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Selecting Wood Flooring

Gregory Vaughan - Wednesday, August 03, 2016

I am a huge fan of wood floors. Every home I have ever lived in, 8 houses and apartments thus far in my forty-odd years, has had them. White oak, red oak, wide antique heart of pine, even 1980’s-era, pre-finished, pickled Pergo planks have graced my floors over the years. The pickled ones in my weekend getaway cottage are so dated they are actually coming back in style, but more about that in a minute. I simply cannot imagine living in a house without the beauty and warmth of wood floors.

I have never built a home from scratch, so I have always inherited the wood floors that came with each new abode (place). And since my limited personal renovation projects have not included the installation of wood floors, I have never had the chance to select any for myself. However, the choices are almost endless. Because of the many options available, I find it a decision that many of my clients struggle with when planning their homes. So many possibilities to consider!

There are so many types of wood flooring on the market, available in every color of the rainbow and every species of wood that is found on the planet Earth. The old standby’s of oak and pine and maple can be found along side the once exotics of Brazilian cherry, hearty hickory, and even bamboo. There are solid hardwoods that are installed by your contractor and then finished on-site, custom colored with a stain of your choice. Pre-finished planks come right out of the box with a factory applied stain and seal of polyeurathene, ready to be glued or nailed down. Engineered wood flooring offers a finished veneer top layer laminated to a plywood base for stability and durability.

The array of styles, widths, patterns, and colors are only limited by your imagination. Fancy a rustic vibe? Consider a reclaimed product, perhaps planks salvaged from an old warehouse. Do you want something traditional? It is hard to go wrong with a classic white oak that will accept a multitude of colored stains and offers a consistent grain pattern. Need a richer base for your furnishings, try a mahogany or cherry or hickory floor for a little more drama. Whatever your desires, there is a wood floor to suite your décor and budget.

Remember, the manner in which floors are laid can have impact as well. Your floorboards do not have to be all the same width and laid in the same straight rows. Random width planks can offer a casual look while a herringbone pattern can invoke an unexpected dose of glamour. Inlaid borders of contrasting wood can subtly define a room. A compass rose medallion can point the way north in your foyer and invoke a nautical theme.

What is trending now in wood flooring you ask? The juxtaposition of old and new, something unexpected, that is what is currently en vogue. A project I am now working on for clients in Sea Pines has a coastal feel with a modern twist. We are combining a Lowcountry vibe with modern elements to give it a casual ambience and ease. We selected a rustic oak wood floor that has an applied oil finish to contrast with the slick cabinetry, contemporary lighting, and modern mosaic tile motifs. The effect will be warm and inviting with an edge.

And remember those pickled floors from the 80’s I mentioned earlier? Yep, those light, Swedish looking wood floors are making a return to fashion. The ones in my weekend marsh cottage that were installed long ago were in such good shape I could not justify ripping them out to replace them. Besides, they lighten the narrow foyer and galley kitchen and convey the beachy, coastal vibe that sold me on the place from the minute I walked in. They may be a bit more blonde than the current, gray-toned driftwood hues of newer offerings, but they imbue the sense of calm and ease I crave for my coastal refuge.


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