Things to Consider When Buying Hardwood

Jim Williams
Posted in:
Buying Guides

On top of adding warmth and aesthetic appeal to a room, hardwood floors are a great way to increase the value of your home. In fact, American Hardwood recently reported that hardwood flooring can add an estimated $7,000 to 10,000 to a home’s resale value. And a study conducted by the National Wood Flooring Association asserted that 99 percent of U.S. realtors said that homes with hardwood flooring are easier to sell.

So, now that you realize the value of upgrading to hardwood floors, where to you start? The look, feel, type of wood, and cost of hardwood floors are essential considerations you make your purchase. Here are some of the key consideration points when buying hardwood floors:

The Look and Type

Look into the depths of a forest. No tree is identical and the variety of species is vast. There are dozens of wood options and are typically categorized by domestic or exotic.

Solid Wood: This type of flooring is solid piece of wood from top to bottom. One of the many benefits of solid wood flooring is that it can be refinished multiple times, making it a sustainable and long-lasting option (though the initial cost may be steeper). There are three primary types of solid wood:]\

  • Strip flooring: The most popular of hardwood installations. It is installed by nailing the wood to the subfloor.
  • Plank floor boards are at least three inches wide, and can be screwed or nailed to the subfloor.
  • Parquet: This type of wood flooring typically comes in 6”x6” blocks, although specialty patterns are fabricated. Parquet floors often create a modern, geometric feel.

Domestic: This is the most commonly intalled type of wood flooring. These type of woods are typically durable and easy to find:

  • Ash
  • Beech
  • Maple
  • Cherry wood
  • Walnut
  • Cedar
  • Pine
  • Douglas Fir

Exotic: Exotic woods are both beautiful, but can be expensive. Common varieties include:

  • Acacia
  • Bamboo
  • Burl
  • Cork
  • Macadamia Nut
  • Pistacio
  • Olivewood
  • Ziricote

As you decide on what type of wood you want, consider its durability and longevity. Can the floor be refinished? If so, how many times? And, will the wood floors will stand up to the demands of everyday life?

Engineered Wood: The modern-day options for wood flooring are vast; and today consumers have the option to use synthetic or engineered wood. Engineered wood floors are real wood floors manufactured with layers of stacked wood veneers. The layers can run in different directions, which makes engineered wood stable, especially with humidity and temperature fluxuations. The top layer of engineered wood flooring consists of top-grade wood. While this type of flooring can be sanded and finished, it cannot be done as many times as solid wood flooring.

Wood Laminates: Wood laminates are another synthetic wood option. This style of wood flooring are plywood sheets covered with a layer of veneer. The veneer coating on wood laminate floors can be sanded and refinished up to three times maximum. This is the most cost-effective option for wood flooring, though not as durable as the other options.


Most domestic species of wood come in a variety of colors. Exotic species on the other hand are naturally vibrant and saturated and don’t need to be stained. Many exotic species are photosensitive and need exposure to sunlight to achieve their desired rich color. So, if you live in a sunny area or are installing wood flooring in an area of your house that is exposed to a lot of sunlight, then exotic wood may be a good option.


After the type of wood is selected, you must consider the grade, or range of color, of the wood flooring. Higher grade wood is more uniform than a traditional grade, which presents greater, more pronounced natural color variation.


The width of wood planks contribute to the overall “look and feel” of a room as well. Planks are generally available in standard widths of 2 1/4”, 2 1/2”and 3 1/4”. Wider widths are becoming more popular, some up to 5” width. Your choice will depend on the effect you want to create. Narrower boards make a room look longer, while wider boards make it appear shorter. Remember that wood can expand and contract with humidity and temperature, so narrower boards are preferable for fluxuating climates.


Like any other purchase decision, cost is another factor that you should consider when buying hardwood. Search our website to find the prices for hardwood, laminate, and exotic material like bamboo or cork.

Surface Finish

After installation, a wood finish is placed over the wood to protect the flooring. These finishes penetrate the wood to form a protective seal from wear and tear, while satuating the color and sheen. Here are the most popular choice of urethane stains:

  • Oil-based: Most commonly used floor finish. It is available in different sheens, and is generally applied in multiple coats and ambers with age.
  • Water-based: Provides a clear finish and produces fewer odors, quicker dry time and easier clean-up.
  • Moisture-cured: Solvent-based solution used in commercial applications. It is more durable and moisture-resistant than other options.

Installation and Maintenance

Will laying your new floors pose any particular challenges? Is maintenance simple?

Help is Available

As you can see, a number of variables come into play when choosing a hardwood floor. But equally important is finding out about the various retailers and choosing wisely. Admittedly, there are many factors that go into choosing the right type of hardwood floor. Fortunately, you can connect with resources and professionals like those at to find the best flooring fit for you!