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How To Choose Between Solid Wood, Laminate and Engineered Flooring

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By Edited Nov 13, 2013 5 1

Things To Consider When Looking For Flooring


The cost of hardwood flooring is the key deciding factor for many people. It can be very limiting for some families but luckily due to recent innovations, prices are falling and cheaper alternatives to solid wood flooring are becoming more realistic.


The suitability of various flooring types here refers to the physical limitations of the materials used. Only tiles are recommended for use in frequently wet areas such as bathrooms due to rotting that can occur and only solid wood and higher quality engineered flooring can be used as load bearing floors. Likewise, only engineered flooring is suitable for use over under floor heating due to the added stability it offers over solid wood.


The appearance of the flooring is another key factor for many people. It's a personal decision that no-one else can really make for you but if you're looking for flooring for a cosy, traditional home, a neutral coloured, rustic oak floor is a great choice and for modern, contemporary interiors, bold coloured, dark or light floors with uniform appearances are currently popular.

Solid Wood Flooring

Solid wood flooring is quite simply just planks made of a single piece of solid timber. It's the most well known type and can be made of various tree species; oak, walnut and ash to name but a few. The wood used also comes in varying grades from rustic to select which define the quality of the timber.


The main appeal of sold wood flooring is and always will be its unrivalled quality. The physical sensation underfoot and the unique features such as the grain, knots and summer growth rings present in the surface all add to the wow factor. It's also has the longest lifespan and shouldn't altering for over a hundred years under the right conditions. However, it can of course be re-sanded at any point and finished with a variety of lacquered, oils and stains.


 The big drawback when it comes to solid wood flooring is as you might expect, the price tag. It costs around 30% more than an engineered equivalent and around 6 times as much as laminate. Another factor which people might not have considered is the tendency of solid wood flooring to warp under localised heat fluctuations and moisture. This can cause big problems in the long run so it's essential to make a thorough assessment of the area in which you hope to lay it before making such an investment.

Laminate Flooring

During the late 1970s, a major innovation in flooring was in Sweden: laminate flooring. This revolutionary product took a photographic image of a wood surface and fixed it to a fiber board core offering a hardwood flooring effect at a fraction of the cost.


Cost was indeed the main appeal of laminate flooring and fueled its growth during the 80s and 90s. Another appeal was the ease in which it could be fitted compared to other flooring types with technologies such as click lock systems. Laminate flooring has also become more convincing over time with modern varieties containing realistic feeling textures such as V grooves and grain patterns.


However, laminate flooring still isn't quite there and some people find the overall quality cheap and tacky. While it looks the same from a distance, it doesn't feel the same underfoot and is often noisier than wood. It's also often much thinner than other types and has a shorter lifespan of 5-20 years.

Engineered Flooring

engineered flooring was another major innovation but went under the radar for many people as it falls somewhere in between solid wood and laminate. Engineered flooring is made of 100% wood but features only a thin layer of desirable wood such as oak or walnut that is fixed to a core made up of layers of cheaper but highly durable plywood.


Engineered flooring's upper hand over solid wood is that it costs around a third less. This is due to the fact that most of an engineered plank is made up of cheaper plywood made of more readily available timber species such as spruce or pine. However, this is also an advantage as this construction method makes engineered flooring more dent resistant and less susceptible to the warping that can occur in solid wood flooring. This allows it be used with under floor heating systems. This kind of flooring also looks and feels virtually identical to solid wood because it really is 100% wood and features real graded wood at the surface that can be finished in a number of ways.


There really aren't many cons when it comes to engineered flooring. It does still cost more than laminate flooring and due to the thin layer of surface wood being only a few millimetres thick, it can usually only be sanded 3 times or so. However this is usually only necessary every 20 years.



Jul 30, 2012 9:12am
Great article.
I have laminate floors in my apartment. I kind of like it but I would rather prefer wood flooring.
I am not so sure if this type of flooring was wise to choose from my landlord. Some areas looked already bad when I moved in - including a water damage.

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