Hardwood Tops Home Buyers’ Flooring Preferences

With more product offerings and growing demand, builders are turning to hardwood and wood look-alikes more than ever.
By Symone Garvett

Hardwood flooring has a long history, one that is said to date back to the 1600s. Like many home trends, it has gone in and out of style depending on interior design trends, the introduction of competing floor surfaces, and homeowner preferences.

Today, hardwood flooring and hardwood look-alike products are on top once again. When homeowners were asked what kind of flooring they would choose for their dream home, 66% said hardwood floors, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA). Sixty-eight percent of owners said wood flooring is attractive, compared to 46% of the next flooring type, tile. Besides its attractiveness, the survey concludes wood flooring also adds value to a home (66%), is hypoallergenic (34%), and is environmentally responsible (24%).
Courtesy National Wood Flooring Association

To nail down flooring’s most influential attributes, the NWFA survey also asked owners to rank eight product factors they consider when choosing a flooring material. It found that homeowners value durability (67%), attractiveness (61%), and easy-to-clean (58%) as the top three most important features.

In the past, higher prices for hardwood have steered homeowners and builders toward alternatives like carpet, laminate, and vinyl, but in recent years manufacturers have developed more solid and engineered products and processes that offer a more broad range of price points.

Home improvement website HomeAdvisor estimates the average cost of wood flooring and installation is about $8 to $10 per square foot based on factors such as species, finish, underlayment options, molding installation, and delivery costs. Prefinished engineered hardwood is a less expensive option at about $1.50 to $8 per square foot depending on nail or glue-down installation, says Steve Stocki, marketing manager for Lumber Liquidators.

Both solid and engineered choices can withstand heavy traffic of busy families and pets. Plus, when the material does begin to weather, it can be sanded and stained again.

Tracking the Trend
While a majority of homeowners prefer hardwood and its features, other popular flooring types such as carpet and tile have dominated the market in the past. Home Innovation Research Labs’ annual Builder Practices Report tracks the trend: In 2004, when the company started collecting data, carpet was used overall in 60% of new single-family homes and wood was used in only 13% overall. Over the past 14 years of data collection, carpet has declined in overall use, while wood has steadily increased. In 2017, wood flooring was at 35% overall and carpet at 40%.

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