There was a time the only acceptable option for wood flooring for a Rochester- area home was to install real, solid wood plank flooring. Man-made wood flooring looked awful and just didn’t hold up. But is 100 percent solid wood flooring still the only way to go if you want the look and feel of wood for your Rochester home?
There are two main things to take into consideration as you answer that question. How do you feel about the material; and how do the different types of flooring compare when it comes to appearance, performance, installation, and cost? One is obviously subjective and the other has data behind it. Both are valid considerations.
Let’s begin with the comparison between natural wood flooring and engineered wood flooring. The flooring experts at Armstrong Flooring sell both, so they tend to be fairly objective in their comparison. Here are a few key points from their comparison (you can dig into more detail here if you like).
Similar But Different: It may surprise some homeowners to know that engineered and solid hardwood floors are both made from 100 percent real wood. How they are constructed, however, is different. Solid hardwood floors are solid wood with each board made from a single piece of hardwood. Engineered hardwood is comprised of a core of hardwood (or plywood) with a layer of hardwood veneer affixed surface on the top.
Both Look Great But Behave Differently: Solid and engineered floors are designed for beauty and durability. Solid wood has a tendency to expand and contract. That’s why installers generally leave a small gap between the floor and the walls that can accommodate this movement. It’s normal. That expansion and contraction, however, means that solid wood is less desirable in areas that experience high humidity—or changes in humidity (basement areas, come to mind). Engineered wood floors are generally more resistant to moisture. Unlike solid hardwood, engineered hardwood can be installed over concrete under the right conditions.
Cost Comparison: There is an assumption that natural hardwood flooring is more expensive, but that really depends on the kind of hardwood that’s being used. Some exotic hardwoods do tend to cost more. Popular strains (such as maple) can also be a bit more costly. Engineered flooring is also faster and easier to install, so that can affect pricing. But in some cases, there’s just not much difference in the cost.
What about the subjective side of things? If you simply prefer the look and feel of 100 percent natural hardwood (and there are a lot of people who do), that’s probably the direction you should go. Both types of flooring are extremely durable. Engineered flooring may hold up somewhat better against some kinds of wear (dog toenails, for instance!). But it’s not as if your natural flooring will wear out over night—and it can be refinished.
If humidity and moisture aren’t issues, and if you simply like the look and feel of completely natural wood, and you’re happy with the price—100 percent natural may be the way to go. On the other hand, don’t be afraid of engineered flooring either. The quality, durability, and performance you require will still be there.
By the way, here’s a quick look at how we use wood flooring to enhance the warmth and beauty in one of our Ontario, NY homes. Enjoy the virtual tour!