Hardwood flooring choices for every room

For the latest on hardwood flooring trends, tips and advice, Angie's List went to Richard Cotton, owner of R.C. Hardwood Floors in Hudson, Mass. Cotton has more than 17 years experience in the flooring business and is doing what he loves most - meeting new people and making them happy. "I'm picky when it comes to my work," says Cotton, who won a 2009 Angie's List Super Service Award. "I see things that my customers don't, and I take care of them. It's a very gratifying job!"

Will hardwood flooring work in any room?

Any place is good to install hardwood flooring. Some people even have it installed in half baths. There are many different types of hardwood flooring. Your best bet is to ask your contractor if he or she has a showroom, or if the distributor does. Laminate flooring is not as thick. It's engineered for installation in a basement, because it is more able to withstand the moisture. Some laminates are very durable. If you can go with a real hardwood floor, though, the life of the floor will last for 100 years or more. You can always sand a real hardwood floor, and the best you can get out of wooden laminate is one quick sanding. You're not going to get 100 years out of laminate. If you have a wood subfloor, you should install real hardwoods. Both materials are about the same price.

What should homeowners keep in mind when having hardwood flooring installed?

Acclimation is key. Even though wood may come from a climate-controlled warehouse, always allow it to acclimate for about a week prior to installation. Look for a personable, knowledgeable contractor. Ask a lot of questions and compare answers.

How can homeowners extend the life of their hardwood floors?

Have them buffed and coated every three to five years, depending on traffic. And if you have pets, have the contractor do more than the standard three coats. The more coats the better! Never wax, stain or treat your hardwood floors. Let the professionals handle that. Just clean them with an ammonia-free glass cleaner diluted with water. Use a sponge mop and ring it out. You don't want a lot of water on your floor.

There's so many types of hardwood flooring - how does a homeowner choose?

Wood always has variations. It's a personal preference. Pre-finished floors look nice when they're done, but I'd recommend an unfinished floor sanded smooth without beveled edges on site. Some people like the reclaimed wood. It suits an older home. As for your subfloor, there are many different types of plywood. Subfloors give support. They allow contractors to nail the hardwood down anywhere, instead of just nailing to the floor joists.

What's the installation process like?

The installation is the most time-consuming part. Generally, you can move furniture back 24 hours after the finishing process. Though, it's best to let newly installed hardwood floors harden up for about a week before ballroom dancing! After your floors are completed, you should wait 30 days for rugs. This will eliminate immediate discoloration, but unfortunately if you're going to leave an area rug down for a long time, then it's inevitable. The only way to fix it is to have the floors sanded.


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