Home → Consumer Resources → Flooring 101 – The Basics from Hardwoods to Laminates
by Jacklyn Renz
There may be nothing in our home that takes more of a beating on a daily basis than our underfoot friend, the floor. Spilled drinks, pet stains, mud tracks, and dust bunnies all seem to make their frequent appearances. Carpets absorb odors, can stain easily, are a magnet for allergens, and can be costly to replace at the recommended average of every 10 years. If you are thinking about moving from carpeting to hard floorings, then we’ve got the low-down on those down low choices that await you.
One of the lower cost materials in the world of hard floorings is laminates. These floors are great for the do-it-yourselfer because they are often easy to install and “float” above the existing flooring, meaning there is no tear out necessary. A laminate floor can come in a variety of colors and textures. These are made of pressed plywood or compressed fibers with a top layer, the piece that we see, made of plastic. The top layer is made of a clear plastic literally overlaying a picture of wood, thus the ability to offer variety at a relatively low cost.
The next level up from laminates, as far as pricing is concerned, is engineered woods. The top piece of the plank is made of real wood. The subsequent layers are made of woods such as recycled wood fibers or plywood. Engineered wood can be installed in a variety of ways, the more popular of options being the clickable versions where each plank quite literally, not to mention easily, clicks into place. This may be another option for a DIY project. The price on engineered wood varies, with some varieties comparable to real hardwoods.
The flooring that we most think of when it comes to wood flooring may very well be the real deal. Real hardwoods are just as the name says: made of real wood. Hardwoods come in as many varieties as there are trees that they are made from. Some species that we find readily available in the US are oak, maple, pine or black walnut. Exotic species and types are also available, but the price will rise depending on just how exotic the wood is. Hardwoods are not a project to take on alone because of the fact that each piece must be nailed to the floor beneath it. Real wood can be finished and refinished over and over again, which truly adds a natural beauty to the home.
Bamboos and Cork
Two honorable mentions that must be included in the wood flooring categories are actually not woods at all. The first is bamboo. Bamboo is visually similar to hardwoods, laminates, and engineered woods, but is actually a type of grass. Stranded bamboo is especially durable and all bamboo floorings come in a variety of colors and textures. The second is cork. Cork is made from the bark of a tree instead of the tree itself. The tree is left intact while the bark is harvested every few years. Cork has a protective layering over its top to protect from wear and stains that must be resealed every few years. Both of these are considered more sustainable and more eco-friendly choices when compared to hardwoods.
Whichever flooring type you choose, any of these will be sure to add to the unique look of a room. These floors will show well, they wear well, and they will hold their value over the years.
source: HGTV.com, flooranddecor.com