The Longest Lasting Flooring for Your Home
By Dana Krizmanic,
No matter what the flooring is, its longevity will depend on how much damage it faces over the years. It also depends on if it is installed and maintained correctly. However, solid hardwood wins as far as the longest-lasting flooring. Solid hardwood flooring can last over 100 years and rarely needs to be replaced. A natural stone like granite, marble, and slate, along with glazed high-grade ceramic tile flooring, is a close second to the "longest lasting flooring" title if adequately taken care of. Nevertheless, let’s look in more detail at solid hardwood species and other considerations.
You want to look at the wood species in terms of hardness, porosity, provenance, base color, and grain. There are two main categories of solid hardwood species on the market in the USA. The first is locally grown domestic species. In particular, red oak, maple, hickory, ash, beech, American cherry, walnut, birch, and pine. Second is exotic species that they import into the USA from all over the world. These include Brazilian cherry, teak, and walnut, along with acacia, mahogany, tigerwood, and rosewood, to name a few. As you can imagine, different hardwood species have different price points – domestic species tend to be slightly cheaper than exotic species.
Red oak is the most popular choice in the USA. It is tough and resists dents very well. On the contrary, pine tends to be very soft and unforgiving over time under heavy traffic. If you are looking for a distressed, lived-in look, this would be adequate. Look for the Janka rating of the hardwood. A rating of less than 1290 indicates a softer wood. Mirage Hardwood Flooring has a table of hardness as a good reference.
Another primary consideration is to check how porous the species is. This is important if you plan on staining the wood. For instance, maple, cherry, and birch are non-porous and can have difficulty taking stains without extra prep to achieve an even result. On the other hand, woods such as elm, oak, and ash are more porous with different figures and grain patterns that take to stains more easily. If you are purchasing completely unfinished, raw wood to be finished on-site, this is something you might want to consider. This brings us to…
Purchasing completely unfinished, raw hardwood and having it stained and finished on-site will give you a unique and customized finish. You want to make sure you have an experienced installer for this but know it will increase the cost. Purchasing pre-finished solid hardwood flooring that is already stained is another option. With this, you will be able to see immediately which color you’re getting.
PLANK THICKNESS, WIDTH, AND LENGTH
The width and length are mainly personal preferences. Wide long planks have a more unified appearance. Thinner planks tend to give a more traditional look. Short planks are great for a herringbone or chevron parquet pattern. However, the most critical dimension is thickness. The standard thickness of most solid hardwood planks is at least 3/4-inch thick. You do not want to go any less than this to keep its strength and stability.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
You want to sweep or vacuum regularly so that the dirt does not scratch the finish. When using a vacuum, make sure you do not use one with a beater bar. Make sure to wipe up any spilled liquids immediately. Never use a mop and bucket or harsh cleaners. Your best bet is to use a damp flat microfiber mop pad using a neutral pH cleaner. The use of mats at entrances will aid in keeping dirt off your floor. Just make sure they have a breathable backing as dense backings will trap moisture. Felt pads on furniture feet will help in preventing scratches. Always protect the floor when moving furniture. Always keep humidity levels around 45% for not only your floor but for your health. Purchase a hygrometer to help check moisture levels in the air.
For more information about hardwood brands, prices, cleaning and maintenance, and installation check out some of our other hardwood flooring guide blogs:
- Top Five Brands for Hardwood Flooring
- Considering Hardwood Flooring Costs
- How do I care for my new hardwood floor?
- Hiring Professional, Certified Flooring Installers
Visit our showrooms at Creative Carpet and Flooring to see our large selection of solid hardwood flooring firsthand. Though solid hardwood has taken the prize for the longest-lasting flooring, there are still many other flooring options that can withstand the test of time.... and we have them all!