Wood flooring is a popular choice among homeowners looking to remodel their floors. However, people often are not aware there are several options available for homeowners who want the look and feel of wood flooring. For many centuries, people have installed solid hardwood floors. More recently, laminate and engineered wood products have also become available to homeowners. The pieces of all three are typically installed using a tongue and groove system, which can be nailed down, glued or floated on top of a subfloor. All three products can be swept and cleaned using a mop and hot water with a few drops of mild dish soap. While the three products share certain visual characteristics, there are significant differences between the materials and we intend to illustrate those aspects in this article.

Solid Hardwood Flooring
Solid hardwood flooring consists of a single piece of wood from any one of a variety of species. The durability of the floor depends on the type of wood used. Moisture levels must be monitored because hardwood floors can absorb moisture that will cause the planks to swell and warp. Hardwood floors are easier to damage and require more maintenance than the other flooring options to maintain their appearance. Owners can remove imperfections by sanding and refinishing the planks. The boards are typically 3/4 of an inch thick and range from a few inches to 6 inches wide. Hardwood flooring is typically the most expensive option. The cost is based on the type of wood and the size of planks used.

Laminate Flooring
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Laminate pieces are manufactured from synthetic materials that are covered by a decorative finish that mimics the look of real wood. The bottom layer is resin-soaked, moisture-resistant cellulose. The inner core of the laminate piece is made from high-density fiberboard that is compressed under high pressure. Designed to resist wear, the glued-on top layer contains a variation of polyurethane and aluminum oxide. The wood pattern is a photographic image. As a result, laminate flooring is more water and scratch-resistant than solid hardwood and engineered flooring. The highly durable planks are available in a variety of sizes and are generally only 3/8-inch thick. When damaged, the piece must be replaced because it cannot be refinished. Laminate flooring is often the least expensive option.

Engineered Flooring
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In most cases, the second most expensive of the three options is engineered flooring. This type of flooring is a hybrid of the other two technologies. The top of an engineered plank is a veneer made from solid wood, which is glued to a bottom layer that is a composite of several sheets of plywood or high-density fiberboard pressed together. The top wood layer is comprised of a selected wood species similar to solid hardwood instead of a photograph like laminate products. The bottom layer provides the same moisture and heat-resistant characteristics of a laminate floor. These characteristics enable engineered products to be installed in more applications than solid wood flooring, such as over a slab and radiant floors. Some engineered products can be refinished if damaged.

Each of the choices offers its share of positives and each can produce a beautiful floor. Hopefully with the information provided in this blog homeowners will be able to make an informed decision. Your chosen flooring professional should be able to answer any questions that you may have.

Solid Hardwood vs. Laminate vs. Engineered