If you are considering installing wood flooring in your home, you will first have to decide exactly what type of wood you’ll use. Making that decision will depend on the amount of traffic (from both people and animals) around your home, the look and feel you want your home to have, and your budget for your new flooring project. If you decide to go with solid wood or engineered wood for your flooring, you’ll have to decide which specific wood species is the right choice for you. There are many different types—from the traditional to the exotic—but the few listed below are some of the most common options for homes today.
Different Types of Wood Flooring
Solid wood floors are single-cut strips of natural wood. This has become less popular lately as engineered flooring is now a go-to favorite for home remodels, but solid wood floors still have many desirable qualities.
Pros: Solid wood is the most durable type of wood flooring. You’ll be able to sand and stain it several times, giving it a long lifespan. You’ll also have a lot of different types of solid wood to choose from, letting you pick the look and feel that works best for you.
Cons: Solid wood is the most expensive flooring option. It can also expand or warp with varying moisture levels and can only be installed by nailing it to the subfloor.
One of the most common species for wood floors, you can find both white oak and red oak flooring in many homes. It’s a very hard wood with beautiful colors ranging from creamy and rusty in red oak to chocolatey and silver in white oak floors. It tends to fall in the middle of the affordability scale but offers a lot of value for the price. It’s vibrant grain patterns tend to hide dents, scratches, and stains well, making oak a great choice for homes with pets and children.
Pine is a softwood, making it less suited for high-traffic areas like entrances and kitchens. It is, however a much cheaper and more environmentally friendly option than hardwood floors. Softwood trees like pine grow much more quickly than hardwoods, making them more sustainable and renewable.
Maple ranges in hardness depending on the type of maple tree. Hard maples like sugar maples and rock maples are even harder than oak, while red and silver maples produce much softer wood, similar to pine. Maple gives a light color with a faint grain pattern, giving homes with maple flooring a more modern look. Depending on the type of maple wood, it can be great for all areas of the house. It is more expensive than oak or pine.
Hickory is significantly harder than oak, making it perfect for homes with a lot of traffic. Its color and pattern are very similar to oak but it tends to be more expensive.
Often confused with maple, birch floors are lightly colored with a muted grain pattern. Birch is still relatively hard, although not quite as hard as maple and oak. For homes with lighter foot traffic, it would work well. It is often used as a more affordable substitute for people wanting the light, modern style of maple.
Cherry wood has a vibrant red tone that tends to darken over time as it is exposed to light. It is a soft and delicate wood, making it less suited for entryways and other areas of the home with heavy foot traffic. Cherry is much more expensive than oak and maple.
Although not technically a wood, bamboo is becoming popular as a flooring material because of its sustainability. Families with young children would likely consider this type of flooring. Most parents want to make their home healthy, so products with a LOW VOC or ZERO VOC is a big priority. VOC stands for Volatile organic compounds which occur when chemicals release a gas into the environment. VOC results from new furnishings, wall coverings, and office equipment such as copy machines or paint, which can off-gas VOC into the air. Bamboo offers this “green” healthy quality as it typically contains no added urea-formaldehyde in its adhesive and uses a zero VOC finish which will not off-gas any toxic chemicals. Bamboo is a fast-growing grass that is pressed together with resin and cut into flooring strips. It can vary widely in quality, hardness, and price, so make sure to do your homework before buying bamboo!
Composite wood floors are made by gluing a thin hardwood veneer onto layers of compressed wood, resin, and polymers. On the surface, engineered hardwood looks almost identical to solid hardwood. It comes pre-finished and can be installed on top of existing surfaces. Engineered wood is also more resistant to moisture, so you can use it in basements and other areas that are more susceptible to moisture. With that, they are less likely to warp or expand with environmental changes.
Pros: Engineered wood floors are usually cheaper and easier to install than hardwood. You can nail or staple the boards to the subfloor, glue it down or attaching it as a “floating” floor.
Cons: Engineered wood can only be sanded and refinished a couple of times before the hardwood veneer wears down into the board underneath. This gives it a much shorter lifespan and less customizability over the years.
People often confused laminate and engineered wood because their cores are basically the same material. Like engineered wood, laminate is made from a pressed wood core, but instead of gluing a thick layer of hardwood on top, laminate has a high-quality image of wood grain printed onto it before being sealed with a clear protective coating. Like engineered wood, it is highly water-resistant, making it applicable in more areas of the home than solid hardwood. Each piece is designed to fit together with the next one without any nails or glue, making installation very easy.
Pros: Laminate is durable. The clear protective layer makes laminate much easier to clean than both solid hardwood and engineered wood flooring. It is also the cheapest of the three options, although the highest quality laminates will be close to the same price as solid hardwood.
Cons: Although it doesn’t damage easily, it does happen. Unfortunately, significantly damaged laminate has to be replaced instead of repaired. It usually does not improve home resale value in the same way that solid or engineered hardwood does.
You’ll find that the many different types and species of wood give you complete control over how your home looks and feels. As you set your budget and weigh your options between durability, affordability, natural vs. engineered, and resale value, you’ll be much more equipped to pick the type of wood flooring that matches your goals for your home.
Once you have reached a decision on what type of wood flooring you want – contact us for your flooring installation!