Hardwood Before You Buy


Things to Know Before You Purchase Hardwood

A home with hardwood flooring

Nothing motivates people to learn about something new than when they have to invest a sizeable sum to purchase it.

Buying hardwood flooring is a long-term investment. It pays, today and tomorrow, to know not only the basics but some of the specifics.

In the journey to finding the right hardwood flooring for your home, understanding things like hardwood traits, characteristics, and quirks can be invaluable.

It’s a summary of different of things you should know about hardwood before you open your checkbook or get out the charge card.

Know this about finish in place, or site-finished, hardwood. Nature’s rich beauty is abundant when displayed through the character of a site-finished hardwood floor.

In addition to different wood species and finishes, these hardwood planks are also available in varying widths – an elegant addition to any home.

Unfinished hardwood or site-finished hardwood is installed in the home and then sanded. The stain and 2-3 coats of urethane finish are then applied. The urethane finish, brushed or mopped on, is called a “floor finish,” not a “furniture finish.”

Dust is a Fact of Life and Finishing

If your floor is being finished in your house, just be aware that your floor will not be “dust free” as it is impossible to create a totally “dust-free” environment.

Some dust will fall onto the freshly applied topcoat of urethane finish.

You may also find sanding marks, small bubbles, and brush marks.

However, take heart, finish in place wooden floors may be screened and recoated to rejuvenate the finish and revitalize the floor’s natural beauty.

The Different Hallmarks of Hardwoods

Each species of hardwood has its own unique characteristics. Color is determined by the part of the tree the wood originally comes from.

The grain pattern is determined by the species and how the wood was cut.

Natural variations in the color and grain are normal and should be expected. Just like natural stone, these variations create the beautiful and unique look of a hardwood floor. They make your floor close to one of a kind.

Understand That Wood Moves Naturally

Hardwood natural expansion and contraction

Hardwood natural expansion and contraction causing cracks and strings

Hardwood floors will expand and contract due to humidity and temperature changes, causing hairline cracks, slight height variations, or both.

Hardwood does not expand or contract uniformly in all directions. This is not considered a defect but a natural result of nature.

So, in dry climates, you should consider the use of a whole-house humidifier to help minimize shrinkage and hairline cracking.

Facts about Subfloors

No subfloors are perfectly level. You may also hear hollow sounds where your subfloor’s surface dips and ridges slightly.

This does not, however, affect the integrity or installation of the hardwood. Hollow sounds are normal and are not considered an installation defect.

All hardwood floors will fade, darken, or change shades over time. Prolonged exposure to sunlight will greatly increase this process.

Window treatments are recommended as well as occasional rotation of area rugs and furniture to allow floors to age evenly from UV exposure.

Pre-finished Hardwood Pre-buying Notes

A work of natural art, the elegance of a pre-finished hardwood floor adds beauty and value to any home, and easy care, and durability to any lifestyle.

Each species of hardwood has its unique features and the conditions of nature as the trees matured, making each floor exceptional and individual.

Pre-finished hardwood floors are sanded, screened, and stained in highly efficient manufacturing plants.

Several coats of urethane are sprayed on the boards, and then they are UV dried for a very durable finish.

Pre-finished floors may be screened and recoated to revitalize the finish and revitalize the floor’s natural beauty.

Get on Top of the Bottom Line. Know the Entire Cost of Ownership

The “cost per square foot” of your hardwood flooring is just one component of the entire project cost. To ensure there are no surprises, and the hardwood you select fits within your overall project budget, be sure to ask us to calculate the overall cost of your hardwood flooring project.

Here’s a list of potential additional expenses you may incur:

  • Furniture removal/replacement.
  • Demolition/disposal of the old floor covering. Depending on the existing floor covering, this can be an expensive item; also, be sure to include the cost to dispose of the old floor covering.
  • Subfloor preparation. Depending on the condition of the subfloor, it may require additional work.
  • Product delivery.
  • Hardwood installation. Determine the cost per square foot to install it.
  • Materials needed to complete the installation. Your new hardwood floor may necessitate additional materials to install it properly.

We can help you answer questions regarding the manufacturer’s warranty and care guide for directions on how regularly the floor should be cleaned and the cost to clean it.

There’s a lot to know and keep in mind before buying a hardwood floor, but it’s well worth the effort. If you’re a smart and knowledgeable shopper, it will pay off in numerous ways, the best of which will be hardwood flooring you’re proud to come home to.

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