It’s About More Than Color: 2 Hardwood Flooring Characteristics You Should Be Familiar With

If you are thinking about ripping out those dingy, matted carpets and installing hardwood floors, you might already have a color in mind. However, the shade of wood that you choose is only one of the design considerations you need to make. Here are two hardwood flooring characteristics you should be familiar with and how to choose a variety for your home:

1: Wood Grade

When you start shopping for hardwood flooring, you might notice that some of the product samples contain grading information, such as first grade, second grade, or third grade. Although it might seem like a funny elementary school euphemism, flooring is assigned a grade based on its overall quality. However, unlike school, a higher grade doesn't necessarily indicate a superior product. Instead, the grades are more indicative of general characteristics.  Here is a brief guide for what you should expect from each grade:

  • First Grade: If you are looking for wood with a uniform grain and a natural appearance, ask for first grade wood. Although first grade wood typically contains character marks such as streaks and knots, these markings tend to blend in more than stand out. 
  • Second Grade: On the other hand, second grade wood has a little more character. Instead of solid-colored wood without markings, you might see knots, streaks, and even wormholes. However, this variety can make the wood look incredibly warm, natural, and interesting.
  • Third Grade: If you want hardwood floors that pack an even bigger punch of character, check out third grade samples. Third grade wood looks rustic and old, because it is cut and formed to enhance natural wood characteristics and blemishes. 

Keep in mind that each type of wood can also be finished to show off or to mellow the physical characteristics. For example, if you wanted to add a little more interest to first grade wood, you could look for a hand scraped variety, which contains shallow dents and grooves to give the floor texture. On the other hand, if you want to make those third grade planks look a little more polished, you could have them sanded flat and finished with several layers of glossy varnish.

2: Plank Pattern

Don't feel like you are finished making decisions as soon as you narrow down a wood grade. The way those planks are laid on your floor can have a significant impact on the overall look and feel of your new hardwood. Here are a few common styles of plank patterns:

  • Sightlines: The most common way to lay hardwood flooring is by creating a sightline by running the boards from the room entryway towards the opposite wall. This style makes the room look larger and less busy. Laying flooring based on sightlines can also guide the eye towards attractive entrances and exits, which makes the space feel more open.  
  • Diagonal: If you like the look of hardwood planks laid in straight lines, but you want something a little more interesting, consider asking your hardwood installers to lay the planks at an angle. Diagonally laid planks run parallel to one another, but at an angle to the sidewalls.
  • Herringbone: On the other hand, having your floors laid in a herringbone pattern can make that new hardwood the start of the show. Herringbone is essentially a zigzag or chevron pattern, and it can give any room look charming and inviting.

To decide which plank pattern would look best in your home, carefully consider your existing home design and your interior décor. If you have a busy-looking home filled with colors, fabrics, and different types of furniture, first grade hardwood flooring laid in the standard straight pattern might provide a nice contrast. On the other hand, if you want to make your flooring the focal point of your home, a herringbone or diagonal design might make your space a spark of interest.

By heading to the flooring warehouse with an idea of what you want, you might be able to choose hardwood floors that you will treasure for a lifetime. For more information on your hardwood flooring options, see a site like