Floors - Hardwood or Laminate. Decisions, Decisions!

Find out how to select the right type of flooring for your custom home with UBuildIt.

Laminates and hardwood floors offer timeless beauty and charm. They are never out of style and can add considerable value to your home. With advances in technology, these two types of flooring are more durable and can more readily adapt to different areas of your home.

Hardwood Flooring

There are two types of hardwood flooring on today's market, solid and engineered wood. Solid wood is one solid piece of wood from top to bottom and ranges in thickness from ¾-inch to 5/16-inch in depth. While solid wood flooring works well in almost all areas of your home, it should not be used in a basement or areas of high moisture. Solid wood floors react poorly to moisture. During the winter solid wood can contract due to the lack of humidity, leaving unsightly gaps between the planks. During the summer and its humidity the planks will expand and the gapping will disappear. If there is too much humidity the planks can cup or buckle. Engineered wood is manufactured using three to five layers of different wood veneers. This flooring is stable and will expand and contract less than solid wood when there are changes in humidity and temperature. Unlike solid wood, it can be used over dry, level concrete slabs. Either solid or engineered wood floors are available in three styles:

  • Strip which is usually 2 ¼ to 3 ¼-inch wide,
  • Plank, 4 inches or wider, and
  • Parquet which is an inlay of different color wood in a geometric pattern.

When selecting hardwood flooring you will need to determine if you want the planks to be pre-finished or unfinished. The unfinished flooring is sanded, stained and varnished in your home once the installation is complete. While you can achieve a truly custom look this way, it requires significantly more time and labor to complete. The pre-finished hardwoods come in a variety of types of wood and colors saving time and labor during installation. Hardwood flooring has the added health benefit of not harboring any allergens or microorganisms. In addition dust, mold and animal dander are minimal in homes with wood floors.

Eliminating dust, mold and animal dander has a huge impact on your home's environment. According to the EPA, 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, which are the sixth leading cause of chronic disease in the US.

Laminated Wood Flooring

If you are someone who loves the look of a hardwood floor but is concerned about the upkeep and initial expense, laminated flooring may be the best choice for you. Laminated wood flooring comes in many different designs, colors, sizes and widths. This flooring is several layers of various materials pressed together to form each plank. A printed film gives the plank the look of real wood and is covered by a tough and durable "wearlayer" which protects it from most stains, spills, burns and scratches. The planks have tongue and groove edges on all sides which secure the planks together. An underlayment is placed on the sub floor and this flooring "floats" or lays over it and is never secured directly to the sub floor. This "floating" allows the flooring to expand and contract as the heat and humidity change. This feature also allows the flooring to be used on almost any level surface in your home. Choosing flooring is a significant long term decision for the look and comfort in your home. With careful study and thought you can select the one that meets the needs of you and your family for many years to come.

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