What to Know When Choosing Hardwood Flooring – Part 2

Hardwood flooring has experienced a boom in popularity among homeowners in the United States. The range of options to choose from ensures that your choice of hardwood is unique and the perfect fit for your home, but those same choices can feel overwhelming.

Are you staring at your floors and thinking, “I really want hardwood flooring, but I don’t know where to start!”? Picking out hardwood flooring for your home can be overwhelming, and with what feels like so many different things to consider and an endless amount of options to choose from, you aren’t wrong! Hardwood flooring is a beautiful addition that you know adds value to your home, but choosing exactly the right flooring for your space, for your family, can be difficult.

The right flooring is out there. It is simply about finding the flooring that’s perfect for you. You have a lot of choices to make – 

  • Solid vs Engineered
  • Species
  • Grade & Cut
  • Board width 
  • Pattern
  • Texture
  • Stain (Color)
  • Finish (sheen)
  • Price

Each one of these choices needs to be carefully considered when making a large investment into your home. Knowing what you want and what you need for each one is important for your overall happiness once the project is complete. Work with a flooring expert to understand what you need and how you want it to look. At Totta Hardwoods, we have an in-depth consultation that not only presents you with your options but evaluates your home and your specific family needs to ensure you get the very best hardwood options for your home.

Different Types of Hardwood Flooring

Choosing a type of hardwood flooring can be as difficult as choosing a color. Price is often a consideration, but one must also consider the longevity and durability of hardwood. While hardwood is one of the most durable flooring options available, different types of hardwood flooring can have a range of durability. 

Onsite Installation // Unfinished Flooring

Solid hardwood flooring is typically the more durable option. It can get up to ¾” thick. This allows it to be sanded and refinished multiple times, and also makes it one of the easier installation types to repair. It also creates the most seamless look, allowing you to create a perfectly smooth or uniform texture. 

While the price can be a bit higher for onsite installation, it has other limitations as well. Onsite solid hardwood installation looks beautiful, but it doesn’t work for every room in your house. A true craftsman understands the limitations that come with a home and can help educate you on what works best for each room.

Prefinished Flooring 

Prefinished flooring is still solid hardwood flooring. Instead of wood installation, sanding, stain, and finish, each individual board is prefinished or individually sanded, stained, and finished before installation. This allows for a shorter installation period, but can be more difficult to refinish, repair, or replace individual boards to get the perfect uniform match. 


Engineered hardwood consists of multiple thin layers of either plywood or similar material with a thin veneer layer of hardwood on top. These flooring planks are fitted together with grooves so they can be installed over many types of flooring. It can be installed in basements because engineered hardwood flooring can withstand higher humidity compared to solid hardwood. This is generally a cheaper option, but it typically is the hardest to repair and replace.

Wood Species

We have talked a lot about how the wood species can affect the other considerations you make. Choosing a species of wood impacts the stain, finish, and overall price of your flooring simply due to the natural aspects of the floor. This has a lot to do with the durability of each individual wood type. Every type of wood has a different “hardness” that can impact how durable your floors will be. The harder a wood is, the more resistant to dents and scratches it will be. Examples of durable floors are hickory, oak, and maple. When you get to species like walnut, a softer floor will require more attention and care to prevent damage.

Hardwood Flooring Design Choices

Grain Style

Choosing a grain style can be one of the most important aspects of choosing hardwood flooring. Different types of wood contain different types of grains. The way each wood plank is cut determines what kind of pattern will emerge in the wood.

  • Rift sawn is going to be the most expensive cut out of your options due to the labor-intensive process and wasted wood. This will produce a straight line pattern in the grain. 
  • Plain sawn is one of the most readily available hardwood to get. The log is sliced through the center, producing the least waste of the grain types. Because of fast milling types, this is the cheapest cut of wood.
  • Quartersawn is more stable than plain sawn. It has increased moisture resistance and is less likely to cup, twist, and warp. This cut produces a unique, linear grain pattern. 


Patterns can be a good idea for those looking to incorporate something special into your home. They can provide a talking point and a detail of focus in your home. Popular designs include herringbone, diamond parquet, and wood mosaics. These can be mixed with a number of different stains to fit your home’s aesthetic. 

Stains (Color)

There are two things you will need to consider when choosing a stain:

  1. Your Desired Look – the overall look or color of wood you are going for. 

The color you choose depends on your decoration style. If you enjoy the more minimalist farmhouse-themed decor, lighter natural shades would work best to complement your style. For modern decor, darker stains would be better suited for your home to create a more extravagant look. To properly choose your hardwood flooring, you should look for a color that highlights and creates a base for your interior design style. If you can’t choose between 2-3 colors, you can get samples to see what will work best in your home. 

  1. Species of Wood – the species of wood you use can determine what stain is needed. 

For example, exotic wood species like mahogany, walnut, and cherry don’t stain very well due to oils in the wood. However, these types of wood typically have a beautiful natural color that a lot of homeowners like by themselves. Oak floors are the optimal choice for stains, as they absorb the stain well, allowing you to achieve your desired color.


As mentioned, a range of aspects can affect your floors pricing including –

  • Species – Due to importing costs and the rarity of the wood, exotic flooring is going to be more expensive than wood manufactured domestically.
  • Solid vs Engineered – Onsite installation gives you the most flexibility in style and future repairs, but generally costs more to install. Prefinished hardwood flooring can range in cost from $3 to $13 per square foot. Engineered hardwood flooring is slightly cheaper and can be a good choice for those on a budget. 
  • Width & Length – Certain widths and lengths can increase the overall cost of your hardwood. If you have specific style preferences, when it comes to how thin or thick your hardwood planks are, you could be looking at an increase in price.
  • Grain Cut (Grade & Cut) – The way the wood is initially cut can impact the overall price. Wood showing more of the natural rings typically costs more to produce.

You might not have a preference or even realize that some of these factors could impact price. When you work with one of the craftsmen at Totta Hardwoods, they can help you determine what is most important to you, what is best for your home, and what is best for your pocketbook.

Work with the Hardwood Flooring Experts at Totta Hardwoods

We can help you navigate the difficult terrain of hardwood flooring. As overwhelming as picking the hardwood flooring for your home can be, our professionals will be there every step-of-the- way to make it easy. We have been serving the greater Kansas City area since 2006, and our passion for woodworking shows in our quality. You can contact us or schedule a consultation to get started on the process. 

Comments 3

  1. Thanks for the reminder about how I should also be mindful of the grain when planning to get hardwood flooring. I’d like to find a good contractor for that because I’m thinking about getting a new house built soon. Getting the right kind of flooring for it will surely be crucial in the long run.

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