So, you’re shopping for new flooring and comparing samples of engineered or solid wood...Here’s what you need to know about what to expect if you select wood flooring for your project.

Natural variation between boards – Like all things in nature, no two boards are alike. You can have varying grain patterns, mineral streaks, shading variation and some knots. Some species have more of these characteristics than others. How much character you should expect also depends upon the grade of flooring chosen, as higher grades are more uniform. If the flooring has a stained finish as opposed to a clear finish, the boards will appear more uniform in color and grain. Natural color and grain is part of the beauty of hardwood flooring; and a good reason it makes such a desirable addition to your home.

Samples from the showroom – The samples from which you selected your floor typically exhibit less than two square feet, while your floor will typically comprise hundreds if not thousands of times that area; and again no two boards are alike. A sample has also aged for an undetermined time period and in varying degrees of exposure, while your new floor has not yet had the opportunity to do so. Do not expect a sample to exhibit all possible color and grain variation you will see in your floor.

Woods age with light and time – All wood darkens in color with exposure to light (both natural and artificial). Some species, like most exotic imports and American cherry, are particularly sensitive to light, especially sunlight. Again, if the wood is stained, the darker the satin the less apparent this aging will be. This is part of the beauty of hardwood flooring.

Maintenance and warranty – Only a manufacturer makes flooring, only an installer can turn it into a completed floor, and only you can maintain your flooring. You should be familiar with and observe all floor care and warranty information.

Gaps and separation between boards – Gaps between boards are a typical heating season issue caused as your floor becomes dryer and shrinks. One way to minimize this gapping is to maintain humidity in your home. The national wood flooring association recommends 35-55% relative humidity year round.

How to inspect a wood floor – Your wood floors are intended as flooring, therefore, the accepted point of view from which to inspect a wood floor is from a standing position under normal lighting. Looking for minor imperfections on your hands and knees or at a particular light angle is not a valid means of determining acceptance of hardwood floor.