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Solid Hardwood Flooring vs. Engineered vs. Laminate

Hardwood flooring’s hardwood flooring, right? Take a tree, cut it down, put some varnish on and put it on the floor. Isn’t that how it works? Maybe once upon a time. But when you go shopping for hardwood floors, you may find yourself bewildered by all the different types of flooring available. There’s solid hardwood floors, engineered hardwood floors, laminate floors. Is it all real wood? What’s going to work best for your home? Relax, we’ve got answers.

Solid Hardwood Flooring

Solid hardwood is exactly that —a tree simply cut into planks, treated, stained, coated and put on your floor. This is the typical type many people think of when they think of hardwood flooring. It is durable, long-lasting and can usually be sanded and refinished more than one time. However, solid hardwood is generally not installed over concrete slab floors and is usually nailed down into plywood subfloors. Unlike engineered hardwood, solids typically are not floated over existing flooring or glued down if needed.  So, with solids, you may have more floor prep and labor costs associated with removing the existing flooring and getting your subfloor ready versus engineered floors which have greater flexibility in terms of installation methods. For those seeking a classic product and who have the proper surface for installation, solid hardwood flooring will always be a safe bet.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Don’t let the name fool you–engineered hardwood floors are still real wood. This isn’t something made in a lab; it comes from real trees and everything. Unlike solid hardwood flooring, layers of of wood are compressed together to create a product with special advantages. Each layer runs counter to the layer below it and this creates “dimensional stability.” This means that your new flooring is less likely to distort when subjected to changes in moisture and temperature, the two primary external causes of failure in hardwood flooring applications. Engineered hardwood flooring can be installed below, on, or above grade and over a variety of surfaces, including existing vinyl or tile floors in many instances. This can greatly reduce your labor costs. It also tends to be less expensive than its solid cousin, which is always a good thing.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring doesn’t have a scrap of wood in it—but it sure looks like it does. And now it comes in tile and stone looks as well. An image of the wood, tile or stone is printed on a hard core, giving it the same look of natural wood or tile, in any color imaginable (and a few not found in nature). It has some distinct advantages, including its durability and resistance to scratching. If you have children or pets, laminate flooring gives your home the rich look of hardwood but greatly limits the “worry factor” about scrapes from toys or shoes or clumsy claws scratching the surface.

What Do Most People Prefer?

In the flooring industry, we’ve seen a big shift toward engineered hardwood over the past ten years. Engineered hardwood is essentially indistinguishable from solid yet it usually offers similar finish warrantees, similar performance characteristics and often lower out-of-pocket expense for your family when compared to solid.  So, many families are continuing to opt for engineered hardwood. The other upward trend is related to laminate flooring: it is the least expensive of the three categories, yet it offers superior resistance to scratching and scraping. Families on a budget needing their floor to maintain its new-looking appearance for as long as possible may do well to look into laminate flooring as a smart alternative to wood flooring or tile.

Still debating which option is right for you? If you’re looking for hardwood floors in Indianapolis, call us at 879-TISH (8474). We’ll come out to your house with a variety of samples, explain the pros and cons to each type of flooring and help you figure out which one fits your life and your look.  And, as always, there is no obligation whatsoever for the consultation.



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