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Home > Ideas & Tips > Hardwood Flooring Buying Guide - Sizes, Textures, and Finishes

Hardwood Flooring Buying Guide - Sizes, Textures, and Finishes

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Sizes, Textures, Finishes


  • Plank width isn't only a structural consideration, it's also an important design feature that will determine the "look" of your space. The wider your planks, the fewer seams you'll have in your floor.
  • Only use a narrower width (2 ¼" or 3") if you are building a parquet floor; otherwise, try finding a wider plank size. In recent years, 5" boards have become the new standard in "wide" flooring.
  • Consider this: do you want all your planks to be the same width or to vary in size? Random widths can work in any décor style—whether modern or traditional.
  • Remember: the wider your plank, the longer the length should be. A wide plank that's short will negate the aesthetic effects of the plank width.


  • The texture of your hardwood's finish can have a significant impact on the atmosphere of your space. The four primary types of hardwood textures are: smooth, hand scraped, distressed, and wire-brushed.
  • Smooth textures are the most popular type: floorboards are sanded flat and then factory-finished. Smooth texturing can look quite elegant, especially when applied to a darker finish. However, this texture will show scratches and dents more easily as wear and tear happens over time.
  • Hand scraped surface textures can range from subtle to bold. Hand scraping will leave indentations on the boards that create a wave-like appearance. This texture creates a casual, lived-in atmosphere full of warmth and comfort. It also easily hides dents and scratches, making it an ideal choice for high-traffic areas or homes with active pets and kids.
  • Distressed texturing evokes a beautiful "antique" look, even in a new home. Distress marks could include dents, burn marks, or blackening of edges. The hardwood is intended to look lived on and beaten up. Polished distressing is great for hiding dents, scratches, or imperfections in wood.
  • Wire-brushed texturing offers a middle ground between smooth and hand scraped flooring. The flooring's finish is lightly scraped with a wirebrush, creating long and linear strokes and visibly accentuating the woodgrain patterns.


  • If you're doing it yourself, the easiest and least labour-intensive choice is pre-finished hardwood. No sanding or finishing is required, making this the ideal choice for the DIY-er who wants to save time.
  • However, this type of hardwood is pre-finished on a board-by-board basis, so the finish which seals each board does not seal the small spaces between individual boards in the same way that post-installation finishing does.
  • Still, the significant advantages of pre-finished hardwood are: no mess, no fumes, no sanding, less work, and quick installation. Beautiful flooring can be yours in a cinch!
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