There’s something incredibly satisfying about wood flooring when compared to its carpet counterparts; whether it’s something to do with its amazing ability to match any décor, its generally clean or rustic look, or the feeling it has underfoot, it’s a popular choice – and will be for years to come.
Here, we’re going to break down the three main types of wood flooring available on the market, as well as their pros and cons – especially relating to your budget.
Solid hardwood flooring
Pros: Best looking; authentic; can be sanded and re-stained; excellent for house resale.
Cons: Can be incredibly expensive; not waterproof; marks made by dropped items or footwear can be permanent.
To put this in straightforward terms, solid hardwood flooring – real wood planks – should be your first choice for wood flooring every time… but only if money isn’t really an object. Available in an incredible number of types, from oak and beech to ash and mahogany, you can guarantee that you’re getting the real deal.
The most difficult thing about laying hardwood flooring is the possibility of the presence of moisture. In a humid room, the wood can swell or contract when reacting to the air or outside temperature. As a result, high humidity can result in bulging, while contraction can create bigger gaps between planks, and even tear nails out of crossbeams they’re fitted to.
Wherever you lay it, and however well-regulated your home’s temperature is, you’ll need to leave a gap where the planks meet the walls to allow for any natural growth or contraction. While it can be expensive at your major stockists – B&Q, for example – you’d be surprised at the deals you’ll get with actual timber specialists. Don’t be afraid to tap them up.
Engineered wood flooring
Pros: Attractive; hard-wearing; not affected by humidity; environmentally-friendly.
Cons: Still quite expensive; may be limited in styles; cannot be sanded and re-stained.
Many people get engineered wood mixed up with laminate flooring, but there are quite clear differences; the most notable is that engineered wood flooring is based around a plywood-style plank comprising layers of different woods, which are bonded together with special glue and then covered with a veneer that matches your own personal choice of wood style.
What’s more, and unlike many types of hardwood (e.g. mahogany and oak), you can get an environmentally-sustainable style of flooring without needing to cut the specific tree down to get it. Perhaps the best thing about it, though, is the fact it’s as durable as hardwood flooring, if not more so, owing to its careful construction. Nor do you have to worry about contraction and swelling – it’s just not the case with this – and many, if not most, are water-resistant.
Pros: Cheap; effective; easy to fit.
Cons: Not too water-resistant; may only have a short lifespan before replacement; quality is not often as high as you expect.
Laminate flooring has not made many popular headlines in recent years given that it’s the entry-level option for most people, but the quality of this option has only gone from strength to strength as technology has continued to improve – so don’t trust reports from a few years ago, to say the least.
Like engineered wood flooring, it offers solid quality, durability and a surprisingly simple installation process. However, it differs massively from the likes of engineered wood flooring as its construction is usually high-density fibreboard with a thin decorative paper overlay, which itself is protected by incredibly durable protective film. The long and short of it is that you could kick a piece apart and nothing would resemble wood – unless the paper cover was believable.
Just remember that it will still be very cheap for reason, should you go the budget end of the laminate flooring scale; sometimes, high-traffic areas of a room with low-cost laminates will only last for five years. Remember to invest wisely!