It’s important to love your floor. It defines the character of your home and influences the rest of your decor choices.
Wood flooring is the top choice for many Toronto residents, with hardwood flooring sales skyrocketing in recent years. The width of planks, their finishes, and installation options have all evolved and expanded, so it’s easy to get confused when it comes to picking the best hardwood flooring.
4 Tips to Find the Perfect Wood Flooring
The price of wood is way higher than other flooring options, so you can’t afford to pick the wrong kind. (Indeed, you can save a lot of money on wood flooring when you choose wisely.) Here are a few tips.
1. Species and Colour
The most enjoyable part of browsing through samples is choosing the right type of wood and colour.
White oak is a classic, popular option chosen for its durability and wide variety. Since it stains well, it is easily customized. Bleached off-white and ebony white are popular options.
If you want colour variation and different tones, hickory is a good choice. Walnut is the best pick for a rich, dark brown look; for a blonder look, get maple or birch.
For staining, subtle colours are popular because they leave the wood with a more natural look. The best way to pick a species and colour is to consider other wooden elements in the room in question. You can either go for matching floors or add a little contrast accordingly. Professionals suggest limiting the palette for a more tranquil and serene-looking interior.
2. Grain and Character
The grain pattern of wood flooring depends largely on the way the logs are sawed into boards. Grains appear wavy if the boards are flat or plain-sawn, while quarter-sawn boards have more linear grains with faint striping. For the cleanest and straightest grain, go for rift-sawn boards, while live-sawn boards come with all types of grain patterns.
You can either go for an exclusive cut or incorporate various cuts. For example, for understated grain patterns in wood flooring, a mix of rift and quarter-sawn boards are a popular combination. Alternatively, flat-sawn boards are the best choice for a warm, woodsy appearance.
Knots and other distinguishing marks add ‘character’ to wood flooring. (‘Character’ refers to the grade of the wood and its particular features, like knots, sap, and colour variation.) There can be three grades of character – no knot, light (smaller) knots and larger knots.
For more depth of character, reclaimed wood creates a retro or antique look.
3. Prefinished or Site-Finished?
Prefinished wood flooring is sold with final colours and topcoats while site-finished wood is stained and finished after it is installed. The advantage of prefinished wood flooring is that it can typically be installed in a day. But when flooring is finished on site, you will have to vacate your home for it to be stained, sanded, finished, and dried. This may take days or even weeks.
Also, since pre-finishes are done at the factory, you get a wide variety of exotic finishes which are difficult to create on site. Prefinished boards also come with bevelled edges that allow for minor irregularities; these create more pronounced lines on the boards post-installation. By contrast, site-finished boards are sanded down to hide these gaps, making the wood flooring look like a solid pane.
4. The Finishing
Usually, wood flooring in Toronto is finished using clear polyurethane. This protects it from moisture, staining, and wear. In recent years, sales of hardwood flooring with a water-based polyurethane finish have gone up, with finishing sheens ranging from glossy to matte.
Polyurethane finishes are extremely durable, but can be hard to repair once worn or damaged. Alternatively, you can go for an oil-based finish, which looks richer and allows for easy spot repairs. It will dry out over time, but can easily be refreshed with more oil.
Visit as many flooring stores as you can before making a decision. Take a look at their samples and request quotes. Compare notes and prices while determining the store offering the best deal, product, and service. Remember, wood flooring is expensive and can’t easily be changed out once installed.