The most common types of flooring available are solid hardwood, engineered wood flooring, and luxury vinyl. It is important to consider where you will be installing the flooring before making a decision. Kitchens have high traffic and are likely to have dirt and moisture from an entryway. Living rooms are the centerpiece of a home and any flooring selection should add to the decor of the room. Bathrooms and basements are high moisture areas which require special considerations.
Solid Wood Flooring
Considered to be the most popular flooring option, solid hardwood, or wood strip flooring as it is sometimes referred, is a timeless, durable, and natural material used for flooring. It is available in prefinished or unfinished to fit your application. The durability of the floor is determined by the hardness of the wood from which it is made. Solid wood flooring can be domestic or exotic, meaning made from trees growing in North America or from trees that grow around the world. Some examples of domestics are oak, cherry, birch, ash, and maple. Exotic species include purple heart, bamboo, mahogany, tigerwood and many others.
Solid wood flooring is installed by nailing or gluing. Special tools are needed and typically it can be installed over a solid subfloor (the material underneath your current flooring). If your subfloor is in poor repair or not solid, you may need to replace it before installation can proceed. The subfloor can be wood or existing flooring (except carpet) but cannot be over concrete or particleboard.
Solid wood floors are a great option for living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, hallways, etc.—anywhere you want a beautiful look and a great feel. It is not recommended to install solid wood flooring over radiant heat or in a basement, because it may warp or crack. Bathroom installation should have the seams glued to avoid water pooling underneath the floor. Water on the surface of the floor should be cleaned up quickly and the product can be sensitive to humidity. Consult a flooring specialist at our store to discuss your specific bathroom installation.
Engineered Wood Flooring
Engineered hardwood flooring offers an advantage over solid hardwood flooring by being able to be installed where typical hardwood cannot. Since engineered wood is an actual layer of hardwood on top of a plywood backing, it is much more stable. This allows it to be installed over radiant heat, in basements, and over a concrete subfloor. The surface of the flooring is a durable as the hardwood that it is made from and still offers all the natural beauty that solid hardwood flooring can offer.
Engineered flooring can install like solid wood, or can “float” over the existing subfloor. Floating means that the individual sections of the flooring lock or glue together into a sheet that lays on top of the subfloor without being fastened to it. It typically is pressure fit to the walls and requires more patience than skill to install. Engineered flooring can install over wood, concrete, or existing flooring (except carpeting).
Choose engineered flooring to install in a dry basement or over radiant heat as the plywood backing helps keep the hardwood stable and reduces movement caused my moisture. Bathroom installation should have the seams glued to avoid water pooling underneath the floor. Water on the surface of the floor should be cleaned up quickly and the product can be sensitive to humidity. Consult a flooring specialist at our store to discuss your specific bathroom installation.
Laminate flooring looks like wood or natural stone, yet is made up of synthetic materials. A popular alternative to other hard surface products, high-quality laminate flooring resists staining, wear, and fading much better than wood and natural stone while providing a unique look and appeal. It’s durable and water resistant, with the ability for use in bathrooms and kitchens in addition to high traffic areas. Laminates have greater dent and scratch resistance than hardwood flooring, but will become damaged if abused. Best of all, laminates take more patience than skill to install, so nearly anyone can do it.
Laminate flooring is a floating floor. Most quality laminates install with a “click system” where once it locks together it is nearly impossible to separate. Laminate can install over wood, concrete, or existing flooring (except carpeting) on top of a foam pad.
Choose laminate flooring to install in a dry basement or over radiant heat. Damp areas will not harm the product as long as there is no standing water. If you want to install laminate in a bathroom, the seams should be glued to avoid water pooling underneath the floor.
Luxury Vinyl Tile
Luxury vinyl tile, also known as (LVT) is a vinyl plank or tile flooring that is available in a range of shapes, sizes, and visual looks. It can mimic an authentic-looking real wood or stone floor. Designed to resist moisture and everyday wear and tear; LVT is the perfect type of flooring for bathrooms, kitchens, basements and laundry rooms. There are even options that allow you to easily install over subfloors with minor irregularities. Luxury vinyl tile is very durable and easy to clean.
Installation methods vary among luxury vinyl flooring products, so check the installation recommendations for the product you select. Some products come with a self-adhesive that you peel, place and press. Most others offer a locking systems, where boards connect to each other and “float” over the subfloor. Many can also be installed with glue, if desired. If you are an advanced DIYer or already know how to install luxury vinyl tile or plank flooring, you may feel confident taking on the installation yourself — especially if it’s a flooring project in a small spaces like abathroom or laundry room and no adhesive is required.
Engineered Tile Flooring
This type of flooring is engineered with 70% limestone and other resilient materials to be the perfect alternative to natural stone, porcelain or ceramic tile. It has the character and longevity you love about traditional tile, but it’s warmer and softer under-foot. There are many styles you can achieve with engineered tile, starting with classic slate, terracotta, travertine and marble — all the way to tiles that resemble reclaimed wood and linen fabric.
Engineered tiles can be installed anywhere in the home, with or without grout. It’s ideal for high-moisture areas like kitchens, bathrooms, basements and laundry rooms — and even on the wall as a backsplash or accent wall! And unlike ceramic tile, engineered tile can be installed over minor subfloor irregularities without the risk of cracking. If you’re an advanced DIYer who enjoys a challenge, it’s certainly possible to handle the installation yourself — especially if you already know how to install groutable tile.
Rigid Core Flooring
Rigid Core flooring is a category of resilient flooring, and it has been designed from the ground up with modern homes in mind. It’s 100% waterproof, easy to install, and provides extreme scratch and indent resistance when compared to solid or engineered wood flooring. Beautiful and versatile enough to enjoy in every room of the house, even kitchens, baths and laundry rooms. In addition to the durability benefits of rigid core, it also offers a wide range of design options because it isn’t limited to traditional wood species. Whether it’s a painted wood look or a stone visual you crave, you’ll find much more design variety with rigid core than you would in traditional wood flooring.
If you have a less-than-perfect subfloor, you’re smart to consider products with rigid core installation. Thick and sturdy planks come with an attached cork underlayment, making them perfectly suitable for installing over minor subfloor irregularities. Rigid core flooring can also be installed over large areas without transition strips. Rigid core hybrid flooring products feature a “floating floor” structure, meaning that instead of gluing or nailing the boards down, you will lock them together – side to side, end to end – creating a surface that “floats” atop the subfloor. In some circumstances, you or your installer may prefer to use a full-spread adhesive, but it’s not required. Some instructions may also recommend adhesive if expansion due to high sunlight exposure is a risk. If you are an advanced DIYer or have done a waterproof floor installation before, you may decide to take on the project yourself — especially if it’s on the smaller side, like a bathroom or laundry room (and no adhesive is required). Larger projects or glue-down installations may warrant help from a pro.