You love your children. Each and every one of them. With their wide smiles, little feet, and sticky hands, they brighten your day. But, one thing you may not love is their ability to scratch your hardwood floors. From push toys to strollers, they can leave your floor in a less than ideal state.
While it’s inevitable that your hardwood floors will get scratched, with the tips below you can choose a type that will grow well with your children.
What is grain strength? How will it affect my floors?
The first factor you’ll want to consider is grain strength. The Janka Scale is used to determine how a wood species will handle denting and wear. Woods, like Hickory, Red Oak, and White Oak have a stronger grain, or higher Janka rating. They are more resistant to scratches and dents, and even when these blemishes do occur they are hidden well.
Hickory, with its wide range of colors from light to golden brown, stands out among these three. With its Janka rating of 1820, and relative affordability, it is the hardest commercially available lumber.
White Oak’s golden brown to gentle gray color absorbs stains evenly, so you will not have to worry about blotchiness. Of these three, it expands and contracts less, because it is least affected by humidity and temperature changes. It is also beneficial because when scratched, its natural light color blends in more with its finished top coat and so shows less scratches.
Red Oak’s hint of crimson differentiates it from White Oak or Hickory. But, there is another difference. It has the lowest grain strength of the three, at 1290, so is classified with a medium to heavy grain strength. Both oaks are less expensive than Hickory.
How is hardwood flooring safer than carpet?
For children with allergies, hardwood flooring is a great option because it doesn’t gather pollen, mold, dust, or animal dander.
With hardwood flooring, you can easily see, and clean, stains. Immediately cleaning stains will protect your wood from warping or staining and eliminate mold, or unpleasant smells that may come from an inconspicuous section of carpet.
What about Bamboo?
There are dissenting opinions of the benefits of bamboo.
If you are less concerned with scratches, bamboo, especially strand-woven bamboo, is the best choice for children. It’s resistant to stains, grows quickly, is easily re-established, and easy on the environment. When purchasing bamboo, make sure to check where it was manufactured, how quickly it was harvested, and opt for more expensive brands from reputable companies.
Bamboo doesn’t handle water well, easily scratches, may have more adhesives that can contain harmful chemicals, and most cannot be refinished. Research Bamboo well before purchasing.
What kind of finish is recommended for children?
A matte or satin finish tends to hold up to children's explorations. Both of these finishes are easy to clean, and will hide scratches well because they are less glossy.
Which hardwood flooring has the lowest maintenance?
If you don’t want to worry about scratches, at all, go for distressed or hand-scraped floors. These floors have a rustic, cabin-look, and a variety of knots and colors. All but the most abnormal of scratches will blend in with this nonconformist, outgoing wood.
Woods that don’t go well with children
Glossy finishes (Scratches are highly visible)
Soft woods such as American Cherry, American Walnut, most pines (Prone to denting)
Oiled floors (High-maintenance, expensive products, absorbs liquids)
Solid hardwood floors, rather than engineered floors, are recommended when you have children, because they can be refinished, and do not use adhesives which can give off harmful gases.