Selecting new flooring can be overwhelming and although many adore hardwood floors and its timeless beauty, there are several different types of flooring that are quite comparable. We're no flooring experts but here's a bit of what we've learned from our trusted professionals along the way, that may help with you navigate your options.
Solid hardwood is milled from solid lumber.
Pros: Easy to maintain and can be sanded down and refinished several times. Adding a sealer easily enhances the durability of the wood and its resistance to water and staining without concealing the woods natural beauty.
Cons: Wood shrinks and warps in response to moisture, which usually makes it a bad choice for basements where humidity levels are hard to control. It also cannot be installed directly on a concrete surface so in areas where a subfloor is not possible, solid hardwood wood is an unlikely option.
Engineered wood is made up of a thin layer of solid hardwood on top and several wood plies (layers) that are fused together under heat and pressure at the bottom.
Pros: Designed to reduce moisture problems that are associated with hardwood. It will not swell or warp, making it very strong and stable. Also engineered hardwood can go over concrete (great for condos). Aesthetically they are equal to solid hardwood floors, you usually can't easily tell the difference once they are installed, since the top layer is real wood.
Cons: Veneers that are too thin will prevent sanding or refinishing. However, most engineered wood floors offer a thick enough veneer that allows you to sand and refinish 1-2 times. Engineered wood is a little more expensive than solid hardwood.
These are the two main products that we use throughout a home. When considering solid hardwood or engineered wood flooring, you also have the option to go pre-finished, where the wood comes already coloured and varnished, ready to install. Or you can install raw wood planks and have them stained on site. Most contractors prefer the ease of pre-finished flooring. Sometimes we opt for unifinshed wood either to match an existing wood flooring that's staying in the project, or to attain a stain we were unable to find in stores.
Laminate is composed of several layers of fiberboard materials with an image of real wood printed on top with a clear protective layer.
Pros: Inexpensive, durable, and very resistant to scratches
Cons: Aesthetically, you can usually tell right away that a laminate is not real wood. It also doesn’t repair easily. If the flooring you choose comes in individual pieces, you may be able to replace each piece, but depending on sunlight and age it may not match entirely.
Pieces of vinyl that are printed with a pattern that imitates stone or wood.
Pros: Waterproof and very thin. Great for basements since it reduces noise levels.
Cons: Subfloor must be perfect or imperfections show throughout.
Although what's currently available on the market has been greatly improved over the years, since laminates and and vinyls are made of a printed image, you may see the pattern repeat if covering a large surface. Another thing to look out for would be models that also have a texture where the texture doesn't line up with the printed image. These are both signs that the product is not a real wood and would determine how good of a replica you get.
Whether it's out of necessity or just for a change in look, new flooring can truly transform your home. We've really just scratched the (wood) surface in this post. You also have to consider the species, the installation technique, the stain colour and sheen. There's a lot more to learn on the hunt for your flooring product. We hope that this post answered some of your main questions and gave you some insight towards your decision!
If you need help with the best choices for your individual needs, contact us today to shedule a consultation.
Blog by: Melinda Recine