Types of Wood Flooring: Pros and Cons

There is a huge array of different styles and species of wood available for hardwood flooring.

The array of different styles and species of wood available for hardwood flooring makes the job of choosing the right material a difficult one. All wood floors provide a foundation of natural beauty in a home, and to the naked eye there's very little difference in types. But since hardwood floors are meant to last a lifetime take the time to learn the pros and cons of different options and make sure you truly love the floor you pick. You'll be living with it a long time!

Types of Wood Flooring

The first decision you need to make is what type of flooring is best for your project.

Solid hardwood is completely milled from natural lumber. It shrinks and expands over time and with extreme temperature changes. Solid hardwood isn't recommended for bathrooms or installations below ground level, such as in basements. Because it's 100 percent solid wood this type of flooring can be sanded and refinished many times over the years to maintain its natural beauty.




Engineered hardwood is made from three to 10 layers or "plies" of natural wood that are glued together. Engineered hardwood is more stable than solid hardwood, with little or no shrinkage or expansion. It can be used below ground level, but due to the layering process it can't be refinished as frequently or successfully as solid hardwood. 

Laminate wood flooring is made from many layers of resin and high-density fiberboard with a finished layer on the top. It's an inexpensive and incredibly durable alternative to hardwoods that can be installed in any room including bathrooms and basements. Laminate flooring can't be refinished and must be replaced if damaged.

Both solid hardwood and engineered hardwood can be ordered prefinished or unfinished. Prefinished flooring is stained and sealed according to the customer's desires and eliminates the need to sand the flooring once installed inside the home. Opting for unfinished or "site-finished" flooring can mean a big savings if the homeowner does the work himself, but the process is messy and time consuming.

Color, texture, durability, availability, sustainability and price are factors you have to consider.

Wood Species

Woodfloors.org lists more than 30 different species of tree that are used for wood flooring. Color, texture, durability, availability, sustainability and price are factors you have to consider when choosing a species. Each species offers its own set of advantages and disadvantages so it's important to do your research. That exotic Blue Gum wood may look beautiful as a showroom sample, but if you don't know it requires a waterborne finish and not an oil-modified finish your big investment will end up as a pile of scrap.


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