Walk into a newly built or remodeled home today, and you’ll likely agree that wood floors are making a strong comeback–in family and living rooms, kitchens and even bedrooms. And much like tile flooring discussed in a previous post, today’s wood and wood-look flooring options are nearly endless.
Laminate. Lamination is a four- layer process that results in highly durable faux-wood material. It consists of a melamine resin layer, high-density fiberboard, a decorative layer which provides the detailed wood imagery, and finally, a transparent, protective layer. Laminate flooring is popular for a variety of reasons—primarily its price. It installs rather easily and can often be placed without sub flooring needing to be laid down first. These features make laminate flooring an affordable option for achieving a wood floor look.
Engineered planks. Engineered planks are made of 3-12 thin layers of actual wood, finished with a thin layer of domestic or exotic hardwood. The planks come prefinished and can be installed over sub flooring, existing flooring, or a concrete slab. These floors are quite durable, and depending on the wear layer (the top layer of hardwood) they can be refinished 2-5 times over the life of the floor. These floors do offer the attractiveness of solid wood, however, if the floor is damaged, matching the manufactured planks with replacements can be difficult. The cost for manufactured planks will usually be higher than laminate.
Solid Wood. Solid wood is just that; solid. While many homeowners and contractors suggest that solid hardwoods offer a more distinctive, richer look than engineered or laminate floors, the functional “beauty” of hardwood is that you can choose the exact wood and finish you prefer. Additionally, (and unlike other options) solid wood floors can be sanded and refinished over and over again. Truly, the life span of a solid hard wood floor can be 100 years or more, all the while allowing the homeowner to bring the floor to a fully new appearance as needed. So what’s the downside? Installation can take longer due to on site cutting, sanding and finishing, all of which can result in higher costs.
When selecting the “wood” flooring option that is best for you, you’ll need to consider your lifestyle, traffic patterns in the room at hand and your budget. A qualified contractor or flooring professional can review the many options with you and help you make the best decision for your unique application.