Floors to Walk On

A great way to add value to your home while removing that allergy collecting carpet is to add hardwood flooring. Flooring can be a significant financial commitment and the decision process can be difficult and frustrating. I hope to simplify that process by providing a few guidelines to consider while selecting the wood floor that works best for your home and budget.

 Below I’ll discuss the four main types of hardwood flooring options:

 1.        Solid Wood Flooring:

This is the stuff your grandparents had in their house and most likely still do, even if it’s sadly hiding under their nasty carpet. With solid wood flooring there are two sub categories to consider:  site finished and pre-finished. The big difference here is that the flooring is either installed then sanded/finished, or factory finished then installed. Something to remember is that pre-finished floors will have a slightly beveled edge that can collect dirt and debris at times. Site finished floors will be sanded smooth with all gaps being properly filled. However, be prepared for a 4 to 5 day finish time with the site finish method. Both the site finished and pre-finished types of solid hardwood are nailed or stapled down and can be sanded/refinished in the years following the initial install. So, if you're planning on making your house a “get old and gray” one then solid wood flooring may be the best bang for your buck!

 *Please remember that hardwood species are not all the same.  Some are incredibly strong, while others are quite soft and easily damaged. So do your homework and check out a good old Janka Rating Scale. 

2.        Engineered  Hardwood Flooring:

This flooring is made by combining layers of plastic laminate veneer and true hardwood. This flooring is truly a middle grade product and is priced accordingly between solid wood and laminate.  Engineered hardwood has a factory finished surface and can be stapled or glued down; however, it cannot be sanded or re-finished after its initial install. Manufacturers of this type of hardwood argue that despite not being able to sand or re-finish the hardwood, it will likely outlast your home or desire to keep the floor around. This argument is usually backed up by impressive manufacturer warranties. However, make sure to read the fine print to prevent voiding the warranty due to installation methods or cleaning products. 


3.        Acrylic-Impregnated Wood Flooring:

This flooring is manufactured by layering up to five layers of birch and topping it off with your choice of hardwood. The top 1/10" layer is then impregnated with a colored resin that boasts a 300% more durable surface than any typical wood finish. This product is commonly used in commercial spaces where traffic and abuse is the standard. While this flooring is definitely durable, it doesn’t come without a cost and it cannot be refinished.


4.        Laminate Flooring: 

Wait a minute… I thought we were talking about “wood flooring?” This isn’t wood at all? But hey, it sure looks like it so we’ll include it in our discussion.  While laminate flooring is very much the low budget choice, it has come a long long way since it was first introduced. This flooring is made up of a compressed, high-density fiberboard with a melamine outside: one front and one back.  The top melamine layer is where an image of any wood or stone species is imprinted. Contrary to what most probably think, laminate is a very durable product. Also, laminate is a floating floor system which makes for a much easier DIY project. In short, laminates are a great option for a tight budget but don't go too cheap with this product. As with most things, you get what you pay for.

In summary, much of deciding what type of wood flooring works best for your home comes down to your budget the level of traffic/abuse your space will take on.

I thought I’d end by sharing my recent experience in purchasing hardwood flooring for my home. After much debate, my wife and I settled on Cumaru, or Brazilian Teak, a solid pre-finished wood. We chose a solid because I have an old school thought process about things. I simply wanted to have the option of refinishing the floor if I needed to. Also, Cumaru is a very hard wood—actually, one of the hardest there is. Additionally, we had a dog, and my wife and I want more than a couple of kids! So do I like them? Yes, I love the floors. They look just as good today as the day I opened the box.  However, due to the significant cost of solid exotic woods, and the maintenance required to preserve them, I will likely turn to an engineered hardwood in my next home.

For more information or additional questions, feel free to contact me. I’d love to help in anyway that I can!


Matthew Jennings


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