With house prices falling nearly 16% during 2008 and the housing market not expected to bottom out until the end of 2009 moving house is off the immediate agenda for many homeowners. They are looking instead to add value to their existing properties to increase their saleability when the market does recover. Whether you are looking to move, or simply to improve the allure and comfort of your existing living space, hardwood flooring can make an attractive and cost-effective addition to any home.
Hardwoods such as maple, oak and walnut are more durable than softwoods and available in natural variations of colour and grain, unfinished, factory finished, or engineered. Engineered wood is constructed from several tightly compressed layers, or veneers, of hardwood; as such it is less flexible than solid wood, and suitable for use with underfloor heating, if you place an emphasis on green energy, and reducing your carbon footprint, in designing the interior of your home. Solid hardwood can be sanded to remove scratches whereas engineered wood has a top layer of hardwood that is only a few millimetres thick limiting the possibilities for sanding. Both types of flooring require minimal maintenance, however, and unlike carpet, for example, do not harbour mould, mildew and other allergens. Hardwood floors can be maintained by regular sweeping or vacuuming and occasional treatment with a cleaning product recommended by the manufacturer.
Hardwood flooring is water resistant, rather than waterproof, so while it can become an important component of bedroom design, or kitchen design, it is less suitable for bathrooms or other “wet” areas where staining or cracking can occur. Carefully chosen, correctly installed, and properly cared for, however, hardwood flooring will age beautifully and retain its character for many years.