An Overview of Hardwood Flooring

An Overview of Hardwood Flooring

Is Hardwood Flooring the Best Option for Your Home?

As a major part of your overall decorating scheme, your home’s flooring can make the boldest statements regarding your personality. But flooring choices are as much practical as they are aesthetic, and hardwood floors provide the look and durability you need in a floor, with the beauty and excitement you want in your interior design.

There are three major types of solid wood flooring available:

  1. Strip Flooring – this is the most common, with strips ranging from 1-1/2 inches to 3-1/4 inches wide depending on the look you want. These are installed by nailing to the sub floor, and come in oak, maple, walnut, cherry, hickory and even bamboo.
  2. Plank Flooring – these boards are at least three inches wide, but usually larger, up to 12 inches wide. They can be nailed to the subfloor, but are typically screwed in. The screw holes are then covered with wooden plugs.
  3. Parquet Flooring – these 6” by 6” blocks come in a range of design patterns, allowing you to achieved dramatic geometric effects. Some specialty patterns are as large as 36 inches square; these can also be inlaid into more traditional wood flooring for a unique design detail.

>Wood flooring can be purchased finished or unfinished. Unfinished wood flooring must be sanded, stained and finished after installation. On the other hand, these extra steps can be avoided by using finished wood flooring, which only requires installation.

unfinished wood floor

The type of flooring you purchase is determined strictly by the look you want to achieve, although sometimes the architectural style of your home lends itself more to one type of flooring than another. But with the amount of choices today, you can pretty much achieve any custom flooring design you can imagine. In addition, the types of wood that are used, how the wood is laid out, whether it is painted or not, the color of stain, and the glossiness of the finish all effect the overall look of your room. Let’s look at some of these elements as they relate to your home.

Country & Colonial

Beginning with oldest home styles, you might own a colonial or country home, or want to achieve that look in a modern house. In these cases, wide plank flooring is your best basic choice. These planks are usually 4-12 inches wide. They can be purchased new, but because so many larger trees that would yield these wide boards have already been harvested, an entire secondary industry has arisen that salvages wide-plank flooring from older home and industrial buildings scheduled for demolition.

A colonial look would be extremely basic, with a light stain and urethane varnish. A hand-painted floor cloth is a perfect contrast to the plain wood in a colonial-style home.

With country, the stain may be a little darker, but here you have the additional design element of stenciling a border around the floor to give the look of home-spun craftsmanship. You may even wish to inlay one thin strip of darker wood as an offset to the larger planks. A different look can be achieved by painting the floor, whether solid or patterned with a checkerboard or the like. Where floors are painted, strip flooring will do in place of plank flooring.

traditional wood floor


The fun with a Victorian home is all the exciting wood patterns you can achieve using different types of strip flooring with different stains. Victorian homes are known for bright colors and bold statements, so a striped inlay flooring of contrasting colors looks great. One option is two rows of lighter maple flooring, with every third row being a darker walnut or hickory. You can also paint a Victorian floor, but use more vivid and contrasting colors than in a country home. And rather than a simple checkerboard pattern, offset it to a diamond pattern.

Arts and Crafts

This is where the whimsy of Victorian meets the sophistication of more traditional styles. An Arts & Crafts look calls for traditional strip flooring, but with inlaid borders of contrasting colors and woods. These borders can be simply smaller strips of wood, or more intricate classical motifs. A decorative wood inlay can make a spectacular statement. These inlays used to be installed by skilled craftsmen, but are now manufactured as preassembled pieces, and can be set into existing strip flooring by the handy do-it-yourselfer.

Traditional & Modern

Here is where the options are almost unlimited in the use of strip or parquet flooring. Perhaps you might opt for simple strip flooring throughout the home, but with dramatic parquet flooring in the foyer. Stains used can range from light to dark, depending on the style of your furniture and wall coverings, as well as the amount of light entering the room. Furthermore, the choice of varnish will enhance the look of the room. Use a plain or semi-floss urethane for the more casual rooms in your home, and a high gloss urethane for more formal living and entertaining rooms. Remember that your wood flooring is an extension of the interior design of the rest of your home, and it should blend with and complement that design.

The great advantage of wood flooring is that it can be bold and colorful, and yet exude a subtle warmth that welcomes guests to your home. Limited only by your imagination, the design of your wood floor is an extension of your personality and style.

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