Choosing the Best Hardwood Floor

If you’re considering installing a hardwood floor in your home, you have some decisions to make. Many different types of hardwood floor materials are available, with various kinds of wood, installation type, and pattern.

The classic hardwood floor is red or white oak, but, when you are shopping, you will also see maple, fir, walnut, birch, cherry, beech, and even pine. Bamboo floors have become popular recently. These are hard and durable and, because bamboo grows fast, considered more eco-friendly than other wood flooring.

How much wear and tear your hardwood floor will receive will determine how often you need to refinish them and what product you use. A household with just two adults might only have to refinish every 10 years; a home with adults, kids, and a dog might need to refinish every three to four years.

When choosing the finish for hardwood floor, consider your lifestyle and maintenance preferences. All hardwood floors will require routine maintenance, such as sweeping or dust mopping, to keep them looking beautiful and new, but the finish will have a big impact on how the floor is maintained long-term, as well as how it will look in the years to come.

There are a lot of finishes out there. Here is a finish summary to help you choose the one that’s right for your home.


Each finish option comes in a variety of sheens. Each sheen has a different level of shine, which will impact the appearance of the floor. Gloss sheens offer the most shine and reflect the most light. Semi-gloss sheens offer less shine than gloss and will reflect less light than gloss, but more light than satin. Satin sheens offer less shine than semi-gloss and will reflect less light than semi-gloss, but more light than matte. Matte sheens offer the least shine and will reflect the least light. This finish also is sometimes referred to as flat.

Surface Finishes

Surface finishes are durable, water-resistant, and require minimal maintenance.Theyremain on the surface of the wood to form a protective coating and are considered to be film-forming. There are a number of types of surface finishes available:

  • Water-based finishes are clear, durable and will generally resist yellowing over time.
  • Oil-based finishes are amber in color. They are very durable, but may yellow over time.
  • Moisture-cured finishes are clear to amber in color. They are extremely durable and are more moisture-resistant than other surface finishes.
  • Conversion varnish finishes are clear to slightly amber in color. They are very durable.
  • Wax finishes soak into the wood and harden to form a protective penetrating seal, which will appear low luster and amber in color. They are durable, but can show spots from water and day-to-day use.
  • UV cured finishes are finishes that are instantly cured using ultraviolet light.  Multiple sheens are available.
  • Natural oil finishes can be penetrating oils or hard wax oil finishes. They penetrate into the pores of the wood to achieve a durable, long-lasting finish.

Talk to your retailer or installer about which finish best suits your needs and style.

Robert Frank is a local resident and owner of Robert Frank Interiors, a full-service interior design and construction company located in San Marino, California. Robert Frank Interiors works in collaboration with clients to create beautiful, functional spaces that reflect their lifestyles and personalities. Visit us on the web at