In today's market for wood flooring options, homeowners have different choices to achieve the look of wood floors.
Wood floors that have a solid wood layer over multi-layer plywood are called engineered hardwoods. This top solid layer can vary in thickness. Most in the industry range from 2 to 6 millimeters, with greater thicknesses being typically more premium. Engineered wood is sometimes preferred as a lower-cost option, however, some with premium thicknesses can cost as much as true hardwoods.
There are other advantages to this choice given the large range of sizes and various woods and finishes. Engineered hardwoods can come in larger widths. For widths over 5 inches, engineered wood may be the only option. Others choose engineered hardwoods in order to achieve unique looks that cannot be obtained with the staining of traditional hardwoods.
Because of its make up of multiple layers, engineered hardwood offers better durability to withstand the natural expanding and contracting that occurs with any wood product during temperature shifts. It is not immune to standing water, so it should not be considered in an area that may be at risk for possible flooding, i.e. basements.
Caring for engineered hardwoods is relatively easy. Regular cleaning (sweeping, dusting, and damp mopping) are recommended. Cleaning with any harsh chemicals is not recommended and as always follows the manufacturer’s recommendations. Some engineered hardwood floors can be refinished. The thickness of the top layer and the manufacturer’s recommendations will determine if this is an option.
Solid Wood Floors
Solid wood floors are just that - solid wood throughout. Planks are made from natural wood and the most popular are oak, pine, maple, ash, and hickory. People choose different types of wood depending on their hardness, grain patterns, or ability to accept different shades of stains. Solid hardwood floors are installed and finished on-site making the cost for this choice typically higher than most engineered or laminate options. If you are choosing solid wood floors, know that during installation spaces must to left between planks to allow for the natural expansion and contraction that occurs with natural wood as the seasons change. The wider the plank, the greater gaps can occur. Solid wood planks typically come at a maximum width of 5 inches. Interest in protecting old-growth forests and sustainability in the forest industry, loggers do not remove trees that are large enough to make planks that are wider.
Caring for solid hardwood floors is fairly simple. Regular sweeping and damp mopping will help maintain the finish and keep them looking beautiful. Harsh chemicals are not recommended. One advantage that solid wood floors have over other options is that they can be refinished - sanded down to their natural state, re-stained, and sealed with a polyurethane topcoat.
Laminate floors are a good choice to imitate the look of wood and other materials such as tile or slate. It is a good option for areas where you want the look of wood floors for a lower price. Though the laminate floor is stain and fade-resistant, it isn’t completely scratch-proof. If your laminate floors happen to get scratched or dented, sections can be replaced. Be sure to have a few extra on hand. Laminate floors don’t need any special cleaners or polishes. Keep them clean with a damp mop and regular sweeping. Always check the manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning and maintenance.
See more information about wood floor options in these articles from Houzz:
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