Hardwood Buying Guide
The beauty and durability of hardwood flooring is a great long-term investment for your home. Whether you’re looking for solid or engineered hardwood, oak, or birch flooring, let our buying guide help you make the right hardwood flooring choice for you, your house, and your budget.
Buying Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood flooring is a great investment for your home with many advantages. Its wide range of colour and grain options allows you to indulge your design fantasies, while remaining a practical choice in terms of cleaning and maintenance. Additionally, hardwood floors are a highly desirable feature amongst house hunters, so installing them could help increase the overall resale value of your home.
Hardwood Flooring Pro Tip
IMPORTANT! Avoid using solid hardwood in basements. Installing a solid hardwood floor in your basement opens you up to the risks of water vapour damage. Water is continually evaporating from the soil beneath your home’s foundation and up through your basement’s concrete floor. That vapour will be absorbed by any hardwood flooring you have installed which can cause them to warp over time. Deterioration of this kind often won’t become apparent until some time after installation is complete. Immediate damage can also result from flooding, drain backups, broken water pipes, or wall leaks. Repairing or replacing damaged flooring can be very costly and time-consuming. If you're looking for wood flooring in your basement, choose engineered hardwood for peace of mind or consider another option, such as laminate flooring.
What About Laminate Flooring?
Love the look of hardwood but aren’t sure it’s right for your home? Take a look at our selection of laminate flooring. Laminate is a highly durable, great looking, and an economical alternative for basements, bathrooms, or your entire house.
What Type of Hardwood Do You Need?
Not sure which type of flooring you can install in various areas of your home? Consult our handy chart to make sure you choose the right flooring type for your subfloor and desired installation level.*
|Construction of Hardwood|
|Subfloor||Level||Locking||Engineered||5/16 Inch Solid||3/4 Inch Solid|
|Plywood||At or above ground||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Concrete||At or above ground||✔||✔||✔|
|Concrete Basement||Below ground level||✔||✔|
*Refer to the manufacturer's Instruction for more specific details about your floor.
Choosing Hardwood Plank Width
Plank width isn't only a structural consideration, it's also an important design feature that will determine the aesthetic of your space. The wider your planks, the fewer seams you'll have in your flooring.
Hardwood Flooring Edges
Another feature to consider when purchasing hardwood floors is the edging of the planks you’re using. This can affect the aesthetic of your room, giving it a more finished or rustic feel depending on your choice.
Choosing Hardwood Flooring Species
Different species of wood come in varying colours, textures, and degrees of hardness. Depending on the room where you'll be installing your flooring, a certain level of durability may be more desirable. The relative hardness of a wood species is measured by the Janka Scale. The higher a wood species' Janka Scale rating, the harder the wood.
Our Most Popular Hardwood Floor Species
At Lowe's, we carry everything from bamboo to oak flooring. But the three most popular and frequently-used species are oak, maple, and birch. These wood species are versatile, reliable, and beautiful.
Do it Yourself or Call a Pro
After deciding which hardwood flooring to use, it's time to ask whether you can do the installation yourself. That answer depends entirely on your knowledge and comfort working on a project like this by yourself. While there are undeniable cost savings but you have to weigh that against the peace of mind of an expert installation.
|DO IT YOURSELF IF:||CALL A PRO IF:|
|You're okay with pre-finished flooring (planks are purchased already-finished and ready to install).||You want flooring that is installed first and finished afterward (an experienced installer will nail down the planks, sand, and finish them by hand).|
|You're comfortable with locking hardwood installation.||You require the installation of an appropriate subfloor for your hardwood.|
|The layout of the room in which you want to install is fairly straightforward (not many nooks and corners).||The room's layout is complex.|
|You are willing to sacrifice some quality in order to save money.||You have the budget to ensure a high-quality job.|
|You have the time to invest in learning how to install the flooring properly. If you're a beginner, the learning curve may be steep.||You’re busy and you need the job completed quickly.|
|You own or can rent the necessary equipment for the job.||The cost of accessing the equipment you need is equal to paying a pro to do the job for you.|
Frequently Asked Questions
A subfloor is a layer of wood that provides the structural base and support for your flooring. It rests across the flooring joists to create a stable, flat, solid surface upon which to place your hardwood floor. Only builders and installers deal with subfloors, so homeowners rarely see it.
Underlayment is installed on top of the subfloor. It functions as a protective barrier or sound dampening layer between the uppermost flooring material and the subfloor. Instead of being installed on joists, underlayment sits over floorboards that are secured to the joists. Depending on the type of flooring you choose, you'll need a specific variety of underlayment while subfloor material is generally standard and consistent across all types of houses, underlayment material depends on the types of interior floor you are installing.
A hardwood floor gloss level tells you how shiny its finish is. Gloss level is determined by the amount of light or luster reflected off the floor when the beam hits its surface at a 60o angle.
There are four levels:
- Matte Finish: Hardwood floors with a matte finish has 25 percent lustre, meaning it has very little sheen. This makes them great for high traffic areas that could quickly show wear and tear to the flooring.
- Satin Finish: The most popular gloss level, a satin finish looks great on all hardwood. It sits at approximately 40 percent lustre, which gives a beautiful shimmer while standing up to a lot of foot traffic.
- Semi Gloss Finish: For those who enjoy a shinier floor, a semi gloss hardwood reflects about 50 percent of the light that hits it. Semi gloss hardwood flooring is a great compromise for those who want the practicality of a satin floor, but don’t want the maintenance that comes with a glossy finish.
- Glossy Finish: This flooring rates about a 70 percent lustre, which, while beautiful, means that it will show every speck of dust or little scratch. Save glossy finish for rooms that pack a dramatic punch, such as a formal dining room, where traffic is limited.
Want to redecorate but not sure where to start? Try from the ground up with our Area Rug Buying Guide. We have rugs to suit every room and taste. Learn more.
Learn about the benefits of environment friendly flooring, types of flooring, our installation services, and more in our Sustainable Flooring Buying Guide.
Learn how to install laminate flooring, an affordable, and durable option for your kitchen and bathroom renovations. Follow our step-by-step guide, and you'll have your laminate flooring installed in a snap!