Pine Flooring: Pros, Cons and Alternatives

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There are two styles of pine flooring available. The first one, Eastern White Pine flooring, can create a casual or modern look and has been almost a trademark among original New England homes and trusted for 300 years and counting. Heart Pine flooring, on the other hand, has over 200 species and was the primary choice for building products during the Industrial Revolution.

Pine flooring, however, is a softwood so it has its own setbacks. No two woods are the same so consider the pros and cons of each one and just how much they can add value to your home.

Pine flooring with a medium, honey dew tone.Source: Home Depot

Pros

  • Pine is a very environmentally-friendly option for the homeowner who is concerned about sustainability and having an environmentally-friendly floor.
  • This wood floor will last for a long time before it needs to be replaced.
  • The floors, while they can appear brighter at first, will develop a patina over time.
  • There are many color options to choose from, including golden and darker tones, making it easy to match the appearance of any home.
  • You can stain or varnish the wood to get a different appearance for the floor.
  • Pine floors are very inviting and work well in every room of the home.
  • This floor will not swell if it gets wet or shrink if the air is very dry.

Cons

  • You generally will have a hard time finding pine flooring at your local big box store and may need to visit a sawmill to be able to buy it.
  • A softer wood, it will show dings, dents, and scratches faster but some homeowners feel that this adds to the beauty and interest of the floor.
  • Other hardwood floors are a lot more durable than pine.
  • Finishing the floor can take a very long time and will create a lot of dust that will settle on all surfaces before it is vacuumed up.

Alternatives

1. Oak

Natural red oak flooring with a glossy finish.Source: Home Depot

This is the most popular wood floor that homeowners generally have installed. Because it is durable and easy to take care of, people love that they don’t have to spend a long time worrying about their floors. In addition, it will stand up to major temperature swings very well.

Pros

  • Red and white oak floors come in a wide variety of hues and graining, making it easy to find something that you will love.
  • Because oak is not affected by rainy, hot, or cold weather, it’s ideal for a home that experiences wide temperature ranges as it won’t swell or shrink.
  • When taken care of, oak floors can last as long as the home.
  • While not as durable as some hardwood options, both red and white oak are stronger than pine, meaning that they will stand up better to dents and scratches.
  • This material is very resistant to insects.

Cons

  • Oak floors tend to come with a hefty price tag.
  • If you have animals in the home or a busy family, you may need to protect the floor with rugs to keep it from becoming too scratched.
  • Sunlight can cause the floor to change colors or even to dry out some.

2. Maple

Natural maple, glossy hardwood flooring in a traditional style.Source: Home Depot

This flooring choice is great if your home tends to be a little more contemporary. It has a very subtle grain that is easy to overlook and won’t cause problems by standing out if you install the wood in a large, open room. While harder than oak is, maple is not as stable of a flooring choice.

Pros

  • In the past, maple was available only in a creamy light color or deeper brown but recent technology means that it can be stained to meet the desires of the homeowner.
  • This is a very affordable material to use when you want a wood floor.
  • No obvious grain means that you won’t have visual interruptions when looking at your floor.

Cons

  • With both hard and soft cells in the wood, this wood will take stain unevenly. This can cause a blotchy appearance, especially with darker stains.
  • Some types of maple flooring are very soft and easy to damage so it’s important to know what kind of maple was used in your floor.
  • Humidity can cause the floor to move and even to shrink; some homeowners have to run dehumidifiers in their homes to prevent this problem.
  • Maple floors tend to yellow a bit as they age, although darker stains can prevent this from occurring or being terribly obvious.

3. Hickory

Dark hickory flooring with a vintage touch.Source: Home Depot

While hickory does a great job at resisting dings and scratches that will mar the appearance of your floor, it is more susceptible to contracting and expanding, which means that you have to be careful if you live in a very humid area. A great way to enjoy your hickory floor without concerns of it moving is to choose an engineered option because it comes with an attached subfloor that will keep the floor sturdy and stable.

Pros

  • Hickory has a very unique combination of strength, rigidity, and hardness that makes it a great flooring choice for most any home.
  • This flooring is great for a busy home as there will be very little maintenance required to keep it looking great.
  • Hickory has a Janka rating of 1820, setting it apart from softer woods such as maple (1450) and white oak (1360). This means that it can stand up to a lot of abuse before showing damage.
  • There are a lot of varieties in hickory floors, which means that you can choose from a wide range of colors. There is distinct graining, which turns off some buyers, but others love the appearance.

Cons

  • Hickory is a more expensive wood to have installed in your home but this is because of how strong it is and how long it will last. Of course, you can choose from higher- and lower-quality woods that will make it a little more affordable if necessary.
  • Engineered hickory is the best option for a bathroom as the humidity in this room can cause the floor to contract and expand. It’s important to think about the overall humidity of your home before installing hickory floors.
  • The obvious grain pattern won’t result in a smooth and consistent-looking floor the way that maple will and many homeowners find the bold grain a turnoff due to the defects and knots that are so common.
  • Sanding hickory to remove scratches is difficult due to how hard the wood is.
  • Installing a hickory floor that looks great and doesn’t have a lot of knots in one area is difficult. It’s important to consider the overall appearance of the floor and many homeowners hire professionals to do the work. This, of course, increases the price of the flooring.

4. Walnut

Solid walnut flooring with a hand-scraped texture.Source: Home Depot

Walnut floors have a very straight grain that looks great in rooms of any size. The Janka rating is only 1010, showing that this kind of wood floor is a lot softer than other options that are available.

Pros

  • Walnut floors don’t require a lot of mopping and this can actually help it to last for a lot longer as there is little risk of the water getting between the boards and causing damage. In general, this floor does a great job resisting mold.
  • This wood isn’t greatly affected by insect damage.
  • When you buy high-quality planks of walnut, you may be able to install them yourself as the process is fairly simple and you don’t have to worry about a lot of variation in the planks.
  • You can easily alter the color of your floor with stain as walnut accepts stain readily. This makes it possible to change the appearance of your floors without having to install new ones.
  • There is a lot of variety available, depending on what kind of walnut you get. Both Brazilian walnut and standard walnut look great in any home and will instantly improve its appearance.

Cons

  • The installation process does involve several steps so while homeowners can do it themselves, there are a number of places where they can make expensive mistakes.
  • The floor will need to be resealed every few years to ensure that it can stand up to everyday use.
  • Walnut floors are expensive and although you can buy some boards that are less expensive, it is not a cheap floor to install.
  • Dragging furniture across the floor can easily cause scratches and other damage.

5. Ash

Flooring made out of domestic solid ash making it pretty tough and durable.Source: Home Depot

While not as popular with the average homeowner, ash is commonly used in modern homes. It is available in two types: as Chinese white ash and imported white ash. Most homeowners have Chinese white ash in their homes and it is much more readily available.

Pros

  • The light color of this wood is perfect in open homes that have a lot of natural light and will make the rooms appear much more cheerful and bright.
  • Ash has a very distinctive grain in it that many people find to be very charming.
  • It is a softer wood but this means that it is very comfortable to walk on.
  • Since more homeowners opt for darker-color wood floors, ash is generally very competitive in price, making it a great choice for homeowners who don’t have a large budget for their new floors.

Cons

  • Ash is more prone to insect damage than harder woods and can mold or have other humidity-related issues, including moving and warping.
  • Premature harvesting is making it a little more difficult to get ash flooring.
  • It’s important to keep your floors clean and dry so that they do not get damaged; standing water can cause issues as can high humidity and even grit that is ground into the floor.

 





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