Wood Flooring - Solid, Engineered, Laminate, Oh My!

There are a lot of flooring choices for homeowners, even when it comes to those that want the classic, timeless look and warm feel of a hardware floor. Solid hardwood, engineered wood and laminate flooring are three options to consider:

Solid Hardwood Flooring is one piece of wood, from top to bottom, with no additional materials added, and is generally just called hardwood floor. The homeowner can choose which type of species, stain and finish they’d like for their solid wood floor.

Pros

  • Solid hardwood flooring lasts longer because can be re-sanded numerous times, extending its life for decades.
  • Solid hardwood flooring is more durable than other varieties, making it a good option for children and/or pets.
  • Solid hardwood flooring comes in many different wood varieties, including exotic woods, so you can find an option perfect for your home.

Cons

  • Solid hardwood flooring cannot be installed in moist areas such as basements or bathrooms because the higher moisture content in the air (or even on the floor) can cause the wood to ripple or buckle, which will destroy the flooring.
  • Solid hardwood flooring is slightly more expensive than engineered wood flooring.
  • Solid hardwood flooring must be nailed to a wooden sub-floor. Unlike the other wood flooring options, it cannot be installed straight on concrete or on top of your existing floor.

Engineered Wood Flooring is comprised of finished wood and less expensive, stronger wood layers pressed together, with the grains running in different directions. The finished wood is what you see and walk on; the less expensive wood underneath comprises 80-90% of the floor.

Pros

  • Engineered wood flooring is more environmentally friendly than solid hardwood floors because the sub-surface layers are made from leftover “junk” or “scrap” wood.
  • Engineered wood flooring can withstand moisture due to the layers of flooring that withstand buckling and rippling, which means it can be installed in bathrooms, basements, etc.
  • Engineered wood flooring is a less expensive option.
  • Because the grains run in different directions, engineered wood flooring is more dimensionally stable than solid wood.

Cons

  • Engineered wood flooring can only be refinished a couple of times, making its lifespan shorter than solid hardwood flooring.
  • Deep scratches and dents cannot be sanded out of engineered wood flooring.

Laminate Flooring is a multi-layered wood based floating floor system that replicates the appearance of hardwood, stone, ceramic tile and other more expensive flooring options. The top layer provides the durability against wear, the second layer supplies the flooring’s pattern, the third layer is a wood core that provides stability and comfort and the bottom layer provides a sealed surface to lengthen the flooring’s longevity.

Pros

  • Laminate flooring is easy to maintain and scratch-resistant.
  • Laminate flooring works well in moist environments like bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Laminate flooring is cheaper than solid or engineered wood flooring.
  • Laminate flooring is incredibly easy to install, allowing the homeowner to pull it up easily whenever they want a change.

Cons

  • Laminate flooring does not last as long as solid or engineered wood.
  • Laminate flooring is slippery and hard to walk on (foam underlayment is put down to soften this).
  • Laminate flooring cannot be sanded.
  • Laminate flooring can be scuffed or even ripped easily.

Which type of wood flooring is best for your home? Contact us for a complimentary in-home consultation with one of our experts!

Photo courtesy of KAIND