What You'll Learn
Solid Wood Solid, 3/4-inch-thick wood flooring has been used in homes for generations. Because these floors can be refinished, they often last 100 years or longer. Red and white oak are the most common species, with prices for red-oak flooring beginning at $2.25 per square foot; white oak runs slightly more. Popular alternatives to oak include maple ($3.80 per square foot), cherry ($4.40) and ash ($4). Search a bit more and you'll even find species like mahogany, mesquite and teak. Even within a wood species there are different grades to consider. Select and clear grades are made from premium, knot-free boards. Common and #2 grades are less expensive. This flooring will show more variation in grain and color, and occasional tight knots. Another way to save money is to specify "shorts." The frequent end joints that result from these shorter strips create a busier-looking floor, however. There are three finishing options. You can stain flooring to darker hues; use a bleaching stain or light-toned filler treatment; or leave the floor its natural color. All are followed by a protective finish. Several major manufacturers, such as Bruce and Hartco, offer wood flooring with factory-applied finishes. Prefinishing adds around $1.25 per square foot to the cost of your flooring. It's a good option for remodeling because you eliminate the sawdust from sanding the floor and the fumes from stain and finish. And factory finishes are pristine and very durable. Solid-wood flooring does have some limitations. It expands and warps in the presence of moisture, so it's not a wise choice for areas that get damp, like basements and baths. It must be nailed in place, making it unsuitable for use over a concrete slab unless an expensive wood subfloor is installed first. And do-it-yourselfers will find this type of flooring more difficult to install than thinner engineered strip flooring.