Solid Wood v Engineered Wood v Laminate: Which Is Best For You?

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I’ve written before about the choices you have when it comes to flooring and some of the things to consider. But if you’ve narrowed it down to wooden, or something that looks wooden this post will give you a bit more detail about the choices you have ahead of you.

Solid Wood Flooring

As you would expect, solid wood flooring is exactly that – flooring made from solid wood! But depending on the type of wood used, the cost and properties could be very different, with softwood types varying in texture and colour to their hardwood counterparts.

What all types do have in common though is a feeling of quality. Each plank is cut direct from the tree, so you know that the wood is quality throughout, whereas with engineered wood there is just a thin layer of real wood on top of the core plywood.

Given the quality, consistent nature of solid wood flooring it is very suitable for high traffic areas. And because it looks so lovely it is perfect for communal areas, such as lounges and dining rooms, where guests are most likely to see it and be impressed!

The nature of solid wood flooring does mean that it isn’t particularly suitable for moist areas though, such as kitchens and bathrooms. As with any real wood, it is prone to expand in warm, damp conditions and contract in cold conditions, so care should be taken to ensure suitable room location.

Solid wood flooring should also generally be installed by gluing or nailing it down to keep it in place and allowance should be made from expansion. As such it is more suitable to be installed by a professional or an experienced DIYer.

Solid wood flooring also tends to be rather more expensive than engineered wood and certainly a lot more than a basic laminate flooring. At the end of the day though, you get what you pay for, and solid wood flooring will last many years and look amazing. It can of course also be sanded down multiple times if scratched or damaged, which will keep it looking its best for longer.

Engineered Wood Flooring

We have always gone for engineered wood flooring in our house, mainly because it looks good, and is a bit more flexible in use and a bit more affordable than solid wood flooring.

Effectively, engineered wood is mainly multiple layers of plywood with a top layer or solid wood. The core gives it the strength and means that the product as a whole is less impacted by temperature and moisture then solid wood flooring. The top layer then gives it the look of solid wood, so you have the best of both worlds – the flexibility and looks in one!

Solid wood v Engineered Wood

Given the top layer is real wood, engineered wood flooring is just as liable to scratches and minor dents as a solid wood floor. As long as the top layer is 3mm or more you can also sand it down like you can with solid wood, although likely just once or twice.

Engineered wood flooring is generally suitable for DIY installation and most types don’t need to be fixed to the floor beneath, which saves time and effort. I found that once you get a rhythm going a while room can be done in a couple of hours.

Like with other wooden flooring types, engineered wood flooring comes in a very wide range of styles, colours and textures – and price brackets! As with solid wood, assuming you treat it with care, it should last many, many years.

Laminate Flooring

Last up is laminate flooring, which has a similar core to engineered wood flooring but has a printed decorative layer on top rather than a real wooden one. This means that although it can be quite hard wearing, it cannot be repaired by sanding. As such it is less likely to last as long as other flooring types and should be treated with care to avoid scratches, dents and gouges. Laminate flooring joints also don’t tend to react well to moisture, and can pucker up, ruining the overall look.

The big benefit of laminate flooring is the cost, as it is generally a fraction of the price of solid wood, so is perfect when budgets are tight. Depending on the quality of the laminate, it can look really good and many would find it hard to tell the difference between the different wood flooring types at first glance. It’s also easy to install, with click-lock designs going together quickly and easily, even for basic DIYers.

So whatever your requirements in terms of style, colour, texture, function or budget there’s a wooden flooring out there for you. Choose wisely…

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