The cozy allure of a woodgrain patterned floor adds a touch of natural beauty to any room and works especially well in living spaces such as living rooms, family rooms, dining rooms, and dens. Wood floors can complement any room style and décor, from the homey feel of traditional farmhouse/country styles to the clean lines and neutral tones of modern and contemporary designs.
The decision to go with wood flooring is only the first of many choices homeowners and businesses need to make; however, whether the project is new construction or remodeling. The best type of wood or wood-style flooring for the project will depend a lot on what the space will be used for, how heavily it will be trafficked, and the overall budget—not just the design language of the room itself.
Hardwood, engineered wood, laminate, and even more contemporary technologies such as cork, bamboo and luxury vinyl plank flooring, all have their pros and cons, and selecting the right material can be even more important than matching the pattern and color to the room(s) in which it will be installed.
True hardwood flooring comes in two varieties: solid and engineered. Solid hardwood is exactly what it sounds like—the entire plank is comprised of one 5/8- to 3/4-inch cut of either maple, walnut, oak or any number of other species of wood. Solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished many times over, giving it unmatched longevity. However, solid hardwood flooring is extremely susceptible to fluctuations in temperature and humidity, which can cause it to expand and contract. For this reason, it is not typically used in below-grade applications, such as basements and split-levels.
Engineered hardwood solves this problem by applying a thinner layer of true hardwood atop a more versatile layer of plywood or particle board. The engineered layers contend with the dramatic changes in temperature and humidity, while the hardwood veneer provides the look and feel of a true hardwood floor, and can also be sanded once or twice in its lifetime, depending on thickness.
One disadvantage of both solid and engineered wood floors, however, is that both are highly prone to scratches, nicks, and dents. Homes with young children and pets, and businesses such as repair shops, might consider other, more durable options. Also, both solid and engineered hardwood floors command premium pricing, typically making them the most expensive options.
Laminate flooring offers the look of hardwood but with much greater durability and at a significantly reduced cost. High-resolution photos of actual hardwood patterns are printed and glued to a composite board, then coated with a durable, clear layer of aluminum oxide, which protects against scratches, dents, stains, and fading. Although in the early days of laminate flooring, appearance and design couldn’t compete with the beauty of traditional floors, modern manufacturing techniques have brought the quality up to the level of the more expensive options. Laminate is a great choice for highly-trafficked floors, as well as spaces that are likely to endure hard treatment, such as workshops, animal clinics and daycare centers.
Although often categorized under the umbrella of “hardwood” floors, cork and bamboo are not technically even “wood.” Cork is derived from the bark of cork oak trees, and bamboo is technically a grass. What has made these options surge in popularity over the last several years is that they are considered “green” renewable resources that are more environmentally friendly than traditional natural wood options.
Cork oak trees are stripped of their bark every nine years or so—the trees themselves are not sacrificed. Bamboo grows incredibly rapidly, taking only five years to mature (compared to hardwood trees, which can take twenty years or more). Not only that, harvesting does not kill the plant, which fully regrows from its roots in another five years.
Cork and bamboo are perfect for the environmentally conscientious consumer. However there are limited choices in terms of colors and designs, with most options skewing toward lighter shades. Also, cork and bamboo flooring are much less durable than most other options, as both are susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity as well as physical damage—even just walking on cork with high heels could damage the floor.
Finally, there is what, in recent years, has become one of the most popular options for both commercial and residential applications: luxury vinyl tile, or LVT, flooring. The design possibilities for vinyl plank flooring are limitless. It can be made to resemble any type of wood, or other patterns (IE: stone) found in nature, and can be any color on the spectrum, from the darkest black to the starkest white, and every color in between.
Regardless of whether the choice is hardwood or laminate, sustainable cork or bamboo, or modern luxury vinyl plank, it’s important to select a certified wood flooring installer. Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers of New Albany, Indiana has been serving the Louisville and Southern Indiana area for nearly 30 years. Our experts
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