A stained floor gives a unique feel to each room. Be sure to select stains that will match different décors (especially for exotic woods and natural stains), since your wood floor will outlast any trend in home fashion. But remember that stained wood can be sanded more than once, restained, and refinished to restore the original color of the species or even choose a new one.
Each wood species has its own grain, color, and veining. Your choice of species depends on your personal preferences and the effect you want to achieve. The most popular species are oak and maple, followed by yellow birch, white ash, beech, cherry, and walnut. Exotic woods, which are very warm in color and extremely solid, are also available.
There are three main types of gloss on the market: high-gloss, semi-gloss, matte and ultramatte. A very bright finish tends to highlight marks, while a matte or satin finish makes them less noticeable and delivers long-lasting beauty.
DuramattTM finish by Mirage is offering a silky ultramatte finish that brings out wood's natural beauty, the look of an oiled hardwood floor without the hassles of regular oil application on top of being a hypoallergenic finish that is free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and formaldehyde.
Grading is a means of rating boards according to variations in the wood's natural color. For example, “Select & Better” grade woods are more uniform in color than the “Exclusive” grade, which present greater, more pronounced natural color variation like hardwood floors with character.
Boards are generally available in standard widths of 2 1/4" (57 mm), 2 1/2" (64 mm), and 3 1/4" (83 mm). Widths of up to 7-3/4" (197 mm) are becoming increasingly popular. Your choice will depend on the effect you want to create. Thinner boards make a room look longer, while wider boards make it appear shorter. Remember, however, that a tight grained wood like maple expands with humidity, which may make thinner boards preferable for some uses.
Your wood flooring should ideally be installed at a right angle to your subfloor joists. But you should also consider the shape and size of the room. For example, installing the boards lengthwise may make a long room look even longer, and it may be more flattering to lay the boards diagonally. If you like an original look, choose a floor with patterns.
Installing a hardwood floor usually requires much more than just prefinished hardwood boards. You'll surely need edgings, stairway nosings, vent flashings, and moldings to join with the walls. Make sure you can get these basic accessories in the same stain and gloss as your flooring.