Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wood Floor Choices

Deciding on wood types for major items in a house is a conundrum. I selected a maple cabinet with a cherry-like finish, but am waffling on what floors to use in my living room floor. Before berating me for covering the old floors with subfloor, realize that they are an old pine with lots of gaps and squeakiness. They are easily dented and scratched and not worth the money to refinish. Even if I did refinish them, the wood on the stairs doesn't quite match, so it would only make this issue more obvious after refinishing. So, now that the subfloor is in I need to choose what type of wood floor to put in.

My main criteria for judging a floor are,

A. Look good
B. Low Maintenance

To minimize maintenance I believe in the Janka scale. Wikipedia says "The Janka test measures the force required to embed a 11.28 millimeter (0.444 inch) steel ball into wood to half its diameter.". While I don't need to know the actual force for this task, it offers a good comparison of wood hardness, and hence durability of the wood floors. A high Janka scale number coupled with a nice finish means that I don't need to worry about scratches and dents. For a reference point, oak is about 1300 on the janka scale while pine is between 300 and 600, depending on the species.

My main contender is Brazilian Cherry (Jatoba). I am a bit concerned with using such a dark color in a row home with such little light, but I like the general look of it and it has a Janka hardness of 2350 (oak is around 1300), so it should hold up pretty well. I also considered something called Brazilian Cherry Lite, which looks similar but is a bit lighter. More research showed Cherry Lite is actually referred to as 'Guajara', and has a hardess of around 1300. Not a fan of such a soft wood. Also, seeings as I will most likely have darker wood furniture in the home, I'm not sure both dark woods and furniture would look good.

Another option I like is hickory. It has a Janka scale of around 1800, and looks totally different than the Jatoba. It has a high variance across boards that could either be interepretted as interesting, or ugly. I'm not sure which is a better assessment... To me the floors look modern, and while I like them, I am worried about being too bold. The darkness of the cherry makes for a cozier look, while the hickory seems to offer a cooler look for the room. What are your thoughts? Any other high hardness woods that look good? Let's try to keep it around $4.00 a sq ft or less - extra points for engineered hardwood, and no way on laminate.

I am also still deciding on how to run the floors. Most likely I will run them planks running the length of the house, but am also considering running them at a 45 degree angle. I think running them at an angle could add some visual interest.


I also decided on stools for the breakfast bar today. I'm going with Holsag Carole's, in a wild cherry finish (matches the cabinets) and a gray'ish black seat. They take about 4-6 weeks to arrive, so it will be a while until Leigh and I are able to enjoy them.


Jennifer said...

I always like Maple, which is harder than oak... I don't know the "number" though.

You could try bamboo... but you need to get the expensive old growth stuff to get the hyped hardness.

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