When your customers are building or renovating their homes, one concern at the top of their minds is resale value. As they determine what to update or add, you can recommend hardwood floors without any hesitation. Installing hardwood floors will improve the market value of a new home. According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), refinishing hardwood flooring is a sure thing when it comes to selling a home. NARI estimates homeowners can recover 100% of their investment in the costs of refinishing hardwood flooring.
Hardwood floors are desirable for many reasons. For people who enjoy entertaining or have children who like to make a little mess, hardwood floors are easy to clean. If your customer cares about aesthetics, hardwood is an obvious choice—it makes any space instantly elegant. And while hardwood flooring can be costly upfront, it’s a durable option. If the floors are well-maintained, they can outlast carpet, vinyl or other options.
Type of Wood
Once your client has committed to hardwood floors, the first choice they face is what type of wood to use. The main indicator to consider when choosing between the many woods used in flooring is soft versus hard wood. The harder the wood, the more durable it is. Of the domestic wood species, oak (red and white) is the most popular, although not the hardest. Hickory and maple are harder than oak and are ideal for active homes.
Pro tip: Bamboo has achieved some popularity in the last couple of decades, but it’s technically a grass, not a wood. Some experts advise against it because it’s more affected by moisture than other flooring options. Unlike wood flooring, it cannot be sanded down or refinished.
Color and Stain
Once your customer knows the wood they prefer, it’s time to select the color and stain.
Here’s a quick review of popular trends in hardwood flooring colors and stains. While it’s true there are many options to choose from, it’s wise to go with a classic choice that your customer will enjoy for years to come because refinishing hardwood floors is a costly and disruptive project.
Dark brown with cool undertones, or even black stains, are great for households without pets or children (or great for a higher budget, since it requires more maintenance than other colors).
Grey is very on-trend, and experts predict it will continue to rise in popularity. It has become a go-to neutral because it bridges other colors extremely well, which is exactly why it works with a wide range of design styles.
Light or natural stains typically complement contemporary design styles. Plus, if your customer is struggling to decide on a color or stain, natural is a safe choice — it never goes out of style.
Pro tip: Whatever your customer decides, all design and residential hardwood floor experts report that red – or hints of red – are declining in popularity. The wise choice? To pick something with cool undertones; they’ll stand the test of time, both with style and sustainability.
Layout and Design
The last decision? The layout of the hardwood floors. The latest trend is a rustic or farmhouse style, which features wider planks and simple layouts. An additional feature is distressing the wood to give it a more lived-in look.
Pro tip: Today’s customers tend to prefer simpler layouts and are moving away from multiple plank widths, chevrons, or other patterns. Busy floors can serve as a distraction, and as people continue to crave less clutter, busy floors are a no-go.
If your customer loves the hardwood floor look, but doesn’t have the budget to make it happen, there are a few look-alike options for them to consider.
Engineered wood floors are not quite as durable as solid hardwood, but they are still a good alternative. They can be less expensive to install depending on your customer’s sub-flooring situation. Engineered wood floors are also a great option for less lived-in rooms, like basements.
Vinyl flooring is not what it used to be. Today, it’s a reasonable alternative to hardwood, especially in spaces that get a lot of action, like a kitchen. Vinyl comes in a variety of colors and can closely mimic the look of hardwood. It’s resilient, low maintenance and inexpensive.
Another alternative to hardwood? Porcelain tile. This may be a good choice if your customer’s biggest concern is wear and tear from pets, kids or chairs. Stylish options exist, and perhaps the biggest draw of porcelain flooring is more water resistant, which makes them great for bathrooms, kitchens and entryways.
Pro tip: Porcelain tile may actually be more expensive to install than hardwood because it requires more labor, including floor preparation. But, always weigh your options with your subcontractor before making a recommendation to your homeowner.
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