Hardwood flooring, a very popular flooring in the Northern parts of the country. Hardwood is durable, beautiful, can be refinished for new life, and is affordable. Not all hardwoods are created equal, however. Pine and cherry are among the softest, Hickory and Strand Woven Bamboo among the hardest. Maple and oak fall in between.
It is my feeling that in our Northern climates, the finest flooring you can install is Hickory. Hickory is harder than oak or maple and far more stable in high moisture areas.
What type of flooring is best for you? Cherry and Pine are very soft floors and will show indentation quite easily. Oak, Maple, and Hickory do not unless something is dropped on them. Hardness has little to do with scratch resistance. Today's better quality floors are finished using a product called Aluminum Oxide. It is one of the hardest floor finishes that can be applied and very resistant to damage. It can only be factory applied so is not available on hand finished floors.
Prefinished or sand in place? I by far prefer the prefinished. They look more perfect than many sand in place floors I see installed. Many of the sand in place floors show sanding marks and uneveness in them; the prefinished floors do not. If you have a competent professional install a sand in place floor, you will not see these marks. At first the sand in place will be tighter, but they soon gap like the prefinished and both will look the same in a years time. A prefinished floor gets you into the home in less time with a harder finish than most sand in place floors.
If you are going to have hardwood, there are some things you must realize about it. All floors fade, and wood will fade rapidly for the first six months of the installation, then slow down. For the first six months then it is imperative that no area rugs be used with it and that your furniture by moved a lot so the floor fades evenly. All furniture MUST have wool or nylon pads installed on all legs to prevent indentation and scratching.
If your wood floor is to lie flat and look beautiful, your home must be maintained between certain temperature and humidity levels. Year round, a home must be kept between 60 and 80 degrees with humidity levels between 30% and 60%. This means you must dehumidify the home in summer and humidify it in the winter. Failure to follow these guidelines will result in warping, cupping, or buckling of your floor and negate all factory warranties. There are systems such as April Aire that can be installed on your furnace to do this automatically for you.
Wood will also cause echoing in the home so figure on using areas rugs to soften the noise.
Cleaning is done with a wood floor cleaner, misted on, and wiped dry.