Love the Look of Hardwoods? Know Your Options


As fully carpeted homes have begun to lose their popularity, the shift towards hardwood has become a smart option for homeowners who are looking for flooring that is not only long-lasting, but easily maintained as well.

Still, standard hardwoods can pack a hefty price, so engineered flooring has become an extremely popular alternative, but it’s important to know what you’re buying.

If you’re considering hardwoods, take a look at your options below.

1.) SOLID HARDWOOD FLOOING: Most hardwood flooring is manufactured from the American hardwoods—red oak, white oak, maple, cherry, white ash, hickory, or pecan trees—although more exotic woods, such as Brazilian Cherry, Tigerwood, and African Teak, have seen an increase in popularity as well.

Generally considered the standard in wood flooring, traditional solid hardwood floors are comprised of a single piece of wood with tongue and groove sides.  Since this type of wood flooring tends to be sensitive to moisture, it’s typically nailed onto a wood sub-floor instead of a solid slab of concrete.

While somewhat pricey, especially when produced using unblemished clear oak, solid wood floors are great because they can be refinished and recoated multiple times throughout their lifespan—which may span several decades to 100+ years.  Still, it’s important to remember that solid wood floors are a natural product which expand and contract in response to moisture—meaning gaps may actually appear between the boards during the winter months.

2.) ENGINEERED HARDWOOD FLOORING: Since solid hardwoods are not always recommended in many areas of the home, engineered flooring has become a wonderful option because it tends to be much more versatile.

Instead of being made from solid strips, engineered planks are constructed from three or more thin sheets of wood that have been laminated together to form a single plank.  Since each layer is generally laid in an opposite direction during the manufacturing process, the completed floor tends to be dimensionally stable and not affected by temperature variations like traditional solid wood floors.

Furthermore, engineered floors can be installed on top of any surface—to include wood sub-floors and concrete slabs—and can be nailed down, stapled, or glued.

3.) LONGSTRIP HARDWOOD FLOORING: Still considered an engineered floor, Longstrip hardwoods have a finish layer that is comprised of several thinner wood piles that are glued together to make a single plank.  The top layer can be made from virtually any hardwood species, while the center core usually consists of a softer wood material that is used to make the tongue and groove.

Generally designed for floating installation, Longstrip planks typically have between 17 and 35 shorter pieces that make up the top layer of each board and can be glued or stapled onto any subfloor or grade level.

4.) BAMBOO FLOORING: Engineered by gluing strands of bamboo to make a material that can be milled into hardwood-like boards, this option is about as hard as most domestic hardwoods and actually lasts just as long.

Its installation is generally the same as standard hardwood boards; however, since it’s less prone to warpage, it tends to be easier to nail together.

4.) LAMINATE: Developed as a response to the increasing cost of hardwood, laminate boards have a plastic surface that is simply stamped to look like wood and can actually be milled in the same way.

It tends to be incredibly easy to install, needing technicians with less expertise and fewer tools; however, since its thin veneer can only be sanded and refinished once, laminate tends to wear out much quicker than its real wood counterparts.

Mirko Attolini | CRES Builders | | 770-983-4698