Hardwood flooring brings warmth and casual elegance to a home like few other flooring options available. As a natural product, however, hardwood materials are not without their challenges, especially in the diverse climate we experience on Oahu. If you’re getting ready to install hardwood flooring in your home, there are a few things to consider before making the investment.
Exotic hardwoods are a natural choice for Oahu homes. Their vibrant colors and unique wood grains blend beautifully into the Hawaiian landscape. In addition to the aesthetic appeal of exotic hardwoods, many species are highly durable and water resistant making them a great option for the indoor, outdoor living we love. Mahogany is a perfect example of a warm wood that will stand the test of time, as is the less common rosewood flooring.
Exotic hardwoods need to be selected with care, however. They can be quite costly and often have a history of over-harvesting. Make sure the wood is certified by either the Forest Stewardship Council or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative for peace of mind and guaranteed sustainable harvesting practices.
Any hardwood flooring can be problematic in climates that are too humid or too dry. On Oahu, we experience a bit of both. Dampness and humidity can cause wood to swell and potentially buckle. Yet, if the air is too dry, the wood can dry out and crack.
Using a dehumidifier in tropical climates can help regulate the level of moisture in your home and avoid excessive swelling and shrinking. In arid climates, using a quality sealant can keep the wood from cracking. Of course, working with an experienced installation professional will also help you pick the right materials and avoid trouble down the road.
One way to avoid the high cost and potential issues of hardwood flooring would be to look at alternative materials available on the market today. Engineered hardwood is a great way to get the look without the stability issues and high cost of real hardwood.
Engineered hardwood planks are constructed with a thin veneer of the preferred hardwood on top of layers of plywood. Engineered flooring is indistinguishable from the real thing, and the under layer is not as susceptible to changes in humidity. Tile flooring with a wood grain pattern is also becoming more popular and is a great way to get the wood look with the benefits of tile.
Selecting the right flooring is always a challenge. Understanding the best hardwood materials for your home will help ensure you find flooring that will stand the test of time.
Photo by Lucy Liu