Hardwood flooring is both beautiful and durable. It is a lifetime investment that increases both the value and esthetics of your home. However, it is important to understand some of the inherent characteristics of a hardwood floor before you make your final decision to purchase a hardwood floor.
1. Hardwood flooring will dent and scratch. The term “hardwood” simply means that the tree from which the wood was harvested was a broad leafed dicotyledonous tree (a tree that produces seeds that develop into two leaves). Basswood is a hardwood, although it is softer than pine. It is important to choose the correct wood for your application in order to minimize denting and scratching issues, keeping in mind that ALL wood floors will dent and scratch.
2. Hardwood floors are hydroscopic. This means that they will take on and give off moisture like a sponge, causing the flooring to expand and contract as the humidity in the room changes. Separations, or gaps, between the boards are common when the humidity is low, such as in the winter. The key is to keep the humidity in the home between 35% and 65% year round. The use of a humidifier in the winter and a dehumidifier in the summer will help lessen this issue; however some movement is almost unavoidable. It should also be noted that the wider the flooring, the larger the expected gaps will be.
3. Hardwood flooring is photosensitive. This means that it will change color when exposed to light and air. When an area rug or piece of furniture is moved after several months, the hardwood floor underneath will likely look different from the surrounding flooring. If this is a concern, it is wise to rearrange furniture and area rugs frequently to allow the floor to color shift more consistently – or to choose a species of hardwood that is less photosensitive.
4. Never clean your hardwood floor with water or a water mixture. This can cause degradation of the urethane finish and can also cause problems with refinishing of the floor. Use only manufacturer recommended cleaners and a terry cloth mop.
5. Hardwood flooring is not intended to look like a table top. Flooring is manufactured from a lower grade of wood than that which is used for furniture. Small face checks, mineral streaks, and other blemishes are acceptable in a hardwood floor that may not be acceptable on a piece of furniture. Please keep in mind that flooring is intended to look good from five feet away, not five inches.