It goes back to the 1600’s when French nobility started putting ornate wood flooring in their homes. Five centuries later wood flooring, real and simulated, is reclaiming the turf captured in previous decades by carpeting and linoleum in millions of American homes.
Proceed with caution, advises a custom carpenter who has renovated many homes and businesses in New York City and the Tri-State area. First of all, reports Alan Bowes, owner of Alan Michael Carpentry in South Salem, NY, you need to walk on it and feel it before you make the decision to buy it.
“You get what you pay for,” says Bowes. “A cheap laminated wood floor will feel exactly like a cheap laminated wood floor. Make sure you walk on and feel the product you are getting. There are many different types of ‘wood floors’ other than the classic — laminates, engineered, floating. They all feel and look different than the real thing.”
High-quality wood flooring has become increasingly affordable for homeowners, but it is an investment of thousands of dollars you expect to last a lifetime and add value. Rely on sound planning and consultation from an accredited professional you trust, advises Bowes, before making your choice.
“It is a lot of bang for your buck,” Bowes says of wood. For starters, it can literally be renewed every few years by refinishing. It is easy to clean, resists wear and it can be stained to complement the dominant colors in your home.
“The only time a wood floor cannot be finished is if it not longer has enough thickness to do so,” he adds as a cautionary note. “With some of the newly engineered floors, they can only be refinished a handful of times before the actual surface wood has worn away completely— or if the existing stain has penetrated too deep to be removed efficiently.”
What are the most popular types in recent renovations? White and red oak remain among the top choices and Bowes reports “a spike in maple and Brazilian cherry.” Lately, clients prefer the wider widths of the so-called floorboard pattern. Finally, the look you want from the wood includes pluses and minuses. Pine will give you a more rustic look, for example, but will wear quicker. Oak and other hardwoods show minimal wear with a cleaner look.
Custom carpenters are more likely to “get more involved in the details” of a renovation project than a general contractor, bringing a creative touch and the ability to customize virtually every aspect.