So which hardwood flooring option should you choose? Should you go for solid hardwood, laminate or engineered? Solid hardwood is, of course, hardwood flooring is at its purest. But it is also quite expensive. Engineered and laminate floors are much cheaper, and unlike solid wood, can be installed anywhere, but they have some disadvantages.
Let’s quickly look at each type of hardwood flooring.
The solid wood used in hardwood flooring is the real deal – it comes from trees, which could be maple, oak, cherry, Brazilian cherry, teak and so many other species. The advantage of picking solid wood is that you can decide just how you want it finished. You can go with a variety of light and dark colors and a number of glossy, semi-glossy or satin finishes.
You can have the wood’s appearance customized the way you like it. Solid wood provides excellent protection against scratches and abrasions as well as against UV rays. You can choose from options such as distressed flooring, reclaimed flooring, hand-scraped flooring and wide-width planks.
Solid wood floors can be refinished as many times as you like depending on the thickness of the wood used. The planks made from these woods do not get damaged easily, and there is a certain timeless appeal to such hardwood flooring.
However, solid wood flooring does have its drawbacks. For example – it cannot be installed at the ground level. Wood is susceptible to humidity and can be affected by moisture. Wood can expand and contract depending on how dry or moist the air is – which could cause the wood planks to warp or split. Also, solid hardwood flooring is certainly not cheap. There are more affordable alternatives available, which we discuss next.
Engineered wood solves some of the problems of solid wood. It consists of a top layer of the real hardwood and a core created from plywood sections that are laid crossways to each other. It’s more stable than solid wood and is not affected by changes in humidity and temperature. Engineered wood is usually used in areas where there is a lot of moisture such as bathrooms and basements. Engineered wood can be refinished only a few times and can be installed in a number of ways – engineered wood planks can be nailed down or glued down. The biggest advantage of engineered wood is that it works well as a lower priced alternative to solid hardwood.
Laminate does not really contain any wood. It consists of a top layer which resembles wood, or rather, is nothing more than a printed image of wood. The reason it’s so popular with homeowners is because it’s cheaper than both solid wood and engineered wood.
Laminate offers durable, long lasting flooring, and since it’s much cheaper than solid wood, homeowners don’t worry too much about it getting damaged by kids or pets. However, laminate flooring has to be vacuumed regularly; otherwise it can get damaged very easily by the dirt and grime. Laminate flooring cannot be refinished either, which is another drawback – if it gets damaged or worn out, it simply has to be replaced.
The three hardwood flooring options discussed here – solid wood, engineered wood and laminate have their advantages and disadvantages. Solid wood gets affected by moisture and is expensive; engineered wood doesn’t look as great as solid wood, but is not affected by moisture; laminate is the cheapest option available, but it cannot be refinished and has to be vacuumed daily.