Hardwood vs Softwood
When we use the terms hardwood and softwood it does not refer to the density of the wood itself and this common misconception is proved by balsa wood, classed as a hardwood, yet one of the least dense and lightest woods there is.
It is more accurate therefore to explain the difference between hard and soft woods by examining the structure of the wood. In the main hardwoods are trees that produce seeds which are covered in a shell which may be a fruit or an acorn. Softwoods are trees which produce seed without a covering shell such as pine needles which, being lighter, blow further from the parent tree than do hardwood floors sanding company seedlings. So softwood trees tend to be more plentiful and therefore less expensive to use as flooring. A very quick method to ascertain whether a tree is hard or soft wood is hardwoods are deciduous and softwoods are evergreens.
Because hardwoods are more densely compressed they are naturally more robust, more difficult to forest and manufacture and for this reason will cost more than softwood. On the plus side though, hardwoods are sturdier and will last a lifetime and more on a floor.
All very interesting but what does this mean for my floor?
Good question and the answer is it depends on the usage the floor will receive, the type of room, and the amount of through traffic over the years whether hard or softwood is the more suitable. In terms of maintenance there is little difference between hard and softwoods. Both types will eventually require refurbishment, sanding and refinishing, and a regular but light cleaning programme is essential to keep the natural shine.
All woods are breathable and will therefore be affected by the interior temperature and humidity of the home. Always avoid liquid spillages and bathrooms, kitchens and utility rooms are better served by wipe-clean floor tiles than a solid wood floor. Treat your floor kindly and it will reward you with many years of beauty and good service. If you think that the average floor (hard or softwood) requires a full refinishing only every decade or so it becomes clear that a real wood floor is a solid investment as well as a thing of beauty.
Lengthen the life of your floor by not skimping on the essentials. If you think sanding a floor yourself is a bit too much to tackle then get a quote from a specialist wood sanding company who will assess your floor fairly. It may not be as costly as you think!
The real expense usually comes in when homeowners ignore the fact that the floor is becoming tired, dull, lacklustre and creaky. Through time this condition can only become worse and may result in some serious repair or even replacement of planks which can be a nightmare to source as well as costing a sizeable amount of money.
The wise car owner understands that regular servicing, maintenance and cleaning will keep his vehicle in tip-top condition. The same is true of solid wood flooring. Spend a little on a refinishing every ten years and save a fortune in the long run (with the added bonus of being the proud owner of a beautiful and shiny floor).
The most popular softwoods used in homes are: Larch, Douglas Fir and Fir, Pine and Redwood. Familiar hardwoods include: Oak, Teak, Mahogany and Cherry.
Whatever type of wood you have on your floors the key to longevity is regular cleaning, maintenance and refurbishment as necessary. Look after your wooden flooring and it will reward you with many years of service and as a beautiful focal point of any style of room.