Monday, April 14, 2008 at 6:54PM
When I first started out in the design industry- it seemed like the only choices were oak, maple or cherry. Maple was harder than oak, but because of the grain, oak will disguise the inevitable future scratches easier. Oak tended to be less expensive. Maple has a more contemporary feel- oak and cherry more traditional. Cherry is VERY soft, and more expensive, so it didn't make a lot of sense in most cases... And that was it- explain that to the client, and they could choose- oak, cherry or maple.
Today- that is absolutely NOT the case. There are TONS of species to choose from, as you can see from the hardness chart above. So- how do you decide?
- Hardness. Like I said, cherry is very soft. You would never want a bar stool on a cherry floor. Even oak is not that that hard to dent. I have a friend who, shortly after the installation of her new lovely oak floors, had a party. One lady in attendance was a little heavy, and in spiked high healed shoes. Everywhere she walked little "pock" marks were left on the floor. A good finish makes a difference here- (which I will discuss in another post)- but the hardness factor of the floor is an even bigger determining factor. Brazilian Cherry is one of my favorite species for this reason. It is not so exotic that it is out of control expensive, and it is about 3x as hard as your average oak floor. So- what is your traffic level in your home? Any Rollerblades, or do you have quiet serenity and slippers?
- Color- If you have wood kitchen cabinets, and are including the kitchen in your flooring installation, this area really needs to be a good blend. This is another reason I like Brazialin Cherry- it tends to have colors of red, almost like a mahogony, or cherry, as well as golden oak colors. It is a great floor to blend a lot of different woods that you might have in your cabinetry and furniture. A little trick of mine? If you have wood cabinets, and a wood floor, paint your toe kick. Make it the same color as your baseboards, or a different coordinating color for your home- black or white perhaps. What this does, is it separated the two large areas of wood in such a way that your mind doesn't try to see if they "match". I think it looks a lot nicer in most cases- especially when it doesn't match perfectly. So- which species have a good color for you home? I suggest the old standby- don't make your decision before taking a number of samples to your home and looking at them in different areas, and different lighting- next to your cabinets, furniture, and paint colors.
- Grain. Some woods will have a very noticeable grain- others are smooth- the higher levels of grain will tend to disguise small scratches better than smoother, clearer woods like maple.
- Style. Certain species will add to your feeling that you are going after. For instance- if you have a provincial decor- a knotty pine will make more of a provincial statement than a simple oak. If your interior is modern- a clean look of a maple will add to the feel, whereas a busy oak could perhaps distract from it. Or- a dramatic bamboo or zebrawood could be a fun addition to a modern home. A rich elegnat traditional interior might benefit most from a glossy cherry, or rich walnut.
- Earth Friendly. The number one growing area of interior design is being "green." With this as a concern, bamboo makes a good solution. It grows very fast, making it an easily renewable resource. The fast growth also makes it affordable.