Choose flooring for your cottage home that fits that rustic, country decor feel you want to achieve, as well as flooring that's durable and long lasting. Though all hardwood floors can suffer when furniture is dragged over them, or standing water spills are left too long, look for hardwood varieties, such as hickory and maple, over softwood that's not resilient to foot traffic.
Hickory flooring is the second hardest flooring option available in the United States, after mesquite wood. It makes durable flooring, particularly for high-traffic areas such as hallways, living rooms and kitchens. Hickory is resilient against spills and items that fall on the floor. Items that fall on softer wood can result in dents, stains and scratches. Use a broom and vacuum to get rid of dust and dirt. Neutral pH cleaners made specifically for hardwood floors may also be used for deeper cleaning, or use a damp rag or mop. Never use a wet mop to clean hickory or any hardwood floors, as it can result in staining. Hickory wood comes in a plethora of grades and colors, including light tan to reddish hues. The grade of the wood allows you to go for a more rustic look, since low-grade wood features more knots and marks. Higher grade wood is smoother and blemish free.
As with hickory wood, maple is a hardy variety that's highly resistant to scratches and other wear and tear. It can remain in ideal condition if well maintained, including regular sweeping to get rid of dust. Use a wrung-out wet rag for more intense cleaning; always wring out the rag to avoid water stains on flooring.The close grain of the wood prevents it from splintering or slivering easily, while its uniform texture helps brighten most rooms. A smooth wood with few imperfections, colors range from light tan to reddish brown. Bleaches and other harsh detergents should not be used, because they can result in blotchy marks and stains.
Hickory wood can cause distress if installing it yourself, because the hardiness of the wood makes it difficult to cut and shape. Its hard and fibrous texture makes it strenuous to cut in clean, straight lines, and also makes sanding arduous. Purchasing finished cuts of hickory wood eliminates these disadvantages. Avoid more potential problems when purchasing hickory wood by asking the sales representative for a wood sample before the purchase is complete. Because there's so much variety in hickory wood color and quality, asking for a sample is essential to avoid receiving flooring in an unwanted shade on installation day.
The main disadvantage of maple wood flooring is its reaction to humidity and temperature. Keep the climate of your area in mind when considering maple flooring installation, since it tends to split and swell in high humidity and shrink when humidity is too low. Shrinking of the flooring can result in gaps between the floor boards. The ideal temperature and humidity for maple-wood flooring is between 55 and 75 degrees F and 35 to 75 percent, respectively.
- Photo Credit Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images