Designer’s Secret Guide to Choosing Wood Flooring

Designer’s Secret Guide to Choosing Wood Flooring

Ready to choose a wood floor for your home? Whether you are on your own, working with an interior designer, or working with one of the designers we have on staff here at City Tile in Mufreesboro, Tennessee, this guide to wood flooring options is a quick overview of all of the choices now available.

There are two things you should know before we get started on this quick primer. First, flooring does make the home. People are choosing unique statement floors that enhance the architecture and furnishings of their homes. And, second, for 2017, the key word is texture. Texture can come from flooring, walls, draperies, furniture, or accessories, but a mixed of textures make a room interesting.

Kinds of Woods

Flooring is made from a variety of wood species. And each species has its own Janka Hardwood Rating. The larger the number, the harder and more durable the wood will be. The most popular wood flooring is red oak, followed by white oak. Red oak is rated 1290 on the scale. Wide planks of pine, which is picking up in popularity, have a durability rating of 690. It is very soft and not very durable, although it is beautiful. Floors can be made out of almost any wood, including exotics, like Brazilian Teak and Bamboo.


Most domestic hardwood floors are light in color, but they can be stained the colors of the rainbow. Exotic woods tend to be darker and richer in color, often with a reddish cast.

The current trend in hardwood flooring is dark with light cabinets, or light with dark cabinets. Nothing in between. Unless you go gray. Gray hardwood floors are hot, hot, hot. They go well with the gray and gray-toned paint colors being seen on walls. Gray has overtaken beige as the home-color of choice. Color theory designers say that this is because it is more soothing for all of us in this crazy-busy world of ours. It allows us to relax in our home-havens.

Finishes and Textures

Ask anyone what kind of wood is the hottest, and you will hear reclaimed. The reclaimed wood trend has actually led to more people stripping away old carpets in their homes to find beautiful, long-forgotten hardwood floors beneath. Instead of putting in new floors, they are having the old floors “reclaimed.” And they are having the flooring put on their walls!

Interest in reclaimed lumber has led to the creation of different finishes and textures for wood flooring. Wood can be finished with a high gloss or matte polyurethane finish. This protects the wood. The current choice of designers and homeowners is a low-gloss finish that lets the wood’s natural grain show through.

Reclaimed wood from old barns and homes is expensive, so manufacturers are looking for other ways to get the look at a lower price for consumers.

To give floors an aged look, without having a reclaimed wood floor, wood can be pickled or bleached. These will fade the wood. Or a number of different textures can be applied to natural wood, like scraping and metal brushing. All of these processes make the wood look more distressed, like your jeans. If you want floor as unique as you are, you need to ask about these specialty wood floors.

Wood’s Idiosyncrasies

One thing everyone needs to know about natural wood floors is that they expand and contract with moisture. In the winter they will contract and you will see gaps between the planks. In summer they will expand filling these cracks back in. One of the ways to keep this from happening is to “age” the floor in place for 4-7 days before it is stained and sealed.

If wood gets too much moisture, it buckles, and it will push up into ripples. This is why natural wood floors are not good for a bathroom or other high-moisture area.

Also, wood floors can be attacked by pests, like termites.

When It Isn’t Really Wood

For those wanting the beauty and/or look of a wood floor without dealing with the idiosyncrasies, there are many options. Flooring is available in wood-look luxury vinyl tile, ceramic or porcelain tile, cork, laminate, and of course engineered lumber.

Modern technology is allowing manufacturers to create finishes so close to the real thing, that you have to touch the floor to see if it is wood or not.

Hope this helps you find the wood floor that you are looking for and have years of enjoyment of it.