Solid Hardwood Buying Guide

The choice of flooring is one of the most important decisions to make when planning for your renovation. While there are plenty of different materials to choose from today, there’s one that’s been, and always will be, a classic—solid hardwood. And we have all the details of what you need to look for when buying hardwood flooring.

How is Solid Hardwood Flooring Made?

solid hardwood buying guide
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Manufacturing of a hardwood floor starts with the tree itself. After trees are cut into logs, they are then cut into rough planks and then graded for look. Next, the boards are evened on all four sides to smooth the saw marks and level the plank.

A machine then cuts the tongue and groove edges that make the boards fit together tightly. This construction allows the boards to expand and contract, without creating gaps between the planks in the installed floor. At this stage, the planks may go through a distressing process to give them an older, antique look. This may be accomplished by hand or by machine.

The final step is either sealing or staining with several coats of protective finish or shipped unfinished to wherever it needs to go.

What to Consider When Buying Hardwood Flooring

You may have already envisioned the color range of hardwood that fits your style, but color is only the beginning. You also need to consider the following important things when shopping for hardwood flooring:

Different Species and Hardness

Wood species refers to the type of wood, like oak, maple, walnut, tigerwood, etc.

The hardness of the wood helps determine how well your floor will stand up to wear and tear. Each wood species carries a hardness rating, known as a Janka rating, meaning the higher the number, the harder the wood. To learn more about the different species of hardwood floors, check out our other blog here.

Room Location

Like every flooring material, hardwood isn’t suitable for every room, which we’ll go into more detail about later. Knowing your room’s environment can help you decide if hardwood is the right flooring choice for that particular space.

Pattern and Grain

Most woods have some variation in color. So, before you begin permanent installation of the floor, lay out the boards and arrange them in a design that suits your taste. There’s no right or wrong pattern, and most people arrange the color variations randomly so that the color is evenly spaced. However, choosing boards that most closely match the baseboards and trim along the walls will result in a more harmonious overall look.

To learn more about different hardwood patterns, check out our other blog here.

Also, there are four basic types of wood grains produced by different methods of sawing wood, which are plainsawn, quartersawn, riftsawn and livesawn.

solid hardwood buying guide

Beyond that, there are as many different wood grain patterns as there are trees. Some have almost no visible grain while others have striking grain patterns. Different grain patterns can be found in the same tree, depending on the part of the tree from which the wood is harvested. 

Plank Width

Although there was a time when it seemed that almost all hardwood flooring was installed in two-to-three-inch strips, many people now use wider planks (even mixing different widths together). While a floor composed of wide planks will have fewer seams than a floor of thin strips, it’s important to be aware that those seams may eventually become more prominent as the wood expands and contracts. Because changes in the wood aren’t distributed across as many boards, the movement may appear exaggerated.

Pros of Buying Hardwood Flooring

Easy to Clean and Maintain

Hardwood floors are incredibly easy to keep clean with regular maintenance. And for more detailed instructions, we recommend following the manufacturer’s cleaning guides.

Strength and Durability

One of the main reasons this type of flooring is so easy to maintain is due to its durability. Even though each species of wood has a different hardness rating, the fact that there are types that are used in dance studios and bowling alleys, and can be sanded and repaired over and over again, makes it one of the more durable flooring materials. Also, if you take proper care of your wood floors, the hard surface can last decades.

For helpful tips on how to protect your wood floors, check out our other blog here.

High Quality Styles and Value

Baldwin Hills European Oak in Hyde Park available at Avalon Flooring

Hardwood floors offer a range of appearances. There are many colors, styles, stains and species available. No matter how diverse and unique your needs are, there’s a design that will definitely give your space warmth, classic beauty and will help increase the value of your home.

Cons of Choosing Hardwood Flooring

Not Moisture Resistant

The biggest problem with hardwood floors is that they’re vulnerable to moisture and humidity. Even a small amount of moisture can deteriorate the wood, so you need to be careful to mop up spills fast and, if you have a leak, get it fixed fast.

The worst type of damage to wood floors can come from a leak that penetrates between the boards and the subfloor. This can happen—and go unnoticed for a long time—if a pipe bursts ever so slightly and the water leaks down inside a wall and flows into the flooring.

Easy to Scratch and Dent

Unlike laminate, hardwood reacts to intense sunlight and is sensitive to high-heeled shoes, pets, kids and furniture, all of which can dent and scrape the wood. Over time, this translates into a rustic appearance that some admire while others view as shabby or tired – an important point to consider when thinking about buying hardwood flooring.


It can be very pricey to add hardwood floors to your home, especially when compared to the other alternatives out there today. Also, since it’s a material that’s not very DIY friendly, there’s also the cost of professional installation, which is worth considering so it’s installed correctly.


Another disadvantage of a hardwood floor is noise. When you walk on it, the steps can be loud. Some people find wood floor noise a nuisance but, if you’ve got your heart set on a hardwood floor, you can mitigate this concern by using area rugs. Placing an area rug over the floor can help muffle the sound and provides added warmth to the room.

So, now that you know all the important details for buying hardwood flooring, you’re now ready to go. Stop by one of our locations and meet with a design expert to start the exciting process!

At Avalon Flooring, we want to make sure you’re happy from your first step in our showroom to your first step on your new flooring—and as your partner in home design, we’ll be there every step along the way. Consider us your “One-Stop Shopping” destination for all things flooring…(and window treatments)!

Our design consultants are equipped with the knowledge to guide you through the wide selection of products we offer, and our expert installation team is professionally trained to make sure everything gets installed the way you envision. We know your home is an expression of your sense of style, and we’re here to make sure you’ll be proud of it for years to come.

If you have any questions, please email us.