National Wood Flooring Association CEO and Executive Director Ed Korczak recently answered our readers’ questions on hardwood flooring.

1. When choosing a hardwood floor, what are some of the features I should look for?
There are several things that should be considered when selecting a hardwood floor.

First, you need to decide if you will choose a solid wood floor or an engineered wood floor. Solid wood floors can be used above grade only; engineered wood floors can be used either above or below grade, which makes them ideal for basements.

You also will need to decide if you want a prefinished wood floor, which will minimize dust during installation, or a job site finished wood floor, which will offer more customization options.

Color will be influenced by species, so you need to decide which color and species you prefer, and can afford — some species are quite affordable while others are quite expensive. Finish is a major consideration as well as it will impact maintenance and long-term durability. If you have three young children at home and a large dog, you will need a more durable finish than a retired couple with no pets.

2. Should my hardwood floors match my walls? Lighter? Darker?
This is strictly a matter of personal preference. The NWFA has a Design-a-Room feature on its web site, www.woodfloors.org, that lets consumers try a variety of wood flooring species in different room settings, and customers can change wall colors within the room settings. This can be a helpful tool to consumers who want to try out different styles before they buy.

3. I am concerned about moisture in the kitchen, bathroom and entryways. Can I still use hardwood?
Absolutely. Advances in wood manufacturing and finishes make wood flooring more durable than ever. In addition, engineered wood floors, which use real wood and are constructed with three to five layers of wood veneers running in parallel directions between each layer, are more resistant to fluctuations in temperature, humidity, and moisture.

4. Should I go with pre-finished wood or stain it myself? The floors seem to have a good warranty.
All products come with warranties, but again, it is a matter of personal preference. Prefinished floors offer more options than ever before, but job site finished floors offer unlimited customization options.

5. I have heard about textured wood floors. What are they?
These are floors that have been distressed to give them an antiqued look and feel. This is accomplished in a variety of ways, but the most common is distressing using hand scrapers. These floors typically are job site finished, but prefinished varieties are available as well.

This story ran with more photos in the July 2007 issue of Country’s Best Cabins.