Despite all the different flooring options available, hardwood and tile remain the aspirational flooring choice among consumers. Hardwood, for many home buyers or homeowners, is at the top of their “wish” list. The reason? Beauty and uniqueness that can’t truly be replicated.
One of the greatest differences between wood and other flooring categories is that hardwood is an all-natural product crafted from a material that was once alive. And while the flooring industry continues to innovate, blurring the line between real and imitation, wood flooring’s color variances, character and depth are here to stay.
Solid or Engineered Hardwood – which is better?
Solid wood is just that, a milled flooring plank cut from a solid piece of timber. It’s important to note that different methods of cutting the lumber create different grain patterns in different wood species. As a thicker piece of material, its primary benefit is its wear layer — the material above the tongue and groove composition — which can be sanded down and refinished, sometimes several times. Doing this will keep the floors looking like new and allow for different stains and finishes to be applied.
However, one of the challenges with solid wood is that it’s prone to greater shrinkage and expansion, which can cause a floor to cup or warp. Although gaps can reverse back with an increase of humidity, cupping associated with expansion is permanent. This can cause solid wood to become unstable the bigger the piece of wood gets, limiting its styling in terms of size.
Engineered wood is solid hardwood that has been engineered to be a more functional wood flooring. Composed of several thin layers (ply’s) of hardwood laid in different directions and as well as a bottom and top wear layer. Engineered Hardwood is designed as a more structurally sound plank that limits the amount of expansion and contraction that happens as the flooring is exposed to different temperatures and moisture levels in your home year-round. It is considered stronger than solid hardwood due to the adhesives used and can be thinner overall thickness, it can also be adhered directly to a concrete substrate and solid hardwood flooring cannot.
Sometimes you can also hear people referring to “composite” wood flooring. Engineered composite wood flooring contains real wood on the wearable surface only. The backing and core material may be made up of any type of composite material.
For many homes in the US, engineered hardwood is a great flooring option. It is real wood flooring without a lot of maintenance hassles, can be sanded and re-finished, installation can be faster and more economical.
The Wear Layer
Is hardwood flooring expensive?
When considering the fact that wood flooring can last for many years, decades even, consumers realize the price for hardwood flooring is not expensive. There are many factors like the construction of your planks, wood species, the type of finish, all affect the cost of the wood flooring and also it’s longevity.
On average $8-$15 per square foot for hardwood flooring installed here in Southern California. There is options lower and much higher also.
How long does hardwood flooring last?
That can depend on the traffic of the floors, the hardwood species used, the thickness of the top wear layer and the surface finish all affect the longevity of your wood flooring. Here in our part of the country we see floors being kept at least 10-15 years before ever even being re-finished for the first time. Most floors can be re-finished at least 2-3 times giving you several decades of use.
There is homes in our neighborhoods with hardwood flooring from the 50’s and even older.
Are wood floors waterproof?
No. While many Urethane finishes used and installation methods can help protect the surface of the wood from water and moisture intrusion temporarily, these are real timber floors and require very low moisture content to perform at their best. Water and high moisture levels will damage your wood flooring.
What are the PROS and CONS of hardwood floors?
Wood flooring has many PROS:
- It is highly desirable making it good for resale value of your home.
- Widely available in many colors and designs.
- It’s a natural, renewable resource.
- Easy to clean.
- Lasts a long time and can also be re-finished for a new look.
Interestingly enough one of the CONS to hardwood for some homeowners is also one of its benefits, that is that it can require some maintenance. Because it is a natural timber product it can scratch, dent and the surface finish wears over time, needing refinishing.
Another couple downsides to wood flooring:
- Not a good choice for bathrooms or in “wet” areas. As mentioned hardwood likes to be installed in areas that are dry.
- It has a higher acquisition cost when you compare it so say a carpeting, vinyl or even luxury vinyl plank.
Is Bamboo hardwood flooring?
Technically no. Bamboo is actually a grass not a hardwood, however when mixed with resins it can be as hard or even much harder than many hardwood floors. Because of this, as well as it’s quick renewability when compared to hardwood timber, it has made bamboo flooring appealing as a type of flooring in many residential households.
Some negatives of bamboo are the limited range of color and textures, it’s environmental effects due to the resins used on production as well as the lack of ability for refinishing because of the same resin’s mixed in the flooring.