A homeowner’s choice of flooring underpins the rest of the home and sets the style for the entire house. Hardwood floors are beautiful and can upgrade your home significantly, but where to start and what kind is best and how much will it cost?

The first step is choosing the type of flooring you want to use. Not all hardwood flooring is created equal. There are two popular types of hardwood flooring: solid or engineered.

Choosing Your Materials
Traditionally, hardwood flooring was simply thick planks of solid timber. This is still available today and is known as solid hardwood flooring. However, in order to bring costs down, many companies also manufacture engineered flooring. This is the same type of planks, but instead of hardwood, it is created with layers of other materials bonded together with a thin layer of hardwood on top.

Engineered wood isn’t just “fake” hardwood floors, it’s actually more durable and easier to use in many ways. The other layers prevent the floor from expanding and contracting as solid wood does. Engineered wood can be installed directly to concrete, eliminating the need for a layer of plywood flooring. Some homeowners still prefer the look, feel, and even the smell of true hardwood flooring. Oak and walnut are popular choices for solid hardwood floors.

Choosing Your Finish
Hardwood flooring is typically purchased either raw or prefinished. Raw wood is installed first and then can be finished in any way you’d like with a stain and topcoat. This on-site finishing allows for customization to the home and more control over the finished product. Prefinished wood is available, and makes it easier to visualize your finish product and faster to install.

Installation
Solid hardwood floor is installed by nailing or stapling each plank to a wood subfloor. Because of this, it is not suitable for basements in most homes. Engineered hardwood is mechanically fastened, glued, or installed as a “floating floor” depending on the product. Any hardwood floor installation can be challenging, even for the most experienced handyman. Because of the investment in hardwood floors, you want to be sure they are installed correctly. If you’re not an expert in this field, it’s usually best to hire a professional who can get the job done right.