Hardwood Flooring Selection Guide

Hardwood Flooring Selection Guide

Hardwood flooring is a timeless choice for any home, offering beauty, durability, and a sense of sophistication. With various options available, selecting the right hardwood flooring can be overwhelming. This guide aims to simplify the selection process, helping you choose the perfect hardwood floor for your home.


Choosing hardwood flooring involves more than just picking a color or finish. It would help if you considered factors such as wood species, board width, hardness, and finish type to ensure your flooring meets both your aesthetic and functional needs. This comprehensive guide will walk you through each step of the selection process, providing valuable insights to help you make an informed decision.

Understanding Hardwood Flooring Types

Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood flooring is made from a single piece of wood, typically 3/4 inches thick. It can be sanded and refinished multiple times, making it a long-lasting option.

Engineered Hardwood

Engineered hardwood consists of multiple layers of wood veneer, with a top layer of natural hardwood. This construction makes it more stable and less susceptible to changes in humidity and temperature, making it suitable for basements and areas with fluctuating climates.

Choosing the Right Wood Species


Oak is one of the most popular choices for hardwood flooring due to its durability and classic grain patterns. It comes in two main varieties: red oak and white oak. Red oak has a warm, reddish hue, while white oak offers a cooler, grayish tone.


Maple is known for its light color and smooth grain. It's hardwood, making it resistant to scratches and dents, and it is ideal for high-traffic areas.


Cherry wood has a rich, reddish-brown color that deepens over time. Its fine grain and smooth texture add elegance to any room, though it is softer than oak and maple, making it more prone to scratches.


Walnut flooring is dark and luxurious, with a rich brown color and straight grain. It's slightly softer than oak but still durable enough for most residential applications.

Board Width and Length

Narrow Planks

Narrow planks, typically 2 1/4 to 3 inches wide, offer a traditional look and can make small rooms appear larger.

Wide Planks

Wide planks, ranging from 4 to 12 inches, provide a modern, rustic appearance. They can make a space feel more open but may show more expansion and contraction with changes in humidity.

Random Lengths

Random-length boards add visual interest and can help create a more natural, varied look. They are often used in both narrow and wide plank flooring.

Hardwood Floor Finishes

Unfinished Hardwood

Unfinished hardwood allows you to sand and finish the floor on-site, providing a uniform look and the ability to customize the stain and finish. However, installation requires more time and labor.

Prefinished Hardwood

Prefinished hardwood comes with the stain and finishes already applied, making installation quicker and easier. The factory-applied finish is typically more durable than what can be achieved on-site.

Types of Finishes

  • Polyurethane: Offers a protective, durable layer that is available in high-gloss, semi-gloss, and satin finishes.
  • Oil-based: Penetrates the wood to enhance its natural beauty while providing a softer, more natural look.
  • Water-based: Provides a clear finish that doesn't yellow over time, suitable for maintaining the wood's natural color.

Considering Hardness and Durability

The Janka hardness scale measures the resistance of wood to dents and wear. When selecting hardwood flooring, consider the hardness of the species:

  • Hickory: One of the most challenging domestic woods, ideal for high-traffic areas.
  • Oak: Offers a good balance of hardness and workability.
  • Pine: Softer and more prone to dents but offers a charming, rustic look.

Sustainability and Environmental Impact

If environmental impact is a concern, consider the following:

Certified Wood

Look for hardwood that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), ensuring it comes from responsibly managed forests.

Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood flooring is made from repurposed wood from old buildings, barns, and other structures. It's an eco-friendly choice that adds unique character to your home.

Engineered Wood

Engineered wood uses less hardwood than solid planks, making it a more sustainable option.

Cost Considerations


Hardwood flooring can vary significantly in price based on the species, finish, and board width. Establish a budget to narrow down your options.

Long-term Value

While hardwood flooring may have a higher upfront cost compared to other flooring options, its durability and timeless appeal often translate to better long-term value and higher resale potential.


Selecting the right hardwood flooring involves carefully balancing aesthetics, durability, and budget. By understanding the different types of hardwood, finishes, and other vital factors, you can make an informed decision that enhances the beauty and functionality of your home for years to come.

For expert advice and a wide selection of quality hardwood flooring, visit LP Custom Floors LLC in Cornelius, NC. Our knowledgeable team is here to help you find the perfect flooring solution to match your style and needs.