Hard Selections

The following article was written by Josh Garskoff in December 2004 for Taunton.com. It was written as a guide to choosing hardwood floors. Even thought the article is nearly 10 years old, the advice is still relevant. You can read the whole article in it’s entirety here.

There are lots of reasons to love wood floors. Not only is wood beautiful, but it’s also soft and warm underfoot, easy to clean, and hypoallergenic.A solid wood floor will last for more than a century, and the finish can be refreshed whenever it wears thin. “Wood is a living material,” says architect Ross Chapin, of Whidbey Island, Wash., “and it brings life to the house.” So preferred are wood floors, in fact, that just having them increases the value of a home.

Because the floor is a substantial feature, the type you choose will go a long way toward defining the space. And because it usually represents a significant investment, you will want to choose carefully.

The good news is that there’s a lot to choose from. Choices today include not only old-fashioned solid wood strips in the usual maple or oak, but also flooring milled from exotic or regional species, or even cut from the remains of 200-year-old barns. The options also include engineered wood products — authentic-looking surfaces that can take wood floors where they’ve never gone before. And then there’s the growing family of laminates which, while not wood, can satisfy the demand for a wood-floor appearance at a much lower cost.

All have their pros and cons and more than a few similarities. It is possible to get a plank look in an engineered floor, for example, just as it is possible to buy prefinished solid boards and skip the dust and disruption of finishing on-site. We all might be sold on looks in the end, but it’s important to remember that when it comes to today’s wood flooring products, there’s a lot going on beneath the

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