Choosing wood flooring options for your home can be an intimidating task given the variety of options to choose from, particularly if you are tackling the job on your own. Working with a custom home builder can simplify things as they can help narrow the choices down by room, style, budget and climate. Whether you are tackling a simple remodel or building your luxury dream home, it’s a good idea to educate yourself on the various options before shopping around or consulting a custom homebuilder.

Custom Home Builder Wood Flooring: Know Your Options

Starting with the basics, there are primarily two types of wood flooring: solid hardwood and engineered hardwood. Traditional solid wood is milled from a solid piece of wood, as expected. Engineered wood flooring is an all-wood laminated plank that is manufactured from pieces of wood; it consists of three of more wood layers glued together into long planks, with a top layer composed of thin solid wood veneer. Engineered wood flooring was introduced to North America in the 1980s and has quickly become a favorite for do it yourselfers, as the laminated construction creates a floor that is more stable than solid wood flooring, less likely to expand and contract during fluctuations in humidity and temperature.

Both solid wood and engineered wood present a full spectrum in wood type, color, grain and stain options. The location of the room(s) in the custom home is an important factor, as solid wood can be installed above or on grade, while engineered wood can also be installed below grade. One of the benefits of solid wood is that it can be sanded and refinished many times. While engineered wood can be sanded and refinished, it cannot be done as many times as solid wood flooring; the top veneer layer should be at least 1/8” thick to allow for sanding and refinishing.

Your Custom Home Builder Can Help

A common choice for those working with a custom home builder is traditional unfinished hardwood strip flooring in red oak or maple. These woods are affordable and attractive with many stain color options. However, it does require sanding, staining (if desired) and a topcoat finish once installation is complete. Prefinished wood costs more, but does not require sanding or finishing. Additionally, factory applied finishes are incredibly durable and often come with lifetime warranties, which makes it ideal for high traffic areas. However, having the wood finished on site has other advantages:

  • there is a much greater choice of color and finishes with regard to shade;
  • unfinished flooring is sanded flat on-site and is more forgiving of irregularities in the sub-flooring;
  • if wood flooring is being installed in an isolated room or rooms, having floors finished on site will ensure a uniform color and finish.

Both engineered and solid wood flooring are available in finished and unfinished options, in many wood species. When selecting the type of wood species to use, hardness is a consideration for durability and strength. White pine is among the softest, Brazilian walnut and Brazilian teak are among the hardest, while hickory and maple woods are somewhere in the middle and slightly harder than red or white oak. Each species has distinct patterns, textures, colors and properties, providing the homeowners with a platform to properly accentuate their custom dream home. Give careful consideration to the style of home, the room’s intended décor palate and the family’s lifestyle when discussing with your custom home builder.