Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I had no idea how long it would take to organize my closet. I started in spring and suddenly, it's summer! Time for long, sunny days spent relaxing by the pool or laughing with friends and family at weekend barbecues. It's also time for lots of bored children running around the house. Sometimes, those children don't run, they skateboard or chase the family pet, or drag the hardest and heaviest toy they can find down the stairs and across the living room, all of which can be quite painful for a hardwood floor. Because kids will be kids and they should be kids for as long as possible, you have to consider their sometimes destructive ways when considering the purchase of a hardwood floor. Here is some information to aid you in your quest for a suitable hardwood floor:

    1.  Species- The hardwood flooring industry uses a number known as a "Janka rating" to describe the relative hardness of a wood species. The number is derived from a test which measures the amount of force required to imbed a steel ball halfway into the piece of wood. The higher the number, the harder the wood, and the more likely it is to survive the abuse from your children and pets. The woods tested range from approximately 400 to 3700. Red Oak, which serves as a hardwood flooring standard, has a Janka rating of 1290. Cherry and Douglas Fir are relatively soft, coming in at under 1000. Brazilian Cherry and Santos Mahogany are harder, coming in at over 2000.

    2.  Surface/Wear Layer- In searching for a floor that can coexist with your rambunctious children and pets, consider the surface or 'style'. Hardwood flooring that is smooth may show signs of wear and tear sooner and more obviously than a distressed floor. There are varying levels of distressing from very light to heavy (think Old World). If it already looks timeworn, then those gouges from dropped toys to scratches from pets won't look so out of place! This isn't to say you can't have smooth floor if you prefer that look. The finishes are continually improving. If you select a floor with a thicker wear layer, then you can get more sandings out of it. A sand and finish can make an old floor look (nearly) new again! Just remember a smooth floor requires a bit more care.

    3. Color- Remember that a floor that is too light or too dark will not hide all the dirt, dust, and stains. You would be better served choosing a shade that is in between. And if you have pets, their fur will stand out on a floor that is either darker or lighter in color. I myself have a dog with golden brown fur, and the fur "drifts" are all too obvious on my mocha stained floor.

Above all, remember that no hardwood floor will look perfect and new forever. All hardwood floors can dent, scratch, and stain. Yes, you can and should take precautions such as using rugs at exterior doorways (grit and sand are some of the worst culprits). You should also maintain the floor according to the manufacturer's recommendations. However, don't let the appearance of your floor become more important than your enjoyment of it, or the life you live upon it.