TYPES OF WOOD FLOORING
(Solid, Engineered & Laminates)
There are two types of hardwood floors available today: engineered and solid wood. While both products are made using genuine wood, they vary in the way they are constructed. Solid hardwood flooring is manufactured from one piece of milled wood and contains solid wood all throughout.
Solid hardwood continuously remains one of the most popular types of flooring because of its warm, classic look but it is also one of the more expensive flooring materials on the market. Hardwood flooring is versatile in its look, is long-lasting and will withstand up to five refinishes to remove surface scratches. Hardwood flooring increases the resale value of your home as it’s such a sought-after feature for many.
Many kinds of wood are available, from domestic species such as oak, maple, & walnut to exotic varieties such as Brazilian cherry, and come in planks of varying widths and lengths. Wood flooring can be sold either finished or unfinished. Unfinished flooring requires sanding and finishing it after installing. Prefinished wood flooring typically costs less and involves less work. Also, the factory-installed finishes are usually more durable than anything you could do yourself.
Wood is a renewable resource, but it isn’t always harvested in sustainable ways. Cutting trees without planting new ones in their place, or cutting them faster than new ones can grow, may contribute to global warming.
Pros of Solid Hardwood Flooring
Great long-term value – high return-on-investment, adds value to property upon resale
Very long-lasting – can be refinished up to 5 times to remove surface scratches
Strong and durable
Easy to clean – just sweep & mop
- Many options available
Cons of Solid Hardwood Flooring
Expensive – More cost and upkeep with hardwood flooring
Vulnerable to rough treatment & high-traffic areas – scrapes, scratches & dents can occur
Doesn’t stand up well to moisture & is susceptible to warping & water damage
Can swell, shrink & warp when exposed to moisture for a long time – not suitable for bathrooms, laundry rooms, wet basements, etc…
Can shrink and swell with changes in temperature
Can fade from UV rays in sunlight
- Requires regular maintenance – specialty hardwood floor cleaners periodically, fresh coat of finish every three to five years, refinishing every 10 years
Engineered Wood Flooring
Engineered flooring offers the look of real wood at a more affordable price than solid wood. It is as durable as solid hardwood and can last almost as long with proper care. It is called engineered wood because, unlike solid or hardwood floorings, it has a plywood base. It has a thin glossy veneer of natural real wood on top, (which enhance the visible wood grain & looks like real hardwood), plus it has layers of stains & sealants. Then it also has strong, tightly compressed, moisture-blocking layers of less expensive plywood underneath. This makes engineered wood cheaper, sturdier, more water-resistant, and more durable than solid wood but at a lower price. Some types of engineered wood have even more stability with backing made from recycled wood fiber mixed with stone dust. Some engineered planks come with a special tongue and groove system that clicks into place to form a tight seam without glue or nails. Engineered wood is more stable than solid wood and less sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, making them a reasonable choice for a basement room, unlike solid wood. And speaking of basements, many types of engineered wood flooring can be installed directly over a concrete subfloor, something that isn’t always possible with solid wood.
Pros of Engineered Wood Flooring
Has real hardwood top layer so looks like solid but at a cheaper price
Stronger & more water resistance than hardwood (but still not recommended for bathrooms & kitchens)
More dimensionally stable – less likely to warp, expand or contract with changes in temperature or humidity
Most engineered wood comes pre-finished, thus streamlining installation
Lifespan of 20+ years with care and maintenance
Better resale value than laminate flooring
Cons of Engineered Wood Flooring
Can scratch and dent easily
Can only be refinished a few times ‘cause of a thinner veneer on top of the wood
Wide variation in quality
Can sound hollow underfoot
Both solid and engineered wood floors can be installed by nailing to or gluing down on a subfloor, or installed as a floating floor on top of a foam or cork underlayer above the subfloor.
Laminate Flooring is an affordable flooring option for owners who prefer an alternative to carpet but want to avoid the cost of hardwood or tiles. Laminate flooring consists of a moisture-resistant, stabilizing base layer and a core of compressed layers of high-density fiberboard, often set in resin. A photographic layer is laminated to the surface under a tough, clear plastic, wear-resistant, protective layer of resin for added durability. The printed layer can look like hardwood, stone, tiles, pebbles or virtually anything else in a budget range. Its thick resin surface makes it essentially stain-free. Most of them are floating floor systems, which you can install right over your old flooring with no glue or nails.
Pros of Laminate Flooring
Inexpensive compared to wood
Durable & ideal for high-traffic areas & dry basements
Stain resistant & less likely to grow mold
Easy to clean & maintain
Scratch-resistant – good for pet owners
Many styles and colors available – can mimic other flooring looks for much less money
Cons of Laminate Flooring
Susceptible to moisture damage & can be slippery when wet
Chips easily, and can be gouged and scratched
- May be less cost-effective than wood or tile over the long term ’cause it can’t be refinished when it wears out – it must be replaced.
Avoid using in areas exposed to heavy moisture (like bathrooms, kitchens, or damp basements)
- Seams are not waterproof so it’s not recommended for wet mopping, hot steam mops, or power cleaning
Does not look and feel as good as solid wood – has a hollow sound underfoot