Now, that you've chosen your wood floors.
We now need to look at the features, to make sure it's the right hardwood floor, for you.
Hardness - This will determine how dent resistance, your hardwood flooring are from pots, pans, heels, and anything that may fall on it
Stability - How much the hardwood floor will expand and contract, more stable less moving, less gapping, especially in 4 seasons climate. Where you get both humid and dry climates
Texture - Tight grain (ex:Maple hardwood flooring, Birch, Beech, American Cherry hardwood flooring) for smoother appearance (can be slippery when finished) or loose grain(ex:Oak flooring, Santos Mahogany, Brazillian Cherry hardwood floors, Teak flooring) for a more textured look or non slip surface.
Cut - The grain pattern on the same specie of wood floors will change it's look based on the way it is cut from the manufacture, particularly Oak hardwood floors. Riftsawn (flat), quartersawn, rift and quartersawn,
Grade - Clarity of wood surface, from character such as worm holes , knots, and any natural marks. Wood flooring manufacture, provides different quality - clear, select/better, natural, #1 common, #2 common. Also, 1rst grade, 2nd grade and 3rd grade clarity.
Tongue and Groove - This profile is used to locate each board to another. It reduces vapor flow, coming up from the underside.
A quality tongue and groove profile should fit snug, with very little play. If, it has excessive play, passing vapor can cause these edges to dry out, resulting in gapping.
Also, if the tongue and groove has excessive play, your flooring can be spongy. The weight of foot traffic can either force the boards downwards or pop them upwards, resulting in uneven surfaces. Even after when it has been sanded evenly to each other.
Stress Relief - Groove or fluted profile on the underside of your flooring boards. The stress relief prevents your hardwood flooring boards from cupping, maintaining it's flatness.
Stress relief depth should be from 20%-30% of overall thickness, Stress relief along the width should be from 50%-65% of the finished width dimesion. This should be a series of grooves or fluted, across the width, not one large groove.
Stress relief is important, when your installing wide plank flooring. Wide planks have a tendency of cupping and crowning. If you're using hardwood flooring with no stress relief, consider facenailing as part of your installation method.
Any flooring with a plastic or artificial backing will not nee a stress relief, these are relatively stable material.
Finish - The protective coating applied on pre-finished or unfinished hardwood flooring. This will determine how scratch resistant the surface finish will be, just incase you accidentally slide somthing.
Most prefinished wood floors have Aluminum oxide, applied to it. I recommend investing a extra money on the finish, for on-site finishing projects, if possible. This will help protect your hardwood floors better and make them last longer.
Every wood floor manufacture is different.
Example : A supplier has 2 1/4 white oak, random lengths, select grade flooring for sale, from 3 different hardwood flooring companies. Company A is priced at $2.89 , B - $2.99 and C - $3.09.It doesn't seem to be that much of a difference. But...
Company A's products may be compiled of more shorter (12"-18")pieces, then medium(24"-36") or long(48"-70") length pieces, not so random lengths, millwork has little variation and clarity is exceptional, for a select grade.
Company B has an equal amount of short, medium, and long boards (random), millwork much better compared to A and clarity is good.
Company C has a greater amount of long pieces, than short or medium lengths
(not so random). Millwork is good and clarity is little bit better, compared to B.
Which one would you choose?
Company A has too many short pieces (12"-18") which will provide a more mosaic look and with variation in millwork, you will spend more time, installing your hardwood floors, and too much time, sanding the wood floors evenly to each other (rough and finish pass).
Company B has more equal amounts of short (12"-18"), medium (24"-36"), and long (48"70") length boards, which will give a more random look, less repeat pattern, this will prevent a section that will be to busy (great amount of short pieces) or to plain (great amount of long pieces).
Millwork is good also, which will make the job of installing and sanding wood floors much easier and faster.
Company C has to many long boards(48"-70") floor will appear plain, in certain areas, not so random look. Now this would be exceptional, if you were after this look.
The winner here is clearly Company B. Their hardwood floor will give you a random look, has good clarity, Millwork is good, and it's not the highest price flooring.
This will make it easy to work with and you'll save money.
You don't have to spend a lot of money on hardwood flooring to get a top quality look. As long as you consider all these wood floor attributes.
You'll be able to choose quality wood floors for you and your home.
Flooring companies will sometimes carry different unfinished hardwood flooring manufactures. Ask for details, about quality, on those particular companies.
If, you factor in all these wood floor features.
You will be able to choose a quality flooring for your home.
You will know that you made the right choice and have peace of mind.