As the premier carpet and flooring company in Charleston, SC, Palmetto Carpet and Flooring Coverings work with clients who know they want hardwood flooring but are unsure what questions to ask to ensure it is the proper fit for their home. This article will discuss the questions you should ask before purchasing hardwood flooring for your South Carolina home.

#1 What Should I Ask Before Purchasing Hardwood Flooring for My South Carolina Home?

Which type of wood floor is right for me, solid or engineered?

That depends on where you want to install it. Both solid and engineered wood floors are made using real wood, so both are environmentally friendly.
Solid wood flooring is exactly what the name implies – a solid piece of wood from top to bottom. The thickness of solid wood flooring can vary but generally ranges from 3/4″ to 5/16″. Solid wood can be used in any room that is above grade (above ground). One of the many benefits of solid wood flooring is that it can be sanded and refinished many times. Solid wood floors are ideal for family/living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, and even kitchens and powder rooms.

Engineered wood floors are real wood floors that are manufactured using multiple layers of wood veneers. The layers that you cannot see can be the same species or of different species. The grain of each layer runs in perpendicular directions, which makes it very dimensionally stable. This means that the wood will expand and contract less than solid wood flooring during humidity and temperature fluctuations. Engineered floors can be nailed or stapled to a wood subfloor or glued down to a wood or concrete subfloor. This makes engineered wood floors ideal for slab and basement installations, but they can be used in any room above, on, or below grade. While this flooring type can be sanded and refinished, it cannot be done as many times as solid wood flooring.

#2 Which wood species is right for my South Carolina Home?

Choosing the right wood flooring species for you is strictly a matter of your style, budget, and personal preference. More than 50 domestic and imported species of wood flooring are available to achieve a unique look.

  • Do you like light woods like ash or maple? These species generally make a room appear more open and airy.
  • Do you like medium woods like hickory or oak? These species generally make a room appear warmer and cozy.
  • Do you like dark woods like walnut or mahogany? These species generally make a room appear more stately and refined.

Once you decide on a look, you should consider how your floors will be used. Are you a retired couple living alone or a busy family with young children and pets? Each wood species is rated for its hardness and durability using the Janka scale. The Janka scale gives a good indication of how likely a wood is to dent or show other wear. For example, domestic black cherry is ranked at 950 on the Janka scale, while Brazilian cherry is ranked much higher at 2,820, nearly three times the domestic species’ hardness. The domestic black cherry would be a good choice for the retired couple since their floor will see less traffic, while the Brazilian cherry might be a better choice for a busy family with young children and pets.

#3 Is a factory-finished floor or a site-finished floor better for me?

Each method has its own benefits and advantages, and choosing the right method will depend on the level of customization you want to achieve and your personal preference.

A job-site finish is applied to the job site in the room where the flooring is being installed. With a job-site finished floor, you can choose the type of finish to be applied to your floor, which will impact maintenance, as well as the stain, if any, and sheen of the final product. In other words, a job-site finished wood floor offers you unlimited possibilities for customizing the final appearance of your floor.

However, because your floors will be sanded and finished in your home, you should expect noise, dust, and some disruption to your home. In the past few years, many dust containment systems have been developed to help control dust and debris, so be sure to ask your contractor if one can be used for your installation. You also will need to allow time for the finish to dry on-site, during which time you will not be able to walk on your floor.

The finish is applied at the factory with factory-finished wood floors, long before it reaches your home. While many options are available with factory finished floors, you will not achieve the same customization level as you can with job-site finished wood floors. However, a major benefit of factory-finished floors is minimal dust and noise during the installation process. You also will be able to walk on your floors immediately after they are installed.

#4 Which wood floor finish is better?

It really is a matter of preference. If you choose to install a site-finished floor, you can choose any sheen that you like.

  • Gloss finishes offer the most shine and will reflect the most light.
  • Semi-gloss finishes offer some shine and will reflect some light.
  • Satin or matte finishes offer the least shine and will reflect the least light.

Generally speaking, the less sheen, the less you notice small scratches and other normal wear with wood floors. If you choose to install a factory-finished floor, you will be limited to the sheen available for the material you select. All sheens offer the same protection for your floor, so it truly is a matter of which look you like best.

#5 Is there anything I can do to prevent my pets from scratching my hardwood floor?

There are several things you can do to minimize scratches from pets on your wood floors. Place scatter rugs at all doors to minimize the amount of dirt and grit being tracked in, especially if your pet likes to dig. Your best defense, however, is to trim your pet’s nails regularly. If scratches occur, as they might, whether pets live in the home or not, keep in mind that the scratches most likely will be in the finish only and not in the wood. If this occurs, consult with a professional wood flooring contractor for specific recommendations about repairing the scratches and minimizing them in the future.

#6 How do I keep my hardwood floors looking new?

All hardwood floors should be cleaned regularly. Sweep, dust, mop, or vacuum the floors with the beater bar turned off to remove dirt and grit from between the floorboards. Avoid using a wet mop or steam mop on hardwood floors as water and steam can dull the finish or even damage the wood over long periods of time.

When spills occur, clean them immediately with a dry or slightly damp cloth. Allowing spills to remain on the wood floors could damage the finish and possibly the wood. Avoid walking on the floors with sports cleats or high heel shoes that are in disrepair. These can scratch the finish or even dent the floor.

When the floor begins to look a little dull, use a wood flooring cleaner recommended by your installer to renew the luster. Be sure to use the product as directed and use only products that are compatible with your wood floor as using the wrong type of cleaning product could damage the finish and possibly damage the wood.

Choosing to the floor should not be a snap decision. It is important to consult a flooring expert to help guide you through the decision process. If you are thinking about luxury vinyl flooring, laminate flooring or hardwood flooring in Charleston, SC, contact the experts at Palmetto Carpet and Floor Coverings. With myriad styles from which to choose and nearly 30 years’ experience, contact Palmetto Carpet and Floor Coverings today.