Hardwood Flooring Pros & Cons: Lifespan & Costs to Maintain

Hardwood floors are timeless when it comes to flooring options for houses. People love hardwood flooring for its natural beauty, durability, and versatility. As we are all aware, there are advantages and disadvantages to hardwood flooring. However, for many, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.  

Hardwood floors can last 50 to 100 years or longer with proper care. Solid hardwood flooring lifespan is based mainly on the thickness of the wood. Refinishing is needed four to six times in its life, each time sanding away the top finish of the hardwood and reducing its life. Moisture and termites can also shorten the lifespan of hardwood flooring making proper maintenance crucial to longevity.

Hardwood floors are comparatively the most expensive among the flooring options available. There are many aspects of hardwood floors that you should be aware of. In this article, we will be providing you with all the necessary information regarding hardwood floors which will help you determine whether or not it is a right fit for your home. 

What are the Advantages of Hardwood Flooring?

1. Hardwood Flooring is Timeless

Hardwood flooring has stood the test of time. While home design and personal tastes change periodically, hardwood flooring remains a popular choice among homeowners and designers. So whether you have a beach house, log cabin, loft, or ranch home in the suburbs, you’ll find hardwood flooring to be highly sought after by home buyers.

The desire for hardwood is not waning as buyers opt to uncover old hardwoods and refinish them to breathe new life into the interior of a home. Carpeting and vinyl were once a fad used to cover up old hardwoods which needed to be refinished. Hardwood flooring is the only flooring where its flaws only enhance the character and improve its appearance.

2. Hardwood Flooring is Natural

Hardwood flooring is a natural flooring option that is doesn’t require replacement after just a few years. When hardwood flooring is no longer useful, you can repurpose it. If discarded is biodegradable and won’t clutter landfills for generations to come.

3. Hardwood Flooring is Unique

Hardwood flooring is 100% unique. As a natural product, no two trees are alike, and while similar, no two boards from the same tree are identical. When you consider the wood grain and knotholes, every flooring installation is unique.

4. Hardwood Flooring is Available in a Variety of Species

In addition to the natural variety, hardwood offers many species offering even more choices to fit your style and budget. Some species are softwoods that can damage easily, while others are hardwoods that are more durable and withstand more foot traffic. One of the appealing things about some softwood species is that the dents and dings of everyday life bring a degree of character to the wood floor surface.

The most popular species of wood flooring include:

  • Oak (Red and White)
  • Hickory
  • Mahogany
  • Brazilian Cherry
  • Brazilian Walnut
  • Brazilian Chestnut
  • Teak
  • Australian Cypress

5. Hardwood Flooring is Durable

As mentioned before, hardwood floors have been around for the longest time, and in this time frame, they have gained a reputation for being one of the most durable and long-lasting flooring options available. Due to their longevity, people consider hardwood flooring a long-term investment because there are more than a hundred years old with hardwood flooring that looks as good as new. In addition, hardwood floors can be easily sanded down and refinished with minimum effort, and their refinishing leaves them looking stunning. 

6. Hardwood Flooring is Easy To Maintain

One of the selling points for hardwood flooring is how easy it is to maintain. Its maintenance requires no fancy cleaners or tools; just a good mopping or vacuuming regularly can keep your hardwood floors looking fresh and clean.

Apply a good quality wood cleaner now, and then make sure your floors look shiny and retain their natural wood beauty for a long time. In itself, hardwood floors are not very retaining towards dirt and debris, which is why you can easily mop any dirt on the surface of the floor away without much hassle. 

Wood floors can be dry mopped or vacuumed regularly for general cleaning. Mopping with a damp mop can be done, provided the wood has been sealed. If the wood has been sealed, water should bead on the wood rather than be absorbed.

7. Hardwood Flooring is Healthy Flooring Option 

With more and more people turning towards incorporating organic material into their lifestyle and eliminating the number of chemicals they consume, hardwood floors became a favorite for such people. Hardwood floors come from organic wood, which has almost no toxic chemicals incorporated into it, making it extremely healthy.

Not only this, but people have also become more aware of the impact the degradation of the chemicals used in making synthetic flooring can have on the environment. So, since hardwood flooring is biodegradable, people value this as a healthy option for the environment. 

Wood floors are popular with active families because they can stand up to the daily traffic of active adults, children, and pets. In addition, wood is popular in children’s rooms because it is all-natural with no chemicals or dyes. Also, wood doesn’t hold on to dirt, and other allergens like carpet will do.

As we mentioned, you can clean wood flooring easily. However, carpet fibers can hold mold spores, fleas, dust mites, and other allergens that can harm children and adults. People with allergy sensitivities can benefit from hardwood by creating a healthier home and improved indoor air quality.

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8. Hardwood Flooring Increases Home Values

It’s no real secret that hardwood flooring has one of the highest upfront installation costs. However, if you can absorb the upfront cost, hardwood flooring has one of the lowest lifetime ownership costs. Other floorings like luxury vinyl planks or carpeting have a limited lifespan and will require multiple replacements.

For example, you may have to replace carpeting 5 to 6 times over your lifetime. The future value of this cost can far outweigh the present value cost of the hardwood flooring. Also, carpeting, laminate, and other flooring types carry very little resell valve when it’s time to sell. The old floor coverings can even decrease the appraised value.

9. Hardwood Flooring Offers Good Acoustics

Hardwood flooring can be noisy. Foot traffic on hardwood can be quite loud depending on the height of your ceilings, stability of your floor, and whether or not the floor is insulated. Walking in old houses with wood floors is often loud because the floors lack insulation and may lack support.

However, with hardwood flooring, the sounds of entertainment from family and friends can be pretty enjoyable. In addition, music from instruments such as pianos sounds fuller as it bounces around the room.

10. Hardwood Flooring Is Easy installation

Despite popular opinion, hardwood is relatively easy to install. While I don’t recommend hardwood flooring installation for DIYers, anyone can do it with the right tools and basic carpentry skills. In addition, the wood planks lay flat relatively quickly, and with long planks, minor cuts will only be needed along walls and corners.

You will likely need to hire a professional for staining and sealing. These steps are essential for a sleek, finished look.

What are the Disadvantages of Hardwood Flooring

However, there are certain downsides to hardwood floors as well. The cons of hardwood flooring are:

1. Hardwood Flooring is Expensive

Although most hardwood floors can be affordable, the cost of buying hardwood floors is still much higher than the other flooring options available. The reason behind this is obviously because of the sourcing of the wood to make this type of flooring. If you are buying an ethically and sustainably sourced hardwood floor, you should be prepared to pay extra money for it. If you are on a very tight budget, you might want to consider other flooring options. 

As we mentioned at the start of this article, hardwood flooring can last 50 to 100 years and beyond if well maintained. Depending on thickness, hardwood can be sanded and refinished multiple times. Don’t want to sand the floors and like the rough look, reseal the floor every 10 to 15 years.

2. Hardwood Flooring is High Maintenance

Hardwood flooring does require daily sweeping, dry mopping, or vacuuming to control dust, pet hair, and dirt. This can be a hassle for busy households who don’t clean regularly. Investing in robotic vacuums is an option to use in between cleanings.

Other maintenance includes polishing, refinishing, and moisture control to keep your hardwood flooring looking great. Moisture problems caused by wet crawl spaces or indoor humidity problems can cause hardwood flooring to curl or cup.

3. Hardwood Flooring is Prone To Scratches

One of the most significant cons of hardwood flooring is the fact it is incredibly prone to scratches. Not only scratches but also the hardwood floors can get dented very easily. If you have pets, getting hardwood floors might not be an excellent idea because chances are you will need to get your floors refinished every year due to your pet’s claw marks. 

Many people view these dent and scratch blemishes as part of the wood’s character. However, pet claw marks can become numerous and annoying, requiring refinishing the wood to remove them.

4. Hardwood Flooring is Prone to Termite Damage

In some areas, termites are a big problem for homeowners. Termites eat wood and often go undetected until it’s too late. Therefore, it’s vital to keep wood moisture levels low to reduce the risk of termites. Controlling moisture in crawl spaces and basements is an essential first step.

In recent years, crawl space encapsulation with dehumidifiers is being used to control moisture in crawl spaces and keep wood moisture levels to a minimum. However, it’s also essential to maintain a termite bond with a pest control company to keep these pests in check.

5. Hardwood Flooring is Prone to High Humidity

We mentioned earlier that hardwood flooring is prone to humidity. Let’s expand on that briefly. Wood is porous and will absorb moisture from the air. It’s recommended that wood moisture content be less than 18% to avoid excess moisture, which can cause wood rot and attract termites.

Wet wood will also cup or curl when wet. When this occurs, the wood pulls away from the floor and won’t lay flat. It’s nearly impossible to reverse the effects of this even when the wood dries.

  • Cupping occurs when the edges of the wood are higher than the center of the board. Water content in the wood causes it to expand. As it dries it contracts, however the effects reamain. This is why it’s important to keep hardwood sealed and as dry as possible.
  • Crowning is the opposite of cupping. The center of the board becomes higher than the edges. Crowning is caused by high humidity. It can also occur when you try to sand out the effects of cupping when the wood moisture content is still too high.

6. Hardwood Flooring is Prone to Water Damage

We’ve already discussed moisture effects on wood at great lengths. For example, hardwood flooring can rot if exposed to moisture for prolonged periods. Water damage to wood flooring often occurs from flooding, ruptured plumbing pipes, leaky water heaters, roof leaks, or wet crawl space conditions.

Wood moisture content above 20% can cause wood rot over time. Sudden soaking of wood can also be devastating. If this occurs, it’s best to dry the wood as quickly as possible. You can use heaters and fans to help the drying process in these cases.

7. Hardwood Flooring Can Creak or Squeak

This is probably a downside of hardwood flooring that almost everyone is aware of. Although you might not face the issue of loud creaking when your hardwood flooring is new, after years of use and the floor facing wear and tear, you will most likely face this issue. The noisiness is not only confined to creaking, but it can also be clicking when you walk on top of the hardwood flooring.

Generally, creaking and squeaking floorboards is caused as wood moves against the nails. As you walk on wood, it flexes and can lift nail heads ever so slightly. As this happens, the wood moves against the nail’s shank, causing fiction resulting in a creak or squeak sound.

8. Hardwood Flooring is not Suitable in All Rooms

Hardwood flooring is not recommended in wet areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. Wood is often found in kitchens, but it’s not recommended. If the kitchen sink were to overflow or the dishwasher leak, damage to the wood flooring could be extensive and cost thousands of dollars to remediate.

Hardwood flooring is best used in:

  • Living ooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Hall ways
  • Dens
  • Family rooms
  • Dining rooms

Avoid installing hardwood flooring in:

  • Kitchens
  • Bathrooms
  • Laundry rooms

For What Type of Purpose Can You Use Hardwood Flooring?

Coming to the purpose of hardwood flooring, we’ve already discussed what hardwood floors are made of and how they look. So, here we shall be discussing some of the reasons you should consider hardwood flooring over the other types of flooring materials available in the market. 

First of all, hardwood floors play a key role in enhancing the entire look of your home. With a touch of elegance and warmth, hardwood floors also make the space inside your home look bigger and wider. In addition, hardwood flooring is versatile and can adapt to almost any type of theme you wish to have in your home. The acoustics within your room can also be improved with hardwood floors’ help, meaning they reduce the intensity of vibrations or hollow sounds. This is one of the main reasons why hardwood floors are found in music or dance studios. 

Moreover, hardwood flooring serves to be very low maintenance and easy to clean as it can be steam-cleaned, swept, or easily vacuumed. The best part about hardwood flooring is that they are more stain-resistant than carpets. Therefore, if you accidentally end up spilling something on hardwood flooring, it can be cleaned up very quickly; all you will have to do is wipe it off. 

Another one of the primary purposes that hardwood floors serve is their durability. This is one of the main reasons homeowners are attracted to hardwood flooring. Not just this, but hardwood floors also provide better air quality. Cost-effectiveness can also be considered one of the purposes hardwood floors serve due to their durability; you won’t have to replace or repair the flooring that often if you know how to take care of it (which we shall be discussing further in this article). 

When Should Hardwood Flooring Be Installed? 

When it comes to designing your home or working on a home improvement project, there are many factors one needs to consider. One of those factors is temperature. For example, in terms of hardwood flooring installation, even though you can install the flooring called throughout the year, fall is the best time to install a hardwood floor. There are several reasons why, and we shall be discussing them thoroughly. 

When you’re living in an area where the climate is relatively humid, cooler temperatures such as Autumn should be your best bet to install hardwood flooring. One of the main reasons is that wood also absorbs moisture just like any other natural and organic product since it is very porous. So, installing hardwood flooring in spring or the summer might end up making your flooring more vulnerable to distortion due to the humidity. Hence, fall is the best time to install hardwood flooring, as the crisp weather during fall keeps your flooring safe from excess moisture. 

Now, why is winter is not the best time for your home to undergo hardwood flooring installation? The main reason is the ‘cupping effect.’ Heating units are utilized in almost every home during the winters.

Due to the drying effect these units leave, any amount of moisture absorbed by your hardwood flooring when you installed it gets dried up and increases the chances of the swollen floorboard getting pulled apart. This is known as the ‘cupping effect.’ So, installing hardwood floors during the fall aids in reducing the chances of the cupping effect. 

So, now that you know the best time to install hardwood flooring, schedule your respective installation coming fall, and make your home look more elegant than ever is! 

What Should You Not Put on Hardwood Floors? 

Whether you’ve recently had hardwood flooring installed or have had it for years, it’s necessary to have “know-how” regarding what you should and what you should not put on hardwood floors. Most of us think that there isn’t much that needs to be taken care of when it comes to durable floorings, such as a hardwood floor. However, the truth is that there is more to it than just that. 

First of all, we would recommend our readers stay away from the misinformation on the internet and ‘cleaning hacks.’ In most cases, the methods present in these ‘cleaning hacks’ end up doing more harm than good. Your best bet would be to contact your flooring manufacturer to obtain information regarding what not to put on your hardwood flooring in terms of products. 

To keep your hardwood floors looking as good as new, there are a few things you should avoid putting on them. 

The first one would be harsh cleaning supplies, just like any other synthetic flooring, hardwood floors, and vulnerable to being damaged if exposed to harsh cleaning supplies. Using anything such as vinegar solution will not only leave your hardwood floor splotchy but also cloudy. This is because vinegar products end up stripping the hardwood’s finish, taking away its shine. 

A product that is even worse for your hardwood floor than vinegar is bleach. Using bleach on your hardwood flooring will discolor the wood and ruin the integrity of the floor. Moreover, using brushes that are bristly or rough can also play a part in destroying your floor’s finish. Instead, it is recommended to use a microfiber towel or a soft rag. 

The second one would be high-heeled shoes. This one might seem odd, but the truth is that high-heels shoes will only increase the chances of denting and scratching on your hardwood flooring. 

Thirdly, we shall be discussing the furniture hazards. It is important not to turn a blind eye to this hazard as furniture can cause some severe damage to your home’s hardwood flooring. Any rolling furniture that includes cabinets, chairs, carts, etc., is a huge no-no on hardwood flooring. Also, it is important to use furniture pads under your furniture’s legs so that the weight of your furniture doesn’t wear on your hardwood floor. 

Lastly, it is important to guard your hardwood floor against any pet-related damage. We all love animals, but it is important to consider some of the ways pets can end up damaging your hardwood flooring as well. You must ensure that your pets’ nails are trimmed, so they don’t cause damage to your floor.

Another critical factor to consider is not to use training pads on hardwood floors, as pet potty training errors can cause irreversible damage to your floor. 

How Long Do Hardwood Floors Last?

One of the most common questions that hardwood floor owners have is regarding the lifespan of the flooring. To answer the question, it is both complex and straightforward. The wood can last you a lifetime but, its finish, shine, and gloss may dissipate over time.

Moreover, the lifespan of hardwood floors also depends on the species of the wood. Some wood has a much denser structure than others. Proper installation is also another factor that will influence the lifespan of your hardwood flooring. 

Even the best type of hardwood can end up going to waste if installed by an unprofessional, so it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing the floor. It is also crucial to look into the most sustainable wood when choosing your flooring. This is because you cannot install some wood below grade, one radiant heated floor, or areas where the moisture levels are relatively high. 

If you try to compare hardwood flooring to carpeting, the best part is that hardwood flooring does not require replacing; it only requires recoating or refinishing. Hence, the real question would be, ‘When should I recoat or refinish my hardwood flooring?’

The truth is, the answer depends entirely on how often you clean your floor, how quickly you clean your floor after it encounters a stain, how you keep your floor safe from your pets, and whether you rearrange your heavy furniture with padding underneath. In short, it entirely depends on how adequately you take care of your hardwood flooring. 

When it comes to recoating and refinishing, recoating targets extending the life of your finish, and is a relatively more straightforward process. Refinishing is a more comprehensive process and aims to make your floor look freshly installed. As per the recommendations, recoating should be done every three to five years and refinishing every eight to twelve years. Of course, both depend on how roughly you use your floors. 

Hence, it is important to refinish and recoat your hardwood flooring to ensure they look as good as new. 

What Is The Best Way To Clean Hardwood Floors?

As discussed before, hardwood floors are the easiest to clean and very easy to maintain. One of the best ways to clean your hardwood floor quickly is by merely mopping the floor to get rid of the dust and dirt on the floors’ surface. If the mop you use has microfibers, this will leave your hardwood floors clean and bright in no time. 

If you are looking to deep clean your hardwood floors, using a good quality, wax-free hardwood cleaner will be your best bet. Add the cleaner to your regular mop and sweep the floors like normal. This will make sure your hardwood floors are left looking shiny and clean. 

What is a Hardwood Floor Made Of?

A hardwood floor is perhaps one of the most popular options when it comes to flooring options. You can probably list down several different houses that you have encountered which had hardwood flooring, and there is a reason for its popularity. Hardwood floors have been around for longer than we can remember, and their classes yet elegant look make many homeowners the first choice for flooring their houses. 

A hardwood floor is made out of wood, but don’t worry, there are still many varieties and choices for hardwood flooring. Most hardwood floors use a wood species that is abundantly available and easy to source while also highly durable and rugged. 

Oak, maple, and cherry are examples of the most common and easy to find sources of hardwood flooring, but there are so many other types that are readily available. More plant-derived sources include bamboo, ash, walnut, and mahogany, just as popular as oak and maple. 

These wood sources fall somewhere in the affordable range because of their availability and abundance in terms of number. However, if you are looking for hardwood flooring made out of an exotic and difficult-to-find wood species, you are in luck because there are species such as jarrah, teak, and mesquite, which are unique and exotic. 

When you venture into the area of exotic and unique types of wood, you should expect to pay an enormous price for each piece of wood you purchase as well. 

What Are Different Types of Hardwood Floors Available?

Although all hardwood floors are made out of good quality, sustainably sourced wood, there are differences in how they are created. The difference in their creation allows us to have different types of hardwood flooring to choose from, and who doesn’t like variety and more options, right? The three main types of hardwood flooring are engineered, solid, and acrylic impregnated floors. 

Engineered hardwood flooring is made up of layers that are more commonly known as plywood. These layers are then bonded and fused using a high-quality adhesive, ensuring that the final product is a durable plank that is ready to be installed. The plies are made out of wood, and a veneer of natural hardwood is glued on top of these plies to give a more solid look. 

The number of these wood plies can be somewhere around five to nine, although these can be more depending on the flooring quality. The top layer is the natural hardwood veneer, often either oak, maple, or walnut species, because these are extremely hard and durable. 

The layers below these are the middle and back layers, and these are often made out of such species of wood that provide stability to the flooring. The middle and back layers are also responsible for the plank’s structural integrity and ensure that the flooring is resistant to humidity, moisture damage, and harsh weather conditions. 

Solid hardwood flooring is precisely what its name suggests; it is a plank made out of a solid, single piece of wood. However, instead of having layers like the engineered hardwood floors, solid hardwood floors are made out of a single piece of hardwood species, namely maple or oak. 

The planks also have groove edges and ‘tongue’ like pieces that allow the planks to fit into one another and allow easy installation. Since there are no layers and the planks are single pieces, the top layer can be sanded once it becomes too dented or deteriorates over time, and thus, the finishing can be done all over again. 

This is a classic type of hardwood flooring and is known to be the oldest because it is straightforward to make, install and refinish over several years. Despite its age, this type of hardwood flooring is a cult classic, and many homeowners invest in this flooring time and time again. 

Acrylic impregnated hardwood flooring is a way of strengthening engineered hardwood flooring. When engineered hardwood flooring is manufactured, the layers allow for tiny

spaces to be left in between the layers, and these spaces can compromise the strength of the planks and leave the potential for moisture damage. 

So to overcome this potential for damage, acrylic impregnation is a process that ensures that the hardwood floors are void of any damage. Some call this a finishing treatment because it is done after the planks have already been made by bonding all the layers of the engineered hardwood flooring together. 

The process involves ensuring that is no moisture in the hardwood, and then using high pressure, liquid acrylic is injected into the depth of the wood, making sure that it fills up all the pores and gaps between the wood planks. This process adds shine and adds a great deal of strength, and makes sure that the hardwood floor’s lifespan is increased as well. 

Is The Hardwood Floor Waterproof?

When choosing which flooring to get in your home, one of the main concerns people have is how well the flooring will survive against water. A water leak or a water pipe bursting is a widespread occurrence in homes, and flooring is one of the first areas of the house affected, so it is essential to know if your flooring can withstand the water damage. 

While hardwood floors look stunning, they are sadly not waterproof at all. If anything, water and moisture are considered to be the hardwood floor’s worst enemy. However, if you are thinking of minor spills daily, that is not an issue. As long as you make sure to wipe away the water on time and dry the area, the hardwood floor should not be damaged by it. However, significant issues occur when there is a water leakage within the pipe system, which affects the flooring directly. 

If the hardwood floors have a water body on them or below them for a long time, you will most definitely see signs of damage such as buckling. In such cases, you should hire a professional to dry the hardwood floors’ surface while also paying attention to the subfloors and ensuring that they are rid of moisture. 

If you do not get your hardwood floors appropriately dried, it is a high possibility that the wood will start to grow mold on it, and this can pose a severe health hazard. Alongside this, the mold can be complicated to remove from hardwood floors, and you might have to get it replaced altogether. So, it is essential to keep in mind that hardwood floors are not waterproof and should be dried immediately if they contact water. 

How Long Hardwood Floor Last? Now You Know

Hardwood floors are a great option if you want your house to have a classic and beautiful look. Many old houses have hardwood floors because of their durability, easy maintenance, and their long-lasting abilities. Although hardwood flooring can be more expensive when compared to other flooring options, such as laminate flooring, many people consider this type of flooring worth your money, especially if you maintain it well over the years.

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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