As manufacturing processes continue to improve and chemical treatments become more effective, the cost of hardwood floors goes down. Today, there are a variety of styles of hardwood flooring for homeowners looking to add some charm to their home.
However, some homeowners are unsure about what type of hardwood floor to choose. Traditional solid wood flooring was once the only option, but now engineered surfaces can provide greater stability at a lower cost. The type of flooring that should be chosen is completely dependent on the wishes of the owner and in what capacity the floor will be used.
Solid Wood Flooring
Solid wood floors are planks of wood usually 3/4ths of an inch thick that are hewn from a single piece of lumber. They can be made from a variety of woods, including oak. These floors were used in all homes with hardwoods before the invention of engineered floors. They must be nailed or stapled to a wooden sub floor because glue would not withstand the shifting the wood does in different temperatures.
This kind of flooring is attractive, but it has some restrictions. The wood is susceptible to moisture and temperature. The wood expands and contracts based on the weather. This can cause cosmetic damage to the floor if it was not properly installed. The installation techniques used with solid planks also means that they can not be put directly over a concrete foundation. Also, they require more maintenance than engineered floors.
Solid wood flooring comes pre-finished or unfinished so the homeowner may choose which shade of stain they would like. Solid hardwoods are very resilient to refinishing, so the homeowner can change sand and re-stain them many times. They are also likely to add more value to the home overtime because of this.
Engineered Wood Flooring
Engineered wood floors are made up of layers of hardwoods glued together with other materials like laminates. However, one should never mistake an engineered floor for a laminate. Laminate floors do not contain any solid wood and often sound hollow. Since engineered floors are covered with a strip of solid wood, they look almost exactly like a solid wood floor.
These floors can be installed over concrete, because they can be glued in place. Some new types of engineered floors have snap-in systems that allow a floating floor to be put in without the use of glue or nails. Since the grain of the different layers of wood is runs in opposite directions, an engineered plank is also more stable and less susceptible to splitting.
The composite flooring also uses less wood than solid floors, so it usually costs much less. It also comes finished or unfinished, but it cannot be refinished as much as a solid wood floor because it is possible to sand through the veneer.
Acrylic-Impregnated Wood Flooring
Acrylic-impregnated wood flooring is made of hardwoods injected with sealants and stain. This makes the wood very durable, but impossible to refinished. This kind of floor is rarely used in private construction.
Concerns about Hardwood Floors
Though hardwood floors are a beautiful addition to a home, recently some have been concerned that they are a frivolous use of slow-growing woods. Solid wood floors, especially, require the use of older and larger trees in order to produce a viable product.
Some notable alternatives are laminate and cork floors. Laminate uses wood byproducts and other materials to create a solid faux-wood surface, but many complain that it is noisy and easily damaged. Cork floors are durable and come from faster-growing trees.
Bamboo flooring has quickly become one of the most popular alternatives. The bamboo plant grows at a fantastic rate, so the source of the floor is renewed every year. The wood is also known for its resistance to moisture and damage.
Making the Right Decision
There are many factors a homeowner needs to consider before they choose their flooring. One of the first considerations is where the floor is going to be placed. Rooms with heavy traffic and moisture may spell disaster for a solid wood floor.
Another factor is the home’s d