Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hardwood Flooring Options to Fit Your Lifestyle

Changing the flooring can change the entire feel of a room. As the foundation for the overall visual aesthetic of your room's makeup, you have to be sure that you get a style of floor that fits in with the image you are trying to create. There simply is no making up for the wrong kind of floor. If sophistication and traditional beauty is what you are after, hardwood flooring is a popular choice and always a safe bet.

Once you have decided on hardwood flooring, though, your choices have just begun. There are many ways to personalize your hardwood floor, from the type of wood to the finish applied, if any. Each room has a personality, and your floor should be a reflection of that personality. Every little aspect of the floor feeds into that and must be considered.

The first thing you have to consider is which kind of wood to use in your floor. Different types of wood have different grain patterns and different designs to them. Maple, for example, has a smaller grain and lighter patterns, perfect for an elegant formal dining room or study. Oak, on the other hand, has larger, broader grain patterns that give off more of a rustic, homey feel. Make sure to carefully consider grain patterns before selecting a type of wood, as they have a dramatic impact on your finished floor.

Once you have selected a wood, you will need to determine the shade. Darker shades are generally found in a more formal setting, while lighter shades tend to be more open and inviting.Also, do not forget that there is going to be furniture sharing the room with your new hardwood flooring. Selecting a shade that goes well with your existing furniture is absolutely essential, unless you plan on changing all of the furnishings to match your new floor.

After you have selected a wood and shade, you will need to decide how you would like the boards cut. Plank width and thickness have an effect on the finished look of your floor. Narrow boards, also called strip boards, are used to give a room a more contemporary feel. With the larger number of small boards fit into the floor, it also can create the illusion of a larger space.Wide boards, on the other hand, give the room an earthier, country feel. Accompanied by a light shade, wide boards can create a comforting atmosphere.

In addition to board size, you will need to choose an edge style for the floor as well. The edge of each board can either be flat or beveled depending on how you want the floor to look. Flat, square edges make for one continuous, solid floor space. This is the most common form of hardwood floor and provides a smooth, finished feel. Beveled edges will introduce a texture to your floor that will give it a sense of depth and have a three-dimensional effect. Bevels can also be specified to certain sizes.

The installation pattern will be your next decision, as the way your boards are laid out will have quite an effect on your floor's look. Straight patterns are the most commonly seen, and involve laying each board out in straight lines that are parallel and perpendicular to the walls. This can be modified slightly to a diagonal pattern, where the boards are laid out exactly the same way, only at a diagonal angle to the walls. Parquet and herringbone patterns are also available to those that want to shake up the look a bit.

Parquet patterns can be further customized, but essentially are repeating shapes laid out in the wood boards. Herringbone is a style in which the boards are placed in a zigzag shape, with each end forming a V with the next board.

The finish is the final touch that will complete your hardwood floor. Several options are available to coat your new floor and give it the look that you desire. A traditional oil finish is the same type of finish that has been used for centuries on hardwood surfaces. It will give your floor a deep, timeless look that will echo old European ballrooms and banquet halls. Brushing can also be done before oiling to remove splinters and give the floor a more even, finished look. Polyurethane finishes like lacquer and varnish can give your floor a mirror-like high polish.

Hardwood flooring is a great way to start any room, provided you take the time to select all the options that will make your floor reflect the atmosphere and style that you want out of your living space.

Article Source: