Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 2 seconds
When guiding our clients during a remodeling project, we find that making good flooring decisions are difficult at best. No matter what you select, the materials must be prepared to take a beating and needs to stand up to constant abuse and look good for years.
A good flooring decision can make a room and become the subtle focus or distract from it. Today I am looking at four types including Hardwood, Engineered hardwood, Bamboo and Laminates. We will discuss others in future posts.
The goal is to expose the strengths and weaknesses of each material to improve the odds of making an informed decision. At Levco we have been involved in installing all sorts of flooring. The best choices are always a client’s decision based upon personal preference, advice from professionals, and financial considerations.
PROS: Hardwood comes in all shapes and sizes; it is durable and adds value to the home. From exotics (which I strongly discourage) to the old standards the varieties are endless, the finishes are hard and durable. They can be refinished several times and rarely need more than routine cleaning for 10 years. Thickness is 3/4″ and is nailed or stapled in place, rarely glued.
A maintenance coat of finish can extend the life another few years. In the event of a problem, they can be patched. Different species of woods can be used to bring out transitions and express an artistic flair. It can be stained and distressed and in some cases be purchased used. Hardwood is the flooring that all others compare to. There are many grades and colors available. I have has some extremely good results with staining lately.Installation usually takes several days and some finishes are quite toxic.
CONS: Water is an evil enemy, Like in the Wizard of Oz, with the Wicked Witch of the West. It will curl and buckle, in other words be ruined. “What a world, what a world!” Exotic woods are available but can be very expensive and fickle. Hardwood is best used in an area with stable temperature and humidity because it expands and contracts as humidity changes. Hardwood should never be installed below grade.
When we use the Glitza brand finishes there is a huge amount of VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) are released. You must be out of the house for 24 hours twice during drying. Water based coatings are getting better, and oil finishes are coming back into vogue.
Engineered Wood is a relatively new product that has become quite popular. It is prefinished hardwood veneer attached to a stable base, like plywood. Often the same species of wood is used as a substructure, just a lower grade. Thickness varies from 1/2″-3/8″ and is either nailed, stapled or glued on place.
PROS: Like Hardwood, It is also tongue and groove, it has a harder finish than finished on site material and can be installed sub grade. Some have a very strong Aluminum oxide finish, theoretically engineered products are refinishedable (however, we have never attempted it.) It can have interesting textures like hand scrapped. We do have access to some large plank repurposed material that is very cool. Once installed you’re done, it is ready to enjoy. If you plan on refinishing eventually, spend the extra to get a product that has a very thick top layer. One product gives out a 50 year finish guarantee.
CONS: It has bevels at the edges and can collect debris. It may be impossible to refinish.
Laminates are a class of material that are manmade with a very thin image on them. They click together and are made to be a “floating floor” in other words they do not physically attach to the underlayment. Rather they float on top of a thin dense pad and have perimeter baseboard to conceal the edge.
PROS: it is a floating floor system, they are durable and cleanable, and they are definitely less expensive and are available in a host of looks. Laminates are ready to use once installed. If you have a problem a plank can be popped out and replaced.
CONS: They are not refinishable. They generally do not add value to a home and since they are a floating floor and thin (roughly 1/4″ thick) they often feel / sound cloppy or hollow. On a side note we just installed some, and it looks really great!
Bamboo is a grass that grows very fast and is very sturdy. Bamboo, like cork flooring is considered a green building material. It is harvested and cut into strips that are essentially glued together to make flooring.
PROS: Bamboo comes in a variety of colors and is sold and installed like hardwood flooring.
CONS: It can be mistaken for laminate flooring. “It is only as good as the glue that holds it together”. It requires acclimatizing and can be temperamental in dry environments. It is not an appropriate flooring for our climate IMHO. Some flooring stores wont sell it because of warranty issues they have had. There are other flooring choices that give a bamboo look if that is what you are trying to accomplish. An example might be LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) or a hybrid flooring that mixes LVP and Laminate properties. A subject for the next flooring article.
Special thanks to Desiree Alberston. One of my Nampa Flooring specialists.
Your comments are welcome. To ask questions or get more information about remodeling, click here to email me directly, or call 208-947-7261
If you or someone you know is considering remodeling or just wants to speak to a trustworthy remodeling contractor please contact me, you’ll be glad you did.