There are a lot of different flooring options to choose from including carpet, laminate, hardwood, concrete, ceramic tile, marble, vinyl, and cork. Each type has its strengths and weaknesses and there is no absolute right answer when making a selection. The best choice really depends on personal preferences, lifestyle, and budget. Narrowing your options down let alone settling on “the one” can be quite the difficult task. If you have weeded through all of the available flooring options and found yourself left with hardwood, you may think its time to breathe a sigh of relief, kick back, and admire your new beautiful floors. Unfortunately, there are several other decisions that must be made before you can get to that point. Picking a material (in this case hardwood) is just the first step in this home improvement project. Here are some other decisions you’ll have to make as you design your new hardwood floors. Color/Stain You will need to pick an exact shade of color or stain for your new hardwood floors. While there are not quite as many hardwood color choices as there are paint color choices, the available options can still seem overwhelming. Instead of picking your final color right off the bat, try looking at the bigger picture first. To make things easier, begin by deciding if you want a light or dark shade. Making that decision will cut the color samples you need to look at in half. Here are a few things to consider: Light Colors/Stains • Tend to give a room a casual, lived in feel. • Work with a wider range of colors and decorating schemes. • Can brighten a room up. Dark Colors/Stains • Tend to give a room either a formal or contemporary appearance (depending on the other decorating elements used). • Work best in rooms that have a good amount of natural light. • Can really show pet hair. Edge Treatments Another design element you will need to consider for your new hardwood floors is the edge treatment. Edge treatment refers to how the sides (edges) of the each individual board meet up with one another. With hardwood floors you have a couple of options including square bevel, bevel, and micro bevel. Here are some characteristics of each: Square Bevel • Is where the edges of each board fit together squarely. • Provides a uniform (smooth) surface. • Provides a contemporary or formal look. • Doesn’t hide differences in plank height. Bevel and Micro Bevel • Is where there is a groove (micro bevel grooves are smaller) between each individual board. • Provides a casual, relaxed look. • Helps hide differences in plank height. • Can collect dirt and debris in the grooves; however, this can be a positive thing as it keeps dirt and debris (which can scratch the floor) from accumulating on the surface. Board WidthA third decisions you will need to make is how wide the individuals boards will be. Again, like with choosing a color, don’t try to go straight to your final selection - narrowing things down before looking at individual options can keep the process from feeling overly stressful. In this case, try simply deciding if you like wider or narrower boards. Consider these points: Wider Boards • Are bold and can really make a statement. • Are typically best in larger or less cluttered areas. Narrow Boards • Tend to visually recede (they are less noticeable). • Can make a small or cluttered area feel less closed in. If you are an adventurous, artistic, or bold individual and really want your hardwood floor to be a statement piece in your home there are two other elements you may want to consider: Boarders and accents and patterns. These additional design elements encompass a range of options. They will be discussed in-depth in a followup blog post later this month.