Wood Buying Guide

By Floor & Decor

This comprehensive guide covers all of the things to consider when buying hardwood floors for your home. Learn the difference between solid and engineered hardwood and discover species, colors, textures, and more.

The Difference Between Solid and Engineered Hardwood

Solid and engineered hardwood each have their own benefits in the home. Let’s break them down here to fit the best flooring to your lifestyle. 

Solid Hardwood Flooring

[Solid hardwood flooring](https://www.flooranddecor.com/solid-hardwood-wood) is constructed of a single piece of timber, completely natural in its entire thickness. This type of flooring offers several benefits:

• Durability: Solid hardwood floors are known for longevity and can last decades if properly maintained. However, solid hardwood is naturally more sensitive to moisture. Wood expands and contracts with changes in humidity levels so it’s less suitable for basements and bathrooms.

• Refinishing Potential: Because they're made entirely of wood, solid hardwood floors can be sanded down and refinished multiple times over their lifespan.

• Natural Beauty: The unique grain patterns in each plank create a timeless look that many homeowners find appealing.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring

[Engineered hardwood](https://www.flooranddecor.com/engineered-hardwood-wood) flooring consists of multiple layers with a top layer made from natural wood bonded onto a core layer. This construction offers several benefits:

• Stability: Engineered hardwood isn’t prone to warping or buckling due to its multi-layered construction, making it suitable for installation over concrete subfloors and in areas with fluctuating humidity like basements and bathrooms.  Keep in mind, because the top layer is relatively thin compared to solid wood floors, engineered hardwood can only be sanded down and refinished a limited number of times before reaching the core material.

• Style: Engineered hardwood’s structure allows for wider and longer planks for a popular largescale look.

Species Characteristics

When it comes to buying hardwood floors, the [species of wood](https://www.flooranddecor.com/blogslegacy/get-floored-name/name-c-inform/blog-article-3265.html) plays a significant role in determining the overall look and durability of your flooring. Different species have unique characteristics, such as color variations, hardness levels, and grain patterns. Let’s explore some popular options.

• [Oak](https://www.flooranddecor.com/oak-wood): A classic choice for hardwood flooring, oak is known for its distinctive grain pattern and natural warmth. It's available in two varieties: red oak and white oak. While both are durable choices, white oak tends to be slightly harder than red.

• [Maple](https://www.flooranddecor.com/maple-wood): Maple has a subtle grain pattern that gives it a clean appearance with minimal variation between planks. Its hardness makes it suitable for high-traffic areas.

• [Hickory](https://www.flooranddecor.com/hickory-wood): This domestic hardwood offers dramatic color variations from light tan to dark brown within each plank. Hickory is also one of the hardest domestic woods available on the market.

• [Bamboo Flooring](https://www.flooranddecor.com/bamboo): Bamboo is has a unique appearance and exceptional durability. It's also eco-friendly, as it regrows much faster than traditional hardwood trees.

In addition to the species of wood, consider the hardness level when buying hardwood floors. Harder woods are more resistant to dents and scratches but may be less comfortable underfoot. Softer woods provide a warmer feel but may show wear more quickly in high-traffic areas.

Complementing Colors

A living room with blue and white furniture, white walls, and darkwood floors.

Selecting the ideal hardwood hue is an important decision because the undertones should complement the look of the space.

Balancing Light and Dark Tones

Lighter shades like white oak can make smaller rooms appear more spacious while hiding scratches better than darker woods. On the other hand, darker colors such as walnut or mahogany create warm and classic spaces that enrich a design. Here are some trending looks defined.

• Natural: Many homeowners opt for natural-looking finishes that showcase the beauty of natural wood.

• Greige: A blend of gray and beige hues create a modern yet warm appearance that works well with both contemporary and traditional styles.

• Cool Grays: Cool gray shades continue to be popular due to their versatility in a range of decor schemes.

• Bold Contrasts: Create visual interest by pairing contrasting colors like espresso floors with white walls or lighter furniture against dark wood surfaces.

Texture and Appearance

A front room with light hardwood floors, white walls, and dinning set.

When it comes to hardwood flooring, texture plays a significant role in the overall appearance and feel of floors. With various textures available, creating a unique look that complements the home's style while providing practical benefits like durability and slip resistance is easy.

Smooth Finish

A smooth finish is the most traditional choice for hardwood flooring. It offers a clean, sleek look that highlights the natural beauty of wood grains. Smooth finishes are ideal for modern or minimalist designs but may require more frequent cleaning as dust is more visible on these surfaces.

Hand-Scraped Planks

[Hand-scraped planks](https://www.flooranddecor.com/search?q=hand-scraped+planks) have an artisanal appeal, with each plank featuring unique grooves created by hand tools during manufacturing. This rustic texture adds character to any room while hiding minor scratches or dents better than smoother finishes.

Wire-Brushed Finish

A [wire-brushed](https://www.flooranddecor.com/search?q=hand-scraped+planks&prefn1=finish&prefv1=Wire-Brushed&tab=search-tabs-products) finish involves using metal bristles to scrape away softer woods from the surface of each plank, leaving behind only harder woods with pronounced grain patterns. The result is a subtle yet visually striking texture that adds depth and dimension to the wood. Wire-brushed floors are a popular choice for contemporary or industrial-inspired interiors.

Distressed Finish

For homeowners seeking a unique and aged appearance, distressed finishes offer an intentionally worn look with distinctive marks, dents, and scratches. This texture can be achieved through various techniques such as hand-scraping or machine distressing. Distressed hardwood floors are perfect for spaces that embrace the charm of imperfections.

To choose the right texture for the application:

• Consider the Home's Style: Choose a texture that complements the decor and architectural elements and doesn’t compete.

• Evaluate Maintenance Needs: Some textures require more frequent cleaning or care than others. For example, smooth surfaces show dirt more easily than textured ones.

• Think About Durability: Textured finishes like hand-scraped planks often hide minor damage better than smoother options, making them ideal for high-traffic areas in the home.

Selecting the right texture is essential when buying hardwood floors since it dramatically impacts aesthetics and functionality. Weigh factors such as look, upkeep, and sturdiness to select the best hardwood floor for the application.

Free Design Services

With hundreds of top-quality styles, find the perfect hardwood flooring at Floor & Decor. Schedule a [free design appointment](https://www.flooranddecor.com/contact-a-designer) today to have an expert guide your shopping experience.

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