’s possible: consider a border of inlaid wood for an understated, yet elegant look. On the other hand, a medallion in your foyer makes a grand statement — it’s the kind of style upgrade that can turn a home into a showplace.
- Different Hardwood Species. Did you know that almost two-thirds of all hardwood floors are made with Oak? Both White Oak and Red Oak make up the bulk of the hardwood flooring in North America — and with good reason. It’s incredibly strong and durable, not to mention beautiful with its distinctive high-contrast grain. It also takes a stain wonderfully. But there are other species to choose from for a different feel for your room. From the honey-colored hues of Brazilian Maple to the deep, dark tint of Black Walnut, there’s a species to match every decor. If you want your floors to reflect the natural beauty of Toronto and surrounding areas, choose a North American hardwood like maple, ash, cherry, or hickory.
In the Kitchen: Withstanding Heavy Traffic
Kitchen floors need to hold up under the triple burden of heavy foot traffic, moisture, and stains. Consider a polyurethane finish over a species of wood that’s known to be especially hard and durable (red oak, for example).
In the Living Room: Focusing on Style
The room where you relax and where family members gather for quality time is an obvious choice for an oiled hardwood floor. Lots of homeowners are forgoing the high-gloss look of polyurethane and opting for the warm, natural look of oil on wood. It shows off the grain of your floors and bonus: it minimizes the effect of scratches on your floors (pet paws, for example).
In the Bedroom: Going for Warmth
Oiled floors can work well in the bedroom, too. They have a matte finish, and if there’s any room in the house where you don’t want tons of shine, it’s where you sleep. The oil finish is more natural, too, so your bedroom will give off that eco-friendly, spa-like vibe.
But if you have radiant heating in your bedroom floor, you may want to consider engineered wood because it can withstand a much wider temperature range than solid wood.
In the Basement: Combatting Moisture
If you’re thinking of renovating your basement and turning it into a livable space, engineered hardwood flooring might be the way to go. The floor in your basement is most likely concrete, which means moisture will be an issue. Luckily, engineered wood is made of lots of different layers of wood and plywood that are laid crossways to one another and then sealed. That makes for a great moisture barrier, not to mention a tough-as-nails, hardy floor. There will be no need for a subfloor, either: just glue engineered wood planks directly onto the concrete.
Hardwood floors have always been the gold standard of beauty and luxury in home decor. They not only look amazing, they can even add value to your home’s worth. Hardwood flooring gets points in every category: for classic good looks, long-lasting durability, versatility, and eco-friendliness. You really can’t go wrong with hardwood flooring but one last word of advice: have your floors installed by a professional unless you consider your DIY skills to be extraordinary.
Finally, don’t skip the most fun step of all: stop by Toronto’s largest and most complete wood flooring gallery: the Darmaga Hardwood Showroom. We’re here to help, guide you through our galleries, answer your questions, or give a quote. Learn about your options and see them in person where you can experience the colors, textures, and styles and get a recommendation