What type do you want? It’s important. Is Domestic or Exotic desired? Some can be used over radiant heat, many cannot.
Different species have different standards, some none at all. The higher the grade the “clearer” or more top of the line it is.
The angle in relation the grain as the log goes through the saw, 3 cuts are standard, plain, quartered, or riftsawn: The harder cut (quartersawn has closer pours, thus making moisture less of an intruder.)
What is the thickness and width you have chosen ? What are the lengths? This could important if adjoining floor covering at doorways are not properly adjusted for. Some time the pattern of the product you have chosen may not be right for your installation. Always know or have specified the lengths, widths and thickness of the choice you have made.
The most common is with strip or plank, the direction may depend on the subfloor joist (nail down), parquet may be in many patterns and/or designs from simple to intricate cuts and designs. Make sure this is spelled out in your contract , as to what direction it will be laid.
Always request a sample prefinished or unfinished (including final finish type). Every manufacturer has their specific trademark color. Today the naturals (oak and maple) are the most popular. Remember, there will always be some color variation between boards, as each piece may very well be from a different tree.
Make sure the above specifications are spelled out, this will ensure the product information is correct. This is very important as everyone involved in the process (you, the architect, designers, builder/contractor and associates) may not have the same specification details as you or the person helping you specify the job. Today there are a great number of products available, from thicknesses, widths, styles, colors, patterns, and varieties. Remember all have their own “trademark” colors, sizes & styles. For instance natural oak colored floors has more than 30 names throughout the industry. If it’s an unfinished product, to be job finished, the sky is the limit on color.
Finally, check several retailers/contractors, there samples, and Showrooms, Visit our Photo Gallery for Design Ideas or ROOM SETTING PHOTO’S. Ask for a sample that can be used to take to the areas that will receive the hardwood floor. Listen to input from your contractor, and design consultant. The floor you like may not suit the area. The color may not work with the overall scheme of the decor. Always ask questions, if in doubt, not sure, ASK ! It’s much better the know ahead what to expect, than after the fact and the floor is in place. The more specific information shared commonly among ALL participating parties, the less chance of misunderstandings and problems will occur.
Question to ask before making a decision
Is this a high traffic area?
The finish and color will be affected by this. Darker colors tend to show traffic quicker, where as natural wood colors of oak and maple do not. High traffic areas need special attention when it come to recoating. Screening (light sanding) should be a part of the preventative maintenance program for your wood floors in these areas. Application of 1 or 2 coats as needed (every 6-18 months) is a good sound way to protect your investment. Make sure the finish being applied is compatible with what is there and is of the shine that will work well in that area. Satin or low shine urethanes tend to show less traffic patterns than do the higher gloss finishes. Walk-off mats are strongly suggested for these areas, ie- working areas of a kitchens, entry ways, entries/doorways from the outside.
What type of wood do you like or will fit the area?
Some types are more traffic friendly than others; Is this species to “grainy” or busy looking ? Some species are harder than others. Maple is harder than oak; has less grain, yet maple can not be stained. Remember, the type of finish and number of coats can also determine how well your floor will fair in high traffic areas. See FAQ’s when considering the purchase of a wood floor products.
What color will work with the decor?
Some darker colors make rooms look smaller, show traffic patterns quicker. Lighter, or natural color ( oak & maple being the most popular ) of wood floor species can give an open, airy feeling, making the room appear larger. With today’s color trends this is of the most popular selections now being made by the consumer, in home and office alike. Your floor should complement the fabrics, furnishings and accessories already present in the space, as well as enhancing the unique personality of the room as a whole. The most popular color : red oak natural, maple natural running second, but with today’s eclectic decoration styles, anything goes.
Darker colors – Formal or traditional interiors, Lighter colors – country, casual and contemporary settings. There are many choices when selecting the right floor for the rooms in your home, as there are many species, colors and grain variations for you to consider. Also See Wood Floor Species, or Grades & Cuts See Room Setting Photo’s
Who is helping you make these choices?
Builders tend to stay with they same product that has worked for them before; decorators tend to use color as the number one reason for choosing a particular product, which may not be suited for the area. Whether a prefinished or job finished product, have a sample of the wood floor material to make comparisons with other products and materials, such as the fabrics, paint colors and furniture being used in the room.
Who will maintain these floors?
That person needs to know the product as does the purchaser, most of time that is the same person, but not always. Knowing The Do’s & Don’ts and Maintenance Procedures is very important. Make sure that information is provided to you and is a part of your contract. After the floor is installed, and this material is provided to you, this is a good time to purchase a wood floor cleaning kit, right from the get go !
All these question, as well as many others, are very important parts of the process in choosing the right hardwood floor for you. Not knowing all the answers could cause you concerns down the road. Most importantly, as we go through the selection process getting an experienced, and knowledgeable contractor who knows wood floors is one of the best things you can do.!