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Hardwood Floor Decisions

Hardwood floors... 
can we talk about them for a second?

I love hardwood floors.
 As in big old heart eyes LOVE hardwood floors.

And our house has original old hardwood throughout-
which was a huge bonus that stood out like a bouquet of beautiful blooms
 among the broken windows, open ceilings and basic amount of yuck
 that made up the house when we bought it.

But those hardwoods have been in pretty rough shape since day one. 

Old stains and water damage. Broken boards. Deep gouges and more.
 Not to mention an old orange stain that was more like an orange gray brown with spots of who knows what. 
 It was not attractive. 
And we have sanded, re-stained and refinished some of those hardwoods. 
in an effort to get them to look decent and shine pretty like a diamond.
And it did not work.

Aside from the fact that the stains were deep enough that you literally could not sand them away-
the poly that we used just did not seal even though we thought 
we had remedied the issues that popped up. 
You might remember the post I did about what not to do when refinishing your hardwood floor... yeah, that was a fun one.

But what was even better was that after all the blood, sweat and tears that went into sanding, staining, layering poly and more... the floors looked better for about a month. 
And that new finish we put on last year at this time 
has already worn through in areas. 

via House Beautiful

So... since we can't keep sanding away layers of hardwood- since they are literally the floor.
These hardwood planks are nailed directly to the floor joists- not on plywood or another subfloor- which limits how many times you can sand away.
And the other option- painting them... well  I am not keen on painting the whole house of hardwood...
so we are now replacing.

via House Beautiful

I have to be honest. 

I have mixed feelings about this. 

I love old and original and the thought of going over the original hardwood kind of makes me sniffle
and cringe a bit.
  But the thought of beautiful shiny polished hardwood makes me excited at the same time. 
 So... it is next on the project list. 

And did you know that what you think is a simple bing, bang, boom decision-
 has a TON of factors?

Just a few things to note:

Hardwood flooring comes in probably 100 or more different stains and finishes.
There are different widths for different looks.
Different thickness- and engineered or solid
And the finish?  There is shiny and matte or somewhere in between.
Oak or Walnut or Bamboo and who knows how many other species of wood to choose from depending on what look you like.
They now even make brand new hardwood floors that are already dinged and beaten up
 if you want that rustic look. 

This is starting to feel almost like when you stare at 153 white paint chips and see all the yellows, pinks, blues and greens in various whites... 
and your head spins 
trying to find THE ONE that is the perfect balance of undertone, finish and color.

But replacing flooring isn't as easy as just repainting if it isn't the right one
so have to give it some thought.

via House Beautiful

For me- the biggest question of the day is
lighter or darker hardwood.
I know- out of all of those options- this is the one that has me pausing.

I feel like light hardwood is beautiful- but sometimes, they can feel much more modern to me.
And I love dark- yes, harder to keep clean- but I love how a darker floor grounds a room. 
Somewhere in between? Maybe...

Today I am staring at hardwood samples... and then closing my eyes and throwing a dart. 
haha. ;) 
Not really... hopefully I will know just which color is THE one right away.

But I did want to share this article from AD that talks about hardwood and various options, things to consider, etc. that might help if you are in a similar spot deciding just what to go with. 

For now 
 the sawdust stories continue.

Happy Wednesday everyone.


  1. I know your pain.
    We went through the choices too a few years ago. It's tough. Of course you have a handy family so they can install themselves...but we didn' that factored into it. The price and quality....
    We went with an engineered floor as we are on a subfloor of cement. We also opted for a floating floor as opposed to glued since our house sits on adobe which moves....a lot.
    We found the most wonderful guy who has laid floors for years...he found us the a chestnut color of hickory....preworn floors as we had two dogs at the time....
    even if you can do it all will not be easy...but you will love it when it is all done! Totally worth it.
    We did the main living areas first...then two years later the more carpet! I love it....

  2. We are refinishing our kitchen floors and feathering in new hardwoods through our house. My designer suggested a stain to match the color of an antique French basket that has a wonderful patina. It is similar to a light walnut or a light pecan/fruitwood. So, kind of in between dark and light. Both dark and light can look dated. The ones scraped to look old look kind of fake to me and the authenticity of finished in place oak floors stained a medium shade will be timeless and oh so French.

  3. Wow, I remember you tell us about the hurtles you went through refinishing the floors, If I was close by I would offer to help with anything I could... I am sure you will make the best decision for dilemma...What about wide plank with destress brown and black , just a thought. :) I am pulling for you both....

  4. I went through this two years ago but had never had hardwood. Our home is only 30 years old and has a medium oak stain. When we redid our kitchen that year we changed all the cabinets to painted with a warm glaze. I too felt the lighter floors looked too contemporary so we went with a variable board hand scraped warm brown with a bit of distress. it looks amazing with our french style furniture. The peninsula in our kitchen is a distressed painted black cherrywood cabinet with rubbed edges. I think it just flows beautifully. So happy I went with dark floors.

  5. Be careful of going too dark. You have to dust it everyday because you can see the dust on it. If you go too light it shows the little spiders you never knew existed in your house. They die on the floor and leave little black specks. It also shows every hair that is dark. Medium seems to be the best bet. Good luck!

  6. I hope you will check out my 3 posts on installing hand-scraped wood floors in Nov 2012:
    We lived with ugly cement floors in our unfinished spec house for almost 2 years until we found the floors that were just what we wanted. There are three posts I did in Nov 2012 (and linked to your blog party back then) about our beautiful hand-scraped floors walking through the whole process. It's been 5 years and we still love them as does everyone who sees them. They are so easy to care for and you can see in the posts how they were scraped on site and stains were sampled right here. Hope you'll take a look.

  7. Decisions, decisions, decisions. We finally took the plunge and had our first floor, stairway and upper hallway done in oak . The color is gunstock. It is a shiny finish and I love it! We chose flooring by Somerset which is an American company. The wood is harvested in the United States and the flooring made in the USA. I had panic attacks once I made the choice, fearing another color would be better. We were advised that a floor that complimented the color of woods in our furniture but also provided contrast would make an ideal choice. We also had the existing 3 1/2 in. baseboards replaced with 5 1/2 in. I am so pleased I am already dreaming of getting the upstairs done!!

  8. Courtney, disregard my last comment. I did a new blog post for you on our hand-scraped wood floors 5 years later. Still loving them!

  9. Before you make a final decision do yourself a favor and take a look at Cali Bamboo (that's the name you can find them on the web). They offer 5" planks in some of the most beautiful colors/finishes I've ever seen. Bamboo wears great - and I just found out Lowe's sells it too. Check it out to add to your decision making process.

  10. PLEASE let me make the decision EASY for you! Come tour our 35 year old, family owned Mill and Finish Line just south of Atlanta - we will help you and you will LOVE the integrity of our company and that we maintain of the wood!
    Jacki Phillips

  11. We went from a very light pine--almost unfinished, to very dark. I so wanted it and it is beautiful. I was warned that everything shows up on it and that's true. The best way to deal with it is a good vacuum cleaner with bare floor level. I tried a broom and two different Swiffer products. The vacuum works the best. Stairs...hands and knees! Totally worth it.


  12. We have had oak floors on our entire main floor for all the years we have lived here, unstained white oak, but it still ages a golden color. We have redone them twice. I really do not care for it, would like to strip and whitewash them for a very pale tone. I love Swedish design so that is some influence. What keeps stopping us for the time being is the monumental amount of work it will be to move everything around. I know a lot of people love the dark floors, and I do think them pretty, but the dust problem would be a lot of work here in dusty Colorado.