Hardwood flooring has seen its share of the flooring market eroded in the past decade, thanks to the emergence of laminate flooring and various hybrids. And yet, hardwood flooring still has an amazingly loyal consumer base that ensures it will remain popular for the forseeable future.
Laminate flooring has the advantage over hardwoods in the areas of durability and price. However, ask anyone who has owned a genuine wood floor and they'll tell you: nothing equals hardwood for lasting beauty, feel and warmth. Hardwood floors have a comforting, solid sound that most laminates can't equal, and they can be refinished over and over again, creating a floor that can last for decades.
Hardwood flooring comes in planks, strips and parquet blocks, and can be either unfinished or pre-finished with some form of polyurethane or acrylic coating. Unfinished hardwood flooring can be stained in a huge variety of colours before finishing.
Traditionally, hardwood flooring comes in 3/4" thickness and is nailed down to a subfloor. This time-consuming job once made hardwood flooring less attractive than other easier-to-install flooring types, but recent innovations have created a new generation of engineered hardwood flooring that can be glued, stapled down or locked together.
Your new hardwood floor will require sanding and refinishing every 5 to 10 years, depending on traffic and fading due to sunlight. Most hardwoods are reasonably durable, but they will pick up dents, nicks and other imperfections over time - many people consider that to be part of the charm of hardwood flooring!
Hardwood flooring comes in a wide range of prices, from as little as $3 a square foot to $50 and higher, depending on the quality of the product and the type of wood involved. Expect to pay at least $5 a square foot for most decent hardwood floors.