October 6, 2008

Hardwood Flooring: Pros & Cons

Hardwood Flooring
Pros and Cons
From Kera Ritter, for About.com

Hardwood floors are one of the amenities that home buyers often look for when buying a house. However, the purchase and installation of this type of flooring can be pricey and its care and maintenance can be challenging.

Hardwood flooring usually comes in three varieties: strip, plank and parquet. The individual segments in wood strip flooring are usually about 1 ½- to 2 ¼-inches wide. Plank flooring strips are wider and parquet floors are composed of individual squares that make up a geometric pattern. Unfinished hardwood floors allow the homeowner to finish the product with a stain that matches the d├ęcor.

If you are debating whether to install hardwood flooring in your home, first investigate the pros and cons.

Pros of Hardwood Flooring

Easy Maintenance

Hardwood floors are durable and have stood the test of time. Homes that are more than 100 years old can still have the original flooring if they have been cared for properly. They just need sweeping or vacuuming and an occasional cleaning with a wood floor cleaner.

Buyers are willing to pay top dollar for homes with hardwood floors. In addition, homes with hardwood floors tend to sell faster than homes with wall-to-wall carpeting. Think about it: builders consider hardwood flooring an upgrade. They don’t charge extra for carpet.

Many Styles Available

Hardwood flooring works with all styles of decorating, from traditional to modern. It is available in several types of woods, such as oak, cherry and walnut, and can be sanded and stained to suit the home owner’s taste. When your style changes, you also can change the look of your hardwood floors.

Cons of Hardwood Flooring

Wood floors are a costly option. Materials can run from $3 per square foot for unfinished oak planks at a big-box retail store, to more than $12 a square foot for more exotic types of wood. The flooring must be installed over sub-flooring and installation is a bigger job than most homeowners can handle. Labor costs will vary.

Needs Refinishing Occasionally
In addition to installation, scuffed and scratched floors will need to be refinished. The softer the wood, the easier it will scratch and blemish. Hardwood floors in high traffic areas, especially when there are pets or children, will be prone to showing damage. Having hardwood floors refinished professionally costs between $1.25 and $4.00 or more per square foot, depending on the type of floor, room layout, finish and other factors, according to Contractors.com. Refinishing also creates dust from sanding and fumes from the polyurethane coating.

Hardwood flooring can be noisy when walking across it, and can be a nuisance to your downstairs neighbors if you live in an apartment complex. Placing an area rug over the floor can help muffle the sound and provides added warmth to the room. Adding a rug is also a good idea for families with children or adults who are prone to falls, since it acts as a cushion.

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