Hardwood floors go hand in hand with luxury. But hardwood is also one of the most expensive flooring materials on the market! Hardwood goes with literally everything and will never look outdated.
It’s also built to last a lifetime (or more!) and can withstand most wear and tear with refinishing. Yet hardwood flooring is susceptible to moisture damage and can be easily scratched without proper care.
It’s also less than ideal in areas with cold winters or variable humidity levels. Here’s what you need to know about the pros and cons of hardwood flooring.
15 Pros and Cons of Hardwood Flooring
Pros of Hardwood Flooring
1. Timeless Aesthetic
You won’t find a flooring material that ages more gracefully than natural hardwood. This is a great asset for anyone looking to add long-term value to their home by staying away from passing trends.
Like any aspect of interior design, there are some styles of hardwood floors that we associate with certain eras. But — more often than not — these specific styles are beloved rather than seen as outdated.
2. Extremely Neutral
It’s nearly impossible to find a decor style that doesn’t look great with hardwood floors. So you can switch up your home’s furniture and decorations without needing to update the flooring as well.
The ability to suit any type of decor makes hardwood flooring a wonderful addition to a rental or house that is soon to be sold. Prospective residents will have no trouble picturing their own belongings alongside this attractive flooring material.
3. Lasts for a Lifetime (or More)
Hardwood floors that are properly cared for can last upwards of a century. This is in stark contrast to materials like carpet or laminate, which must be replaced every 10 to 20 years. Many homes built several decades ago still boast their original hardwood flooring.
While some of these floors have been covered (and protected) by wall-to-wall carpeting throughout part of their lives, there are several that have been walked on the entire time!
Hardwood flooring is one of the most hypoallergenic flooring options available! It’s not that hardwood flooring makes common household allergens disappear. But it doesn’t collect said allergens the way carpet would.
5. Repels Odors
On a similar note, hardwood flooring won’t absorb unwanted odors. This is great news for anyone with pets or small children (we all know some of life’s messes are unavoidable!).
6. Able to be Refinished
One of the reasons hardwood flooring lasts for so long is the fact it can be refinished. Refinishing is typically done every 10 years or as needed. Some floors can go 20 to 30 years between refinishings.
Refinishing a hardwood floor can remove surface damage like scratches and scuffs. It can also help lessen the appearance of more serious damage that cannot be completely sanded out.
During the refinishing process, you may be able to alter the color of the hardwood using a stain or even paint. This is a great way to update your home’s flooring without undergoing a full renovation.
7. Easy to Clean
To keep a hardwood floor clean, all you really need is a broom and a mop. A gentle vacuum cleaner attachment can make this job even quicker.
Unlike dense carpeting, it’s easy to tell whether a hardwood floor is actually clean or not. There’s no need to worry about what germs, dust, or odors could be hiding out of sight!
8. Eco-Friendly Varieties Available
Hardwood flooring can be eco-friendly in more ways than one:
- First, hardwood is a natural material. While materials like carpet, vinyl, and laminate contain synthetic plastics that will never decompose, wood is 100% biodegradable.
- Second, you can support anti-deforestation efforts by investing in hardwood flooring that is locally and ethically sourced.
- Choosing a species of hardwood that grows quickly is another great way to lessen your new floor’s impact on the environment.
Note that not all hardwood planks are equally good for the environment. Be sure to research the species of wood and specific harvesting process before selecting a hardwood variety for your own home.
Cons of Hardwood Flooring
1. Cold in Winter
When it comes to the experience of walking on hardwood, complaints are few and far between… until winter temperatures roll in. Although hardwood rarely gets as cold as tile or stone, it is far from warm and cozy.
Many homeowners avoid installing hardwood in the bedroom for this reason. Rest assured, there are multiple ways to counteract cold hardwood floors. Laying down an area rug is the simplest solution.
For a more permanent solution, under-floor heating could be an option.
2. Damaged Easily
Don’t worry — hardwood flooring is incredibly durable. But, compared to materials like carpet or vinyl, it is still one of the most susceptible to damage. Fall damage can leave dents and chips in hardwood planks.
Beware of sliding furniture and other heavy items across the floor, or you may be left with unsightly scratches on the surface. Again, laying down area rugs in high-traffic areas can offer an extra layer of protection.
3. Not Waterproof
Most hardwood flooring is water-resistant. It is not waterproof.
Hardwood floors are rarely installed in the bathroom for this reason. You should also avoid placing hardwood flooring in spaces like mudrooms, laundry rooms, and even kitchens.
While special sealants are available to improve hardwood’s water resistance, you’re probably better off installing tile or vinyl planks in those areas!
4. Noisier Than Other Materials
If you’ve ever lived under an apartment or condo with hardwood floors, you know just how noisy this material can be. Wearing slippers or going barefoot can greatly reduce the amount of noise transfer.
Compared to carpet, hardwood floors can also make a room feel more echoey. This effect will be less noticeable when the space is filled with furniture and decor.
5. Not All Species Are Sustainable
Hardwood flooring can be incredibly sustainable. But that’s only if you shop responsibly. Stay away from hardwood species that are labeled as “exotic.”
Exported hardwood is often — but not always — less sustainable than locally grown hardwood. Unfortunately, exotic hardwood species are also some of the most sought after.
Perhaps the most infamous trait of hardwood flooring is its cost. Solid hardwood — particularly that sourced from exotic tree species — is consistently one of the most expensive flooring materials on the market.
There are ways to save money on hardwood flooring. However, no amount of cost-cutting will make authentic hardwood more affordable than standard carpeting or laminate.
7. Can Be Slippery
Raw hardwood is not particularly slippery. But the application of a topcoat or wax polish can quickly change things. The slipperiness of a hardwood floor isn’t an issue for the average person.
However, you should take this into consideration before installing hardwood in a home with pets, young children, or older residents. This is especially true if you intend to install hardwood on a set of stairs.
Hardwood flooring is natural, timeless, and built to last for many, many years. It’s easier to clean than carpet or grouted tile and can be refinished multiple times throughout its lifetime.
Of course, quality comes at a price. Solid hardwood flooring isn’t cheap (and more affordable products, like engineered hardwood, come with fewer benefits).
It’s also susceptible to moisture damage and wear and tear from children, pets, and heavy furniture. No flooring is perfect. If you can afford it, however, hardwood comes pretty close!