When it comes to your house there are many different types of flooring available to you. There are different types of hardwood flooring, various types of laminate wood flooring, bamboo flooring, cork flooring, and engineered hardwood flooring. In this article we will explore the different types and educate you on the differences between them.
Types of Solid Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors are made from a boards which come from a single piece of wood. They are solid and not laminate boards. Solid hardwood floors are very durable, although they do not handle moisture very well. With the thickness of the hardwood floors, the wear layer can be quite thick. This is the layer that can be sanded down allowing the floor to be refinished multiple times. Since hardwood floors are made of solid pieces of hardwood, they can be sanded down many times and refinished, allowing the hardwood floor to remain beautiful and like new for possibly hundreds of years. The downside to solid hardwood floors is the poor relationship it has with moisture. Solid hardwood floors do not work in all geographies due to the extreme humidity in some locations. Humidity can cause boards to warp, and expand or contract with changes in the weather. This will cause gaps to develop in the boards and the floor may not maintain a level surface over the years. Solid hardwood floors also can’t be laid on top of concrete and are not recommended for use in rooms that are below grown level (i.e. basements).
On the positive side, solid hardwood floors are excellent floors for heavy wear locations and can be resurfaced multiple times allowing them to look great for decades. On the negative side, the floors can be susceptible to damage from changes in moisture and should not be used in all weather conditions.
Types of Laminate Wood Flooring
Laminate wood flooring is a popular choice amongst many homeowners due to its durability, affordability, and ease of installation. The laminate flooring is usually comprised of a thin layer of wood laminate on top of a core material. The core can be made of high density fiber materials or a type of plastic resin. Laminate flooring does not have the same issues with moisture that solid hardwood floors have.
Laminate floors are many times seen as fake wood floors. Due to many of them having a plastic resin core, the majority of the material is not actually wood, only the top layer. Engineered hardwood flooring is a type of laminate wood flooring, however, we will discuss that later in its own section. Since laminate floors are manufactured, they are usually made with a tongue and groove shape which allows them to easily fit together. This allows almost anyone to install these floors with minimal knowledge of flooring. Since homeowners are able to install the floors themselves, it greatly cuts down on the overall cost of owning a wood floor.
Laminate floors are relatively durable, however, since the laminate layer is quite thin, any damage usually results in the floor boards needing to be replaced. Replacing a tongue and groove board can be a big ordeal since it requires removing the boards located around the damaged board as well. This can greatly increase the cost of maintainability. On the positive side, laminate floors are not susceptible to moisture so the boards will not warp or gap with changes in humidity.
Bamboo flooring is not really a wood floor. Bamboo is a grass, however, when made into boards, it resembles wood so it is seen as an alternative to hardwood floors. Bamboo is generally viewed as an eco-friendly material that is moderately resistant to damage. It isn’t as easy to install as the laminate wood flooring, however, it is still easy to install, which makes it ideal for the do it yourself homeowner.
One problem that bamboo flooring has is its discoloration due to sunlight over time. This can cause the floor to have an inconsistent color after years of parts being in the sun and other parts being covered by furniture. We recommend reading our review of the pros and cons of bamboo flooring if you are considering purchasing it for your house.
Before you go and decide on whether or not bamboo flooring is right for you, head over to our bamboo review so you can read the pros and cons of this type of flooring.
Cork flooring is a material that is made from the bark of cork oak. Cork is an eco-friendly material since it is harvested from the cork oak without damage to the actual tree. The tree survives and produces more bark for cork.
Flooring made of cork is very durable and considered a resilient flooring due to its ability to spring back into shape. Cork flooring is highly recommended for high traffic areas because of its strength. Since it is more porous than the other hardwood flooring, it has more of a soft feel and is much more comfortable to stand on than hardwood floors.
Since cork is a porous material it needs to be finished very well. If it is improperly finished it may absorb water and moisture, which can damage the floor. With cork flooring as durable as it is, it can cost more than some of the other floor options, especially to get one that is finished well.
Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Engineered hardwood flooring is sometimes considered a type of laminate wood floor. The difference that sets it apart from normal laminate wood is that it is fully wood and does not have a plastic resin core. Engineered hardwood has a hardwood laminate on the top surface that is thicker depending on the price of the material. The thickness of the laminate layer can determine the quality of the wood and also determine the number of times the layer can be refinished to maintain a “like new” appearance.
Engineered hardwood does not have the same susceptibility to moisture that solid hardwood has. The layers in the wood are laid cross grain to provide support and strength in all directions thereby reducing the wood’s ability to warp or change shape.
You can read more about engineered hardwood flooring in our article dedicated to this topic.