For those seeking the natural look, nothing compares to hardwood floors. Hardwoods are durable and able to perform better than any other flooring product. Although hardwood flooring can get expensive, the lifespan of a good hardwood floor can last for decades, compared to an average of ten years for carpeting. In the long run, hardwood is a great investment.

Hardwoods are easy to care for, and can be installed in all of the primary living areas of any home, except the bathroom. Other advantages of hardwood flooring include its environmentally friendly makeup, and its ability to increase the value of a home or office. Hardwoods also are great for those who have allergies, since it doesn’t hold dust like other flooring. And, wood flooring gives a little underfoot, making it easier on those who must stand for long periods of time.

When purchasing hardwood, understand that you have a wide range of colors and grains to choose from. For instance, it’s important to know the difference between red and white oak, the two most common wood products. White oak is denser and used for high traffic areas. Red oak is more expensive, however, and sports a trendy pinkish tone.

Hardwood is perhaps the most historical of all floor covering, and today remains one of the most popular. Residential and commercial projects each choose hardwood to achieve casual, professional, modern, antique and many other styles. And every time, hardwood delivers. The benefits of hardwood flooring are many. Hardwoods come in many styles and colors, are affordable, are the top choices for those suffering from allergies, are easy to maintain, and are environmentally friendly. Did you know:

Variety of styles

Hardwood comes either pre-finished or unfinished, depending on how much the customer wants to control the end product in terms of color and texture. There are four popular styles of hardwood flooring:

Selecting a location for your floor

Not all hardwood floor varieties are ideal for all levels of a home or commercial building. For instance, solid hardwood does not do well when placed over concrete or below ground level because it can change its characteristics based on environmental conditions such as humidity and moisture. Conversely, engineered hardwood styles can be used over concrete and react more favorably to humidity and moisture, making them a good choice for basements.

Thinking about the “finished” product

One of the best new assets of hardwood flooring is the new finishes available that remove the need for waxing. When choosing a hardwood flooring ask about its finish. Some of the more popular finishes include polyurethane and acrylic-urethane, a chemical that gives hardwood a clear, durable coat and can be put on the wood using water or oil base; or ceramic — using this finish puts a coat on hardwood that allows for more resistance to wear. Paying attention to the finish — assuming your floor has a polyurethane finish, hardwood floors should not be waxed, because a sticky film will develop and dirt and dust will stick to the wood’s grain.

Tips for buying a wood floor

Before going to the retailer to purchase your hardwood floor, give some thought to the following:

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