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Three Types of Wood Flooring Explained

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Your choices when it comes to types of wood flooring is vast. You can choose from different types, colors, textures and brands that all have different qualities.

So how do you make the right decision for your home? This guide can help you decide whether you want “the real thing” in the form of solid orengineered hardwood flooring, or laminate flooring that imitates real wood.

Solid Wood Flooring

Solid wood is as authentic as you can get when it comes to types of wood flooring and comes in a variety of thicknesses and widths, pre-finished or unfinished for you to varnish. Made from one piece of hardwood timber, this flooring comes with tongue and groove edges and is usually glued or nailed onto the sub-floor.

If you’re looking to create a natural and warm ambience, this is the best types of wood flooring to go for, as it is long-lasting and can be sanded and refinished many times over. The downside is that during the change of seasons it reacts to the moisture changes that naturally occur. The floor contracts and expands throughout the year, which means it needs to be installed with margins between planks to allow for this movement.

Only a fitter with a high level of skill in this type of wood flooring should be used for installation of solid wood flooring, which will have an effect on cost. However, if you can afford to spend more, this flooring is well worth the investment with longer durability and a beautiful customized finish. It can also add considerable value to a home and can be seen as an investment. As a result, a solid wood floor is usually used in period properties where the seasonal changes in the floor complement the property.

Engineered Wood Flooring

This types of wood flooring takes a more modern approach, using a layered construction made up of one to three layers of hardwood on top of a soft wood core. The layered construction controls the natural movement of a wood floor and allows the floor to move more during seasonal moisture changes, making it more stable.

Although it is not made of 100% hardwood, engineered flooring is more resistant to moisture and is therefore more stable. Generally, this type of wood flooring comes pre-finished with tongue and groove edges and, depending on the manufacturer, can be installed as a fully glued down floor or on top of a suitable underlay as a floated floor. Some types have edges that click together, such as Kahrs flooring with Woodloc joints. These unique glue-less floor joints mean that gaps never appear between the boards, despite climatic changes in the home, and they make the floor much easier to lay.

Usually, you can only sand and finish engineered floors one to five times, depending on the thickness of the hardwood veneer. As they usually come pre-finished, the choice of styles and finishes is much greater than with solid floors. Engineered flooring can be just as realistic as solid wood flooring and is best for those looking for a combination of quality and ease of use.

Laminate Flooring

If you can’t afford the real thing, laminate flooring is the next best thing. These floors do not contain any real wood, but instead are made up of a wood-effect printed pattern set within a resin or plastic layer, mounted on top of MDF or HDF and with a balancing backing underneath. This layered construction means these floors also move easily with seasonal changes, and they are easy to maintain and highly durable, although cheaper laminates may only last 5-15 years.

You get what you pay for here. The fact that laminate floors simply click into place over a layer of foam means you can easily lay them yourself. Laminate floors are colder to the touch and don’t look exactly like the real thing, but they are great for those on a budget who still want to create a contemporary and warm look in a room.

Still confused by all the options? Set yourself a budget and then see what you can afford from there – it will help to narrow down the choice!

Updated: November 11, 2012 — 9:43 pm

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