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A Buyer's Guide to Wood Floors

Martha Stewart Living, September 2006

There's something reassuring about walking into a room with wood floors: the warm feeling underfoot, the richness of character, even the occasional squeak that's somehow a comfort. But choosing them for your home? That can be downright unnerving, given the more than fifty species of wood, the many shapes and sizes of the boards, and the various surface treatments.

What's more, today's wood flooring is so skillfully milled and finished that it can be installed almost anywhere throughout a residence, in traditional dining rooms, high-traffic kitchens, or cement-bottomed basements. Certain varieties will even hold up in a bathroom. That's a lot to think about.

We've demystified the process by pinpointing the major decisions you'll be faced with throughout the purchase and installation. Give them careful consideration before visiting flooring showrooms or sitting down with your architect or interior designer. If possible, borrow sample boards of your top choices to see how they coordinate with walls and furnishings. Once you've narrowed the field to a few suitable options, let your instincts take over, leading you to the wood floor that's perfect for you and your home.

Picking the Wood for Floors
Settling on the Style of Wood Floors
Choosing the Floorboard Cut
Treating Wood Floor Surfaces
Evaluating Engineered-Wood Flooring