Selecting flooring for the home is a huge investment that will raise the living quality and value of your home. Whether you’re renovating or building a new home, you’ll need decide what type of flooring will work best. If some type of wood flooring is the way you want to go you must consider whether it will be hardwood, engineered or laminate. Each has its pros and cons, many of which determine the end cost.
This can be an overwhelming as there are numerous good choices now available in the marketplace. Consider the area where the new floor is to be installed and the type of wear it will be subject to. Will there be heavy foot traffic? Is the area near moisture? Is sound dampening a concern? How durable is the product? And, is it easy to clean and maintain?
Laminate flooring, or rather laminate-core, is a product typically made of High Density Fiber (HDF). The top layer is a photographic layer that appears identical to the product it replicates, be it wood, vinyl, tile, etc. It is installed with a tongue and groove glue less locking system which allows it to be installed and uninstalled several times if desired. Laminate flooring is the least expensive and is quickly gaining popularity because of this. Cleaning is also quite easy. Something to consider is that most laminates cannot be refinished. This means that once the finish is worn, the product must be replaced. It is also not recommended for areas where moisture is present. Also, some laminated products have formaldehyde and other VOC chemicals.
Engineered flooring is a made up of a core of hardwood, plywood or HDF and a thin top layer of hardwood veneer. This top layer of veneer is glued to the top surface of the core and is available in almost any hardwood species. The advantage is that is has the natural characteristics of a wood species opposed to a photographed one. Engineered hardwood provides greater stability especially where moisture or heat may be a problem for solid wooden flooring. This type of flooring is a great alternative for any homeowner looking to get nice looking floors without the high prices associated with real hardwood flooring.
Solid hardwood is the solid natural wood species throughout the entire piece of flooring. It usually has a tongue and groove installation as well. It has good sanding and refinishing capability and is available in several grades, widths and thicknesses. Most new hardwood flooring is pre-finished and has UV-cured polyurethane layers which helps protect the finish since it is susceptible to damage from water, heavy traffic or heavy objects being dropped on it. Hardwood flooring is typically more expensive and has some limitations as to where it can be installed due to moisture issues.
Because the flooring is made from solid wood, there will be color variations between boards as each piece may be from a different tree. Many people consider this part of the appeal of hardwood flooring. Maple is a common choice because is very resistant to wearing and if maintained properly it can stay in mint condition for several years. It also has a uniform texture and a natural feel that adds brightness to any room. Oak flooring is probably considered just as popular since it offers traditional elegance and when properly installed, it may actually outlast you. There are numerous other species available with varying looks and durability (and cost) including birch, ash, beech and even cork or bamboo. The list goes on.