solid hardwood flooring reviews

Hardwood Flooring: Reviews, Best Brands & Pros vs. Cons

Last Updated on January 26, 2018

It’s time to pick a floor for your home and you want the best hardwood flooring available. Is there a best, or simply a range of top choices?

Perhaps you fancy oak? Quite the popular pick recently.

Or, a more expensive & budget-breaking wood like Brazilian walnut (or Ipe wood)?

Some people choose engineered hardwood over solid. Is that the best route for your hardwood flooring?

First, if you are choosing to install hardwood floors in your home, you are making a wise choice. Regardless of the species, style, or color, you are adding value to your home by choosing to go classic.

The way to find the best hardwood flooring is to arm yourself with knowledge on the different options that are out there. Then, choose one that best fits your particular taste, needs, and budget.

Hardwood Flooring Pros

  1. Comes in a variety of choices
  2. Easy to maintain
  3. Very durable
  4. Can increase property value
  5. Hardwoods are eco-friendly resource
  6. Excellent choice for those with health issues

1. Hardwood flooring comes in a variety of choices.

Regardless your taste, style, or the type of room you are working with, you can find a hardwood floor to fit. Hardwood flooring works with rustic, traditional, and even contemporary looks.

There are many species of hardwoods to choose from. And you can find beautiful looks from native species such as Oak or Maple, or exotics such as Brazilian Cherry and Acacia Wood flooring.

Hardwood flooring comes in countless colors. You can find styles in hues of yellow or tan, orange and red, dark brown, gray, and even black.

You also have the option of solid hardwood or engineered hardwood floors. And both have many benefits.

So, if you are looking for a flooring option with variety, hardwood is a great choice. And to find the best hardwood flooring, look for one that fits your lifestyle and budget.

2. Easy to maintain.

Hardwood floors require very little maintenance.

They do collect dirt and debris, but nothing that routine sweeping can’t clean up. A broom and either a mop or hardwood floor vacuum are basically all you need to keep your hardwood floors looking good.

And if you spill something, simply wipe it up. This is much easier than treating spills on carpet.

Include an annual deep cleaning, apply 2-3 coats of polyurethane, and your floors will maintain their look for years to come.

3. Very durable.

Whether you choose solid or engineered hardwood, durability is one of the top benefits of hardwood flooring, especially in the harder species.

The best hardwoods for durability are ones with higher levels of hardness.

The native species, oak, is a hardwood that is considered highly durable. And many of the exotic woods are also very durable.

How much durability you need depends on the amount of traffic and activity the area will experience.

And if you choose to go with prefinished planks, make sure that they have a tough finish on them. A good finish increases the floor’s durability.

4. Can increase the property value of your home.

One of these days you may decide to sell your home. And when you do, naturally you will want to profit from the sell.

Hardwood flooring, especially solid hardwood flooring, is the best flooring to add resale value to your home. In fact, a recent report shows that 54 percent of homebuyers will pay more for a home that has hardwood flooring.

This is the preferred flooring of many buyers. And it may help you to sell your home faster.

So, when you invest in hardwood floors, you can be confident that you will see a return on your investment if you sell your home.

5. Solid hardwood is an eco-friendly resource

Solid hardwood floors are sustainable. They are a renewable resource that can be regrown with very little impact on the environment.

They also do not require as much water or energy to produce as other flooring options. And they can be recycled or used as fuel once they are removed from a home.

Plus, hardwood flooring is carbon neutral. This means that it does not contribute to global warming!

Solid hardwood flooring is one of the most environmentally friendly options available. And it lasts much longer than other flooring options.

However, if you prefer engineered hardwood, there are eco-friendly options. Consider the manufacturer’s level of commitment to providing green products before choosing their product.

6. Excellent choice for anyone with health issues.

Wood floors have many great health benefits. In fact, they actually improve the air quality of your home.

Hardwood flooring does not have fibers like carpet or grout lines like tile.

Allergens, pesticides, and harmful microorganisms cannot hide in wood floors. And dust or pet dander is quickly swept up with a broom or mop.

So, hardwood flooring is a great option for anyone who has allergies or other health issues.

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Hardwood Flooring Cons

  1. Hardwood floors are expensive.
  2. There are limites to where you can install hardwood.
  3. Hardwood can be damaged by water.
  4. Hardwood can feel hard and cold.

1. Hardwood floors are expensive.

Let’s face it, hardwood floors are not cheap.

On average, the best hardwood floors will cost you anywhere from $2500 to $6500 to install. Other options such as carpet or laminate cost much less than a good quality hardwood floor.

And the price can climb even higher when you include trim work, molding, and installation in the more difficult areas of your home.

If you decide to go with hardwood flooring, remember, it truly is an investment in your home.

2. There are limits to where you can install.

Hardwood floors should not be installed in every room.

Solid hardwood is vulnerable to humidity and moisture. This means that hardwood flooring installed bathrooms, laundry rooms, and basements could easily get damaged.

Rooms with an uneven or unstable substructure could also be problematic for hardwood flooring.  Planks can eventually bend.

Engineered hardwoods may be an option for places that solid hardwoods cannot go. However, these also have their limitations.

So, even though it is a great fit and beautiful look for many rooms in the house, there are some places that it just shouldn’t go.

3. Can be damaged by water.

While liquid spills won’t stain hardwood, they do need to be cleaned up right away. Otherwise, they can damage the flooring.

Leaky pipes can also damage your floors, especially if they get between the planks and the subfloor. This can trigger the growth of mold and mildew.

Planks can also warp or buckle. So, if you live in a flood-prone area and choose hardwood flooring, make sure you also have flood insurance.

The good news is that if you catch the issue quickly, it is possible to salvage your hardwood floors.

4. Hardwood floors feel hard and cold.

While hardwood flooring does bring a look of warmth to a room, it really isn’t warm on your feet. Nor is it soft.

When it comes to flooring that is comfortable to walk on, or even sit on, nothing beats carpet. However, you can always buy a rug.

Hardwood floors are hard. There is no question about it.

So, if you are concerned about a small child or elderly adult falling and getting injured, hardwood may not be the right fit.

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How to Find a High Quality Hardwood Floor

There are many factors that can impact the quality of the hardwood floor. To find the best hardwood flooring, take into consideration these factors plus your budget.

Different species impact the level of hardness and the look of the flooring such as color, variation of grain, and characteristics like knot holes.

Grading also impacts the quality. Prime is the highest with smooth, clean looking planks and Shop is the lowest with shorter boards and more visible imperfections.

However, the highest grade does not necessarily mean the highest quality flooring. If you like a less uniform look with variations in color, consider a lower grade.

Other things to consider when choosing the best hardwood flooring are the cut of wood and the finish on it. Pre-finished, high-quality hardwood flooring should come with a tough, durable finish.

For engineered hardwoods, also consider the thickness of the top layer as well as how many inner layers the planks have. The best engineered hardwoods should have at least a 3mm thick top layer and seven to nine inner layers.

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Hardwood Flooring Cost

Hardwood flooring is not generally a cheap flooring option. However, it is one that will add value to your home.

If you choose to invest in it, expect to spend anywhere from $6 to $36 per square foot for hardwood flooring.

Let’s break it down further.  For solid hardwood flooring, you can expect to pay:

  • Soft Woods such as pine, cedar, and spruce are generally the lowest in price ranging from $3 to $6 per square foot, with another $3 to $5 for installation.
  • Native Woods such as oak, teak, and American cherry, have mid-level hardness also fall in the mid-range for price. These hardwood flooring options cost anywhere from $5 to $10 per square foot plus $4 to $8 for installation.
  • Exotic Woods such as mahogany, Brazilian walnut, and cypress are the most expensive. These run anywhere from $8 to $14 a square foot with installation costs of $4 to $8 a square foot.

Engineered hardwood flooring ranges in cost from $3 per square foot to over $14 a square foot. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Standard flooring has limited choices such as oak or ash and costs $3 to $6 per square foot. If you include installation it will cost $6 to $11 per square foot on average.
  • Medium flooring has with additional options such as beech, cherry, and some exotics and costs $6 to $10 per square foot. With installation, the total cost per square foot ranges from $10 to $18.
  • High-quality flooring costs $10 to $14 per square foot with a wide variety to choose from similar solid hardwood options. The price ranges from $14 to $22 per square foot with installation included.

Aside from the cost of the flooring and basic installation, there may be additional fees. If you need furniture or appliances moved, old flooring removed, or subflooring installed, expect to pay extra for these.

Keep in mind, these prices are only estimates. The actual costs will depend on factors such as where you live, the level of work required in your home, and what brand you choose.

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Hardwood Flooring Durability

In general, the best hardwood flooring is highly durable. However, the level of durability of your flooring depends on the specific type of wood floor you choose.

For solid hardwoods, factors such as its hardness, cut and quality of finish impact its durability. The Janka hardness test is commonly used to determine the level of hardness of the flooring.

Engineered hardwoods with the thickest levels of veneer are the most durable. A thick veneer also allows you to sand and refinish the floor.

For both solid and engineered hardwood flooring, a high-quality finish is an important factor for durability. A good finish protects the floors from damage.

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Hardwood Flooring Reviews

Empire Today

Empire today carries both solid and engineered hardwood flooring. Their flooring includes both domestic and exotic woods.

When choosing a flooring, Empire offers free in-home consultations. They do this so that you can get a better picture of how the floor will look in your home.

You can also visit one of their many showrooms.

Empire has received excellent reviews across the board.  They have been in business for over 55 years.

Floor & Décor

Floor & Décor carries many options in both engineered and solid hardwood flooring. You can purchase it online or at one of their many stores.

All their hardwood flooring options come with a warranty.

If you are considering Floor & Décor, they offer a lowest price guarantee. So, if you find the same product elsewhere for less, let them know and they will match the price.

The company has been in business since the year 2000 and has received many excellent reviews, particularly for their customer service.

Home Depot

Home Depot carries a large selection of hardwood flooring, including the Mullican hardwood line. They offer everything from budget options to very high-end hardwood flooring in both solid and engineered varieties.

Since its inception in 1979, Home Depot’s goal has been to provide its customers with the information and resources they need to take charge of their home improvement projects.

The company is ranked the top home improvement store for both in-store sales and online.


Lowe’s is the second-largest home improvement retailer behind Home Depot.  There are many different styles of hardwoods available here.

They offer both solid and engineered hardwood selections from many of the nationally well-known brands. Their selection includes a wide array of species, grades, and finishes.

While the company does carry quality hardwood flooring, reviews of their installation services have been mixed. Lowe’s first opened its doors in North Carolina in the 1940s.

Lumber Liquidators

Lumber Liquidators offers many choices in both solid hardwoods and engineered hardwoods. There is an option for virtually any budget.

In solid hardwood planks, they carry many different native and exotic hardwoods. And they also offer prefinished and unfinished boards (which have their own cleaning requirements).

For their engineered flooring, the biggest selection is with the brands Bellawood and Mayflower. However, they do have several other options to choose from.

Lumber Liquidators began in 1994 by selling excess wood from other companies and found its niche in the hardwood flooring. It now offers one of the largest selections of hardwood flooring in the industry.

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7 thoughts on “Hardwood Flooring: Reviews, Best Brands & Pros vs. Cons”

  1. I am concerned about out gassing from the floor. I have asthma and I don’t want to get sick from the new floor What would you recommend

  2. I am wondering how one knows the quality of the finish on the various brands of prefinished hardwood flooring. I want the traditional 2 1/4′” red oak with a clear finish. There are many manufacturers and within those manufacturers different price points. I have two dogs so I want to get one that has several coats of poly, but can’t find that info anywhere.

    1. Alison Felicioli


      We can help you. Our product is Italian – Foglie D’Oro. What are you looking for?

      Alison Felicioli
      Artitalia Group/Foglie D’Oro

  3. Good article. We’re trying to figure out if we want engineered hardwood flooring or wood-look tile. Still not sure.

    Have also read some disturbing reviews about Lumber Liquidators. We visited a LL store and were satisfied with the sales person’s input but the disturbing reviews of LL still have us concerned about using them as a provider.

    1. We too are trying to make this decision. We have read mostly negative reviews; however, we also realize that most happy customers don’t take the time to write reviews. Most all unhappy customers will write reviews. So, we consider the disturbing reviews as the 1% of anything and hope we do not fall into that category.

      We have personally used LL as a provider in the past and were pleased with the product and end result. We therefore, have no problem with using them again.

    2. Alison Felicioli

      Hi Dan,

      Did you find a source? I would recommend engineered, but we do both. Where the wood is sourced is VERY important.

      Artitalia Group/Foglie D’Oro

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