Wood Flooring: A Simple (But Complete) Guide

kitchen with beautiful wood floor

Wood flooring is a beautiful and significant investment, which is why it makes cents (literally!) to do your research before installing and caring for these beautiful floors. This guide can end your research, and answer all your questions about these gorgeous floors.

Choosing the Right Wood Flooring

Is wood flooring durable?

Yes. Wood flooring has been a durable choice for homes for centuries. When wood floors do wear down, they can be sanded and refinished for a brand-new floor. Depending on the thickness of the wood plank, many wood floors can be refinished repeatedly, making them a long-term investment.

Wood flooring wears well in a busy household, though pet owners should ask flooring pros to show them wood flooring products that aren’t scratched easily by pet nails. Other than scratches, wood floors are susceptible to damage from water. Standing water can stain or warp wood flooring, though there are new wood flooring products that are water-proof.

Does wood flooring come pre-finished?

Some wood flooring is available pre-finished, perfect for families who don’t want to live through the dust and hassles of the refinishing process. These products are available in many different stain colors and wide or narrow plank. (Ask a flooring professional to see styles of pre-finished wood flooring.) Some wood flooring, called engineered wood flooring, also comes in products that are easier-to-install for do-it-yourselfers.

Can wood flooring be installed in a kitchen?

Wood flooring can be installed in a kitchen, though families may need to be careful about water spills. Because wood floors can be damaged by standing water, homeowners need to quickly wipe up any spills. If water is a worry, tile floors and luxury vinyl plank floors both come in styles that resemble wood flooring.

Can wood flooring be installed in a basement?

There is a type of wood flooring can be installed in a basement, though it’s not the traditional hardwood floors that many people immediately picture. Because of the moisture that seeps through the slab, engineered wood floors are the only type of wood flooring that is recommended for a basement installation. Engineered wood floors are real wood floors that are manufactured in layers, minimizing the risk of damage from porous moisture.

If homeowners want the look of wood without the worry of water damage, there are other floors that closely resemble wood flooring. Tile floor and luxury vinyl plank both look like wood, but are typically not susceptible to damage from porous moisture and water spills.

What kind of wood floor can be installed in a bathroom?

Because water and humidity can damage wood floors, hardwoods are not recommended for a bathroom. The moisture in the bathroom can damage the floors. Instead of wood, homeowners can consider tile or luxury vinyl plank floors for a beautiful wood look without the worry.

What type of wood flooring can be a do-it-yourself project?

Engineered wood floors and laminate floors are the top contenders for do-it-yourself projects. Both floors are available in products that are fairly easy to install and don’t require a lot of specialized tools. Both products can be purchased at local flooring stores and installed with easy DIY engineered hardwood installation tips and DIY laminate flooring instructions.

Wood Flooring Cleaning & Care

Do area rugs damage wood floors?

Area rugs are a great way to absorb sound and add a soft feel underfoot. They can also anchor a space or make a room feel larger. Unfortunately, some area rugs can damage a wood floor; it depends on the fiber of the rug. Certain kind of rug fibers can scratch or damage wood flooring. To minimize the risk, ask a flooring professional what kind of area rugs are safe for the wood flooring and if any kind of protection (such as mat) should be used. In some cases, homeowners may need to wait for a specified time before adding an area rug to the space.

How do I clean my wood floor?

Wood floors are fairly easy to clean. Homeowners should regularly sweep or vacuum wood flooring to remove debris that can scratch the floor. If a vacuum is being used, look for a vacuum that is manufacturer-approved to avoid warranty issues and damage.

For a deeper clean, homeowners should head to their local flooring store for a manufacturer-approved wood flooring cleaner. The first step is to vacuum or sweep the floor. The next step is to use a soft mop and wood flooring cleaner to deep clean the floor. Homeowners should avoid homemade cleaners with household ingredients, which can damage the finish. When moping, never leave puddles of cleaner or water on the floor. This can stain and damage wood flooring.

Should I steam clean my wood floor?

No! Wood floors can be damaged by steam cleaners. Because they use water, these cleaners can stain or cause wood flooring boards to warp.

Is it normal to have gaps in my wood floor?

Yes! The high or low humidity of every Wisconsin season can make a noticeable change in wood floors. The dry air of winter can dehydrate floors, causing a small gap to show up between the floor boards. The humid air of summer causes swelling. Both changes are completely normal; however repeated drastic changes or a consistently humid environment can cause wood floor boards to cup, which needs to be repaired.

To avoid cupping, homeowners can purchase a hygrometer and monitor their home’s humidity. The ideal humidity for wood flooring is between 35-55%. If the humidity in the home is above 55%, homeowners can use an air conditioner and dehumidifier to minimize changes in wood flooring.

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