Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Comparing Wood Flooring

We reviewed options other than wood flooring in the last blog.  This blog will review the pros and cons of three types of wood flooring. 

Laminate Floors - First a qualifier; laminate wood flooring is not really wood.  Pergo is the most commonly know brand name, but there are many options and companies supplying laminate flooring. Laminate flooring is a facsimile of wood with a remarkable ability to stimulate wood; it is very durable, easy to install, easy to clean.  Laminate flooring is resistant to staining and fading, does not scuff or wear through, get scratched by pets, or indent from normal family wear.  It will also hold up against light moisture.  They are floating floors; each piece attaches to the one adjacent and it is held down by gravity and perimeter trim.  Laminate flooring is not typically installed under cabinets or fixed appliances.  The major drawbacks are laminate floors cannot be refinished, will not hold up to heavy moisture, and are not real wood.  Typical installed costs are $5.00 to $9.00 per square foot.

Engineered Wood Floors - Engineered wood flooring is a fairly new product and a combination of laminate and true hardwood flooring.  There are a wide variety of wood types available in wood strips, wider width planks, or parquet squares.  Engineered wood floors consist of two or more layers of wood laminated together with a plywood bottom layer.  They are typically installed as floating floors with the panel edges attached to each other rather than to the subfloor.  Engineered wood can be sanded and refinished, but only 1-3 times.  The scratch and dent resistance is fair to good depending on the wood selected.  Light moisture will not damage the floor although heavy moisture can cause warping and damage.  With a natural wood top layer the flooring is not as dent or scratch resistant as laminate wood floors, and is also a bit more expensive.  Typical installed costs are $8.00 to $14.00; the biggest variable is the actual wood selected.

Natural Hardwood Floors - Hardwood flooring is rich, elegant, all natural, and creates a warm look to your home.  It is the most traditional of floors.  Solid wood flooring consists of one-piece boards that are typically nailed to a subfloor and comes unfinished, allowing you to apply a variety of finishes.  It is also available pre-finished, trading off additional purchase costs for less labor costs.  Solid hardwood flooring can be sanded and refinished multiple times, is durable, and not as cold or noisy as tile or stone.  Water of any type, light or heavy moisture, is not a friend of solid wood flooring.  Besides warping when wet it can fade in sunlight, can be easily dented depending on the species of wood chosen, and is difficult to install.  This is definitely not the first choice of the do-it-yourself installer.  There is a wide variation in types, hardness, and widths of wood available in wood strips, wider width planks, and parquet squares.  Oak hardwood flooring, the most typical wood for residential use, costs $8.00 to $10.00 per square foot installed.  Other woods can easily range up to or beyond $15.00 per square foot.  Wood floors can be installed in any room in the home.  Because of moisture concerns bath installations are not common.  With the better sealers and finishes now available kitchen installations are much more common than they once were.

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