Civilization Marches On: Hardwood Flooring in the Modern World

Boy, am I glad that I didn’t live 500 years ago – at least as far as homes are concerned. In those days, most folks had nothing under their feet except dirt, when it came to their home floors. Hardwood flooring has been around for centuries, but in actuality it is one of the more recent inventions in the history of the human race. Before the advent of power tools (and the electricity that powered them) all floors had to be constructed by hand, oftentimes requiring weeks and weeks to individually craft, and then place, all the boards. Thankfully, modern technology has saved us from much of this backbreaking labor!

Why choose hardwood floors when other flooring materials are available? The best reason we can give is that there is no other flooring material that is so durable and also so versatile. Hardwood floors will last and last – they will stand the test of time, even in high-traffic areas.

Versatility? Hardwood flooring is one of the most versatile flooring materials available today. Whether you need it in the den, kids playroom, bedroom, kitchen, home office, hardwood flooring is a great choice. In fact, with modern technological advancements, you can install some types of hardwood flooring below ground – like in a basement – where the ground underneath may be damp.

Let’s come right out and admit it: if you want genuine hardwood flooring, you will have to make a significant initial investment. But don’t let that scare you away, as installing hardwood flooring can actually serve to raise the overall value of your home, sometimes significantly. Properly maintained, they can become one of the ‘crown jewels’ of your home, and make your property very valuable when it comes time to sell it.

What are your choices? Well, hardwood flooring can be purchased as a solid wood – which means that the flooring boards are each solid pieces of wood, or you can purchase something called an engineered wood floor. The engineered wood floor is made by taking thinner strips of wood and fusing them together in such a way that they will not shrink as much, and will be stronger than, a solid wood floor board. Your installation professional can advise you on which would be best for you.

You can purchase hardwood floors today in the traditional thin strips, in plank form (which is longer than strips), or in the ever-popular parquet style, where the wood has been arranged into geometric designs that are, simply put, stunning.

Another set of choices you will need to make is whether to choose prefinished or unfinished hardwood floors. The unfinished flooring will require sanding and staining after it is laid. (Tip: let a pro do all this work.) The prefinished type of hardwood floor requires no sanding or staining – you simply install the flooring and you are done!

A few words to those of you installing hardwood floors in high-traffic areas – areas which will receive a lot of foot traffic, such as in hallways, stairways, and door entrances. Did you know that lighter woods will not show foot-traffic wear as much as darker wood colors? If you can, try to put down some mats and rugs in the areas receiving the highest amount of foot traffic. Also, higher density woods (hickory, oak, maple) are better for these high-traffic areas in your home than lower density woods (like pine).