The Look: First, decide on the general look you want. Darker colors are warmer, while lighter colors add an effect of making the space seem larger. There are literally hundreds of colors in dozens of wood species to choose from. Given the incredible selection of options, choosing a color and a type of wood may be the most time-consuming part of the project.
Choosing Eco-Friendly Flooring: Green building has been the watchword for a couple decades now, and more people are choosing environmentally-friendly flooring options. Whether you want bamboo, cork, or reclaimed lumber, there are environmental options that may be quite appealing.
Know your price range: Your budget should be the starting point of your search. If you've already made a decision for hardwood versus laminate flooring, then you've already stepped on to the next rung up the ladder. A hardwood floor will never be out of style, and with proper care, can last a quarter of a century. Also, some eco-friendly flooring options are a little pricier, but if you're committed to being as eco-friendly as possible, you'll need to make sure your budget can handle it.
Solid hardwood versus Engineered hardwood: Solid hardwood is just that, a piece of wood that has been cut and shaped to make a floor. It is thicker and more durable than laminate flooring. Engineered hardwood is somewhere in between a solid and a laminate, comprised of strips of wood woven and glued together. Engineered flooring offers the solidity of hardwood while helping you to control your cost. Both add value, but being able to say it's a solid hardwood floor may add even greater value at resale.
PRO TIP! Laying out the room is critical. Measure the width at both ends to find your center. Then start your rows with the other side of the room already planned in your mind. If you just start with a full strip at one wall you may be left with an oddly narrow or tapered row at the opposite side.
Once you're sure of the color and tone you want, you can choose the layout. The simplest and quickest method is planks or strips of wood. This is traditional and probably a good move for your first floor. If you feel adventurous, consider a diagonal layout. This may not work if your floor connects with other floors that don't match up to this approach, but it can add a dramatic touch.
You might also consider a herringbone or parquet layout. These mean more effort and greater precision to both your layout and the cutting involved, but with the extra effort comes greater visual appeal. Your best resource for creativity in layout is home design magazines and the Internet.