The Pros and Cons of Hardwood Floors

bare feet on hardwood floors

Hardwood flooring is a very popular flooring option. The floors are timeless and are always in style. There are, however, some negatives associated with hardwood floors as well.

Below, you will find information on some of the biggest pros and cons related to hardwood floors, as well as answers to some of the most common questions you may have about the flooring type.

Keep in mind, however, that there are many different types of hardwood floors, each of which comes in a range of quality.

What type of hardwood floors you get, its quality, and how well it is installed will all have a huge impact on some of your questions about these floors, as well as the pros and cons generally associated with hardwood floors.

Hardwood Floor Pro: Return on Investment

While hardwood floors are more expensive than some other flooring options out there, the good news is they offer a much larger return on investment than other flooring options. Experts say hardwood floors maintain as much as 70% to 80% of their initial investment.

Furthermore, some buyers and renters these days don't even want to look at homes without hardwood floors. By installing hardwood floors in your home, you are ensuring a much larger pool of people will be interested in the home than if you have carpet or another flooring option.

Hardwood floors help make a home feel modern, spacious, and well-kept, which are all great things.

Hardwood Floor Pro: Easy to Clean

Hardwood floors are easier to clean than a lot of other flooring types out there. Take tile, for example. The grout lines are incredibly difficult to keep clean and can even stain if you aren't careful. Food can get into the grout as well.

Carpet flooring, meanwhile, requires frequent vacuuming. If you have pets, especially larger shedding dogs, you will need to vacuum regularly to even hope to keep carpet hair free.

Carpet also is much more prone to staining than other flooring types. Think about it: would you rather spill a glass of red wine on carpet or on hardwood floors. The answer, obviously, is on hardwood floors. It's much easier to clean hardwoods than other floorings.

Still, this doesn't mean you will never have to clean the hardwood floors. They can still get duty and have particles on them that you want to get rid of, so you will still need to clean them, you just can clean them easier than other flooring types.

clean hardwood floors

How to Clean Hardwood Floors

There are a few different ways you can clean hardwood floors easily and effectively. Start by either vacuuming or sweeping the floor, or both. Sweeping will allow you to grab big debris, while vacuuming will allow you to pick up smaller things that you may not even see.

Make sure that whatever vacuum you use is considered safe for hardwood floors.

It is also important to mop your floors so that they stay shiny and new looking. You can often do so with just soap, water, and a mop. If it's been awhile since you last cleaned your floors, though, you may want to use a vinegar solution as well.

Swiffers have become very popular mop option because of their small size. This makes them easy to store. There is also a button you can press that will then spurt out a soapy solution. This means no bending over and wringing out a mop. This is obviously much easier on your back than traditional mopping.

You could also consider using a robotic vacuum with a mop attachment. Again, make sure the one you are purchasing is safe for hardwood floors. While these often require a large upfront investment, they are incredibly easy to use.

Oftentimes, all you have to do is press a button and it will zip around your home, making sure it is clean. You can run it frequently with little to no effort.

Hardwood Floor Con: They're Expensive

Hardwood floors are a lot more expensive than other flooring options on the market. According to experts, hardwood floors generally cost $12 to $20 per square foot but can go much higher, even to $25 a square foot in larger spaces. Carpet, meanwhile, can cost as little as $6 a square foot.

There is a wide range of prices on hardwood floors, depending on the type of hardwood. An engineered hardwood, for example, costs a lot less than solid hardwood. Similarly, teak costs more than materials like bamboo.

Both the hardwood material itself and the installation for hardwood is more expensive than for some other flooring options on the market.

Hardwood Floor Pro: Makes Rooms Look Big

Hardwood floors, when used in your entire space, can make it look incredibly large. If you use the same hardwood floors throughout your living room, dining room, and kitchen, it can bring cohesion to the area and make it feel like one large area.

If you have a small home, hardwood floors can make it feel large and luxurious. Other materials, like carpet and tile, for example, can often do the opposite and make a home feel dated and small instead.

large room with hardwood floors

Hardwood Floor Con: Water Damage

Hardwood floors are prone to water damage. This is why you don't often see hardwood floors used in areas of the home like basements and bathrooms that tend to get a lot of water.

Water damage happens if the water saturates the floors and is sometimes caused cupping. When water saturates the floors, it gets under the boards and is absorbed by that side of the hardwood floorboards, which is normally unfinished.

This, in turn, causes the bottom of the boards to expand more than the top and can ruin your floors, giving them a wrapped look.

Mold and mildew love moisture. Since you can't get under the floorboards to clean, wet hardwood floors can also be a breeding ground for bacteria, which no one wants.

Dealing with Water on Hardwoods

If your hardwoods have water damage, there are a few things you should do. First is to identify the source of the water. This could be as easy as turning off an overflowing sink but in some instances, it can be more difficult to find the source of the water.

Once you have identified and stopped the source of the water, it is time to dry the floors and get rid of any standing water. Fans, blowers, shop vacs, and dehumidifiers can all help you with this.

You will need to make sure they are fully dried. Do not think the job is done when they are are just a little damp.

After your floors have been fully dried for a while, you may want to call in a professional. A contractor, for example, can take a moisture test of the floors.

Once the moisture ratings are consistent throughout the room or repair area, you can start to fix the floors. Do not begin these next steps until the floors are fully dried out or it can harm your floors further.

Once you have ensured the floors are fully dried throughout, you may need to refinish them, depending, of course, on how bad the damage was. You would have to first sand and then refinish them, or in some cases may even need to remove boards before refurnishing them. Do not sand wet floors.

Hardwood Floor Con: Not Good in Certain Rooms

Despite hardwood floors being a great option for many areas of your home, they are not good for all rooms. Rooms like bathrooms, for example, are better off with tile instead of hardwood floors, since they are so prone to moisture.

The same goes for laundry and mud rooms. These are also prone to water, both from the washing machine and shoes and other equipment that goes in and out of them, especially in cold weather climates during the winter months.

Hardwood Floor Pro and Con: Children and Pets

There is some disagreement on whether hardwood floors are a good option for homes with children and pets.

For pets, hardwood floors can be desirable because they are easier to clean than carpet, and you will have an easier time getting rid of dog hair and stains than you would on carpeted floors.

A negative, however, is that pets can scratch hardwood floors that are made of less durable woods.

With kids, hardwoods can be a great option because they are non-toxic and easier to clean. They can also be a negative for kids because they are a hard material. For kids just learning to walk, for example, a softer surface is preferred by many.

hardwood floors in open living room and kitchen

Do Hardwood Floors Make Houses Colder?

Hardwood floors can feel a bit cold at times, especially in cold weather environments during winter months. In fact, according to some experts they can result in a heat loss of 10-20%. This number, however, is if the floors are not insulated properly and to current standards.

For floors that are insulated properly, hardwood floors are actually better at keeping your homes warm than some other flooring materials like tile.

If you are worried about floors being cold, though, you could consider adding radiant floor heat when you are installing the floors into your home. This can actually make the floors warmer in the winter months and warm the air and area surrounding the floors instead.

How Much Does Hardwood Flooring Cost?

Like any flooring material, the cost of hardwood floors can vary wildly. The biggest factor in determining the cost of hardwood floors is the size of a room.

If you are having professionals install the new flooring, the cost of removing the old flooring is also a factor. Removing tile or old hardwood floors is going to cost more than removing carpet to replace it with hardwood flooring.

Another major factor in cost is going to be the type of wood you are using. Engineered hardwood, for example, will cost you a lot less than pure oak hardwood boards will.

Hardwood floors cost about $3 to $10 per square foot for the materials alone and another $3 to $8 per square foot in labor costs.

This might not sound like a lot but keep in mind that this means that if you have a 1,000-square-foot house, you could be paying nearly $20,000 to cover it in hardwood flooring. That sum could be a lot less if you use cheaper hardwood flooring options.

If you are looking to buy a home and want to change out the flooring, keep these numbers in mind. A big house can mean a big hardwood flooring bill.

Are Wide Boards Right for You?

wide hardwood floor boards

The size of hardwood floorboards can vary wildly. While skinny hardwoods may have been more common in decades past, wide boards are more modern and preferred by many of today's homeowners.

If you want a more classic look, you may want to go with skinnier boards. Try to find one 2 ¼ inches and 3 inches wide for a classic look.

Wider floorboards—think 5 inches and above—will show off more of the natural grain of the word and give it a more modern look.

Wide planks are also a great option for bigger rooms, as they can help the area feel more airy and open. When you use wider planks, you will use fewer planks which means fewer lines or interruptions in the wood where one panel meets another.

Wider planks are also a bit easier to install because fewer wood planks are needed to fill the space. If you are installing the wood yourself, this is definitely preferable.


Hopefully by now you have some clarity on if hardwood floors are the right fit for you. If you are hoping to add some to your home, go to a store and look at samples. Many will give you some to take home so you can see if the coloring works in your home.

If, however, you have decided hardwood floors are not right for you, you could consider other options like tile or carpet for your home instead.