Hardwood Flooring 101: Consumer Guide to Hardwood Flooring Basics

One of the most sought after upgrades a homeowner can do is to have hardwood flooring installed in the home. Hardwood flooring can add beauty and value to any home. There are many varieties of hardwood on the market today; it is really up to the homeowner to decide based on desired look and of course, budget. Red oak and white oak are by far the most popular types of hardwood flooring. They provide a very neutral finish that blends into most interior design schemes. At the Masters Touch Design Showroom in Medfield, MA, we carry a full line of select hardwoods from Mullican, Mercier, and Forest Accents to meet all of your flooring and design needs.

What is hardwood flooring?

The answer is quite simple. Hardwood flooring comes from trees that lose their leaves in the winter. Simple enough? Oak, beech, ash and maple are all good examples of trees that can be made into hardwood flooring. Other types of wood flooring like pine are considered softwoods because they are made from evergreen trees which do not lose their color or leaves in the winter.  The solid hardwoods are much more durable and will perform better over years of use compared to pine flooring.

The majority of hardwood flooring is sold in 3/4″ thick pieces that are made from one solid piece of wood and can vary in length in the bundle.  Solid hardwoods are recommended for installations over plywood, OSB (oriented strand board) and other wood sub-floors. It is not recommended to be installed over concrete floors for various reasons which I’ll cover in a later blog.

Solid wood flooring comes in a variety of species and finishes. You can choose to have it installed unfinished which lets you choose a custom stain color and gloss level.  Another popular option is to install pre-finished wood flooring. This solid wood flooring comes completely finished from the factory with a very durable baked- on finish that will last for years and can be refinished if necessary. It can be quickly installed and used the very same day and is available an endless variety of colors and wood species.

Grades of Hardwood Flooring

Manufacturers grade or rate their flooring so a consumer will know what they are purchasing and what to expect in the bundles of flooring. Although grade names vary between manufacturers, they all basically mean the same thing. Here is a quick look and description of some of the grades available.

Clear: Boards are long and of consistent color and free of knots. This is the best grade of hardwood flooring you can buy; it is also the most expensive.

Select & Better: Boards are not as long as clear grade boards. Boards should still be of uniform color and be mostly free of knots and other blemishes.

#1 Common: These boards will vary in length and have distinct color variations. The will be light and dark boards mixed in along with “character” boards. These character boards might have blemishes or knots or some other “defect’.

Shorts: This is the least expensive grade of hardwood you can buy. Boards are short and they can have wormholes, knots and many different color variations.

Having your Hardwood Flooring Installed

I would not suggest tackling this project if you are a “weekend warrior” around your home. Your average homeowner does not possess the know-how or all of the tools needed to properly install hardwood flooring.  It must be done correctly or you will experience problems down the road.Trust me on this one. Leave this project to the professionals.  In the long run save a lot of time and definitely a lot of headaches.



So, my advice is to hire a local hardwood flooring contractor like Masters Touch in Medfield, MA. They can install your flooring professionally and efficiently so you can then show off your new flooring to friends and family and enjoy your new flooring for years to come.

Contact Masters Touch today at 508-359-5900 for all your flooring needs.  In addition to our high quality hardwood flooring, we also offer carpeting and tile flooring options and can refinish your existing hardwood floors.

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