Choosing Hardwoods

Wood flooring is a long-term investment and can transform your space and even add value to your home. Before you choose, know whether you have a subfloor or concrete, or if the wood flooring will be upstairs or in the basement. Consider what your floor needs to withstand to keep its natural beauty, and think about whether you’re okay with the construction process in your home, or if you’d prefer pre-finished floors.



Why Wood Flooring?

There are so many styles and so many reasons to love wood flooring! Wood flooring is easy to clean, won’t trap dirt or dust, and can even add value to your home. There are incredible choices in wood flooring, and while most people choose their wood flooring to achieve a certain “look,” remember to consider manufacturing and function when choosing your wood flooring.

Types of Wood Flooring

To explain types of wood flooring, we have to look at a number of different features. First, there are two types of flooring; then we look at unfinished or pre-finished flooring, and finally we decide how we want it to look and function.

Engineered Wood or Solid Wood

ENGINEERED WOOD: Engineered wood is created by laminating a thin, high-quality wood surface onto a substrate. It almost always comes pre-finished.

Engineered wood is often a lower-cost alternative to solid wood, and once installed it is usually very hard to tell the difference between solid and engineered wood floors. Depending on the thickness of the top layer, engineered wood flooring may or may not be appropriate for refinishing. Unlike solid wood flooring, engineered wood can be used in basements, is less vulnerable to moisture, and can be used over a radiant floor. Engineered wood flooring can be much thinner than solid wood, and therefore can be used over an existing floor. It is available in strips, planks, and parquet.


Solid wood flooring is just that, milled boards of natural lumber. Solid wood flooring is so desirable it actually can add value to your home! Solid wood flooring requires some care, but can always be sanded and refinished, retains its value, and with good upkeep can last 100 years or more. Solid wood flooring is not suitable below ground level, on concrete slabs, or on a radiant heat system. It is available in traditional strips, more rustic planks, or intricate parquet. Solid wood flooring comes either unfinished, or finished.

Strip Flooring or Plank Flooring

STRIP FLOORING: The most common wood flooring, strips are the same width, usually 1 ½ or 2 inches wide. “Rochester Strip” flooring: The new standard strip is 2 ¼ inches wide.

PLANK FLOORING: Plank flooring is wider than strip flooring, from 3 to 8 inches wide, and plank widths can vary in the floor.

FINISHES: Finished or unfinished

Buying unfinished wood flooring means that the sanding, staining and sealing all happen in your home. With pre-finished flooring, the wood is prepared in the factory and is simply installed.

UNFINISHED WOOD: The drawbacks of unfinished wood flooring include the dust and fumes in your home during installation. The benefits include the flexibility to get creative with the stains and finishes you choose for your floor, and any irregularities in the floor can be sanded out on-site.

PRE-FINISHED FLOORSPre-finished floors have their pros and cons, too. The drawbacks of pre-finished wood flooring are that slight variations in the depth of the boards or bumps in the sub-floor can’t be sanded out during installation. The benefits are that you avoid the fumes and dust, and can walk on your floor as soon as it is installed! Also, the factory finish is likely to last up to 25 years; the finish completed in your home lasts about 10 years. At Messner, some of our warranties extend to the lifetime of the floor!

Grades, Hardness & Species of Wood

After you know whether you want engineered or solid, finished or unfinished, strip, plank, or parquet, it’s time to choose your wood. But how? We’ll show you! Our Customers select wood flooring for the look, durability, and sometimes sustainability. Our pre-finished, life-sized flooring samples show you exactly what your new floor will look like what it’s installed in your home.

Here are some of the things you’ll see in different species of wood:

Grades (Appearance)

Do you want wood flooring that is highly uniform, elegant, and more formal? Maybe you love the look of rich and varied grains, knots and streaks? There’s something in wood for every taste. Check out our samples to see what appeals to you, and consider this guide from The National Wood Flooring Association.

Grades of Hardwood (NWFA):

CLEAR WOOD: Clear Wood is a flooring product with minimal character marks that provides a uniform appearance.

SELECT WOOD: Select Wood is a flooring product with natural heartwood/sapwood color variations that also includes knots, streaks, etc.

COMMON WOOD: (No. 1 and No. 2) has more natural characteristics such as knots and color variations than either clear or select grades, and often is chosen because of these natural features and the character they bring to a room.

No. 1 Common has a varied appearance, light and dark colors, knots, streaks and wormholes.

No. 2 Common is rustic in appearance and emphasizes all wood characteristics of the species.

Hardness of Wood

Wood used in flooring is rated on the Janka Hardness Scale. Understanding hardness, or how much pressure it takes to mar your floor, can help make sure you are buying the right flooring for your purposes. All the wood flooring we sell is up to the minimum hardness standards for flooring, though some wood floors are better for high-traffic areas than others. Yellow Pine can be quite soft, and is a poor choice if you have a large dog, or children who wear their cleats in the house. Hickory, which is about 3x harder, is more difficult to work with, so can be more expensive to install. But it can stand up to just about anything your family can dish out!

Species: Domestic or Exotic?

Exactly what species of wood you choose depends largely on look, and price. We carry traditional American hardwoods in the gorgeous grains and finishes you’ve come to expect: oak, ash, cherry, maple, and hickory; and even dazzling exotics like mahogany, ipe, tigerwood, and acacia. Do you want the light look and feel of blonde oak? Maybe a beachy plank floor in birch, or a dramatically striated tigerwood? Perhaps you’re looking for the gleaming elegance of red oak? We have a whole world of hardwoods in our showroom for you to explore.


American hardwoods are a beautiful, renewable resource, and they are grown and milled right here in North America. Many of our exotics are fast-growing species, which means that the flooring is not harvested from old-growth forests. Look for the FSC certification on many of our selections.


Messner Flooring offers the widest selection of hardwood floors in Rochester, NY