The Best Types of Hardwood Flooring for Your Home

When it comes to choosing the right flooring for your home, hardwood is often the preferred choice due to its durability, timeless appeal, and the value it adds to your property. However, with so many types of hardwood flooring available, making a decision can be daunting. This guide will help you navigate the best options, taking into account factors such as aesthetics, durability, maintenance, and cost.

1. Oak: The Classic Choice

Why Choose Oak?
Oak is one of the most popular choices for hardwood flooring in the United States, and for good reason. It is incredibly durable, resists wear and tear, and has a beautiful grain that can complement a variety of home styles.

Red Oak: Known for its warm tones and prominent grain patterns.
White Oak: Offers a more subtle, smoother grain and is slightly harder than red oak.

Durable and long-lasting.
Available in a wide range of stains and finishes.
Readily available, making it more affordable.

Red oak can sometimes have a pinkish hue that may not be to everyone’s taste.

2. Maple: The Sleek and Modern Option

Why Choose Maple?
Maple is valued for its clean, light appearance, making it an excellent choice for contemporary or minimalist interiors.

Extremely hard and durable, even more so than oak.
Less porous, which means it’s more resistant to moisture and staining.
Light color can brighten up a room.

Limited grain pattern may not appeal to those who prefer a more rustic look.
Can be challenging to stain evenly.

3. Hickory: The Rustic Favorite

Why Choose Hickory?
Hickory’s distinctive grain pattern and color variations make it ideal for rustic and country-style homes. It’s one of the hardest woods available, making it highly durable.

Extremely hard and resilient.
Unique, bold grain patterns and color variations.
Excellent for high-traffic areas and families with pets.

Can be more expensive due to its hardness.
Bold patterns may not suit all interior styles.

4. Walnut: The Elegant Choice

Why Choose Walnut?
Walnut is synonymous with luxury and sophistication. Its rich, dark color and smooth, fine grain make it a favorite for high-end homes.

Deep, rich color adds warmth and elegance to any room.
Smooth grain provides a sleek, refined look.
Moderately hard, making it durable yet comfortable underfoot.

More susceptible to dents and scratches compared to harder woods.
Higher cost.

5. Cherry: The Warm and Rich Option

Why Choose Cherry?
Cherry wood is known for its beautiful, rich, reddish-brown color that deepens with age. It’s a softer wood, which means it can develop a unique patina over time.

Warm, rich tones that deepen and improve with age.
Smooth, fine grain.
Adds a sense of luxury and warmth to any room.

Softer and more prone to dents and scratches.
Can be more expensive.

6. Bamboo: The Eco-Friendly Alternative

Why Choose Bamboo?
While not technically hardwood, bamboo is a sustainable, eco-friendly option that offers the look and feel of traditional hardwood.

Environmentally friendly and renewable resource.
Highly durable and hard.
Unique, modern aesthetic.

Can be sensitive to moisture and humidity.
Limited color options.

Maintenance Tips for Hardwood Floors
Regardless of the type of hardwood you choose, proper maintenance is crucial to ensure its longevity. Here are some tips to keep your floors looking their best:

Regular Cleaning: Sweep or vacuum regularly to remove dirt and debris that can scratch the surface.
Use Rugs and Mats: Place rugs in high-traffic areas and mats at entrances to minimize wear and tear.
Control Humidity: Use a humidifier in dry climates and a dehumidifier in humid climates to prevent the wood from expanding or contracting.
Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Use gentle cleaners specifically designed for hardwood floors.

Choosing the best hardwood flooring for your home depends on your personal style, the level of foot traffic, and your budget. Oak and maple are great all-around choices, while hickory and walnut offer unique aesthetics and durability. Cherry adds warmth and elegance, and bamboo provides an eco-friendly alternative. With proper care, any of these hardwoods can enhance the beauty and value of your home for years to come.


Hardwood floors are a popular choice for many homeowners due to their durability and timeless appeal. However, even the sturdiest of hardwood floors can fall victim to various types of damage over time. Understanding the common types of flooring damage to hardwood floors can help homeowners take proactive measures to prevent and address these issues.

1. Scratches and Scuffs: One of the most common types of damage to hardwood floors is surface scratches and scuffs. These can occur from the regular wear and tear of foot traffic, moving furniture, or even pet claws. While these may seem like minor issues, they can detract from the overall appearance of the floor and lead to more significant damage if left untreated.

2. Water Damage: Hardwood floors are particularly susceptible to water damage, which can result from spills, leaks, or excessive humidity. Water can cause the wood to warp, swell, or even develop mold and mildew. It is crucial to address any water damage promptly to prevent further deterioration of the flooring.

3. Gouges and Dents: Heavy furniture, high heels, or dropped objects can cause gouges and dents in hardwood floors. These deep marks can be unsightly and compromise the integrity of the floor if not addressed.

4. Fading and Discoloration: Exposure to sunlight and UV rays can cause hardwood floors to fade and lose their original luster over time. Additionally, certain chemicals and cleaning products can lead to discoloration of the wood.

5. Warping and Cupping: Changes in humidity and moisture levels can cause hardwood floors to warp or cup, resulting in uneven surfaces and potential tripping hazards.

Preventative measures such as using furniture pads, area rugs, and promptly cleaning up spills can help minimize the risk of damage to hardwood floors. Additionally, regular maintenance such as refinishing and resealing can help restore the appearance and integrity of the flooring.

Understanding the common types of flooring damage to hardwood floors is essential for homeowners looking to preserve the beauty and longevity of their investment. By taking proactive measures and addressing issues promptly, homeowners can enjoy their hardwood floors for years to come.


With summer just around the corner, it’s important to think about how to protect your hardwood floors from the potential damage that can come with the season. From increased foot traffic to humidity and direct sunlight, there are several factors that can take a toll on your beautiful hardwood floors. But fear not, with a few simple steps, you can keep your hardwood floors looking great all summer long.

1. Use Area Rugs: One of the easiest ways to protect your hardwood floors is by using area rugs in high-traffic areas. Not only do they add a decorative touch to your home, but they also act as a barrier between your hardwood floors and the wear and tear of summer activities.

2. Control Humidity: Summer often brings higher humidity levels, which can cause wood to expand and contract, leading to warping and buckling. To combat this, consider using a dehumidifier to maintain a consistent level of humidity in your home.

3. Protect from Direct Sunlight: Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can cause your hardwood floors to fade and lose their luster. Consider using curtains or blinds to block out the harsh rays during the sunniest parts of the day.

4. Clean Regularly: With more outdoor activities happening during the summer, it’s important to keep up with regular cleaning to prevent dirt and debris from scratching and dulling your hardwood floors. Use a soft-bristled broom or a vacuum with a floor brush attachment to gently remove any dirt and dust.

5. Use Protective Pads: Whether it’s furniture or heavy appliances, consider using felt or rubber pads on the bottom of these items to prevent scratches and dents on your hardwood floors.

By taking these simple steps, you can ensure that your hardwood floors stay in top condition throughout the summer months. With a little extra care and attention, you can enjoy the beauty of your hardwood floors for years to come.

Hardwood Flooring Patterns: A Guide

Hardwood Flooring Patterns

You love the idea of having hardwood floors in your home. But before your beautiful hardwood flooring can be installed, you must decide on the installation pattern. The pattern design selected will ultimately play a major role in the look of the finished project and the overall style in the room. There are six primary installation patterns that you should learn about before you finalize your decision. 


Through a straight installation design, the hardwood planks are installed either vertically or horizontally across the floor. Generally, they follow the direction of the longest wall in a smaller room or along the direction of the shortest wall in a larger room to take advantage of optical benefits. While this is a plain and common installation method, it continues to be popular because of its simplistic appeal. 


If you prefer the long lines created by a straight design, a creative alternative is a diagonal installation method. The diagonal design generally runs at a 45-degree angle from the walls, but you can take creative license with the severity of the angle. Because of the precision needed to cut each board precisely, this design requires the skills of an experienced floor installer


The random design can be used in conjunction with straight or diagonal installation methods. While the straight and diagonal methods use boards with comparable dimensions, the random installation method uses boards with different lengths and widths. This results in a floor with fascinating personality.

Parquet Pattern

The parquet design may also be referred to as a brick design. It is appropriately named because the wood slats are cut into small pieces with equal lengths. These pieces are laid in a manner that visually creates square shapes. The flow of the slats alternates for a stunning and interesting visual effect.

Basket Weave 

A variation of the parquet design is the basket weave style. It incorporates small square pieces surrounded by longer wood planks. The unique design creates a woven look that is both sophisticated and interesting. This type of installation design generally looks best when wood with deep color variations is used. 


The chevron design is both classic and increasingly popular in modern décor. The wood planks are installed in a V-shaped pattern that zigzags across the room boldly. The overall look of the design can be adjusted by the number of boards used in each V-shaped angle and by the dimensions of the boards. 


The herringbone design is visually similar to the chevron pattern with one significant difference. The boards in the chevron design have mitered edges. The herringbone’s boards are not mitered. Like the chevron design, the herringbone look is visually fascinating. However, it may be slightly easier to install because no mitering is required. 

Hardwood Flooring Style Selection Tips

With many beautiful design possibilities to consider for your upcoming floor installation project, how can you make the right decision for your space? While the overall look of the design is a matter of personal preference, you should keep in mind the shape of the room and the overall line of sight from common entryways. In addition, the installation recommendations from the manufacturer may reveal helpful insight. Your budget may also play a role in the design that you select. More complicated designs require more skill and time. Designs with more cuts may require the use of more materials. 

Are you eager to see a beautiful improvement to your home’s décor? At Classic Floor Designs, we have the expertise to bring your vision to life. During an initial consultation, we can help you to review the beautiful hardwood materials that may work well with the look that you have in mind. To schedule a consultation with one of our designers, contact Classic Floor Designs today.


Is It Better to Repair Scratches in Hardwood Flooring Yourself or Let the Experts?

Wondering if you should refinish your hardwood flooring yourself or bring in flooring professionals to fix scratches and more is not an uncommon situation to be in. Contrary to what a quick Google search may tell you, the pros of a self-refinish do not outweigh the cons of hiring a professional. We’ve compiled a quick list of problems our clients have run into when they’ve attempted a DIY (Do-it-yourself) refinish for their hardwood flooring.

Lower Quality Finished Product

You gather all the materials needed, watch hours of tutorials on fixing scratches in your hardwood flooring on YouTube, maybe ask a couple of friends to tag along, and now you are finally ready to get started. Unless one of your buddies is a professional carpenter, you’re already at a disadvantage. Just watching a few hours of videos doesn’t make you a professional. You are bound to run into problems, especially if this is your first time refinishing hardwood. These problems, however minor they may seem, tend to stack up.

The machine experts use to refinish floors can cost upwards of $20,000. Even a higher end machine, rented from a hardware store such as Home Depot, can’t measure up to what a professional would bring to the job. Calculate the cost of all equipment you may need, including goggles, masks, gloves, and knee pads, and you may already be better off hiring flooring professionals. Keep in mind that any mistakes made by a hired professional be corrected at no extra cost to you, while any damage you cause yourself will come right out of your pocket.

The Finish Will Not Last as Long

 Sanding scratches out of your floor is a delicate art. If any error occurs during the process, the stain and polyurethane may not adhere properly. This could put the longevity of your finish at risk, limiting its lifespan to only two to four years. Using a professional service, you can expect your finish to last seven to ten years. Any cost saving you thought you had, could be lost.

It Will Take Longer

Someone with experience will obviously complete a task faster than someone without it. Flooring professionals typically take around a day to sand and refinish 1,000 square feet of hardwood. Homeowners attempting to do it on their own could take three to five times longer. After adding in the cost of renting equipment, you may start to wish you had put that money toward hiring professionals.

Verdict: Hire a Professional

We get it. The cost of refinishing and fixing scratches in your floor can be daunting and it is natural to have a DIY, cost-saving mindset. But the truth is, we’ve heard one too many horror stories from clients who initially tried to do it themselves. Give us a call for a completely free consultation at (202) 872-9860. Classic Floor Designs has over 40 years experience in the DC metro area and would love to put that experience to work for your next hardwood flooring project.



The Most Popular Species of Hardwood Floors

When installed by expert professionals, a hardwood floor adds finesse to the space it graces. Among popular domestic hardwoods, a few species stand above other timbers, favored for their durability, decorative grain patterns, and complementary colors. Here are hardwoods adored by US homeowners, along with the flooring features for which they’re prized.


Do you have children or pets? If so, consider oak flooring, graciously withstanding romps and stomps and resisting scratches. Similar to the flavor of fine wine, the color of oak becomes richer with time. The character of reclaimed oak testifies to this benefit. Another strength of oak is that it stains evenly, showcasing a wide variety of tints, from clean white to chocolate brown. The swirly grain patterns are classy, whether you like the uniformity of prime grade or the knotty “beauty marks” of character grade.

You can also choose from two species of oak, named for the color of their barks. Each wood has distinct advantages. White oak flooring is honey brown, while red has a pinkish hue. Red oak has a stronger grain than white, so it hides scratches and dents a bit better.

On the other hand, the tiger-striped grain of white oak is smoother and more consistent than red. On the Janka Hardness Scale, which rates durability, white oak supersedes red. But, whether you take a shine to red or white oak, both types are affordably priced.


If you prefer simplistic yet elegant decor, maple is an ideal option. The grain pattern is smooth and low-key, although occasional flecks and mineral streaks add visual interest. Light in color, the wood has a bright, clean, and expansive ambiance. Maple wood is super-strong, ranking higher than oak on the Janka Scale. Its range of hues includes blonde, light cream, and beige, often with a reddish tint. Since the wood isn’t very porous, staining is challenging, best done professionally. Many homeowners choose to let the natural beauty of maple prevail, protected with a clear sealant finish.

Over time, maple acquires a faint yellow tone. A coating of strong polyurethane prevents scratches from otherwise showing. Rubber soles can leave heel marks, remedied with an eraser and buffing. Since maple is so durable, denting is rare.

Like many hardwoods, maple reacts to fluctuating humidity, with temporary swelling and shrinking, and sometimes, warping or cracks. Wood shifting can be avoided by choosing engineered flooring. Despite its glamorous aura, maple is reasonably priced, approximating the cost of oak.


Possessing a light hue, this hardwood is airy like maple, but with a standout grain. When sourced from sapwood, ash can be creamy white or golden brown. Made of heartwood, the color is typically light tan. Ash is notable for its straight grain pattern and slightly springy feel. Similar to oak flooring, ash can handle heavy traffic. Additionally, being shock-resistant, ash is perfect in kitchens and family rooms, where objects are frequently dropped. Since water is highly visible on its surface, accidental slips and slides are less likely. Plus, the elastic nature of ash suits areas subject to radiant heat and high humidity.

Like oak, ash absorbs stains well. However, its natural color is so pleasing, you may wish to preserve it, with a protective, clear finish.


Do you favor a rustic look? If so, you’ll love pine flooring, with its abundant knots, pinholes, and prominent grain. Occupying the low end of the Janka Scale, pine is technically a “softwood.” Though this term gives a cushy image, the wood isn’t actually soft, just impressionable, reflecting household activity over time. Still, many homeowners find that a few dents and dings make their rooms more welcoming. Plus, the patina that emerges with use gives the flooring a homey glow. While yielding to impact, pine flooring is durable and long-lasting, especially when finished with polyurethane sealant. You can also opt for heart pine, stronger than southern yellow pine. Or, use pine flooring in areas where traffic is moderate, such as a home office.

With a vast color palette, pine is available in white blonde, honey gold, deep brown, and reddish mahogany. The wood stains beautifully and resists humidity. Another advantage of pine is that it’s highly economical.

Solid Footing

At Classic Floor Designs, our stateside clients include the White House, US Mint Building, and Four Seasons Hotel. Our work has earned awards from the National Flooring Association and the Washington Building Congress. Overseas, we’ve installed flooring for ambassador homes in Belgium, Germany, and France.Among choice hardwood flooring options, oak, maple, ash, and pine are homeowner top picks. However, these are just a few of the high-performance woods from our broad selection. To launch the fulfillment of YOUR vision, call us for a free consultation at (202) 872-9860.

With 40+ years in custom flooring, you can stand on our solid reputation – for years to come.

Laundry Room Ideas Recommended by Houzz

Laundry rooms have been coming into their own in recent years, with more thought and design savvy being put into this workhorse space than ever. From farmhouse style to patterned tile, here are the top 10 trending features of the year so far, as measured by the number of people saving photos of them to their Houzz ideabooks. Are any of these in your own collection?

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Tell us: What’s on your dream laundry room wish list?

Tips for Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Hardwood flooring enhances the appearance of any room in your home, but these rugged surfaces represent a big investment. Like any investment, you want to be sure that you get the highest returns possible. When it comes to flooring, proper cleaning of hardwood determines your ability to enjoy their beauty for many years without worrying about damage or repairs.

Here at Classic Floor Designs, we recommend a regular cleaning regimen to maintain the original appearance of your hardwood floors. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about what products to use, what methods to avoid and how often to clean. We hope that these tips will help clear up any confusion and guide you in preserving the floors you love.

Know Your Floor Type
There are two types of wood flooring: solid and engineered. Both offer the beautiful appearance that makes hardwood so attractive, but the materials differ slightly when it comes to routine cleaning and long-term care.

Solid floors are made from single pieces of hardwood that are generally about three-quarters of an inch thick. Most come finished with a protective coating that creates a reflective “high gloss” look. Solid wood is available in many common and exotic varieties that can be sanded and refinished up to ten times over the life of the floor.

Engineered flooring is pieced together from three to five layers of high- or medium-density fiberboard with a thin hardwood veneer on top. Because of the minimal amount of hardwood used, these floors can only undergo one to two rounds of refinishing. However, they tend to be more durable than solid floors when it comes to handling high foot traffic and varying levels of humidity.

Invest in Mats and Rugs
Preventative maintenance cuts down on the amount of dirt and grime that comes in contact with your floors. Place a heavy-duty mat outside your front door for people to wipe their shoes on, and position another mat just inside the threshold. Have visitors and family members remove their shoes before stepping inside. Use a boot or shoe tray to keep footwear organized and away from the wood surface.

Area rugs are perfect for high-traffic spots or rooms where kids spend a lot of time. Rugs keep messes off the floor and are generally easier to clean than the wood itself. Use rugs with backings to reduce the risk of slipping, but make sure that the backing material is something that won’t damage the floor.

Grab a Broom
Quick cleaning on a daily, bi-weekly or weekly basis can be done using a soft-bristled broom and a dustpan. This removes superficial dirt before it becomes ingrained in the floor surface. Small brooms and handheld vacuums are useful for cleaning in corners. To get rid of even more dust and debris, try a sweeper that uses electrostatic dust cloths. Pay special attention to areas where dirt is most likely to build up, such as the kitchen, the front hallway and the bathroom.

Take Care With the Vacuum Cleaner
Opinions differ on how often you should vacuum hardwood floors. For high-traffic areas, daily vacuuming may be necessary to remove deeper dirt. In other rooms, bi-weekly or weekly vacuuming should suffice.

One thing that everyone agrees on is to never use a beater bar. The harsh bristles can damage the finish and leave it looking dull. Instead, use the hardwood floor setting or a floor brush attachment to lift away dirt. Electric brooms are also gentle enough to use for frequent cleaning. Don’t be tempted by the “deeper clean” that floor buffers claim to offer. The abrasive pads can ruin the surface of the wood.

Be Smart About Deep Cleaning
Even with preventative maintenance and routine cleaning, wood flooring still winds up with grime, oil and stubborn dirt on its surface. That’s why it’s important to clean the floor more aggressively once or twice a year. However, you have to use the correct kind of cleaning products and tools. Your goal should be to leave no standing water at all and avoid harsh substances that can scratch or dull the finish.

The best cleaning solutions are mild and include mixtures of dish soap and water; a solution of water, olive oil and lemon juice; hot water and borax; and lukewarm black tea. Apply your chosen cleaner using a damp mop by dipping the mop into the solution and wringing it out until it’s almost dry. Finish off by buffing the floor with a towel. Alternatively, you can place the cleaner in a spray bottle and mist the floor as you go.

Never use any of the following cleaning methods or solutions on a wood floor:

• Wet mopping
• Steam cleaning
• Vinegar solutions
• Ammonia-based cleaners
• Furniture polish
• Wax- or oil-based cleaners

All of these can cause damage or result in slick floors that pose a hazard to you and your family.

Spot Cleaning
Diligence in regular cleaning will prevent the most serious messes, but it’s impossible to completely avoid scuffs, marks and spots. If you discover any blemishes on your wood floor, sprinkle the area with baking soda and clean it with a damp sponge. The dirt should lift right off.

Drips, spills, sticky streaks and food that can dry onto the floor should be cleaned up immediately. If you miss something and find an unidentifiable substance stuck to the wood, use a cleaner formulated to remove tough dirt and wipe with a gentle cloth. Deep stains and spots may require sanding and refinishing to remove.

Following these tips may seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth the effort when it comes to maintaining your hardwood floors. As you begin to incorporate each step into your regular cleaning regimen, you’ll see the true beauty of the wood begin to shine through. All it takes to continue enjoying that beauty is to devote a little extra time each day to proper floor care. In our opinion, it’s time well spent.


Photo Credit: <a href=””>Revolution Mills</a> via <a href=””>Compfight</a> <a href=”″>cc</a>

Household Color to Go with Hardwood

Unless you’re going with a completely eclectic design, decorating your interior living space is all about adhering to a theme (and indeed, eclectic designs can be considered a theme in of themselves). Many times, a theme has a lot to do with color: the floors, the paintings, the furniture, and so on. So with that in mind, what are the best color options to match your hardwood flooring with your walls? In this article, we will talk about the easiest and best ways to make your living space really mesh between the walls and floors.

The great thing about wood, other than its elegance and its ease of maintenance, is that there is a wide abundance of colors to choose from. There is no such thing as a “standard” color of wood floor: you can pick from a wide variety of tree species, undertones, and stains. Indeed, there are so many options that it can even be overwhelming when trying to match a floor to a wall, but that’s what we’re here for!

The simplest thing you can do to coordinate color between the floor and wall is to pick a neutral tone of paint for the walls. Virtually any color of wood pairs nicely with a neutral wall (white is a very popular option). Even mixed wood floors will do well when put against a neutral background, allowing you a bit of creative freedom when it comes to installation. If you’re worried about the space not having enough personality, throw in some colorful furniture and/or rugs to make it vibrant.

For some people, however, neutral colors are boring. So many people have white or similarly-colored walls, so perhaps you want to break the mold and do something off-kilter. Perhaps you should consider choosing a wall shade comparable to your floorboards. If your wood has golden or reddish undertones going for it, paint your walls a warm color as a complement. Orange flooring pairs nicely with rust-colored or terracotta walls, and rich, red woods look gorgeous next to a wine or burgundy paint. Pair gray or ashen woods with cool colors like blue or green.

Now, what if you want to take it one step farther and go for an off-the-wall, bold look? That’s simple, as well: play up the contrast. Find out what shade of wood you have, look opposite the color wheel, and bam, there’s the color of your walls. As an example, if your wood has a warm color like orange or gold, paint the walls a cool blue or gray. Both surfaces end up popping when you go with such a paint scheme, so don’t be afraid to experiment!

What colors do you like on your walls?

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Changing the Color of Your Hardwood Floors


Have you ever taken a look at your hardwood floors and wished that you could change their color? Or perhaps you’re looking into buying a house, but you want the hardwood to be darker or lighter than the current floor is? Good news: you may not have known, but when you refinish a hardwood floor, you can absolutely change the color of it! It doesn’t matter if you’re going light to dark, dark to light, or anywhere in between: if you can sand and refinish your floors, you can change the color of them.

The process for sanding and refinishing is simpler than you might think. This first step is to purchase or rent a sanding machine and sand down the floor that you are refinishing. Do about three sandings, moving from coarse grit down to your finest grit for best results. This should give your hardwood a smooth surface that will readily accept any stain that you add. Your floor should look basically like brand-new hardwood once you’re done.

With that step out of the way, now it’s time to choose your stain. There are many, many different options ranging all different colors, so try picking out a couple of choices and testing them on your own floors first. This is an essential step because every floor is different and may take different colors differently than another. You may be hesitant to stain over a large area if you’re just testing it out, but we can assure you that this will give you the best visuals and is well worth the time spent.

The last step is to add two to three coats of polyurethane. This coating will take about 24 hours per layer to dry, assuming you’re using an oil base (water based polyurethane dries faster but isn’t as durable). Make sure that after every coat application, you buff the floors in order to smooth them out and help the polyurethane last longer. 90-95% of people select a satin finish for their hardwood, but don’t let that stop you from checking out some of the other choices: you can look at matte, gloss, and semi-gloss, as well!

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