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Your guide to hardwood

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Types of hardwood flooring

Deciding on what kind of flooring to install can be one of the more difficult challenges for homeowners looking to re-vamp their homes. Flooring can set the tone for a home and be a major financial investment. Hardwood floors have become extremely popular because of their sleek, natural look and easy maintenance.

Yet, besides just deciding on the look of the floor, there is a huge variety of types of floors to choose from, each having their own benefits.

“There are so many different hardwood products that there is always something for someone, but depending on usage, look and cost, different types are more practical for each person,” says Mar Cello, sales representative for Barwood Flooring in Ottawa.

What are the different types of hardwood floors?

The three main types of hardwood floors are solid, engineered and laminates.

Solid hardwood floors are made completely out of wood and can be nailed or glued down.

Laminate flooring looks like hardwood flooring but is made of high density fibers as opposed to actual wood. The top layer is a photograph designed to look like wood or bamboo or whatever look you are going for. The floors can ‘float’ or be glued down.

Engineered hardwood flooring is a combination of the two. While it’s not solid hardwood, it’s made of layers of wood that are bonded together with adhesives. The top layer is a wood veneer which is usually two to four millimetres thick.

Which is most durable and lasting?

Laminate flooring is the most durable in terms of scratching and dents. This finish, melamine is extremely tough and therefore the most scratch-resistant. This is something that is important for pet-owners who haven’t got their fuzzy friends declawed, tap dancers, stiletto-wearers, or those opposed to felt pads for furniture.

Engineered and solid hardwoods depend on the material and finish. Look at the Janka Hardness Scale to learn which materials are most durable.

Engineered floors tend to be the most stable in terms of humidity and heat, which means they are great options for kitchens and bathrooms.

However, the benefit of solid hardwood floors is that they can be refinished whereas most engineered and laminates can’t to the same degree. Since solid hardwoods are solid, they can be easily sanded down whereas laminates cannot. Depending on the engineered floor, it can be refinished up to four times.

Which is most eco-friendly?

Solid hardwood floors, if gathered responsibly, are the most eco-friendly because they are the most natural and don’t rely on glue or fiberboard. Mar says the floors he sells are all FSC certified, which means when lumber is taken certain standards of replanting trees are required.

However, there are alternatives for eco-friendly laminates and engineered flooring. Other types such as bamboo or Pure Genius floors are other eco-friendly options.

What is the different in terms of look and sound?

Since laminates rely on photographs of wood the patterns will repeat. Solid and engineered hardwoods are made of actual wood so the look is more natural and unique.

When you walk on laminates the sound is shallow compared to solid hardwoods.

How can you tell if it’s good quality?

Mar says that a higher price often means better quality, but not always. The simplest way to test if a floor is of good quality is to take a coin and rub it on the wood. If the finish comes off, it’s bad quality. Even if you have a great wood the quality is really dependant on the finish, he says.

In his experience, Canadian products tend to be the best quality because of different industry standards.

By Alyssa McMurtry

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