Hardwood Basics

Thickness Solid ¾-inch boards can be refinished up to 10 times. Thinner ones can't be sanded as much,but when topped with durable factory-applied coatings, they shouldn't require frequent refinishing.

Length Longer strips mean fewer distracting end joints. To make a small room appear bigger, use shorter strips.

Width Six-inch planks have a rustic appeal, but the joints open wide during dry spells; 2¼-inch strips look busier but stay tighter. Mix widths for the best of both.

Hardness The harder the wood, the less prone it is to dents and gouges. The table shown shows how various species stack up.

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