Wood flooring is a great way to bring nature into your home and create a warm, natural environment. The first choice you’ll have to make is whether you want ‘the real thing’ in the form of solid or engineered hardwood flooring; or laminate flooring which imitates real wood. We’ve listed the pros and cons for each type to help you on your way.
Solid wood flooring
Made from one piece of hardwood timber, solid wood flooring is as authentic as you can get when it comes to wood flooring and comes in a variety of thicknesses and widths, pre-finished or unfinished for you to varnish. This flooring comes with tongue and groove edges and is usually glued or nailed onto the sub-floor. Solid wood flooring will create a natural and warm ambience and is very long-lasting as it can be sanded and refinished many times over. The downside of it is that it reacts to moisture changes that naturally occur during the change of seasons. This causes the floor to contract and expand throughout the year, which means it needs to be installed with margins between planks to allow for this movement. Only a fitter with a high level of skill in this type of flooring should be used for this work, which will have an effect on cost. Solid wood flooring is best for those with a larger budget looking for a very long-lasting floor and a customised finish. It can also add considerable value to a home and can be seen as an investment. As such, a solid wood floor is usually used in period properties where the seasonal changes in the floor complement the property.
Engineered wood flooring
Using a more modern approach to wood flooring, engineered flooring uses a layered construction made up of one to three layers of hardwood on top of a soft wood core. This layered construction controls the natural movement of a wood floor. Although it is not made up of 100% hardwood, engineered flooring is more resistant to moisture and is therefore more stable. It normally comes pre-finished with tongue and groove edges and depending on the manufacturer can be installed as a fully glued down floor, or on top of a suitable underlay as a floated floor. Some types have edges that click together, such as Kahrs flooring with Woodloc joints. These are unique glue-less floor joints which means that gaps never appear between the boards, despite climatic changes in the home and they make the floor much easier to lay. Engineered floors can usually only be sanded and finished one to five times, depending on the thickness of the hardwood veneer. As they usually come pre-finished, the choice of styles and finishes is much greater than with solid floors. Engineered flooring can be just as realistic as solid wood flooring and is best for those looking for a combination of quality and easy of use.
Also using a layered construction, laminate flooring does not contain any real wood but imitates the material with the help of a printed pattern set within a resin or plastic layer, mounted on top of MDF or HDF with a balancing backing underneath. The main advantage of this flooring is cost and you get what you pay for here. These floors are simply clicked into place over a layer of foam, making them very easy to lay. They are easy to maintain and highly durable, although lower grade laminates may only last 5 - 15 years and then end up on a landfill. Laminate floors are also colder to the touch than hardwood floors and although they are becoming more and more authentic-looking, they will never create the same warm, natural feel as a hardwood floor. That said, laminate flooring is a great option for those on a budget looking for a classy and modern alternative to carpets or other floors.
Are you still stuck for a starting point? Set yourself a budget and then see what you can afford from there – it will help to narrow your choice!
Author: 1926 Wood Flooring