The living room is one of the most public and open places in the home, so you want to choose flooring that is both attractive, and durable. With hardwood you get a material that has been popular for centuries, and which has never gone out of style. At the same time it is strong, low maintenance, and if properly cared for it can last for decades even with relatively heavy use.
Below Grade: Hardwood is susceptible to damage from water, so it should not be installed in any below grade basement or finished basement living rooms. All it would take is for a bad storm to cause the water table to rise, and liquid would seep up through the concrete slab and warp and rot the hardwood from below. Even if a vapor barrier is employed with glue down or click together floating floors, you still have to worry about humidity plumping the material.
Upper Levels: Another drawback to hardwood flooring is that it transmits noise relatively easily. If you have a living room or family room on an upper floor, especially one frequented by children, you may end up hearing every bang, bump, and stamp of foot that happens in that room when you are on the level below. This can be mitigated to some extent by installing insulating materials beneath the hardwood, and or using area rugs to dampen the transmission of sound.
Ground Level: Living rooms that are adjacent to exterior doorways are going to be susceptible to dirt, mud, and muck being tramped into the space from outside. This can not only stain the wood, but small dirt and grit particles can wear down the finish over time, making the entire floor vulnerable to water damage. To avoid this place rugs and mats near doorways, and make sure that you sweep or vacuum the living room floor on a regular basis.
Personality: In a living room, a hardwood floor is going to get worn down, scratched, and marked over time. Whether it’s pet nails, shoe scuffs, or the grind of gritty particles racing across its surface, the floor will slowly but surely take on a unique personality, filled with one of a kind characteristics.
Some people love this, and there are those who purchase old reclaimed wood from buildings in order to instantly achieve this effect in their interior spaces. However, it is not the perfectly proper look that others are fond of, so you should be aware of the weathering effects that will occur.
Refinishing: Another element to consider is the fact that hardwood can be refinished multiple times over the course of its life. This involves using a heavy grinder to sand down the material, removing the surface layer and then refinishing it with stain and protective coatings. This will make the floor look like new. It also keeps the living room constantly evolving from new to old and then back again over the years.
More Living Room Flooring Information
Decorative Hardwood Flooring Options
Borders: This involves two types of wood which contrast in color and appearance. One is installed over the majority of the floor, and the other trails along the walls, accenting the main material. Sometimes the border material will be installed at a different angle, in order to create a further contrasting effect.
Inlays: With inlays you use different species and colors of wood, set into a main flooring structure, in order to create patterns. These are usually simple geometric images, but in some cases they can get quite elaborate, creating truly unique and eye catching effects.
Medallions: These are extremely detailed inlays, which are manufactured in their entirety, and then later installed into gaps in a hardwood installation. This allows you to achieve very specific, intricate images, which will match and merge naturally into the structure of the rest of the floor.
Antiquing: This is a process where the floor is distressed in one of several ways in order to make it look old, and weathered. This can lend a lot of personality to a living room, giving it a charming, rustic appeal.