If you’re thinking about installing wood floors, you have three main options: laminate, engineered wood, and solid hardwood. You might already know they all exist, but do you know what makes them different?
Here’s a basic explanation of these three popular wood flooring choices…let’s get started.
What Are They Made From?
Laminate flooring is mostly fiberboard. It’s not what most people would consider to be “real wood”, but it does a good enough job of looking like real wood because a thin photographic image of real wood has been applied on top of the fiberboard core.
Layer 1 – Tread & Decorative Layer
The tread layer is a transparent layer that is stain resistant and durable. The decorative layer is a detailed image of wood grain to simulate the look of authentic hardwood flooring.
Layer 2 – Fiberboard Core
The core of laminate flooring is what gives it shock absorption and provides stability.
Layer 3 – Bottom layer
The bottom of laminate flooring is usually coated with a layer of melamine to give extra stability and for moisture resistance.
ENGINEERED HARDWOOD FLOORING
Engineered hardwood, like laminate, is also made of layers. Unlike laminate however, the layers are all made of wood. The configurations of the layers within engineered wood flooring vary, but the same general principles remain: the top layer is real hardwood, while the layers below are usually made of less expensive wood varieties.
Layer 1 – Hardwood wear layer
The top layer of engineered wood flooring is real hardwood.
Layer 2 – Wood Body
The rest of the floor is usually comprised of softer, less expensive wood that has been glued together to create a sturdy core.
**Note – Some engineered hardwoods also have a bottom layer for extra structural stability and moisture resistance.
SOLID HARDWOOD FLOORING
Solid hardwood, like the name implies, is made from a single piece of 100% real wood.
Single layer – wood that’s used to make hardwood is left in single pieces and can either come pre-finished or unfinished so that it can be stained whatever color you want.
Which Is The Easiest Wood Flooring To Install?
Laminate is the easiest to install, while solid hardwood is typically the most challenging, and engineered falls somewhere in between.
Easy – Laminate
Laminate flooring is usually installed as a floating floor. This means it can be laid down on top of the subfloor and is only secured using an interlocking system for easy installation.
Moderate – Engineered
Engineered hardwood can potentially be installed as a floating floor like laminate, but sometimes might need to be nailed or glued.
Hard – Hardwood
The reason solid hardwood is the most difficult to install is because it must either be nailed or glued in place.
Because it’s made of 100% real wood, solid hardwood can warp, expand, and contract as the temperature and humidity levels in the air fluctuate. This means that of the three types of flooring, solid hardwood shouldn’t be installed in basements where higher humidity and moisture is more common.
Can All Wood Floors Be Sanded?
No. While both engineered wood and solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished, laminate flooring cannot.
This has been a basic explanation of the three common types of wood flooring. Hopefully, you can now make a more educated decision when choosing your next wood floor.