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Color wood grain and long-lasting quality figure into choices of hardwood floors

July 29, 2013

Hardwood FloorsWhile personal taste plays a big role, homeowners planning to install hardwood floors should look into the wide selection of colors, wood grains and floor construction before making a final decision. From the elegant, antique look of Anderson's Chestnut Hill collection to its versatile Bryson Plank oak floors, there's a wood type that fits every need.

It's no surprise that wood floors are the choice of real estate agents trying to sell house hunters their next home. They're durable, easy to clean and make a great impression on would-be homeowners. Interior designers love them for their warm, inviting aesthetic. Exposure to sun and the development of a patina often results in subtle color changes that can add character to the wood over time, according to the National Wood Flooring Association.

Consumers should look over plenty of samples before selecting a color and finish, because each can have a different effect on one's home design. Sometimes part of the beauty lies in the natural imperfections of the wood that give floors their unique appearance.

Colors and finishes
In addition to choosing a wood type, homeowners  have to decide whether they want finished or pre-finished flooring. Most select a wood that's already finished because it eliminates sawdust and finishing vapors during the installation process.

Then there's the matter of color. Heavily trafficked areas won't show every skid mark on darker toned floors, but scratches from pets and sliding chairs in and out may show up less on light to medium-colored floors.

For more informal rooms like family rooms and kitchens, a lighter shade usually looks best. In formal living room and dining room design, a deeper shade often suits the lower-key atmosphere.

Function and durability
While the room's use is linked somewhat to color, the function of the space should weigh heavily on what type of wood to choose.

Flooring experts say engineered hardwood floors stand up best to heavy foot traffic and tend to shrink and expand less than solid woods because they resist moisture that comes with seasonal changes.

Created by cross-ply planks, engineered hardwood also has higher relative hardness that resists indentation from furniture as well as normal wear and tear. As a result, it requires less maintenance because of its durability. Using a soft bristle broom or a commercial cloth sweeper is all that's needed for day-to-day cleaning.