Hallway and foyer installations can be true works of art. This example, which features Jatoba and a compass rose, was an NWFA Floor of the Year award winner in 2000.

In both their merchandising and advertising efforts, today's wood flooring dealers/contractors continue to place heavy emphasis on potential installations in the large areas of the consumer's home. Pictorial "invitations" in advertising pieces continue to focus on the family areas of the home. It goes without saying that providing the consumer with the big picture has the potential to create big bucks for the dealer.

No one can really argue with the concept. In most homes, the place for gathering typically is the great room that - over recent years - has replaced a formal living room. And even more recently, the kitchen has become the second hottest spot for hardwood flooring installations. The parameters of the kitchen area have been expanded to include the breakfast nook and, in some instances, an adjacent hearth room. In such settings, the warmth of hardwood flooring just seems to glow in harmony with the fireplace while also providing an excellent "projection reflection" of any big-screen TV.

Prior to 1965, hardwood floors and resilient tile were mandatory under Federal Housing Administration (FHA) qualifying guidelines for federally backed mortgage loans. Hardwood floors were considered the standard in new home construction. The typical entrance through the front door was considered to be within the confines of the living room.

Foyers didn't exist back then, except in the upscale housing developments. Hallways were purely functional, providing passage to the bedrooms and creating a location acceptable for a 5-by-6-foot powder room. When I was growing up, the only time I remember gathering in the hallway was while waiting for my turn to use the bathroom in the morning before leaving for school.

Before the mid-1960s, hardwood flooring was considered a major component of the home. In reality, the mandatory requirement for hardwood floors was in the best interest of any new homeowner. The commitment to a 30-year mortgage was accompanied by a floor covering with the potential longevity to be present from the first payment through the last.

As we've come to realize in the intervening years, 1965 marked the beginning of the great flooring cover up - the one that concealed the real value of hardwood, a value that had been taken for granted for so many years.

Once the larger areas - such as living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms - fell under the spell of broadloom carpet, the hallways never had a chance. Dust mopping and periodic waxing of wood hallway floors was replaced with a quick vacuuming of the carpet.

What was taken from the hardwood flooring industry so abruptly by FHA regulations has required years of education and technical advancements to revive. And even in that revival, hallways and foyers remained something of a last choice when it came to installation of hardwood floors. Obviously, these are among the very first areas of the home to exhibit foot traffic patterns. Yet, hallways and foyers persist as one of the hot spots for carpet installations. Go figure.

Interestingly, the consistency of hardwood flooring provides versatility in any decorating scheme and also creates an optical illusion of enlargement without need for a costly room addition.

The following are just a few tips, with regards to installation practices and procedures, to help you enter the hardwood floor "Hall" of Fame.

1. As with all hardwood flooring installations, qualify the subfloor. Areas that are currently carpeted will require a visual inspection. The best way to do so would be to remove a floor vent that's situated relatively close to the area of installation and have a look.

A minimum 5/8-inch exterior grade-approved underlayment that is deemed acceptable by the hardwood flooring manufacture is required (although a 3/4-inch underlayment is preferable). Floor joists must be no more than 16 inches apart. Any spacing in excess of this may require additional reinforcement to reduce deflection in the floor. And don't forget to check the subfloor for acceptable moisture content.

2. The hardwood flooring should be installed perpendicular to the floor joists. There is one exception, however. In hallway applications, hardwood flooring should be installed parallel to the long walls to obtain the preferred visual effect. Reduce the nailing spacing from 8 to 10 inches apart to a maximum of 6 inches.

3. Hallway installations can be quite confining. These installations also have to be lined out and tied into the larger areas of installation when applicable. It's imperative that you keep your installation straight and evenly parallel to the hallway walls.

4. Due to wall restrictions on both your starting and ending rows of flooring, as well as the close proximity of their locations, additional hand nailing on the blind (rather than use of a mechanical nailing machine) is required.

5. Typically, hallways contain multiple doorways and casings which require cutting for product clearance. Baseboard removal and/or installation of shoe moulding should be included in your bid/proposal.

6. Adjacent areas of floor covering at the doorways may require transitional trim. When adjoining carpet, a tack strip will need to be installed 1/4-inch away from, and parallel to, the last strip of hardwood flooring so that the exposed edge of carpet may be caulked and finished off. Whenever possible, install a "full board" hardwood header. This delivers a nice, clean and proportionate ending to your installation.

Wood or Wood Knot has just revealed to you that there should not be any secret passages in any home denied the opportunity and distinction of hardwood floors. It's the holiday season. What are you waiting for? There's never been a more appropriate time to "Deck the Halls."