Laminate flooring has come a long way since it was introduced in the late 1970’s. It can be beautiful and durable, inexpensive, easy to install, and it’s the ideal choice for some applications. However, nothing can compare to the beauty, feel, and warmth of real wood floors. Today consumers have an unprecedented selection of natural woods and finishes to choose from.
Real wood flooring is available in two types – solid wood, and engineered wood. People are often confused by the differences between engineered and solid wood flooring, and which type is best for them.
Solid as a Rock
Solid wood flooring is cut from a solid piece of wood and is available in a wide variety of woods including the old standbys oak, pine, and maple, and exotics like eucalyptus, acacia, mahogany, and ebony. Solid wood flooring is usually ¾” thick and up to 5” wide. It’s available in different hardnesses ranging from very soft white pine to extremely hard Brazilian ebony.
Solid wood flooring is susceptible to fluctuations in temperature and humidity. Constant indoor humidity between 45% and 55% is usually recommended to prevent gaps from opening up between the boards.
Solid wood flooring is nailed or stapled down so installation is more time consuming and involved. It’s sometimes not recommended that you install solid wood below grade because of temperature and humidity fluctuations that are common in basements.
Engineered wood flooring is made by gluing a real wood veneer to one or more layers of plywood, high density fibreboard (HDF) or medium density fibreboard (MDF). The layers are bonded together under heat and pressure.
One of the great advantages of engineered wood flooring is it can be installed just about anywhere. Because it’s a composite, it’s not affected as much by humidity and temperature fluctuations.
It can either be nailed or glued, or floated like laminate making it easy for do it yourselfers to install. While solid wood flooring can be refinished many times, engineered wood flooring has a very thin veneer that can usually only be refinished once or maybe twice at the most.
Whether you choose solid or engineered wood flooring it’s important to take care of it to keep it looking beautiful. Sweep and vacuum often, and put protectors under furniture. Monitor the humidity in your home. If you have dogs or children, the harder the wood, the better.
For all of your wood, laminate, and vinyl flooring needs, visit your local TimberTown Building Center.