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Shopping for a hardwood floor? Be sure to ask yourself these questions as you consider all your options.

Are kids and pets a factor?

With today’s tough polyurethane finishes, hardwood floors stand up to the wear and tear of active households – even in the kitchen. Hardwood floors are easy to maintain and keep clean: simply wipe up any spills; sweep and vacuum regularly.

Are allergies a consideration?

Doctors often recommend hardwood floors for their patients with allergies and respiratory problems. With their smooth surfaces, hardwood floors don’t harbor animal dander, fleas, dust, mites, pollen or other allergens.

Will your hardwood floor take more abuse than a professional basketball court?

"The other day, someone asked me if an oak or maple floor would be hard enough to handle all the activity in her busy home,” says Susan Regan of the Hardwood Information Center. "Let’s put it into perspective: pro basketball is played on maple floors. Freight trains run on oak rail ties. Does your floor have to stand up to more abuse than that? Oak, maple and many other American hardwood floors are more than hard enough for even the most chaotic households.”

Is sustainability a priority?

Every year, this country’s hardwood forests grow far more wood than is harvested from them. As a result, the volume of hardwoods in American forests today is 90 percent larger than it was 50 years ago. That’s the very definition of sustainability: American hardwoods are one of the original "green” materials. And when it comes to the big picture of recycling and re-use, American hardwood floors last - and have lasted - for generations.

Do you want a signature look, a floor like no other?

The U.S. has the most diverse temperate hardwood forests in the world, with more variety in hardwood species. Oak, ash, alder, maple, cherry, hickory and poplar are just a few of the hardwoods found in Amercan forests, and some of them grow nowhere else but here.

Each American hardwood has distinctive characteristics making each hardwood floor a one-of-a-kind. To further personalize your hardwood floor, consider inlays, or staining, dying, painting or stenciling to create any effect you choose.

Does it matter that something isn’t what it claims to be?

Beware. Some imported tropical hardwoods are masquerading as traditional homegrown favorites like oak, cherry or maple. For example, so-called "Tasmanian oak” is not oak at all: it’s eucalyptus from Down Under. What’s sold as "Brazilian cherry” isn’t cherry – like all U.S. hardwoods, cherry grows in temperate climates, not in tropical rain forests. So-called "Malaysian oak” actually is rubberwood from tropical plantations and it doesn’t even look like oak. Ask lots of questions and make sure you get what you want. When in doubt about the true identity of any wood, check the species’ botanical name, which is listed in the species guide on this website.


Article courtesy of the American Hardwood Information Center.