The World Floor Covering Association recommends that buyers of hardwood flooring look into the following areas before making a purchase: the species of wood, the type of hardwood flooring and whether the floor is pre-finished or to be finished in place. Other areas for buyers to look into include the existing subfloor, the true cost per square foot, dust and weather issues, and ultraviolet exposure.
For flooring, consumers can choose from more than 50 species of wood, which range from common to exotic varieties, all with various levels of hardness and durability that is measured by its Janka rating. Buyers must note that regardless of a wood floor's high Janka rating, all woods and finishes can scratch when users are careless or fail to properly maintain them.
Buyers must decide between the two common types of flooring: solid and engineered hardwood. Consisting of just one wood species, solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished many times throughout its lifetime, whereas engineered hardwood can be sanded amd refinished a limited number of times because the buyer's chosen wood species exists only on the upper layer and is glued to other underlying layers of wood. However, engineered hardwoods are more flexible to changes in humidity and are less likely to deform or crack.
Pre-finished solid hardwood floors offer the convenience of fast and easy installation, without the hassle of finishing and the dusty environment that comes with it. On the other hand, finish-in-place hardwood floorings allow buyers to customize with one-of-a kind colors and finishes, but disadvantages include finishing imperfections that mar the beauty of the floor, such as visible brush strokes or bubbles that form around dust particles left behind upon completion of the sanding process.