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Choices for Hardwood Flooring and Contractors

Adding a hardwood floor to your home is an investment that will pay off for many years to come. Hardwood floors are not only beautiful to look at, but extremely durable as well. If they are maintained properly, these floors can look as fresh as they day they were installed well into the future.

Oak has long been the gold standard for hardwood flooring, and it's still extremely popular. However, different trends are emerging. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the newest and most attractive options out there, as well as tips for getting your new floor installed properly.

Composite woods, which are made up of fiber, recycled plastic and other components, are rapidly gaining popularity due to their low impact on the environment and the wide variety of finishes available. However, since there are so many true hardwoods available, we'll focus on solid wood products here.

The Attraction of Oak and Other Classics

Due to its durability and beauty, oak has been a favorite for years. In fact, “solid oak floors” has almost become another way to say “hardwood floors.” However, there are drawbacks to oak. While its rich, honey-gold color is very attractive, some homeowners seek a more exotic appearance. This can be achieved by staining the oak with a colored sealant, but this means more work, more time and more money. Finding a wood which you like the natural color of can save dollars and hours.

Oak is also losing favor with many environmentally conscious builders due to its low rate of sustainability. A mature oak tree takes many years....decades, actually...to grow. Newcomers to the market, such as bamboo, reach their full maturity in just a few years.

You can still find beautiful oak flooring, and you can stain it to whatever shade you desire. Make your decision based on what is most important to you, and check out all your options

at a home-improvement store before you finalize anything.

In addition to oak, some time-honored favorites for hardwood flooring include rustic pine, rich deep cherry and rock-hard maple. Pecan, walnut, beech and birch are other traditional options which have been used for years. This collection offers many variations in color and texture, and even with all the new options, these classics are definitely still excellent choices for your new hardwood floor.

Exotic and Trendy Woods

Ever hear of wenge? How about bubinga? If you're shaking your head, don't worry...you're not alone. Most homeowners are not familiar with these newcomers to the hardwood flooring market. However, for many, they offer a wonderfully exotic and beautiful alternative to more traditional hardwoods.

Exotic woods are becoming much easier to obtain at reasonable prices, and this is contributing to the growth of their use for flooring. It was once nearly unthinkable for the average homeowner to use these exotic woods as anything more than small accent pieces, but new methods of farming and other elements have made many of them viable options for even a budget floor installation.

Bubinga, which comes from Africa, has a color similar to cherry. While it's beautiful, bubinga wood has a major drawback. It splits very easily, and so the nail guns used to install most hardwood floors can quickly ruin it. Experts recommend old-school hand hammers for installing bubinga flooring. This is, of course, more time-consuming and therefore more expensive. However, if you love the look of this wood, you may find it a small price to pay.

Wenge is one of the exotics which is still hard to find in large quantities for reasonable prices. However, availability is slowly improving, and more and more installations are including wenge wood as an accent. The color is very impressive, a very dark and rich espresso brown which appears black at first glance, wenge can create dramatic accents and patterns in your flooring.

When creating an accented floor with a darker wood, your options are limited only by your imagination. Many homeowners mimic the shape and size of an accent rug in a front hallway. Borders a few inches from the walls are also popular options. For a truly spectacular showpiece, you can create an intricate inlaid design in the center of a room. Celtic designs are especially popular for this, but the only limits here are those of your imagination.

Green Exotics

Green is all the rage these days, and flooring options which are easy on the environment are becoming very readily available. Two of the most popular green options are cork and bamboo.

Cork flooring may seem odd, but it has many benefits. While technically the bark of a tree and not an actual wood, cork flooring is laid and sealed just like regular hardwood flooring, and is just as durable. In fact, many devotees consider it to be more durable. Because cork flooring has some “give” to it, many households with either small children or elderly people turn to cork as an added safety measure. Sound dampening is another benefit. Cork also gives your room a very unexpected and unique appearance.

Bamboo seems to be in everywhere today, and flooring is no exception. There's good reason for this. While, like cork, bamboo is not an actual wood (it's technically a grass), it is just as durable as traditional hardwood choices.

Bamboo has a very unique appearance, with pencil-width lines of gradient color running through it. It can be stained to any color you desire, although many find its natural color, which is close to beechwood, to be quite beautiful. Perhaps the best thing about bamboo is its sustainability. A bamboo plant take just four years to reach full maturity, making it the most sustainable flooring option available aside from manufactured composites. By installing a bamboo floor you'll not only be making an investment that will pay off in beauty and durability for years to come, but you'll also be making a very earth-friendly choice.

Getting the Job Done Right

As you can see, there are enough options in hardwood flooring to leave you dizzy. Remember that an experienced flooring contractor can offer wonderful assistance based on their experience and expertise. Always hire somebody who is licensed and insured, and discuss the job before any final decisions are made. After all, your hardwood floor is going to be with you for many years to come, and you want it installed by people with the proper skills.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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