Hardwood Vs. Engineered Flooring Tips

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How much does hardwood flooring cost?

The Cost of Hardwood Flooring

When considering the price of your hardwood flooring, it may not be so much a choice between solid versus engineered hardwood; you'll find the prices are actually similar. But there is a wild range for both – sometimes anywhere from $3.00/sq. ft. to $14.00/sq. ft. Why the vast range? You are paying for the quality of the wood. Planks in the lower price range have more variations to their patterns – knots, discolorations, etc. The higher the price, the more even the color and the more smooth the wood. Exotic woods are at the highest end of the scale along with more unique manipulated design work, wider widths of the planks, color-staining and more.

If you're on a budget, use the lower-grade wood for smaller spaces that are not frequented as much, such as closets and foyers. Spend the bulk of your wood flooring budget on finer wood that will be appreciated in larger areas, like bedrooms and living rooms.

Can I refinish my hardwood flooring?

Refinishing Your Hardwood Floors

One radical difference between solid and engineered hardwood flooring comes when making the decisionon whether to refinish your floor. Solid wood flooring lends itself to refinishing more easily, as the planks are made of a singular sturdy piece of lumber. On the other hand, engineered hardwood flooring has several plies of wood, so sanding is not as necessary. In fact, sanding usually takes 1/32 inch off the top of the floor, so an engineered floor with a 2mm top hardwood layer can really only be sanded once or twice in its lifetime.

If you have a damaged area of an engineered hardwood floor, it's best to have that area removed and replaced by flooring professionals rather than attempting to refinish the entire floor.

Where can I install solid hardwood flooring?

What Floor for What Grade?

Solid hardwood flooring or engineered hardwood flooring. How do you know? What's the right choice for you and where to install it? Locations for hardwood flooring fall into three basic categories: On Grade, Above Grade and Below Grade.

  • On Grade: ground level (e.g., entrance, main floor)
  • Above Grade: second level or higher level
  • Below Grade: below ground level (e.g., basement, sunken living room, rec rooms)
Solid hardwood is best used in areas of low moisture, such as On Grade and Above Grade rooms. Below Grade rooms and bathrooms, for example, that may have high moisture collection are best fitted with engineered hardwood flooring, as the many plies offer more resilience. Engineered hardwood is also perfectly suitable for On- or Above Grade rooms.

Where should I not install hardwood flooring?

Water & Wood

Regardless of whether you have a solid wood floor or an engineered hardwood floor, you'll need to remember one very important thing: Water + Wood = Warp.

Remember this equation when determining where you will install your wood flooring. Bathrooms are not ideal, as tubs and showers spray or even leak excess water onto the floor. You can use engineered hardwood flooring in half-baths, however, as long as you place mats or rugs over the wood near the sink and/or toilet. Kitchens, too, are another fine area for hardwood flooring provided you protect your floors around the sink area with area rugs. Another by the refrigerator is a good idea as well, as fridges can leak on occasion.

How can I avoid my hardwood floors looking worn?

Covering Your Tracks

If you're concerned that your solid wood or engineered wood flooring will eventually scratch, dent or get otherwise marred by high traffic, here are two simple solutions. Choose one or combine them both!

  1. Select a wood species that is equal to or harder than oak (e.g., maple, Brazilian cherry).
  2. Choose a flooring effect such as distressing that will give your floor a natural, lived-in look.
Remember you can always add runners or area rugs to parts of the room that get the most use. But if you're set on showing off your wood floors (and who wouldn't be?), one of the above suggestions should suit you just fine.

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Susan Sayour