In my last blog post, I talked about the various types of flooring you can choose for your home. But the harder question is, how do you choose? To simplify this series on flooring options, we’ll focus on the basics – wood, laminate and vinyl, and finally, carpet.
Wood flooring tends to be the “gold” standard – particularly if you’re planning on selling in the future. Everyone looks for wood (even if they end up covering it), because it tends to increase the value of a property. Here are a couple of facts you’ll want to consider before making a wood floor selection:
Hardwood Versus Engineered Wood
The difference is that hardwood is wood through and through, while engineered wood is wood veneer laid on top of a substrate. Typically, the number of times you can refinish engineered wood is less than hardwood, but higher-priced choices may offer a thicker top layer.
Keep in mind that hardwood is more susceptible to moisture, so you’ll want to avoid installing it below grade (in basements, as well as in bathrooms). Hardwood is nailed into a plywood subfloor, so both layers will react to moisture. If your current subfloor is concrete, then engineered wood is your best option. However, if you have your heart set on hardwood, you can still install it on a concrete subfloor, but you’ll have to install plywood first – which will increase the cost and labor.
Durability and Maintenance
The species of wood, whether hardwood or engineered, is one element – the harder the wood, the more durable. If the floor will be in a high traffic area, and/or you have kids and pets, you’ll want a harder species such as red or white oak, or bamboo. Many of the more exotic woods are quite hard, but they can also be costlier. The Jenka Scale rates all species of wood, so be sure to check it before making a final decision.
Wood floors are certainly beautiful, but in order to keep them that way, it’s important to keep dirt at bay. It’s recommended that you sweep or use a dry microfiber cloth (like Swiffer) on a daily basis. You can also vacuum using the bare floor setting. Whatever you do, do NOT mop with a wet mop! Remember the moisture factor? Water is not a friend of wood. It’s best to use a wood cleaner monthly to keep your wood floors clean and beautiful for years to come.
We’re examining laminate and vinyl products that look like wood in our next post – stay tuned!