Wood flooring is a classic and timeless flooring material for home interiors.  Since they are highly versatile in their design, they go great with any style – from traditional to modern.  As an architectural and interior design firm, our clients often ask us about the different kinds of wood flooring that’s available on the market and which type would be the best to meet their specific needs. Hopefully this post will help to shed a little light on the matter. Ready?

Solid Hardwood

When most people think of wood flooring, they most commonly think of solid hardwood flooring.  It’s basically planks cut from a tree, machined to have tongue and groove edges, and most often finished with a stain and a top finish coat (although you can choose to opt out of the stain for a more natural look). Now, we could break it down even further into difference species, cuts, grain patterning, gloss levels and more… but we’re just going to keep it simple for now! Here are the pros and cons of solid hardwood:

PROS

  • Longevity! It can be sanded down and refinished multiple times over its life – lasting (potentially) for centuries if it’s taken care of properly.
  • Hardwood floors are gorgeous (in our opinion)! There are a variety of species, stains, and grain patterns to choose from in order to better reflect your personal style.
  • Home buyers are often drawn to hardwood and a rich hardwood floor can help increase your home’s value.

CONS

  • Price point. It’s usually the most expensive wood flooring option available on the market.
  • Installation is not that easy and is best left to a trained professional.
  • It’s susceptible to dents and scratches. A high-quality top finish layer can help prevent damage, but it’s not as durable as some other flooring types listed in this post.
  • It can expand and contract depending on the humidity level (another reason why it’s best to leave the installation process to a professional).

Engineered Hardwood

Engineered hardwood is virtually indistinguishable from solid hardwood after it’s installed.  This type of floor has a thin layer of real wood (usually around 2mm – 5mm) which is adhered on top of a core layer (usually plywood). Like solid hardwood, it’s available in various species, grain patterns and gloss levels.

PROS

  • More cost effective than solid hardwood (usually).
  • It looks like solid hardwood.
  • It’s less susceptible to warping and shrinking than solid hardwood, as the core plywood layer provides stability.

CONS

  • The price is still typically more expensive than laminate and vinyl plank.
  • It cannot be refinished as many times as solid hardwood since you would reach the core layer eventually.
  • Since it’s still a natural wood surface, it’s susceptible to dents and scratches like solid hardwood.

Laminate

Laminate flooring is not actually a wood floor. However, laminate flooring is made to look like wood, is less costly and is easier to install.  What is it exactly? Laminate has a core made of pressed wood fibres. On top of that core is a thin pattern layer, which is a printed image of the wood grain on paper. To seal it all in, there is a durable “laminated” layer on top.

PROS

  • Easier to install than hardwood or engineered hardwood.
  • Cost effective.
  • Laminated layer can often be more scratch resistant than traditional hardwood.

CONS

  • It can be loud – it can make “clickity-clack” sounds when walking on it.
  • Susceptible to water damage if not properly maintained. The core can swell if water reaches that layer.
  • It’s not real wood! Although it may look like real (and some patterns can be quite convincing), it’s still not the real thing.
  • Depending on the method of installation (click-down or glue down) the floor may, over time, expand and contract. Often, it shrinks over time leaving gaps between planks.

Vinyl Plank

Vinyl planks are thin, flexible strips of flooring material, usually 2 mm to 5 mm thick.  In the industry, we refer to this as “LVP” – Luxury Vinyl Plank.  The planks are made of a thin printed layer of the wood pattern (a vinyl layer), with a highly durable, wear layer on top.  LVP can be quite a realistic replication of wood.

PROS

  • Price is normally around the same as laminate, or a bit higher.
  • Installation is fairly easy and planks are usually cut with a razor knife. Typically, the planks are either glued down or even installed free floating.
  • Like laminate, it is highly durable to dents and scratching.
  • Very resistant to water.
  • Quiet under foot.

CONS

  • If your sub-floor is uneven, any bumps or ridges below can telegraph through the floor because the planks tend to be thin.
  • The planks can expand and contract as well which may cause gaps between the planks to appear over time.
  • Again, it’s not real wood! Most people would be able to recognize that it’s not real. However, some products are more realistic than others.

Hopefully this provides some basic knowledge about the different flooring options that are available. When it comes to selecting the right product, you’ll have to consider many factors including how much wear and tear it will face, your personal preference and your budget.

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