Installing hardwood flooring?

I have a standard Foyer, Living Room and Dining Room that currently have 3/4" subfloor with builders grade (and stained) carpeting on it. My wife and I would like to put down hardwood floors and wonder about the ability to do it ourselves.
The questions on this are numerous.
First, I've read about pre-finished flooring, which sounds like a great idea to us. Is there a reason not to consider this?
Second, we want very low maintenance and long wear, especially for the foyer. What sort of wood should we use? I'm thinking we'd like a lighter colored wood with a second, offset border color of say reddish cherry.
Given the above, how hard is it to do two-tone installs? How does the second tone work? My thinking is it should be about a foot in from each baseboard. I'm just confused about how it works on the vertical portions. On the horizontal that seems obvious. Just run the second color.
Also, what about floor layout? My floorplan is like this (assuming you're not using proportional fonts):
K-D F-L
The foyer (F) opens to the north and east and has stairs along the west wall. The living room opens north and west and the dining room opens west and south.
If this is not a huge undertaking, what do I need to know before beginning? I don't have a pneumatic hammer gun but can borrow one and I'm willing to buy one if needed. I have most everything else, though also lack a full-sized table saw. I have a power 10" mitre and a standard manual 16" mitre saw.
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wood looks better, can be refinished, but install is harder. and costs more.
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idea to

Real hardwood finished on-site will have a better appearance. A bit more work, but worth it.

foyer.
wood
The durability is less about wood, more about finish. Any hardwood will last for many years. You want a hard finish and take care of it and the wood will never be touched.

second
baseboard. I'm

horizontal
How handy are you with tools? How accurate can you cut? Some people have a natural talent for the fitting that must be done, others are klutzes with tools. You seem to have the basics from the tool list you have.

beginning? I

buy one

table saw.

There is plenty of information available on web pages. Do some searching and you'll see all types of installs and samples. You can buy many types of wood if you contact some of the hardwood dealers. Some do custom milling of any species you would want. I don' thave the addy here, but the cthardwoods in Enfield CT makes custom flooring and you will find links to some really nifty floors at www.velvitoil.com Ed
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Ah, I thought it was real hardwood, just pre-finished. <grin>

Fairly handy but worried about 100% accurate cutting.

I've yet to see one that mentions how to do a border.
Thanks.
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"Rich Heimlich" wrote in message

Borders & insets come with experience, generally not a diy project unless you have loads of time and lots of patience. Layout is critical. You need a few more tools like a router and loose tongue when you get into borders. It's not a project that can be explained over the net. If you decide it's to much for you, expect double the charge for install. Even by book they say to double install time.
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are you not just substituting one wood for the other?
Punch

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"Punch" wrote in message

critical.
get
net. If

install.
Not when you do a border or inset. We are talking about running in opposing directions.
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Exactly. Even if I ran them in the same direction, the short boards would be VERY difficult to deal with and likely wouldn't hold up.
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"Rich Heimlich" wrote in message

would be

Actually there are tools of the trade that makes borders much easier than it seems. You run your main floor wild or long not nailing where border will go, chalk line where your border will go. Festo saw with guide, this saw rides on the guide, screw the guide down to the scrap that will be cut out, the Festo is like a plunge circular saw. And you cut, then router, for mitered corners you have to router both miters and glue a loose tongue in one. Still a lot more to it than I explained, but that's the basics.
I suppose you could do it with a circular saw and guide, just have to make sure your saw doesn't have any burrs on the shoe that would scratch up your floor.
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your right, I dunno what I was thinking.
Punch
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"Punch" wrote in message

critical.
get
net. If

install.
I should clarify, you will have 2 sides parallel, and 2 sides perpendicular to the main floor. Layout is equally important even if using the same type/shade of wood. You wouldn't want to end up with a 1/2" width somewhere.
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