Home About Us House Plans Go Local Resources My Account Contact
Search Home Plans by Style
A Frame House Plans
Acadian House Plans
Adobe House Plans
Antebellum House Plans
Beach House / Seaside House Plans
Bungalow House Plans
California Mission House Plans
Canadian House Plans
Cape Cod House Plans
Castle House Plans
Chalet House Plans
Charleston House Plans
Classical House Plans
Classical Revival House Plans
Colonial House Plans
Contemporary House Plans
Cotswold Cottage House Plans
Cottage House Plans
Country French House Plans
Country House Plans
Craftsman House Plans
Dutch House Plans
Early American House Plans
Earth House Plans
European House Plans
Farmhouse House Plans
Federal House Plans
Florida House Plans
French Acadian House Plans
French House Plans
Georgian Colonial House Plans
Georgian House Plans
Greek House Plans
Greek Revival House Plans
Historic House Plans
Italianate House Plans
Log / Cabin House Plans
Louisiana House Plans
Mediterranean House Plans
Mixed Traditional (Neoeclectic) House Plans
Neo-Classical House Plans
New England House Plans
Plantation House Plans
Prairie House Plans
Ranch House Plans
Roman Classical House Plans
Roman House Plans
Rustic House Plans
Saltbox House Plans
Shingle House Plans
Shotgun House Plans
Southern (Classic) House Plans
Southwestern House Plans
Spanish Colonial House Plans
Spanish House Plans
Traditional House Plans
Tropical House Plans
Tudor House Plans
Victorian House Plans

02/17/2011 -  "Don't be floored by options when putting in wood flooring" by Martha Stewart

“Don’t be floored by options when putting in wood flooring”

Written by: Martha Stewart


There’s something reassuring about walking one wood floor. But choosing one for your home can feel anything but comforting, given everything there is to consider: the more than 50 species of wood, the many shapes and sizes of the boards, and the various surface treatments.

            The major decisions you’ll face throughout the purchase and installation process are outlines here; consider them all before you visit flooring showrooms or sit down with an architect. Once you’ve narrowed the options, listen to your instincts.


Milled material

            A floor’s appearance depends primarily on the material it has been milled from. Here are some common options.

  • Australian Cypress is characterized by its wavy grain pattern with black rings.
    • Pros: It can hold up to humidity.
    • Cons: Knots can cause splitting during installation. It is also fairly difficult to stain.
  • Reclaimed Lumber is wood that has been salvaged from old structures, such as barns.
    • Pros: No two floors are alike.
    • Cons: Reclaimed wood tends to be more expensive than other options, and is not as easy to finish.
  • Oak is the most popular flooring used in the Unites States,
    • Pros: Pairs well with almost any finish, stands up to heavy foot traffic.
    • Cons: Oak floorboards can turn black if exposed to moisture.
  • Santos mahogany is distinguished by its undulating grain patterns and deep undertones.
    • Pros: It takes finish surprisingly well. It’s also durable and moisture-resistant enough to be used in bathrooms.
    • Cons: Fairly rare, it’s thus more expensive.
  • American Walnut, also called black walnut, has been used for floors and furniture for hundreds of years.
    • Pros: Distinguished for its deep, purplish coloring and even grain pattern; stains beautifully.
    • Cons: Unlike Brazilian walnut, the American variety is relatively soft, and therefore not ideal for high-traffic spaces.
  • Pine has tremendous variety.
    • Pros: Among the most affordable flooring options. It’s also quick and easy to install.
    • Cons: Fairly soft and retains water; therefore it is not intended for damp or busy areas.
  • Brazilian cherry has a straight, consistent grain pattern and reddish hue that recalls the formality of fine furniture.
    • Pros: color deepens over, improving the appearance of the floor moisture- resistant and extremely hard-wearing.
    • Cons: Like other very hard woods, cherry is prone to splitting and is difficult to nail through, making it a challenge to install.
  • Natural Bamboo is technically a woody grass, so it has little grain pattern.
    • Pros: Because its shoots grow rapidly and are trimmed, not cut, bamboo is an eco- friendly material.
    • Cons: It is usually pre-finished, so it is more difficult to match to existing architecture.


            The size and shape of the floorboard affects the finished look. Here are the three main options.

  • Strips are the most common and most versatile. They typically measure 1 ½ inches to 3 ¼ inches wide and 1 foot to 7 feet long.
  • Planks are anything wider than 3 ¼ inches. They’re usually less than 5 inches wide but can be as wide as the tree they come from.
  • Parquets are patterned wood tiles.

The Cut

            How a floorboard is sawed from the log affects its appearance, cost and performance.

  • Quatersawn boards bear a straight grain patter, are extremely stable and wear evenly. The milling process takes longer so these are the more expensive choice.
  • Plainsawn boards are more common than quatersawn boards and have a wavy grain pattern. However, in humid regions, gaps can develop between the boards.

Treating the Surface

            Floors can be pre-finished at the factory or finished on site after installation. Pre-finishing spares you from days of irritating dust and fumes, but the wood options are fewer. Keep in mind that darker floors, while striking, show scratches and dust more than lighter ones. Either way, boards should receive several protective topcoats.


Published in The Clarion Ledger, a daily newspaper printed in Jackson, MS, October 11, 2007

  Go Back  

Copyright © 2006 PlanHouse -All home plans copyright © 2006 by their respective designers and architects.You may link to PlanHouse.com freely. View our privacy policies here. All construction plans ordered through PlanHouse.com are provided as is. PlanHouse.com disclaims all other warranties, express or implied, including merchantability or fitness of purpose. Construction plans may not be returned for credit and/or refund.  NOTE: Due to regional differences, local availability of materials, methods of installation, local codes and individual preferences, it is not possible to include much detail in regards to heating, plumbing and electrical work on plans. The duct work, venting and other details vary dependant on the type of cooling and heating system employed (hot water, electric, solar, forced air, etc.) as well as the type of energy (Solar, gas, electric, oil, etc.) utilized. These specifications can be readily obtained from your builder/contractor and/or local suppliers.