What flooring you will select is one of the most important decisions you will make when building a new home or renovating your existing home. Most of our clients know very little about what is on the market and how to select a floor that works best for them. They may have seen inspiration photos and think it's a simple color choice but it is not that simple.
Many builders will try to sell their clients on the newest products on the market that seem to have “the look” but they are not informing the homeowner of the pros and cons of each product. This guide will help you make a more informed decision about your flooring selection
SOLID HARDWOOD FLOORING
This term is used loosely in the industry. Most of our clients no longer know what the term “hardwood flooring” even means. So many products mimic hardwood but may not have any wood in the product at all. They may be vinyl, laminate or engineered products.
Solid hardwood flooring is floor boards that are solid wood planks made from hardwood species of wood. Typically, solid hardwood flooring is around 3 inches in width but can be anywhere from 2 to 5 inches wide. Solid hardwood can be factory finished or finished once installed in your home. Solid hardwood flooring has been used for centuries and can be found in most older homes. The issue with solid hardwood flooring is, unless your home is conditioned properly, the boards expand and contract with the climate changes and can warp and gap over time. This is why the market is now overloaded with so many different products that look like solid hardwood and claim to have more longevity and be a better choice.
Can be refinished and last as long as your home is standing
Beautiful and natural
Expands and contracts causing gaps and warping
Not recommended for use wider than 4 inches in most climates
Refinishing can be limiting and off gassing occurs for months depending on products used
ENGINEERED HARDWOOD FLOORING
This product is a great solution to the issue of expansion and contraction. Engineered hardwood is built by using layers of plywood running in opposite directions then glued and pressed together with a thin layer of solid wood on the top of the product. By constructing the planks in this way, you are able to achieve a wider width board and the product stays somewhat stable over time.
The only real issue with this product is that the top layer is sometimes too thin and will not last as long as solid hardwood flooring. If you select an engineered hardwood with a nice thickness to the top layer, it is even possible to refinish this product when the wear layer starts to age. The thicker the top layer is, the more expensive this product will be but it is worth it if you intend to live in your home for a significant amount of time. In most circumstances, we recommend this product to our clients due to the feel of real wood, the nice width of the boards and the longevity of the product.
Can achieve wider width boards without expanding and contracting
Beautiful and natural
Factory finished to provide a harder finish in matte, and exotic finish selections
Feels and looks real cause it is! Soft underfoot
Can be pricey
Select with a top layer carefully with a minimum of 4 to 7mm
Can only refinish product once or twice depending on top layer thickness
Glues can off gas - select manufacturers with solid reputations and preferably made in the USA
This product may look like wood but it is far from the same thing. Often the product is plywood or pressed composite material with a super thin laminate on top. Not only is this product not going to wear well over time, in most cases, it cannot be installed in the same manner as Engineered or solid hardwood flooring. Laminate is often a floating product. Meaning, you cannot glue or nail it to the subfloor. This means that anywhere it may run into cabinetry or a pinch point, it has potential to buckle. When selecting a floating floor, you will have to install the flooring after the cabinetry to avoid these pinch points. If you need to move your fridge out or have an island in your kitchen, those are potential problem areas over time for the flooring to buckle.
Inexpensive and easy to install
Wears quickly and not waterproof (spills that sit can cause the material to expand and warp)
Product use glues and chemicals that off gas into your home over an extended period of time
LUXURY VINYL FLOORING
This product has hit the market hard and has a reputation for being a great choice in regards to durability. Seems like a great choice if you have a busy household but things are not always what they seem. This product has its flaws. Although you may not see the difference when viewing a sample of the product, you will feel the difference. Vinyl planks feel like vinyl planks. They sometimes have a cushion layer applied to the product but the feeling cannot mimic real wood underfoot. Also, when it is installed in your home, you start to see the sheen of the vinyl come out. The product is either a glue down or floating. I already outlined the issue with floating your floor as not being ideal but in the case of vinyl, gluing is not ideal either. Glue products are thin and you will see every flaw and bump in your subflooring. I only recommend using this product when it is the only option. For example, when you have a cement subfloor you need a product that can be applied to a moisture bearing surface such as cement. Some engineered flooring can be applied directly to cement but vinyl is a safer choice in most cases. This is why it is heavily used in commercial spaces and apartment buildings.
Durable and water resistant
Looks close to hardwood in general appearance
Good to use in basements or commercial applications directly onto concrete
Application issues (floating and glueing)
Sheen cannot fool you - it's vinyl!
Wood looks tend to be trendy and can feel outdated quickly
When you see the pros and cons for each of these options, it's a no brainer. There is a good reason hardwood flooring has been used for centuries. You can't beat the real thing. Our recommendation is to go for an engineered hardwood with a nice thick top layer. It is well worth it and the best option for quality and longevity hands down!