What do images of hardwood floors conjure up for you? When I was growing up, hardwood floors were found in four places: the school gymnasium, McClyman’s Hardware Store, the Schultz Bros. dime store and my great aunt and uncle’s farm house.
What baby boomer doesn’t remember the squeaking of sneakers on the gym floor? Or the creaking of decades-old hardwood flooring in buildings from the turn-of-the-20th century?
But heaven forbid your own home had “wooden” floors, as my mother called them. Back then, carpeting ruled. The typical home set up was installing carpeting “over” the hardwood floors. Sometimes it even made its way into the bathroom. My aunt and uncle laid shag carpeting in their small, two bedroom, one bath home and thought it was heaven.
54 percent of the population is willing to pay more for a home with hardwood floors.
Fast-forward 60 plus years and guess what? Hardwood floors have taken over. Not to say that carpeting is dead by any stretch of the imagination. Many older people still enjoy the insulating effect carpeting provides but according to a USA Today study, 54 percent of the population is willing to pay more for a home with hardwood floors.
Once considered “old fashioned,”and “cold,” hardwood floors now enjoy the same level of status as stainless steel appliances, granite or quartz countertops and open floor plans. Whether you enjoy the classic look of red oak or are looking for an exotic Japanese eucalyptus, you can’t dispute the allure of natural wood flooring.
I recently removed nasty, old carpeting in my bedroom and replaced it with timeless red oak flooring. It not only transformed the room but instantly tied it in with the rest of the house, matching it with the existing red oak flooring. I also refinished the older flooring, removing the previous dark stain and applied a natural finish. This helped lighten up the entire house, making a 1950s ranch feel like ‘new’ again.
The lifespan of hardwood flooring is truly impressive. It often exceeds 100 years, probably the reason you find it in the turn-of-the-century homes. While carpets require at least bi-annual cleaning, pet stains, food and beverage accidents, and general wear and tear often require carpets to be replaced after five years.
If you discover hardwood floors beneath that carpeting, they probably only need to be refinished and you’ll be treated to flooring that looks brand new. A huge allure of hardwoods is the ease in cleaning. Whether using a hardwood-friendly vacuum or soft dust mops, dust and dirt are quickly eliminated, providing exceptional air quality in your home. For people with allergies and asthma, hardwood floors provide a healthy alternative to carpeting. By using the simple solution of vinegar and water to mop your flooring, you can keep your floors looking fresh and clean.
For those of you concerned about the harvesting of hardwoods, according to Floor Daily, hardwood is the most environmentally friendly flooring material. The hardwood forests that provide flooring products are growing more than twice as fast as they are being harvested.
Expect to pay anywhere between $3/square foot on up to $8/square foot for more exotic woods. This doesn’t include labor to remove your existing flooring. Depending on what type of surface you currently have, you may need a new sub-floor so make sure you get a couple of estimates before commiting to the project.
If you are refinishing your hardwood flooring, most hardwood flooring companies now have equipment that has significantly cut down the amount of dust. Vacuums attached to the sanders create a “dust-free” experience, well maybe not dustless but certainly less air particles than 20 years ago. You’ll still have to clean your furniture and wipe down your surfaces regularly until the dust settles. This also might be a good time to get your air ducts cleaned.
You’ll have to decide what type of finish you put on your new hardwood floors. Water-based polyurethane tends to cost more but leaves a clean, light finish and there is very low odor. This finish takes four coats but depending on the size of the room and when applied, can be walked on at the end of the day. Oil-based applications leaves an amber color and needs just two coats. However, there is a strong odor and you’ll have a five hour wait between coats. The recommended wait after the last coat is 12 hours so the room will be out of commission at least two days.
In high traffic areas, it always recommended to have a rug, regardless of the finish. This gives you an opportunity to accent the floors with ‘floor art.’ Pick out something that fits your motif, whether its an oriental or contemporary rug. By doing so, you’ll not only break up the flooring but help insulate your home.