You don’t have to buy a solid wood floor to get a wood floor aesthetic. And that’s really good news for those who may want a more durable, water-resistant, or less expensive option than hardwood.
However, on the flip side – what if you love hardwood, you know hardwood, and you’re pretty sure that’s what you want. Yet, you’re not completely certain?
That’s where we can help.
Let’s explore the four options for hard surface flooring – solid and engineered hardwood, SPC luxury vinyl tile, and laminate flooring. We’ll discuss why to choose one floor over another and the benefits and drawbacks for each.
Solid Wood Flooring
Solid wood flooring is the granddaddy of them all when it comes to flooring. If you want a classic floor, then this is it, with its 3/4-inch thickness and one piece of wood that makes up the entire plank.
In addition to its rich heritage, solid wood also provides broad color and finish customization. After installation, the unfinished hardwood is custom stained and finished inside the home, so the end user can decide how they want their floors to look. Any type of gloss can also be added.
Custom borders and medallions can be put in as well. These types of additions and flourishes are an advantage of an unfinished solid wood floor compared to prefinished product – though you can go the prefinished route to avoid a disadvantage we’ll speak to below.
Another benefit is that a solid wood floor will last the lifetime of your home. This doesn’t mean that the flooring can’t be damaged. It means that the floors can be sanded and refinished multiple times back to health by a skilled craftsperson.
A few things to keep in mind with solid hardwood –
The cost for the initial wood product can be affordable, but there will be additional costs for customizations with installation and finishing. For information and pricing options, speak with your local contractor or dealer.
One reason not to choose a solid wood floor is the intensity of the installation that comes from the dust when sanding and the fumes from the staining process. Newer water-based finishing treatments have low VOCs (volatile organic compounds). However, if you purchase a prefinished solid wood floor, then you won’t have to worry about this issue.
Another drawback is a wood floor’s limitations regarding where it can be installed. You can’t install in environments where the moisture changes often or dramatically because solid wood is susceptible to this and can expand and contract. You want to make sure your solid wood floors are installed above grade.
Engineered Wood Flooring
Engineered wood flooring, as its name suggests, is actually a wood floor; it is just made a little differently than solid wood flooring. Engineered product comes in both narrow (strip flooring) and wide planks.
If you are interested a floor that is versatile and less prone to damage from moisture, then engineered hardwood is a great option. You can install it anywhere in a home, including the basement.
Nearly all engineered flooring is prefinished. When you find a floor you like, it can be installed easily by nailing, gluing, or floating. Once installed, you can move immediately back into your home. This is a benefit when compared to traditional unfinished solid wood.
Many texture options are available in engineered flooring, and this is true of our product at Real Wood Floors. These textures include wire brushing, hand-scraping, and saw marks.
Some engineered floors do have a thick wear layer that can be sanded and refinished in the home if needed. Depending your needs, this can be an added benefit over rigid core or laminate flooring.
Rigid Core or Stone Plank Composite (SPC) Flooring
If you are looking for an extremely durable, water-safe floor, then this is an excellent choice. In most cases, SPC is going to be more durable than your solid, engineered, or laminate options.
Another reason to choose this floor is because it can be installed below grade and in places where the moisture content can’t be controlled reliably.
SPC can be installed relatively easily and also quickly, especially when compared to traditional wood flooring. With SPC, you still get a beautiful wood aesthetic (sometimes we even question if it’s SPC or solid wood), with the added bonuses of resiliency and water resistance.
It’s less expensive than solid and engineered product, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great flooring solution.
If you are in the market for the most affordable choice for a durable, water-safe floor, then you want to go with today’s modern laminate floor.
When you think of laminate it may bring to mind a poorly constructed, easily destructible floor, we understand. But we want you to put those thoughts out of your mind. There have been huge advances in new technology and engineering in laminate floors.
These new floors are designed to be very durable, keeping water out. New manufacturing puts an attractive wood aesthetic onto the wood floor-look beneath the top wear layer, and it can look really great at an extremely attractive price level.