The widespread popularity of wood flooring continues to grow due to the fact that there is no substitute for the warmth and natural beauty of real wood. With more than 50 species of wood available for use in hardwood floors, the number of options can get overwhelming. As homeowners embark on home improvement projects, such as the refinishing of wood floors and cabinets, they are faced with many wood type choices that can be used in the home.

As industry professionals, it is our goal to help educate homeowners about their options when renovating their floors or cabinets. It is important to provide resources for consumers and building professionals so they can make informed choices to ensure a seamless and accurate home remodeling project.

When renovating a home, selections should be made based on what will look appealing, withstand years of use and prove to be a cost-effective solution. The more one knows about the distinct characteristics of wood, the better one can understand the degree of warmth and splendor that it can bring to everyday décor. When choosing a type of wood, it is important to select something that will cater to a family’s needs and activity in the home. The most popular types of wood include maple, cherry, oak, yellow birch, beech and walnut.

Maple Wood: Maple wood is close-grained, dense and nearly non-porous, making it less prone to scratching, denting or dark stains. The pale, creamy white color creates a naturally light look to make a room appear more open and airy. Maple wood flooring can be very beneficial for homes with animals and pets because of its durability. However, if a homeowner lives in a humid environment, maple wood tends to react negatively by swelling.

Cherry Wood: This type of wood is very popular because of its elegant look and the warmth it provides to a home. Cherry wood has a smooth finish that is simple to clean and easy to maintain. Over a period of time though, it has a tendency to fade. If a homeowner has a lot of moisture coming into their home, the excess moisture can damage the wood. It is highly recommended for renovating living rooms and bedrooms versus kitchens and bathrooms where steam tends to occur.

Oak Wood: Each variety of oak wood has its own distinct grain and texture. The assortment and complexity of patterns on the wood give it an appearance other hardwoods can’t match, with designs like prominent rings, vertical strips and ray-like projections. The medium shade of this type generally makes a room appear more warm and cozy. Like maple wood, oak is very durable and does not collect dust easily.

Walnut Wood: Walnut is one of the most versatile and popular wood types due to the attractiveness and durability of the material. The darker grained wood has the ability to hide dirt well. As the floor begins to wear or accrue dirt, it will still appear characteristically beautiful. Additionally, it tends to resist water damage and mold that can potentially harm the wood. While the cost of walnut wood flooring may be higher than other types of wood, it is likely to last significantly longer.

No matter what the setting, the natural look and durability of hardwood floors can be maintained using minimal effort with proper care and maintenance. Informing consumers about simple ways to keep wood healthy and beautiful will help them protect and prolong the performance of hardwood flooring for a lifetime.

Regular Maintenance: All hardwood floors should be cleaned regularly to remove dirt from between the floor boards by sweeping with either a dust mop or broom that features exploded tips. Another option is to use a vacuum with special hardwood floor attachments or one with the beater bar turned off. Wet mops can dull the finish and should not be used to clean wood surfaces.

Minimizing Scratches: Avoid wearing sports cleats or high heel shoes on hardwood floors because they can scratch the finish or dent the floor. Further minimize scratches by placing felt pads on the bottom of furniture legs and by placing scatter rugs at all entrances to help collect substances such as dirt, grit and oil that can damage wood. Stay away from rubber and foam-backed plastic material to prevent discoloration of the wood.

Controlling Humidity Level: If the humidity hits above 55 percent, there is an increased chance for moisture to seep into the wood. Too much moisture can lead to swelling of the floor boards, which can create pressure between the boards, causing them to warp or cup. If the humidity level drops below 35 percent, the wood may dry out, which, in turn, could weaken the wood, causing the floor to splinter. Maintaining constant humidity levels will help to keep wood in its best shape.

One of the most dramatic changes one can make to the interior of their home is to refinish wood surfaces. Refinishing is necessary to combat the normal wear and tear, humidity, water spills and other household issues that cause hardwood floors to lose their shine and protective coating. Educating consumers about the benefits of refinishing wood surfaces will help them to realize the value, quality and convenience of professional services. The main advantages include:

Enhancing the Life and Look of the Wood: Refinishing gives wood surfaces a completely new look by restoring the beauty and includes small repairs to make them last longer.

Recovering the Damage Caused by Moisture: Moisture is the biggest enemy of wood floors and can completely destroy the surface. Refinishing eliminates the moisture from the wooden planks, extending the life of wooden floors.

Eliminating Marks and Scratches: Refinishing corrects imperfections by actively eliminating all types of scratches including major and minor marks. It also seals any cracks which may have developed between individual boards.

Removing the Damage Caused by Water, Chemicals and Direct Sunlight: Refinishing will bring back the lost color and shine of hardwood floors that is caused by water, chemicals and direct sunlight.


Ben Davis is the president of N-Hance Revolutionary Wood Renewal, a national partner of The Home Depot for wood refinishing/renewal of kitchen cabinets and wood floors. Based in Logan, Utah and founded in 2001, N-Hance is backed by Harris Research Inc., with 230 franchises in the U.S. and Canada, and 12 franchises in development.