Wood floor is popular due to its inability to hold onto allergens like dust and pet dander, its beauty, the range of colors, and relative lack of cleaning and maintenance. Wood floors are environmentally friendly, and they can often be sanded or refinished instead of entirely replaced. However, not all wood floors are equal on these measures. What are the pros and cons of different types of wood floors?
Traditional solid hardwood flooring takes the form of wood slates. If you walk through a home with century old wood floors, you are walking on traditional hardwood floors.
Pros of Traditional Hardwood Floors
• The range of materials from traditional American hardwoods like read oak and white ash to exotic hardwoods like tigerwood and African teak lets you choose any grain, pattern and quality you like.
• If you don’t like the color, for many traditional hardwood floors, you can stain it to another color.
• You can find finished hardwood slats that don’t need additional work beyond installation.
• They can be sanded and refinished several times over its life.
• Hardwood floors can come in several styles like standard width strip flooring, plank flooring with varying widths and parquet flooring with geometric wood slats.
Cons of Traditional Hardwood Floors
• These floors can only be installed on or above ground level.
• They must be installed over a wood subfloor.
• Sensitivity to moisture is the norm.
Engineered Wood Flooring
Engineered wood flooring is made from three or more thin sheets of wood called plies. These plies are glued together to create a plank. Don’t mistake engineered wood flooring for laminate wood flooring – laminate flooring contains no actual wood.
Pros of Engineered Wood Flooring
• They can be installed in any room, including basements and bathrooms.
• Placing it on a thin rubber underlayment is enough for most projects, instead of a wood sub-floor.
• The cross-ply construction means it is dimensionally stable and won’t create unsightly gaps when contracting in the winter.
• This type of floor is less likely to cup or split.
• They are not as easily affected by moisture.
• Engineered wood floors can be installed on top of concrete or glued to a laminate floor; no wood subfloor is required.
• The cost of engineered wood floors with a thin top layer of an exotic wood with cheaper woods underneath is comparable or even cheaper than expensive wood slats made entirely of an exotic material.
• Locking hardwood floors, also called floating wood floors, are a type of engineered wood floor with a locking tongue and groove system that eliminates the need for nails, staples and glue. These you can install yourself.
Cons of Engineered Wood Flooring
• The purchase price is higher than with traditional hardwood floors.
• Not every installer knows how to install them.
• You can’t re-finish engineered wood flooring in most cases, only clean or replace it. Always check with the manufacturer to find out if this is an option for the engineered wood floor you are considering.
Unfinished Wood Flooring
All wood flooring needs a finish to protect the wood from every day wear and tear. Unfinished wood is received without this protective layer. The installer sands the wood before finishing it on site. Then the floor needs to be left alone while the finish dries. Even if you don’t stain it, the wood still needs to have a clear overcoat to protect the wood from moisture and wear.
Factory Finished Wood Flooring
Factory finished wood flooring has the finished applied at the manufacturer’s facility. This is popular because the installer only needs to install it; they don’t need to sand it and finish it. You can walk on it immediately.
Factory finished wood flooring can take the form of acrylic impregnated wood flooring; a sealant to protect the wood from wear and moisture along with the desired color is infused in the wood. Acrylic impregnated wood flooring is expensive, but it is highly resistant to both wear and moisture.