If you love the character and style of hardwood floors, why not have them in your kitchen?
In most homes, the kitchen is one of the busiest rooms, where people often gather. That’s why they’re a perfect place to show off gorgeous hardwood floors.
And because hardwood floors are durable and easy to maintain, they’re perfect for the heavy use most kitchens experience.
Why Hardwoods Look Great in Kitchens
A hardwood floor can make a kitchen feel more cozy, comfortable, and inviting. It brings warmth to the room.
Putting hardwood floors in the kitchen can also help pull together your interior design if you have hardwood floors in other parts of your home, creating a seamless appearance. Finished hardwood flooring can draw the kitchen into the “flow” of the rest of the home.
Because of the central role a kitchen has in most homes, hardwood floors can make it a showpiece room that gets plenty of “oohs and aahs.”
Hardwood floors are also easy to keep clean. Spills can easily be wiped up, and the floor is no problem to sweep.
In potentially high-moisture areas of the kitchen, such as around the sink and dishwasher, you might want to use rugs to protect the floor.
And because hardwood floors are so long-lasting, you won’t have to worry about replacing the floor any time soon due to the kitchen’s heavy use.
Once hardwood floors are installed in a kitchen, you’ve just got to enjoy them.
Whether you’re selecting flooring for a new home or planning a kitchen remodel, hardwood floors in a kitchen not only look gorgeous and classy, they perform wonderfully and are easy to care for. Come by our showroom or give us a call to discuss how you can make your kitchen look stunning with hardwood floors.
The Personality of Hardwood Floors and Their Owners
Do you like to express your personality?
Most people do, especially when it comes to creative undertakings like planning their home and its interior design. That’s why one of the great appeals of custom hardwood floors is that there’s literally a world of options, so you can always find a look that fits in with your personal design and decorating preferences.
Actually, custom hardwood floors can do more than “fit in.” They can be the foundation of your home’s personality and uniqueness.
When choosing the species of the wood for your finished hardwood flooring, you can widely expand your range of choices by looking beyond domestic species to the rest of the world. Asian Walnut, Brazilian Cherry, Brazilian Walnut, Santos Mahogany, and Spotted Gum are among the many exotic species available through quality hardwood flooring companies.
Your custom hardwood floors will definitely stand out if you have exotic wood flooring installed. And because of the huge range of exotic species available—each with a different color and grain pattern—you can be sure to make them stand out in a way that reflects your style.
Taking the Extra Step
Another way to give your custom hardwood floors a distinct personality is by adding finishing touches such as hardwood borders or medallions.
Hardwood borders range from feature stripes in doorways or passageways to elaborate, elegant borders that frame entire rooms.
Hardwood medallions can really let you make a personal statement, serving as your “signature.” Working with a hardwood flooring company, you can find a wide selection of quality hardwood medallions in countless designs.
Another nice finishing touch is to have wood vents that match the flooring—or risers and treads on staircases that match the floors.
Color and personality seem to go together. A person’s favorite color often says a lot about them, and your choice of hardwood colors will say a lot about the “feel” you want your floors to have. With custom hardwood floors, you can get about any color you want, so you can choose specific colors that appeal to you and convey your distinct personality and style.
Some people like a natural look and prefer not to stain, and there are many wood species that have remarkably beautiful natural color. But if you have a certain color in mind that you can’t find naturally—or if you just like stain—then your color choices are virtually unlimited.
Don’t underestimate the opportunity you have to express your personality when making decisions about custom hardwood floors. You have so many options of species, color, and special touches that you can be as creative and unique as you want.
One very effective way of adding personality to your custom hardwood floors is by adjusting the dimensions of the boards used.
Hardwood floor width typically varies from 1 ½ inches to a foot, while length generally ranges from one foot to seven feet. You can choose the dimensions within those ranges that please you, and your choices will play a key role in creating the character of your hardwood flooring.
The trends in hardwood flooring widths are constantly shifting. Currently, wider planks are extremely popular. Wider boards allow more of the grain characteristics to show, and they are ideal for wide, open spaces. Wider boards generally create a casual feel, while narrow boards fit great in a formal room—which is one reason they continue to be the choice of many. We have also seen a rise in demand for random-width flooring.
A random width offers great performance, an interesting look, and excellent value for the cost. One consideration to keep in mind when choosing width is that the wider the boards, the shorter the room will look, while thinner boards will make a room look larger. It’s also important to talk with your hardwood floor company about the best width—based on the humidity conditions in a room—to prevent cupping, crowing, or gapping.
The most common choice regarding length is to use random-length boards. Not only is this less-expensive, it creates visual interest. Generally speaking, longer boards tend to create a formal, elegant feel, while shorter boards are more casual.
When selecting hardwood floors, choosing the dimensions of the boards is an important aspect of achieving the feel you want. We’ll be happy to work with you to help you decide on the best dimensions for your interior design goals.
Many people fall in love with dark hardwood colors. Rich, dark finished hardwood flooring can:
- Help create a classic, formal look.
- Make a room seem cozier.
- Be used to create a pleasing contrast with lighter colored furnishings, drapery, rugs, etc.
- Be paired with dark furnishings, drapery, rugs, etc. to unify a room.
If you’re considering dark finished hardwood flooring in your home, you can get it in three ways.
1. Natural color
Many woods are naturally dark, so you can simply select a dark-colored species, such as black walnut. A natural dark color is what many people are after when they install exotic wood floors, using woods such as Brazilian teak or Jarrah.
Stain allows you to choose from a wide variety of hardwood floors, and common hardwood choices such as oak flooring usually stains very easily.
There are some limitations based on the type of wood, but generally speaking you can stain floors as dark as you want, all the way up to practically black.
3. Stain accenting natural color
Working with a hardwood flooring specialists, you can enhance the color of natural woods with stain—not significantly altering the color, but adding warmth to its tone. Using stain to emphasize a natural color, many woods can be darkened in a way that brings out their natural beauty.
What About Dust, Dirt, and Scratches?
Dark hardwood flooring has a reputation for showing dust, dirt and scratches, and there’s truth in that perception. Compared to lighter colors, dark hardwood colors do contrast more with light-colored things that end up on the floor, making those things stand out, just as dirt is more obvious on a dark car than a light one.
With dust and dirt, there’s little that can be done other than to keep the floors swept or vacuumed regularly. You can minimize the look of scratching by choosing a grainier wood.
If you expect your floors to receive a lot of wear and tear—from children or pets, for example—you should be somewhat wary of dark hardwood colors.
Explore Your Options
If you think dark hardwood colors might be just the right fit for your taste and interior design goals, start investigating your choices by talking with a hardwood floor expert. You’ll learn what will work, how much it will cost, and what alternatives you have.
Color and personality seem to go together. A person’s favorite color often says a lot about them, and your choice of hardwood colors will say a lot about the “feel” you want your floors to have. With custom hardwood floors, you can get about any color you want, so you can choose colors that appeal to you and convey your personality and style.
Some people like a natural look and prefer not to stain, and there are many wood species that have remarkably beautiful natural color. But if you have a certain color in mind that you can’t find naturally—or if you just like the looks of a stained floor—then your color choices are virtually unlimited.
Staining floors can slightly change the appearance of a floor to dramatically changing the appearance. Check out these pictures of hickory.
Hickory - Natural
Hickory - Smoldering Technique
Hickory - Medium Stain
The photos above do an amazing job of demostrating just how dramatically a floor can change with stain. Looking at many photos of various colors on hardwood is a great way to establish what appeals to you. However, before making any decisions, we highly recommend a visit to our showroom. There one of our hardwood floor experts can show you a color you will love on a wood that will fit your lifestyle and decor.
With the exception of lightening a naturally dark floor, most colors can be achieved on most wood species, yes, even maple! Customizing hardwood floors is our speciality and creating gorgeous floors isn't just a job to us, it's our passion.
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.