Wood floors are more popular today than they’ve ever been. Why are they such a beloved choice? Besides being attractive and easy to maintain, they add value to your home, and if properly cared for they will last forever.
Let's quickly go over the two types of wood flooring, and then we'll investigate the pros and cons of each type to help you choose the right one for your home.
There Are Two Types of hardwood flooring
Traditionally solid wood boards are cut directly from the species of tree being used. The most popular species are oak and maple but for a higher price you can get less common species such as cherry, hickory, or mahogany. The boards are cut, sanded, and in some cases stained as one piece of wood. This type of hardwood flooring can be installed on the upper floors or on the grade level of the home.
The second type is referred to as engineered. It's made from glued together layers of wood with a veneer of real hardwood as the top layer. This flooring can be installed on any level of the home, including basements.
It offers more flexibility than traditional solid hardwood and is usually cheaper to buy and install. Don’t confuse engineered planks with laminate flooring, the two are actually very different in composition, construction, and price.
There are some misconceptions about the difference in quality between solid and engineered options. Despite what some people assume, engineered hardwood isn’t necessarily a lower quality product. In fact, it's a very durable option that can last just as long as a solid wood floor.
What Does it Cost?
The cost of installation will depend on several factors, with the type you choose ebing the most important factor. Solid wood boards are typically much more expensive to buy than engineered ones and they're usually more expensive to install as well. Generally, solid hardwood flooring costs between $8 and $15 per square foot, including the cost of installation/labor.
Engineered boards tend to be less expensive, though this is in no way a reflection of its quality. Thicker planks cost more, and depending on the type of wood used, the price will vary. The typical cost for engineered wood floors, including installation, ranges from about $3 to $14 per square foot.
The biggest difference between solid and engineered hardwood is the installation options. Solid wood planks can’t be installed below ground level because natural moisture levels below ground level can damage the wood. It usually has to be nailed in, though there are some forms of solid hardwood that come in easy to install tongue and groove plank designs.
Engineered planks are more versatile because they holds up to moisture better. They can be used with radiant heating, in basements, can be installed directly over concrete without placing a moisture barrier under it, and it's easy to install.
Either type of floor can be a DIY project, but I always recommend hiring a professional. If your hardwood floor needs to be nailed down, you should seriously consider hiring someone to install it for you.
If you are trying to save money by installing your it on your own, look for the kind that clicks into place with a tongue and groove. You can find this in both solid and engineered options.
Care and maintenance
Both solid and engineered hardwood floors are fairly easy to care for. Neither type should be exposed to moisture for extended periods of time, so wet mops are not recommended. Instead, sweeping, vacuuming, and the use of special wood floor cleaners is recommended to keep them looking new.
Over time, the surface of the floor can become dull or scratched. It’s important to try to prevent damage by using pads under furniture and limiting contact with pets or other potentially damaging items. Solid wood flooring can be stripped and refinished multiple times, so if it does start to look worn it can be fixed.
Some thicker planks of engineered hardwood are designed to sanded and refinished once or twice, but more than that risks damaging the wood’s finish. Refinishing is definitely a job left to the professionals.
Hardwood flooring looks great in any home and if cared for properly can last for decades. Take the time to find the right design and type for your home and you’ll enjoy it for decades to come.