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  • Writer's pictureFloors Depot Team

How to Choose Hardwood Floor for Your Home in Vancouver BC?

Updated: Apr 30

Hardwood floors have long been treasured for their natural warmth, timeless elegance, and lasting durability. In a city like Vancouver, where homes are often havens of West Coast design and laid-back living, the choice of hardwood can be an intimate reflection of personal style and taste. However, knowing how to choose hardwood flooring can be a daunting task for homeowners with the multitude of options available. From the vast array of wood species to intricate grain patterns and finishes, the selection process demands careful consideration. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the nuances of how to choose hardwood floor, empowering you to make an informed decision that seamlessly blends functionality and aesthetics, elevating your abode to new heights of sophistication.


How to Choose Hardwood Floor for Your Home in Vancouver BC

1. Solid vs. Engineered: The Fundamental Choice

The journey to your dream hardwood floors begins with a pivotal decision: solid or engineered? While both options boast their unique merits, understanding their distinct characteristics is crucial in determining the best fit for your home when you choose hardwood floor.


Solid Hardwood: A Timeless Classic

Crafted from a single, robust piece of wood, solid hardwood flooring exudes an unparalleled authenticity and warmth. Its natural beauty is enhanced by the fact that it can be sanded and refinished multiple times, allowing it to gracefully age and adapt to evolving design trends. Solid hardwood floors can typically be refinished 4-5 times during their lifespan. However, solid hardwood is susceptible to expansion and contraction due to fluctuations in humidity and temperature, making it more suitable for homes with controlled climates.


— Engineered Hardwood: A Modern Marvel

Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, is a layered construction comprising a top veneer of genuine hardwood bonded to a stable, dimensionally sound core. The top veneer of engineered hardwood is typically 3-5 mm thick. This innovative design offers superior resistance to moisture and temperature fluctuations, making it an excellent choice for basements, bathrooms, and homes with radiant heating systems. While engineered hardwood cannot be refinished as many times as its solid counterpart, its durability and stability often outweigh this consideration.


Herringbone Wood Floors

2. The Species Selection

Once you've settled on the format, the next step in how to choose hardwood floor is to immerse yourself in the captivating world of wood species. From the warm, classic tones of oak and maple to the exotic allure of Brazilian cherry and tigerwood, each species paints a unique tapestry of colour, grain, and character.


— Domestic Favourites: The Beloved Classics

For those seeking a timeless, understated elegance, domestic hardwoods like oak, maple, and hickory are perennial favourites. Oak, with its distinctive grain patterns and rich hues, exudes a rustic charm that seamlessly blends with both traditional and contemporary decor. Oak is one of the most popular hardwood flooring choices, known for its durability and versatility. Maple, on the other hand, boasts a sleek, uniform appearance that lends itself to modern, minimalist spaces. Hickory, with its intricate graining and natural variations, offers a rustic yet refined aesthetic.


— Exotic Treasures: Daring and Distinctive

For homeowners seeking to make a bold statement, exotic hardwoods beckon with their unique character and visual depth. Brazilian cherry, with its rich, red-brown tones and linear graining, commands attention and complements warm colour palettes. Tigerwood, aptly named for its distinctive striped patterns, adds a touch of drama and intrigue to any space. Tigerwood is also known for its exceptional hardness, rating 1850 on the Janka hardness scale. Teak, renowned for its natural resistance to moisture and decay, offers a golden-brown hue and unparalleled durability, making it an excellent choice for high-traffic areas.


3. The Art of Finishes: Protecting and Enhancing Beauty

Once you've selected your desired wood species in choosing hardwood floor, the finishing touches can elevate your hardwood floors to new heights of sophistication. From sleek, high-gloss finishes that reflect light and create a sense of spaciousness to matte, textured finishes that exude warmth and rustic charm, the possibilities are endless.


— Site-Finished vs. Pre-Finished: A Matter of Convenience

Site-finished hardwood floors are sanded and finished on-site, allowing for a custom, seamless appearance and a smoother surface. However, this process can be time-consuming and may require vacating the premises during installation. Pre-finished floors, on the other hand, arrive ready to install, offering convenience and faster turnaround times. While the seams between planks may be slightly more visible, advancements in manufacturing have minimized this concern. Pre-finished hardwood floors typically have aluminum oxide added to the finish, making them more scratch-resistant.


Prefinished vs Unfinished Flooring

— Stains and Sealants

Stains and sealants offer a plethora of options to amplify the natural beauty of your hardwood floors when you choose hardwood flooring. From rich, warm tones that evoke the cozy ambiance of a rustic cabin to sleek, contemporary greys and whites that lend a modern, minimalist vibe, the possibilities are endless. Additionally, sealants like polyurethane and oil-based finishes provide an extra layer of protection against scratches, scuffs, and daily wear and tear. Oil-based polyurethane finishes are known for their durability and amber tone, while water-based polyurethane finishes offer a clear, more natural look.


— Textures and Sheens

The texture and sheen of your hardwood floors can profoundly impact the overall ambiance of your space. Matte finishes offer a subtly textured, velvety appearance that exudes warmth and invites you to sink your toes into their luxurious embrace. Satin finishes strike a perfect balance between matte and glossy, imparting a subtle sheen that accentuates the wood's natural charm. For those seeking a truly bold statement, high-gloss finishes create a mirror-like surface that reflects light and amplifies the sense of space.


4. Installation Insights: The Foundation of Perfection

While the visual appeal of hardwood floors is undeniable, their longevity and performance are inextricably linked to the quality of installation. Partnering with experienced professionals is paramount to ensuring a flawless, lasting result when you choose hardwood flooring.


— Preparing the Subfloor

Before the first plank is laid, meticulous preparation of the subfloor is essential. Experienced installers will assess the condition of the existing surface, addressing any irregularities or imperfections that could compromise the structural integrity of the flooring. This may involve levelling, moisture testing, and, in some cases, the installation of a moisture barrier or underlayment. Subfloors should have a moisture content of 12% or less before hardwood installation.


— Acclimation

Hardwood, being a natural material, is susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity. Proper acclimation is crucial to prevent excessive expansion or contraction, which can lead to unsightly gaps or buckling. Reputable installers will ensure that the wood is allowed to acclimate to the ambient conditions of your home, typically for a period of several days, before proceeding with the installation. The recommended acclimation period for hardwood flooring is typically 3-5 days.


— Sanding and Finishing

Once the hardwood planks are securely in place, the process of sanding and finishing commences. This meticulous procedure involves carefully smoothing the surface to remove any imperfections and applying the chosen stain or sealant. Attention to detail is paramount, as even the slightest oversight can impact the final appearance and longevity of your floors. Professional floor sanding typically involves three stages of progressively finer grits to achieve a smooth, even surface.


Hardwood Flooring Maintenance

5. Maintenance and Care: Preserving Your Investment

Hardwood floors are not only a visual delight but also a significant investment in the value and comfort of your home. Proper maintenance and care are essential to ensuring their enduring beauty and prolonging their lifespan.


— Regular Cleaning

Frequent sweeping or vacuuming is the foundation of hardwood floor maintenance, removing dirt, dust, and debris that can accumulate and cause unsightly scratches or abrasions over time. Additionally, periodic damp mopping with a hardwood-safe cleaner can help remove stubborn grime and maintain a lustrous sheen. Hardwood floors should be swept or vacuumed at least once a week, and damp mopped every two to four weeks, depending on foot traffic.


— Protecting Against Wear and Tear

Strategically placed area rugs and floor mats can help minimize the impact of high-traffic areas, while felt pads on furniture legs can prevent unsightly scratches and dents. Additionally, implementing a "no-shoes" policy in your home can significantly reduce the amount of dirt and grit tracked onto your floors. Rearranging area rugs and furniture periodically can help prevent permanent indentations or discoloration on your hardwood floors.


— Refinishing and Restoration

Over time, even the most meticulously maintained hardwood floors may show signs of wear and tear. Fortunately, with proper care and the assistance of a professional refinishing and restoration services can breathe new life into your floors, reviving their original lustre and ensuring many more years of enjoyment. Solid hardwood floors can typically be refinished every 7-10 years, while engineered hardwood floors may only need refinishing every 20-30 years, depending on the thickness of the veneer.


Summary

Hardwood floors are more than just a functional surface; they are a canvas upon which the story of your home unfolds. Each scratch, dent, and patina becomes a cherished memory, a testament to the laughter, gatherings, and milestones that have graced your abode. With proper maintenance and care, these floors will endure, becoming a legacy to be passed down through generations, a timeless investment in the warmth and beauty of your sanctuary.

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