How to Choose the Right Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring adds an aesthetic appeal and increases your home’s value. Hardwood flooring options vary in installation costs, texture, wood species, and more. The best hardwood flooring should complement your interior design and fit your budget.

Hardwood Flooring

The Perks of Hardwood Flooring

Most homeowners choose hardwood flooring for its classic aesthetic and potential to increase a home’s value. Hardwood flooring is a more tenable alternative to carpets and tiles by most comparison standards.

  • Hardwood floors are solid, durable, and withstand heavy foot pressure.
  • Hardwood flooring is easy to clean and maintain.
  • It adds an aesthetic appeal to your home. Hardwood flooring comes in different color options, design styles, and species.
  • Homes with well-maintained hardwood floors have a higher resale value.

Top Considerations When Choosing Hardwood Flooring

There are various elements to consider, such as type of hardwood, species, cost, and more.

Types of Hardwood Flooring

The main types of hardwood flooring are solid wood and engineered wood. Solid wood consists of wood from the top to the bottom of the plank. It comes either finished or unfinished in various widths and lengths.

Engineered wood is a manufactured wood product with a core of five to nine layers. Most often, engineered wood is a blend of plywood and veneer wood. It’s a more customizable flooring alternative and provides the same visual appeal as actual wood.

Wood Species

The wood species impacts your floors’ appearance, durability, and aesthetics. Here are the popular wood species:

  • Oak: Oak has attractive grains and natural colors that are elegant and pleasant to the eye. The durable wood species comes in two popular types: red and white.
  • Hickory: Hickory’s distinct grain and color variations make it an aesthetically pleasing option. Hickory has notable shock resistance and density, making it the hardest domestic wood species.
  • Ash: Ash features a pale white to medium brown color variation. Its graining is bold and may appear straight, wavy, or curly. Its durability is ideal for manufacturing stiff veneer planks.
  • Teak: It’s a water-resistant wood with beautiful, rich golden-brown colors. It comprises natural oil, which makes it shine with minimal finish.
  • Bamboo: Bamboo is grass often classified as hardwood and valued for its ecological qualities.
  • Pine: Pine is durable and considered an ecological flooring species because it’s easy to grow. Its knotty grain gives it an aesthetic rustic look.
  • Walnut: Walnut boasts a rich, chocolate-brown color and detailed graining. Walnut is durable, and its dark color makes it an exotic wood.
  • Maple: Maple is a sturdy wood with a natural creamy color. It has a smooth, fine grain that complements many interior designs.
  • Mahogany: Mahogany has a rich reddish-brown color. Its warmth, richness, and beautiful wavy grain make it unique.


Materials and installation costs range from $5 to $28 per square foot. The wood species, grain, pattern, style, size, thickness, and width affect the final cost. Solid hardwood flooring consists of authentic wood planks cut from trees installed end-to-end.

This depends on the wood species, grade, and region. For engineered wood, you’ll pay an average of $6 to $23 per square foot for materials and installation.

Clear-grade wood is the highest quality and most expensive hardwood flooring. This grade has minimal natural defects like knots, sapwood, and grain irregularities.


Hardwood floor installation requires a professional. Proper installation techniques ensure the longevity and structural integrity of the floor. Improper installation makes the flooring look unattractive, warp, split, or shrink.

Start by determining the right criteria for installing the hardwood flooring. Installation methods vary depending on the hardwood type, width, thickness, and construction.

You’ll need to install an underlayment, a thin material between the subfloor and the floor. It provides stability and support to your flooring. Underlays are also suitable for insulation, sound reduction, and moisture protection.

Grain & Texture

Wood grains vary depending on the direction the tree’s fibers grew. The most common grain types are:

  • Flat grains: These have parallel stripes that create a uniform pattern.
  • Straight grains: They’re durable since they have more fiber layers.
  • Curly grains: They have twisted woodcuts from a tree. They produce wavy, spiral, and irregular markings.

The texture of hardwood flooring affects the floor’s appearance. The most common texture types are:

  • Smooth texture: This highlights the wood’s natural beauty with no surface imperfections. It’s a classic choice that suits various design styles.
  • Distressed texture: It’s made using scraping, denting, and saw marks. Distressed hardwood flooring textures’ hand-crafted, worn, and aged appearance makes them most noticeable.
  • Wire-Brushed: The texture creates a surface with unique grain patterns that are semi-smooth. It’s hand-crafted to showcase the beauty of a flooring plank. Wire bristles brush the wood to remove the softer wood and show the tougher grain.

Lifestyle & Usage

Hardwood flooring adds a warm, inviting look to rooms. High-quality hardwood flooring is known for its durability. It’s suitable for both residential and commercial spaces.

Choose harder wood species like oak, hickory, or maple for high-traffic areas like entryways and entryways. They are more resistant to dents and wear.

Consider a harder wood species to withstand claws if you have pets. Pick engineered hardwood or wood species with better moisture resistance for areas prone to spills.

Room Aesthetics

Hardwood’s versatility makes it suitable for different rooms and interior design styles. Choose hardwood flooring made of a conventional wood species like oak or maple if you want a traditional appearance.

Pick hardwood floors with a smooth, dark stain for a modern or contemporary look. For a more rustic design, choose hardwood flooring made of a darker wood species, such as walnut or cherry.

Color and Finish

Lighter colors create a more open and airy feel, while darker colors can add warmth and coziness to a room. Hardwood planks are available in two options–site-finished or prefinished.

Site-finished hardwood planks need professional finishing after installation. The prefinished types come with a stain and topcoat. Site-finished hardwood floors look smoother without bevels and groves. Bevels trap dirt and dust, making prefinished hardwood flooring challenging to maintain.