There’s a reason why the United States hardwood industry generates roughly $8.5 billion each year in economic output. People love the look and feel of the floor type! However, one of the main reasons for hardwood’s popularity is the longevity of the flooring.
Compared to carpet and vinyl, hardwood lasts for a much longer period. But exactly how long do hardwood floors last? There’s no easy answer to the questions since it depends on a variety of factors.
Luckily, we’ve organized this guide to provide you with everything you need to know about the lifespan of hardwood. We also include some helpful buying considerations for any customers still on the fence. Let’s get started!
How Long Do Hardwood Floors Last? Five Factors to Consider
You can expect hardwood floors to last anywhere between thirty and one hundred years. Why such the variance? Because it depends on multiple factors that take place before, during, and after installation.
In this section, we’ll list five things that determine how long your hardwood floors will last before they need replacing.
1. The Type of Wood You Use
The first factor in your hardwood floor’s lifespan is the specific type of wood you use. There are many different species of wood used for flooring. These types of woods differ from each other in terms of structure, density, color, and cost.
Often people only pay attention to the color of the wood when choosing one for their home. But, this isn’t the most important concern. If you want your floors to last for one hundred years, then pay close attention to the hardness factor.
Soft floors like douglas fir, black cherry, and teak may feel nice, but they will scratch and scuff easily. This significantly decreases the overall lifespan. Instead, look for harder wood material like mahogany.
Generally speaking, the more expensive the wood material, the harder it will be. If you want the hardest type of flooring available, then look for exotic woods. Things like Brazilian walnut, cumaru, and redwood are amongst the hardest options.
It’s also important to pay attention to the way the wood interacts with moisture. Some types of hardwood material absorb moisture easily which causes them to expand and rot.
For example, certain types of hardwoods from Australian fit this hygroscopic nature. As such, these tips of woods work nicely in warm, desert environments without any humidity.
If you need help selecting a type of wood, then make sure to check out our helpful guide.
2. The Thickness of the Wood
The thicker the wood, the longer it will last. One reason for this is refinishing that often occurs to hardwood. Refinishing happens when you strip away scratches and imperfections from the wood with a sander.
It’s an important part of restoring natural wood to its original appearance. Standard hardwood floorboards measure out to be ¾ inches thick. This size is thick enough to allow the material to be refinished ten times in its life cycle.
Anything thinner than that can’t be sanded much or it will wear away at the structure. However, just because a hardwood floor is thinner doesn’t mean it won’t last long.
If the material has been covered with factory-made coatings, then it likely won’t need refinishing as much as
3. The Amount of Maintenance You Perform
Once your hardwood floors are installed, it’s up to you to properly maintain them. Doing so will increase both the lifespan and the appearance of the wood. Make sure to clean the floors regularly.
You should also pay attention to what you’re using to clean them. Certain chemical cleaners can stain the wood and leave permanent damage. If you want to learn how to properly maintain your hardwood floors, then check out the next section.
4. The Skill Level of the Installer
Setting up a hardwood floor is much more complicated than stone or carpet material. Why? For one thing, you need precision to make everything match perfectly. Hardwood is also more temperamental.
Water and temperature changes can cause the wood to expand and then contract. As such, if it’s not laid down perfectly, it will cause lasting structural damage.
Because of this, we highly recommend finding a contractor that knows what they’re doing. An inexperienced one may offer a better price, but you will pay for it sooner rather than later.
5. The Type of Finish
There are two types of finishes you can choose when purchasing hardwood floors: unfinished and finished. Some contractors prefer working with unfinished since it allows them to get a more consistent seal on the wood.
Afterward, they sand the unfinished wood and apply a polyurethane coat along with staining. However, it’s important to note prefinished wood typically lasts longer. As such, you should discuss this with your contractor and see which method they prefer.
How Do You Make Your Hardwood Floors Last Longer?
Now you know that if you plan and take care of your hardwood floor, then they can last a lifetime. But exactly how do you take care of them? By cleaning them a few times a month.
To clean your hardwood floors you should first get a broom or wood-friendly vacuum. Then, remove all the physical debris. Once you do this you can mop them down with water and let them dry.
For a deeper clean, we recommend combining warm water with a little bit of dish soap. This will provide a thorough, but gentle, clean. Many people recommend vinegar-based cleaning solutions or specific chemical cleaners.
If you decide to clean with these, then make sure to use them in moderation. Certain types of harsh chemicals can leave stains on the hardwood. They also strip away the finishing.
The Benefits of Hardwood Floors
Just because hardwood floors last a long time doesn’t mean they’re for everyone. You may still be on the fence about installing them in your home.
To help you decide we’ve compiled some of the main pros that come with hardwood floors. If these benefits are important to you, then it’s a good sign that you should invest in this flooring type.
1. Easy to Maintain
When compared to flooring like carpet, hardwood is much easier to maintain. For one thing, you need to clean it far less often. If you spill a liquid on it, all you need is a towel to mop it up.
Carpet on the hand requires cleaning solutions to fully remove stains. Even when you clean potential spills, there may still be bacteria. Mold underneath the carpet is a serious health concern for many individuals.
Hardwood is also susceptible to molding, but only if the liquid is left unattended to once it spills. Carpets also collect dirt and other material much easier.
This means that after a couple of years you will need to steam clean it or replace it. Hardwood on the other hand can go decades without needing to be refinished.
2. More Hygienic
As we mentioned, carpet collects dirt and bacteria much more quickly than hardwood. This can make life miserable for people with allergies. Dust mites, pet hair, dead skin, and pollen are just some of the irritants that build up in this type of flooring.
Dust mites are the worst offenders. Even when you vacuum up these microscopic pests, they still leave behind their feces. This is what people are allergic to, and it’s impossible to avoid it.
That’s why we highly recommend hardwood floors to people with allergies. Dust mites can’t burrow into the wood and pet hair is a breeze to clean up.
And, instead of multiple vacuuming sessions, all you need to do is a quick sweep to keep hardwood floors clean.
3. Attractive Appearance
One obvious benefit that comes with hardwood flooring is its appearance. People love the look of hardwood flooring. It provides a style that can be both rustic and modern at the same time.
It also goes beautifully with a variety of wall colors and designs. Because of this, hardwood floors are incredibly helpful if you ever try to sell your house. The realtor can use it as a major selling point if the buyer wants a home with the flooring type.
4. Better for the Environment
If you care about your home’s environmental impact, then you better off going with hardwood flooring. For one thing, wood material costs much less energy to harvest and manufacture.
One study found that compared to steel, the wood used 17 percent less energy from extraction to completion.
But what about the trees themselves? Most of the time the suppliers replant the trees they harvest.
Why? Simple: to replenish the supply. It makes more sense to constantly get a new source of material, as opposed to using up the remaining supply. That’s why the Society of American Foresters found that the 750 million acres of forest wood have remained virtually the same.
The Drawbacks of Hardwood Floors
Unfortunately, no one-floor type is perfect. Hardwood is no exception. There are some drawbacks you should be aware of before committing to the flooring.
In this section, we list some of the main cons that come with installing hardwood floors. This will help you decide whether or not the flooring is worth the effort that goes into it.
1. Harder Than Carpet
As its name suggests, hardwood is hard. This means that it might not be a good fit for households with young children.
They can easily slip and fall on the surface while running around. Also, certain types of pets like dogs may dislike walking on the floor. Hardwood is also colder than carpet, which makes it not ideal for the winter months.
2. Can Be Difficult to Match Wood
Certain types of wood will dictate the type of furniture that can go in your house. For example, a dark oak color will look bad with other dark pieces of furniture.
Many people don’t like this type of restriction. If you fall under this category, then you’re better off going with a more neutral white carpet.
3. Requires Research
Hardwood requires much more research than other types of flooring. For one thing, you need to factor in the humidity and temperature. As we mentioned before, certain types of wood don’t work well in wet and hot environments.
Plus, you will need to plan in terms of the furniture and color scheme that you want. It also requires you to find a contractor with experience and availability. As such, it’s not the easiest option available.
4. Can Be More Expensive Than Some Options
Hardwood fluctuates in pricing depending on the material you choose. It’s generally agreed that the material is more expensive than carpeting and laminating material.
So, if you’re on a budget, or moving soon, then you may want to go with a different option. However, it’s important to remember that hardwood has a much longer lifespan than these other types of flooring.
As such, you won’t need to clean or replace it as often. If you want to learn more hardwood floor pricing, then check out our buying guide.
Need a Knowledgeable Provider? Look No Further Than Empire Floors
We hope this article helped you figure out how long do hardwood floors last. As you can see, the answer to this question depends on a variety of factors. However, one of the most important considerations is the supplier you go through.
This will determine the quality of your hardwood and the strength of the install. But how can you find a contractor that you trust? Look no further than Empire Floors.
Here at Empire Floors, we connect you with some of the best contractors in the business. Transparency is important to us, so we provide you with realistic price estimates and advice depending on the type of floor you want.
Not sure what floor will work best with your household? Then contact us today and get the expert advice that you deserve.