Hardwood floors are just that - floors made out of exposed wood instead of concrete or what have you. Floors made of wood and covered by some other flooring aren't hardwood floors - the floor needs to be naked for all to see in order to qualify.

Having just moved from an apartment with linoleum in every room to one with hardwood floors in its only room, (well, ok, there's leopard-print tile in the kitchen. Seriously.) I can attest to hardwood's benefits.

  • Hardwood floors are softer on the feet - they give a little with each step.
  • They bounce light around the room, unlike carpet which absorbs it. Makes things less cave-like. A southern exposure is an added bonus.
  • Hardwood doesn't sweat in the summer the way linoleum does.
  • They're easier to clean. You don't need to own a vacuum cleaner. More importantly, you don't need to find somewhere to hide a vacuum cleaner when people come over. Well, I guess you could use it as a coat rack...
  • Cats slide across them much easier than, say, concrete, raising your apartment's cuteness value by a few points.
  • If your town ever floods you can pry up the floor and build a neat little raft. Try that with concrete.
  • They're WAY classy.

Just to put things in perspective, there are a few downsides to hardwood:

  • You know that thing I said up there about cats? Well, it isn't so cute when your floor slopes. I'm having a hard time staying at my desk right now because my chair keeps sliding backwards.
  • They might not sweat, but they're damn cold in the winter.
  • You've gotta be careful with drinks and stuff - hardwood stains if it's not varnished.
  • Even if it is varnished, the floor tends to scratch easily.

Hardwood's a definite plus to your living space of choice. You can live without it but it just might make a standard apartment comfortable.

So, Gabby and I were talking about apartments. Now I have had a small little thing going for Gabby since the day I met her, it isn't really based on anything other than the fact that she exists inside my world and there aren't a lot of women who do, so it doesn't even have a lot of bearing on hardwood floors, but maybe it is something I thought you should know.

Gabby had been going on and on about this apartment she had looked at with her boyfriend. Well at least I assume the guy was her boyfriend, although she just referred to him by name, as if I was supposed to know who he was or something. I never caught the neighborhood the apartment was in, although I do know that Gabby herself lives in the oh-so-trendy Central West End area of St. Louis. Now I had been considering moving to the even trendier Washington Avenue Loft District so I had been shopping places for a while. The boyfriend apparently didn't like this apartment (which was actually a Condominium, that he would be purchasing), because his furniture wouldn't fit the place properly. Now this frankly didn't interest me all that much and if I am going to talk to Gabby I would rather it not be about how the guy she is sleeping with isn't smart enough to realize that his $400 worth of furniture probably shouldn't be too much of a factor in his purchase of a $125,000 piece of real estate.

So I move the subject over a bit, asking if the place had hardwood floors. After 30 years of life I have decided that there are really only one acceptable kind of flooring in this world, hardwood floors (although concrete floors come in a close second). Everything else fails to stand up. They look better and they are easier to clean. While it might be possible to stain a hardwood floor with effort, I have found that carpet stains are almost a certainty, any time anything hits the floor. I once spent five years living in an apartment with carpets so bad that I still have nightmares about them. Needless to say I will never live anywhere with carpet ever again.

I wanted the young and oh-so-lovely Gabby to understand that not only were hardwood floors easier to clean, they also looked better, gave any place a sense of class, and were often a sign of a building that featured superior construction. in fact they went right along with exposed interior brick in making a statement with the place you lived in.

Gabby replied that she liked carpet better. I was amazed, I couldn't even imagine why she would like carpet better. Perhaps as a child she liked to roll around on the floor, perhaps she still does? Either way, she preferred carpets to hardwood floors, and there was nothing I could do about that. I really didn't have anything else to say to her after that, so I never spoke to her again.

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