Select The Right Hardwood Flooring For Your Home

The beauty of natural hardwood floors never goes out of style

Hardwood Flooring Buying Guide

Hardwood floors are durable, beautiful floors suited to any room in your home. This guide will help you understand the different finishes, construction, sizes and wide variety of materials so you’re your hardwood floor perfectly matches your home.

Types

There are three main types of hardwoods: solid wood, engineered wood and click wood.

Solid Wood: Solid wood flooring is created by cutting the entire strip of wood in one whole piece directly from a tree. Solid wood floors are commonly found in older homes and usually consist of long thin strips of wood that have been nailed into a wood subfloor. Because of their durability and timeless beauty, they remain a popular choice for new installations. Since solid wood reacts to fluctuations in humidity, this type of flooring expands and contracts as moisture levels in your home change. Be sure you follow the proper installation methods to prevent buckling or gapping.

  • Suited best for installations at or above ground level; install over a wood subfloor
  • Thicknesses range from 5/16 to ¾ inches; typical widths include 2 ¼ to 5 inches
  • Can be sanded and refinished at least once, but generally no more than 2 times for lasting value and performance.
  • Available as either prefinished or unfinished pieces in a wide range of wood species
  • Can go over concrete, but proper extensive preparation and planning need to be done first


Engineered Wood: Engineered woods have increased in popularity due to both their affordable price and ability to handle fluctuations in humidity without shifting or changing. Engineered wood consists of several thin layers of solid wood fused together with heat, glue and pressure. Cross-ply construction alternates layers opposite one another, so each individual layer expands and contracts in different directions with little to no visible change.

Since only the top layer is visible, manufacturers can use a variety of less expensive woods to create the core layer and use more costly woods on the surface. This gives you the benefit of more luxurious materials at an affordable price.

  • Can be installed on all floor levels of the house
  • Can be placed directly over a concrete slab
  • Engineered wood floors with thick top layers can be sanded and refinished several times
  • Usually come pre-finished for simple, hassle-free installation that allows for immediate use


Click Wood: Click wood refers to an installation method constructed on an engineered wood platform. Click wood "floats" over the sub floor without any nailing, stapling or troweling of adhesives. Similar to how laminate floors are installed, floating hardwood floors can be installed over most existing sub floors, including vinyl and concrete, without demolition mess. Best suited for the DIYer.

Bamboo Flooring

There are three styles or looks of bamboo, including vertical, horizontal and stand woven.

Vertical  

Created by fusing bamboo stalks vertically resulting in consistent linear lines for a modern appearance.

Horizontal


Alternating layers of bamboo are fused together maintaining the distinctive growth joints of bamboo for a natural appearance.

Strand woven


Created by compressing shredded bamboo fibers under extreme heat and pressure forming a durable and hard flooring material.

  • Graining mimics hardwood
  • Has increased hardness and resistance to indenting

Styles & Installation

Hardwood floors are available in common wood varieties such as oak, maple, hickory or birch, and in uncommon varieties such as bamboo, Brazilian cherry and even cork. Personalize your hardwood floors with square, beveled or eased edges.

Floors come with 3 basic edges - square, beveled or eased.

  • Beveled and eased edges help hide irregularities in the subfloor.
  • Square edges provide an even, uniform look with clean lines.
  • Beveled edges have a slightly deeper indent while eased edges taper off more gradually.


Installation:

If you plan to install the floor yourself, you may want to consider selecting flooring with features such as a prefinished surface or floating installation like click wood for added convenience. Keep in mind that while many installations are simple and straightforward, some floor types require more complicated installs that may be better left to professionals. Hardwood flooring can be installed by a trusted Home Depot service provider. For more information on installation services, click here.

There are four basic types of installation: nail down, glue down, staple down and floating/click. The type of installation is largely determined by the type of wood and flooring style you select. Keep the following tips and hints in mind:

  • Engineered floors often utilize a simple-down or floating installation, which is the fastest installation method.
  • Solid wood should be acclimated to the room several days prior to installation.
  • An expansion gap allows for changes in solid wood and engineered wood floors due to fluctuating humidity.
  • Add molding, such as quarter-round, to walls to hide the expansion gap for a more uniform appearance.
  • Factory finished floors can be walked on immediately after installation is complete.