Point2Homes recently analyzed 300,000 real estate listings from 2012 to find out what words are most often used to describe homes for sale.
Not surprisingly, “beautiful” topped the list, but in the second spot was “hardwood floors.” That’s not surprising either—people love finished hardwood flooring, and it’s a great selling point. The fact that “hardwood floors” ranked second in Point2Homes’ list clearly shows that real estate agents have seen how much value home buyers place on hardwood flooring.
But hardwood floors’ contribution to a home’s value has many variables. Here are four to consider.
1. A lot of the value depends on where you live. For example, in areas where finished hardwood flooring is common, not having it could lower resale value. But in places where hardwood flooring isn’t expected, it might not add much value because home buyers looking in that area won’t (or can’t) pay extra for them.
2. A primary attraction of custom hardwood floors is that you can express your personality and taste. But if you chose an uncommon hardwood floor, you should realize that not all home buyers will share your taste, possibly increasing time on the market as you wait for just the right buyer to come along. On the other hand, a distinct floor can really pay off if you find a buyer who falls in love with that particular look and is willing to pay for it.
3. The value you get from your floors can’t always be quantified in the sales price. In many cases, finished hardwood flooring doesn’t make a home sell for more—but it does make it sell faster, which can have immense value.
4. Make sure you buy quality hardwood floors. Low-quality floors can go downhill to the point that the best option before a sale is complete replacement—and there goes your “investment.”
In some cases, the primary advantage of finished hardwood flooring in terms of home sales may be that you can sell your home faster, which is nothing to scoff at. But, although it’s not a given, you can most likely also offset some of the cost of hardwood floors when you sell your home.
When building a home with finished wood floors or installing them in an existing home, you have an abundance of choices. You can completely customized your hardwood flooring, by choosing the species, grade, width, color, texture, and sheen. A pre-finished floor may be exactly what you are looking for.
Custom Hardwood Flooring
This choice is for homeowners who want to specify every aspect of the flooring—species, grade, color, finish, and surface. This control may be necessary to get exactly the look you’re after.
This type of flooring is finished before it’s installed, but there is nonetheless a wide choice of species, color, width, grade, and finish (e.g., distressed, bevel, wire brush). There are also other pre-finished hardwood-like materials available, such as cork (made from the bark of the cork tree) and laminate. Pre-finished products don’t have to be the poorly made flooring you see in the big-box home-improvement stores; there are plenty of quality manufacturers to select from.
Have Fun and Get the Floor You Want
Whichever option you choose, the process of selecting the floor that best fits your home can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of building or renovating. Finished wood flooring can be used in so many creative and exciting ways to express your taste and help define your home’s “personality.” Visit our showroom and talk to the experts about how you can get the finished hardwood floors of your dreams.
In our two previous posts about how to compare hardwood flooring, we discussed the quality of various types of wood and how to have floors installed to reduce the likelihood of cupping, crowing, or gapping.
Knowledge is critical in choosing the right hardwood flooring for your home, but let’s face it—appearance is what drives our selection. Hardwood floors can be used in a myriad of beautiful ways to enhance a home’s interior design and to express the personality of a homeowner. That creative flexibility is what gets homeowners excited.
You may desire an elegant look, or you may be after something rustic. You might like the traditional look of hardwood floors, or you may want to make a bold statement. Hardwood floors can provide whatever appearance you seek.
Hardwood flooring offers such a wide range of options because there are so many variables that go into its appearance. As you decide on the appearance you want, you’ll can enjoy selecting the following:
- Species—Each species projects a different feel. For example, maple, with its light grain, is a popular choice among homeowners who desire a contemporary look. On the other hand, oak and ash, both of which have heavy, bold grain, are common choices for people who want a more casual appearance. Open grains tend to create a cozier feel, while closed grains are sleeker in appearance.
- Color—Another difference between species is color. You can choose to leave the color natural or to stain it. With staining, color can be adjusted in innumerable ways to help achieve the look you desire.
- Sheen—A glossy finish tends to project a more formal atmosphere; whereas the natural look of a satin finish will feel homier and disguises wear and tear better.
- Grades—Each species of wood is graded, from the clearest grade to the most rustic. The higher the grade, the more uniform the wood will be. The lower the grade, the more color variation you’ll see, as well as more knots, mineral streaks, and wormholes. Some people like the character of lower grades, so higher is not necessarily better—it all depends on your taste.
- Width—Wider planks, which are becoming increasingly popular, tend to create a more casual appearance, while narrow planks are more formal. Narrow planks also work to “lengthen” a room. Many homeowners choose to use random-width boards to create a less formal look.
- Length—Longer boards are generally used to create a sense of elegance, while shorter boards are the more casual choice. As with width, a mixture of board sizes is a frequent choice (in part due to lower cost), and unless the floors have beveled edges, will be almost unnoticeable.
- Sand on Site or Pre-Finished—With sand-on-site custom hardwood flooring, the stain and finish are applied after the sanding, so you can specify exactly the color and sheen you want. The beveled edge that is almost always seen on a pre-finished floor is absent in sand-on-site floors. If you prefer pre-finished flooring, there’s an abundance of quality pre-finished products on the market, including distressed and hand-scraped finishes. So you can most likely chose pre-finished flooring without sacrificing your aesthetic vision.
- Solid or Engineered—The decision to use engineered flooring is often driven by stability issues (as discussed on our last post), but there is an appearance factor as well. Engineered flooring typically is made with beveled edges to lessen the visibility of small differences in milling thickness and subfloor irregularities, and many people don’t like this look. On the other hand, some people love beveled edges. We’ll repeat our mantra—it’s all about your taste.
This concludes our three-part series on comparing hardwood floors. We hope you’ll visit us in our showroom to learn more about how you can select the floor of your dreams.
One of the major custom hardwood flooring trends we’re seeing is the growing popularity of exotic hardwoods. Trees from all over the world can be used for hardwood floors, and many homeowners love the uncommonness and natural beauty of exotic species.
Because of their rarity, exotic woods are an excellent way to achieve the distinction and uniqueness that homeowners are looking for in custom hardwood flooring. Trees from other countries can vary dramatically from those we’re used to in the U.S. Brazilian or Asian walnut will look quite different than American walnut grown here.
And because of the rich variety of woods available—with their wide selection of colors and grain patterns—exotic woods can greatly expand your interior design options, such as allowing you to "tie in" your flooring with furniture, bookshelves, walls, or windows.
At Ralph’s, the most-popular exotic hardwoods among our customers include Asian Walnut, Brazilian Walnut, Spotted Gum, Cumaru, Santos Mahogany, Brazilian Cherry, and Amendoim.
If you’re intrigued by the possibilities opened up by using exotic wood, you probably have some questions about it. Here are three facts about exotic hardwoods that we hope will answer a few of them.
1. Many exotic woods are extremely hard.
The hardness of hardwood is measured on the Janka scale, and exotic hardwoods dominate the top of the Janka ratings. For example, Brazilian Cherry—perhaps the most popular exotic wood—has a rating of 2350, compared to only 1450 for Hard Maple and 995 for regular Cherry. And many exotic woods rank higher than Brazilian Cherry.
Hardness is particularly important if you expect your floors to see rough use. Pets, children, or having the floors in a heavy traffic area are all good reasons to consider hardness an important factor.
2. Exotic hardwood is available in solid, engineered, prefinished, and finished on site products.
Most options available with traditional hardwood flooring are also available with exotic woods. It comes in different sheens, widths, and lengths.
3. Responsible harvesters replenish what they cut.
Some may be concerned about the environmental harm that could come from harvesting exotic species for use as flooring. But, by and large, the industry is diligent about replanting. At Ralph’s, we work only with suppliers that practice sustainable forest management.
We’d be glad to talk with you more about how you can stylishly use exotic wood in your home. There’s a whole world of possibilities.
Is the cost of installing or restoring hardwood floors matched by a corresponding increase in a home’s resale value?
That’s obviously a vital question for homeowners who are considering new hardwood floors, especially in anticipation of putting their home on the market. If the existing flooring isn’t hardwood, then wooden floors installation to replace the old flooring stands a great chance of elevating resale value.
Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer. A multitude of variables can influence how hardwood flooring affects resale value, including these four common factors:
1. The type and condition of the existing floor (in cases of restoration).
If the floor is hardwood and in pretty good shape, but you re-sand and change the color to achieve a new look, the resale value gained will depend on the buyer.
If an existing hardwood floor is looks dull and worn, and you recoat or resand and finish it, then you’re adding some real value beyond aesthetic taste. An appraiser may recognize this value by rating the overall condition of the home as very good versus fair. A potential buyer, on the other hand, almost certainly will see the value of a new-looking floor versus one that will take significant resources (time and money) to rennovate.
2. The location of the home.
If you live or are building in an area where hardwood floors are common and expected, to not have them—or to have them in poor condition—could lower resale value. Therefore, installing, re-sanding, or simply refinishing can have a significant positive effect on a home's sales price.
On the other hand, wood floor installation or restoration in a neighborhood or region in which hardwood floors aren’t common isn't likely to result in a higher resale price because of the low demand for them.
3. The type of home.
If you install or restore hardwood floors in a low-price home, buyers probably aren’t going to pay extra for them because they can’t afford to.
Likewise, if you install expensive custom hardwood flooring in a mid-priced home, potential buyers may want hardwood floors but won’t be willing to pay extra for high-end or exotic hardwood.
In general, the most-positive effects on resale value occur when the level of extravagance is matched to that of the home.
4. Where the floors are in the home.
Because so many people suffer from allergies, hardwood floors in bedrooms can be a huge selling feature. Hardwood floors in the kitchen, because they are so easy to clean, are also highly desireable.
Value Beyond Resale
Keep in mind that resale value is by no means the only potential benefit of wood floor installation or restoration. There’s the likelihood that you’ll sell your home faster, even if it’s not for more. And of course—if you’re not selling right away—there’s the value of the sheer enjoyment you’ll get from having the hardwood floors you've always wanted.
If you travel around rural America, you’ll see plenty of abandoned old barns dotting the landscape. They’re part of the story of our country, but they’ll rot away, if they aren’t destroyed first.
But people like to hold on to the past, and a trend in finished hardwood flooring is helping to preserve the nostalgia of those old barns. Hardwood flooring manufacturers are rescuing the wood from these dilapidated structures and milling it for use in custom hardwood flooring.
Talk about character! With reclaimed hardwood flooring, the wood is authentically antique and weather-worn—there’s no need for hand-scraping or distressing wood to give the appearance of age. Every nail hole, saw mark, gouge, water stain, sun-bleached spot, or other “defect” adds to the visual interest and uniqueness of hardwood flooring reclaimed from a barn.
High Quality, Wide Selection
When an abandoned or condemned barn is demolished, the beams are preserved and are separated for milling. Material that’s not up to the standards of finished hardwood flooring is never used—so there is no loss in quality between standard flooring and reclaimed flooring in terms of durability or performance.
First, all the metal is removed and the wood is dried in a kiln, which makes the wood more stable and kills any pests. Then the wood is lightly skimmed to clean it up, and tongue and groove is added.
There’s no shortage of species to choose from. Much reclaimed wood is from old-growth timber, and so the whole variety of the American landscape is represented, including oak, pine, maple, chestnut, and hickory.
One creative design possibility is to use several species in the same floor—creating a veritable tour of America’s woods on your floor!
Work with Your Installer
If you’re interested in reclaimed hardwood flooring to give your hardwood floors that extra-special distinctive character, it’s a good idea to begin with the company will be doing your wood floor installation.
At Ralph’s Hardwoods, we are familiar with the entire process of using reclaimed hardwood, and we can help you make the right selection for your interior design and for your budget, as well as ensure that the reclaimed flooring is installed with much care and skill.
Building your dream home starts with your vision. You’re the one who knows what you want and are ready to invest to make it happen.
But it takes a team effort to turn your dream into a reality. And it's up to you to select who's going to be on that team.
Finding an architect to convert your vision into professional blueprints is the first step most people building a custom home will need to make.
Look for an experienced architect who truly listens to what you want and offers creative suggestions on how to fulfill your wishes without breaking your budget. Good custom home architects freely share ideas of their own, but they never forget that the home is a reflection of your tastes and needs—not theirs.
Most custom home builders take great pride in their skill and are committed to building exactly the home you want.
But to avoid the occasional bad apple, be diligent as you evaluate contractors. Ask to see examples of their work, do Internet research, and talk to previous customers, all the while looking for the following characteristics:
- A reputation for quality craftsmanship.
- Dedication to detail, as if it were the contractor’s own home being built.
- A proven ability to not go over budget.
- A history of meeting deadlines and completing projects on time.
- A focus on customer satisfaction (e.g., returning phone calls, consistently providing updates, doing what the customer wants instead of what’s easiest or most profitable).
The Interior Designer
You may have a general idea of how you want the home to look inside but aren’t sure exactly how to pull it off. If so, you can include an interior designer in your team.
As with the architect and the builder, look for an interior designer who clearly understands that their job is to provide you with the look you want, not what they would chose for themselves.
You may also need contractors to perform specific tasks, such as custom hardwood floor installation, which is the role we’d like to play on your team. The same considerations you have used for the rest of the team also apply here.
We’re Here to Help
Ralph’s Hardwood Floors is glad to direct you to companies that we’ve worked with and know do quality work. We’re a great place to start recruiting your "players."
If you’ve decided to install sand-on-site hardwood floors in your home, or if you’re preparing to re-sand existing hardwood floors, you’re undoubtedly excited about how great your new floor is going to look.
But as you select a hardwood flooring expert to sand your floors, be sure not to overlook an aspect of sanding that’s far less exciting, but nonetheless important—the sander’s dust containment system.
Dust Can Be Avoided
A top-quality hardwood flooring sander will sand your hardwood floors and leave very little dust in your home, and that’s what you should demand. Always ask prospective sanders what dust-containment method they use.
The answer you want to hear is that they evacuate the dust out of the home into a trailer. In this system, hoses are attached directly to the sanding machines, and the dust is sucked by an extremely powerful vacuum engine straight into the trailer, eliminating nearly all dust created from sanding your floors.
Other methods also have hoses attached to the sanding equipment, but the vacuum machine is small enough to be brought inside, which means it has a less-powerful, less-efficient motor. And sanding without any dust control at all...don't even think about it!
If you’re having floors installed before they’re finished, the installation equipment can also be hooked directly to the dust evacuation system. This technology isn’t perfected yet, but its use can substantially reduce dust caused by old floor removal and installation of new hardwood floors.
Insist on Experience
Don’t hesitate to inquire about a company’s history of dust evacuation. Ask to see pictures or videos of jobs they’ve done, and talk with them to gauge their commitment and ability to keep your home as free of dust as possible.
Keeping dust from becoming a problem may seem like a minor consideration in the overall process of adding or re-sanding hardwood floors, but it won’t seem minor if you end up struggling to clean up persistent dust. Selecting the right hardwood flooring company for the job will allow you to enjoy your new floors as soon as they’re completed, without having to worry about the mess left behind.
As you shop for hardwood floors to install in your new or existing home, you’ll discover quite a wide range of choices. You’ll certainly have no problem finding flooring that fits your taste.
As you consider these many choices, you’ll of course need to begin narrowing down toward your final selection. And one of the first decisions most people make is which of three basic types of hardwood flooring they will buy—the flooring structure (solid or engineered), customized finished onsite hardwood floors, or pre-finished flooring.
Custom Hardwood Flooring
This choice is for homeowners who want to specify every aspect of the flooring—species, grade, color, width, length, and finish. This control may be necessary to get exactly the look you’re after.
An important characteristic of customized hardwood floors is that they are finished onsite, a process that allows for the ultimate in customization. You choose the wood species, grade, width of planks, color, bevel or no bevel, and finish sheen.
This type of flooring is finished before it’s shipped to your installer, so in a sense, you’re limited by a selection of pre-manufactured products. But there is nonetheless an extensive choice of all characteristics, including texture (e.g., distressed, bevel, wire brush). Although there are some low-quality pre-finished products on the market, “pre-finished” does not equate to “less classy.” It’s all a matter of taste, and homeowners have plenty of quality manufacturers of pre-finished products to select from.
Solid or Engineered
The structure of the flooring you choose is sometimes simply a personal choice, and other times the environment dictates which type is most appropriate for your home. If there are height issues with meeting up to existing flooring, an engineered floor is thinner, and an experienced installer can help you choose a quality product. In-floor heat or an environment where it is extremely difficult to control the humidity may also call for engineered flooring. In most situations, a solid flooring works very well. Both solid and engineered are available in customized site-finished and prefinished options.
Have Fun and Get the Floor You Want
Whichever option you choose, the process of selecting the floor that best fits your home can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of building or renovating, because hardwood floors can be used in so many creative and exciting ways to express your taste and help define your home’s “personality.” Visit a showroom today and get started!
Have you ever heard the saying, “God is in the details”? The point is that a lack of attention to detail can hamper the best of plans.
That’s certainly true with custom hardwood flooring. It’s a shame to spend the money for beautiful hardwood floors and not to pay attention to the seemingly small details. As we’ve seen over and over again in our many years of wooden floors installation, those details do matter—they can make the difference between a good floor and a great floor.
In many cases, the custom hardwood flooring is being installed adjacent to a staircase. What a delightful opportunity to pull together the entire space with a staircase that complements the flooring!
Even when staircases aren’t in view beside the hardwood flooring, the use of complementary wood, stain, and finish can establish a pleasing continuity of design within the home.
We frequently custom install, stain, and finish hardwood treads to pair with our customers’ floors. In some cases, we can simply install hardwood tread overlays on top of the existing treads. We also can install and stain (or paint) wood risers to complete the design unity.
The effect of this harmonizing is quite pronounced—the floor design “swoops up” along the stairs, creating a sense of flow in the home.
Gaps between your hardwood flooring and the base trim, as well as gaps between the floor and cabinets, can cause a flawed appearance. We suggest covering these gaps with wooden trim stained to match existing trim or cabinets.
Who wants metal HVAC vents in their gorgeous new floors? Talk about an eyesore.
The solution we recommend is to install wooden vents that are flush with the floor. The vents suddenly disappear! The floor is smooth and there’s nothing to distract from its beauty. The eye glides right over the vents.
Our installers will custom-fit the vents and match them to the color of your custom hardwood flooring.
Getting the finishing touches right is vitally important in the appearance of custom hardwood flooring. Visit us in our showroom, give us a call, or contact us online to learn more about the many exciting design possibilities available within the “small” details.