The Ultimate Guide To Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring makes a statement anywhere in the home. Stylish and elegant, it’s also a practical and affordable flooring option - whether it’s in a bedroom, dining room or den. 

Jr’s Quality Tile and Hardwood is State College’s hardwood flooring superstore. They're experts on all things pertaining to hardwood flooring - with a huge flooring showroom, decades of experience, and installation that reflects unfailing attention to detail. 

We sat down with Jr’s owner, Fred McClellan, to discuss the 101 most commonly asked questions about hardwood flooring.


Q: What is hardwood flooring?

A: This generally refers to solid hardwood and engineered hardwood flooring. A natural product produced from various species of trees to create a durable yet beautifully natural looking floor. 


Q: What are hardwood tiles?

A: Hardwood tiles are typically made from porcelain, ceramic, or vinyl. A wood image is screen printed on it.


Q: What’s inlay hardwood tile?

A: This design style mixes mediums and/or wood types to create a design in your floor. Parquet creates a mosaic with multiple cut pieces of wood to create a tile. 


Q: Is hardwood flooring durable?

A: Yes, but they do require regular maintenance. 


Q: Is hardwood flooring good for heavy foot traffic areas?

A: Pets and moving furniture are more likely to scratch floors than people traffic. When possible, remove your shoes to prevent scuffs and scratches. Solid hardwood floors can be recoated indefinitely if on a regular schedule to prevent sanding. 


Q: Is hardwood flooring easy to install?

A: This will highly depend on the type of flooring, your DIY skills, and tool access. 


Q: Can you use hardwood flooring outside? 

A: Absolutely not. Solid and engineered hardwood floors would warp outside. 


Q: Does extreme heat damage hardwood flooring? 

A: Any extreme shift in temperature can cause damage to floors. Keep your home between 60-80 degrees with low to moderate humidity recommended in the 50% range. Humidity changes will also cause issues with any wood floor, some species are better than others.


Q: Is hardwood flooring impact resistant?

A: Hardwoods vary in hardness. The Janka hardness test is the best method to test durability and compressibility of the wood species you’d like to install. 


Q: What types of patterns and colors do hardwood flooring come in?

A: At our hardwood flooring store, you’ll find a wide selection of classic, exotic, and traditional woods. Designs vary on the natural grain. We also offer custom design services. 


Q: Is hardwood flooring expensive compared to other flooring types?

A: Hardwood is generally more expensive than carpet and vinyl. Relative cost to porcelain tile. Some of the differences would be in the accessories required and the labor to install. It really depends on the species of wood; exotic and some domestic woods are more expensive than domestic woods like pine.


Q: How is hardwood flooring installed?

A: Installation method depends entirely on your subfloor. Nail down, staple, float or glue down are the different installation methods.


Q: What are some common mistakes people make when they install hardwood flooring?

A: • Installing in high-humidity areas like your bathroom 

• Not leaving a 1-2 cm gap for natural expansion 

• Improper installation over in-floor heating systems 

• Forgetting to lay out your pattern before you start 


Q: What’s the difference between hardwood flooring and engineered hardwood flooring?

A: Solid hardwood comes from a single piece of wood. Engineered floors contain layers of heat-pressed wood with a veneer layer on top. 


Q: Do you recommend hardwood flooring for kitchens?

A: Solid and engineered hardwood is suitable for kitchens. We don’t recommend hardwood in these areas but it remains popular. It’s a high use area and will require more maintenance than a tile floor. Bamboo is another good choice. 


Q: Do you recommend hardwood flooring for bathrooms?

A: The professionals at our State College flooring store don’t recommend hardwood for bathrooms because of humidity and possible water damage. 


Q: Where do you not recommend people install hardwood flooring?

A: Avoid areas with high humidity, such as bathrooms and basements. Laundry rooms aren't suitable because the washer and dryer can damage the floors. 


Q: Can hardwood flooring be installed over concrete? We would recommend an engineered wood for this application. If a solid is desired, requires special preparation.

A: Yes, but a vapor barrier would be necessary between the concrete and hardwood floor. 


Q: Can hardwood flooring be installed over existing hardwood flooring?

A: Yes, as long as the flooring is structurally sound, you can install a new hardwood floor on top of it. 


Q: How much does hardwood flooring cost?

A: Solid hardwood floors start at $2-3 per square foot for inexpensive domestic woods. Exotic woods are much more. Engineered hardwoods are around $3 per square foot to start. 


Q: What’s the difference between premium hardwood flooring and less expensive options?

A: Premium options generally refer to imported exotic woods, but premium hardwoods are also domestic species. These domestic premium varieties tend to have a better milling process and a higher quality factory applied finish. 


Q: How thick is hardwood flooring?

A: Solid hardwood flooring is usually 5/16 inch or 3/4 inch thick. 


Q: Is hardwood flooring a green environmentally friendly flooring option?

A: Engineered and solid hardwood can be green. Many manufacturers use sustainable forestry and non-toxic adhesives. The lifespan of both types makes them better options compared to vinyl and carpet. 


Q: How do you clean hardwood flooring?

A: A quick dusting and water-dampened towels will take care of general cleaning. Deeper cleaning requires a wood floor mop and a cleaning solution specifically made for hardwood floors. 


Q: Does hardwood flooring need a foam underlayment?

A: Not always but you might wish to have one to reduce noise, correct an uneven subfloor, to insulate, resist moisture, or to add cushioning. 


Q: Is hardwood flooring waterproof?

A: No, but it’s water resistant. 


Q: Is hardwood flooring comfortable to walk on?

A: Everyone has their preference to what’s comfortable, but the majority of people who’ve owned hardwood floors didn’t complain about walking or standing causing discomfort. 


Q: How long does hardwood flooring last?

A: With regular upkeep and refinishing, a solid hardwood floor will last you 80-100 years.


Q: What is printed hardwood?

A: This type of engineered hardwood floor is where patterns, textures, and designs are screen printed on the overlay. Generally referred to as a Luxury Vinyl Plank. 


Q: What’s engineered hardwood flooring?

A: Engineered hardwood has multiple layers of different woods with a veneer top. The layers are heat and pressure fused. 


Q: What are the advantages of hardwood as opposed to laminate hardwood flooring?

A: The biggest advantage is hardwood can be repaired and refinished. Another one is real hardwood floors add value to your home should you choose to sell it. 


Q: Is hardwood flooring stain resistant?

A: Yes, the factory finish and any finish or sealant applied at installation will help resist stains. 


Q: What are the advantages of hiring a professional to install hardwood flooring?

A: • Time 

• Experience 

• Done to your preferences 

• No purchasing or renting special tools 


Q: Is hardwood flooring a budget friendly flooring option?

A: It can be budget friendly. Choosing laminate or engineered flooring might be more affordable while still giving the look and feel of real wood. 


Q: Does hardwood flooring come with any backing?

A: Solid hardwood does not. Most engineered floors don't either. 


Q: Can in-floor heating be installed underneath hardwood flooring?

A: Not under solid hardwood floors, but engineered floating/interlocking wood flooring that doesn’t require nails or glue works well over in-floor heating. 


Q: Can hardwood flooring warp?

A: Yes, prolonged exposure to moisture and humidity will warp hardwood floors. 


Q: Do you recommend hardwood flooring for basements?

A: No, basements have higher moisture content than above ground level floors. 


Q: Do you recommend hardwood flooring for laundry rooms?

A: Hardwood floors won’t work well in laundry rooms because your washer and dryer will scratch and dent the floor. Ceramic and laminate flooring works best. 


Q: Is hardwood flooring a good option for commercial spaces?

A: They certainly can be; however, you will need special commercial grade hardwood floors, which are not the same as those zoned for residential use. 


Q: Can you use a steam mop on hardwood flooring? Not recommended by the NWFA

A: You can use a steam mop on any finished hardwood floor. You might wish to lift the mop as the steam releases to avoid blasting the floor directly with moisture and heat. 


Q: Can damaged hardwood planks be replaced if damaged?

A: Yes, but the damage might be repairable by other means. 


Q: Can heavy furniture damage hardwood flooring? 

A: They can, especially for softer woods like pine and fir. 


Q: What can be done to protect hardwood flooring from heavy furniture?

A: You can protect your floor by using protectors on the bottoms of furniture legs. These are often soft materials, such as felt. 


Q: What is a “floating” hardwood floor?

A: This specialized system of wood boards doesn’t require nail or glue. The boards interlock and float on top of the floor. 


Q: Can I use hardwood flooring in my motorhome?

A: Hardwood floors make lovely additions to motorhomes. 


Q: Does hardwood flooring require a sealant?

A: Sealants protect your hardwood floors from water damage and keep them looking good. 


Q: Is hardwood flooring rigid or flexible?

A: Plank flooring doesn’t have as much flexibility as some engineered floors. 


Q: What is hardwood flooring made out of?

A: For engineered hardwood varieties, you will find an assortment of wood types in the layers that form its thickness and a veneer on top. In a hardwood plank, there is only one type of wood. 


Q: Is hardwood the same as laminate hardwood flooring?

A: No, laminate flooring contains about 99% wood product. It only looks like hardwood. 


Q: Is hardwood flooring scratch resistant?

A: Some hardwood materials offer more resistance than others. The hardness of the wood determines this. Sealants and finishes can add scratch resistance too. Engineered and laminate floors tend to be more resistant to scratches. 


Q: What do you use to cut hardwood flooring?

A: • 10” miter saw 

• Compound miter saw 

• Jig saw 

• Circular saw 


Q: Is hardwood flooring a good option for people with pets?

A: It can be if you keep your pet’s nails trimmed. Untrimmed nails can scratch and gouge hardwood floors. Another option is to keep rugs down on high pet traffic areas. 


Q: Can you install hardwood plank flooring over linoleum?

A: Yes, you can. You simply nail it on top of the existing linoleum. 


Q: For a do-it-yourselfer, is it easier to install sheet hardwood or engineered hardwood flooring? Why?

A: Engineered hardwood floors often use a floating system. If you were to choose this type, it means you don’t need nails or glue. Most engineered hardwood floors also come pre-finished and ready to install. This alone can make installation easier. 


Q: Is hardwood flooring easy to stand on for long periods of time?

A: Any type of flooring can lead to tired, achy legs and feet. For areas where you’ll be standing, consider a softer wood flooring option such as cork. 


Q: What are some examples of hardwood flooring printed surfaces available?

A: Vinyl is the most utilized printing surface, but laminate also uses screen printing to fuse images to its fiberboard core. Ceramic and porcelain tiles can also appear to look like wood. 


Q: How thick is engineered hardwood flooring?

A: Generally the average measurements fall between 3/8" to 1/2". 


Q: What’s the difference between hardwood flooring and hardwood tile flooring?

A: With the exception of parquet, most hardwood tiles contain no wood and are actually porcelain or ceramic tiles with screen-printed images of wood grain. 


Q: Should I glue my hardwood flooring? What are my options?

A: Your subfloor typically defines how you can install. Glue and nails are the most common, but if you have a concrete subfloor, you would need to install plywood first. 


Q: Does hardwood flooring need a moisture barrier? Why?

A: If it’s a wood subfloor, you should avoid it. Moisture can be trapped and cause mold in between the subfloor and hardwood floor. 


Q: What’s the best subfloor to install hardwood flooring over? Why?

A: This will depend on the type of hardwood floor you’re installing. Exotic woods do better with plywood where they can be nailed down. The why changes depending on where you live too, but plywood is the most versatile as it doesn’t limit your installation. 


Q: Is hardwood flooring a popular flooring choice?

A: Yes, it’s been popular for centuries and the trend will continue with new colors and designs arriving each season. 


Q: What colors is hardwood flooring available in?

A: Colors vary by manufacturer, but traditional cherry, oak, maple, birch, and walnut are classics. You can also stain hardwood for additional color options. 


Q: What is a water-based polyurethane finish hardwood floor?

A: All it means is a floor that has a water based polyurethane finish. Polyurethane finishes come in oil-based and water-based. Some hardwood floors, such as maple, ash, pine, and fir, will look better with a water-based finish to prevent the yellowing that occurs with oil-based. 


Q: What is an oil sealed finish hardwood floor?

A: Your floor was finished with an oil-based product. Popular oil sealers are oil-based polyurethane and penetrating oil sealer (commonly Tung oil). 


Q: What is an hard wax oil finish hardwood floor?

A: Your floor has been finished using a thin coating of wax, such as beeswax or a wax based product.


Q: What maintenance does a hardwood floor need?

A: You should dust, sweep, and mop it as needed. How often will depend on the amount of traffic your floor receives. Keep your house at an ideal temperature and moisture level. You might want to polish your floors every 2-3 months and refinish your surface every 3-5 years. 


Q: Does sunlight damage hardwood flooring?

A: If your finish doesn’t have UV protection, prolonged sunlight can fade your floor’s color. Drawing curtains or keeping blinds shut can help. 


Q: What has changed about hardwood flooring in the last 10 years?

A: New materials have become available in the past 10 years. Engineered hardwood has become easier to install and its range of wood options has increased. Luxury vinyl tile and waterproof vinyl and waterproof core products have brought the look of wood to places it couldn’t go before. 


Q: What is hardwood tile?

A: This is a screen-printed ceramic, porcelain, or a luxury vinyl tile that looks like wood. 


Q: Can vinyl flooring look like wood?

A: Yes, it’s often called luxury vinyl tile (LVT). 


Q: What are some popular domestic hardwood flooring options?

A: Oak, maple, cherry, hickory, birch, walnut, pine, ash, beech, and fir are all popular domestic choices. 


Q: Is tile or hardwood flooring cheaper?

A: Many factors play in here starting with the type of wood floor (engineered or solid), the area you’re installing it, and if you’ll be doing the work yourself or hiring out. Laminate is by far the cheapest option to obtain the look of wood for about half the cost. 


Q: What is layered construction of hardwood flooring?

A: This is how engineered hardwood floors are made to be durable. 


Q: Is hardwood flooring mildew resistant?

A: Engineered hardwood is mildew and mold resistant, but traditional plank hardwood floors are not. 


Q: Is hardwood flooring stain resistant?

A: As long as the floors are finished, they are stain resistant. 


Q: What are click and lock hardwood floors?

A: These engineered hardwood floor systems float on subfloors and require no special tools, nails, or glue. 


Q: What is the best hardwood flooring option for do-it-yourselfers?

A: Engineered hardwood with click and lock placement is by far the easiest to install. 


Q: Do hardwood tiles require grouting?

A: Yes, tile that looks like wood generally requires a 1/8 or 3/16” grout joint. 


Q: What do you use to glue hardwood flooring down?

A: A moisture resistant glue made for flooring is best. 


Q: Do you need to wax hardwood floors?

A: It depends on your floor’s finish whether wax is recommended. Wax keeps your floors shiny or gives them a satiny feel and look. 


Q: Does hardwood plank flooring vary in width?

A: Yes, it can vary widely in width. The standard is 2 ¼ inches wide, but 3-inch to 6-inch widths are also available.


Q: Does engineered hardwood flooring resist scratches?

A: Yes, engineered hardwood can withstand pet’s nails too. 


Q: What types of wood does vinyl hardwood flooring replicate?

A: While this varies between the manufacturer and hardwood flooring store, the common replicated woods are walnut, spruce, hickory, acacia, oak, and maple. 


Q: Is engineered hardwood flooring more expensive than solid wood flooring?

A: It depends on the type of wood you’re looking to install, but they can be similar in cost or vastly different. 


Q: What are some popular imported hardwood flooring options?

A: Tigerwood, Brazilian cherry, mahogany, and cypress are popular imported (exotic) woods. 


Q: Do engineered hardwood flooring planks feel like real wood?

A: Few people can tell the difference after installation. They look, feel, and sound like real wood.


Q: What brands of hardwood flooring do you carry at your State College flooring store?

A: We carry some of the best manufacturers: Mirage, Mercier, Homer Wood, Chelsea, Armstrong, Johnson, Anderson and Bruce.


To learn more, contact State College's flooring superstore, Jr's Quality Tile & Hardwood. They are experts in all aspects of hardwood flooring - from their huge selection to their knowledgeable staff.