When you want to install new flooring and want a wood floor, you will often see a selection of hardwood floors, laminate wood floors, and engineered floors that you can choose from. This can get confusing for those who don’t know the difference between these three flooring types. Mike’s Custom Flooring will share the differences between these types of floors to help you choose the right one for your home.
Hardwood or solid hardwood floors are planks made from a single cut of wood or solid piece of wood. Each plank of wood is usually cut in ¾ inch or ½ inch thick planks of wood which is usually nailed down to a sub floor. Essentially, hardwood floors are 100% natural wood that is protected by a finish, sealer or wax. Maintaining this type of floor is much more demanding versus other types of wood flooring. Hardwood floors will require the need to be sanded down, and refinished about every 5 to 10 years, depending on the environment. However, with proper care, hardwood floors are extremely durable and can last decades. Hardwood floors are easily repaired or replaced if planks become damaged. Since the planks are made from natural wood they are prone to shrinking and expanding and are sensitive to high levels of humidity and can be damaged by constant or heavy exposure to water. It is recommended you never use hardwood floors in bathrooms, basements or areas exposed to moisture or humidity.
Many people confuse laminate floors with engineered flooring. However, there is a difference between the two. Laminate floors are made of multiple layers with a wood based core. The core can vary from high dense fiber boards to compressed kraft paper. The top is coated with a strong resin base and the bottom is laminated which provides a strong backing. Laminate floor are very thin, only 1/3 of an inch thick. However, laminate floors come in a wide selection of colors and wood patterns and is water resistant. Laminate wood floors imitate natural wood but is essentially manmade. You can also find marble and stone looking surfaces. Installing laminate floors is much cheaper and versatile then hardwood floors. They are easy to keep clean and don’t require much maintenance. However, even though they are water resistant, prolonged exposure to moisture can cause the laminate floors to wrap and damage overtime. Again, they are not a great choice of flooring for bathrooms or other humid rooms like basements.
Engineered floors are also made of several layers, but with real wood. The top and bottom of engineered floors are real wood, with the core or inner wood, being made from plywood or sometimes a high dense fiberboard. The higher end engineered wood floors will use real wood in the center as well. All engineered wood floor consists of nine complete layers, each with the top a protective resin. Engineered wood floors can be installed on any surface, unlike hardwood floors. Engineered wood floors are one of the better floor types for handling moisture which is why they are popular in basements. However, over time, all wood can be affected by moisture and heat. Engineered wood floors are next closest thing to real wood floors but at half the cost and is very durable.