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Wood Flooring 101

Posted April 17th, 2015 under say what?, renovations and repairs.

When talking about wood flooring, you've probably heard terms like solid, engineered, plank, and laminate. What's the difference? What are the pros and cons of each kind?

Solid Wood Flooring (Plank or Strip)

Plank flooring and strip flooring are both natural, solid wood (not synthetic or composite).

Plank flooring consists of strips of solid wood, usually 3/4” thick, in widths from 2¼” to 8”, and various lengths. Plank flooring is pre-finished, is available in a plethora of woods and finishes, and is assembled using the built-in tongue-and-groove.

Strip hardwood, the older of the two types, is usually around 7/16” to 9/16” thick, in widths from 1½” to 1¾” and various lengths. Strip hardwood is bought unfinished, then finished after it has been laid.

One advantage of solid wood flooring is that it can be sanded and refinished at least twice.

One disadvantage is that it must be installed (nailed down) professionally, because it has a tendency to warp and twist with changes in humidity.

Solid wood flooring is the most expensive type of wood flooring, from $2.70/sq.ft for the cheapest woods to over $10.00/sq.ft for exotic woods and finishes.

Engineered Hardwood

This style of flooring consists of a thin veneer of real wood (1.5mm to 4mm) over top of either a plywood construction or a filler of particle board.

From 3/8” to 3/4” thick and from 3½” to 8” wide, it comes in various lengths and several installation styles.

Installation can be do-it-yourself “click-together” installation, floating installation, or tongue-in-groove nailed down by a professional.

Because it is real wood, it also comes in a great variety of woods and finishes. It is mid-priced, ranging from $2.00 to $6.00 per square foot.

One advantage of engineered hardwood is that it won't twist or warp with humidity variations.

A disadvantage is that it can be sanded and refinished at most once, and only with the thicker veneer (>2mm).

Laminate Flooring

Laminate is a thin layer of plastic, similar to that used on counter tops, on top of a particle board core.

The strips are 6mm-12mm thick and from 4” to 8” wide in various lengths.

Because it is plastic, it can be manufactured in an unlimited variety of colours and finishes, including imitations of various woods (some more convincing than others).

Laminate is very easy to install, and doesn't warp with changes in humidity.

It is also the least costly of the three options, typically $1.00 to $2.00 per square foot.

One significant disadvantage is that over time, moisture causes the edges to swell, and the laminate near the edges wears off. Laminate cannot be refinished, so once worn or damaged, it must be replaced.

Want to know more about wood flooring and how it affects your home's value? Just ask me, I'll be happy to help.


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