Laminate and engineered wood flooring are often confused for each other; that being said, one thing is crystal clear- neither are "real wood", in the sense of being 100% sawn wood like solid hardwood flooring. Beyond that, the distinction between laminate and engineered wood flooring gets somewhat murky.
Engineered Wood Flooring
Engineered wood floors are a very popular choice among consumers here in Southwest Florida. Engineered wood is most closely aligned to solid hardwood flooring. The price point is similar to hardwood flooring and it does, in fact, incorporate a thin layer of natural wood on top of dimensionally-stable plywood. However, due to its dimensionally stable base layers, engineered wood flooring actually stands up to moisture far better than any solid hardwood. And, as an added bonus, the resale value of engineered wood flooring is quite high; home buyers love it!
Laminate is the most economical flooring option available; that being said, it can still look great! Even though laminate flooring is composed of a majority of wood fibers, none of the wood is in its natural state. One of the most common misconceptions about laminate flooring is that it is made of plastic; this is simply not true, although there is some resin on the top wear layer.
Laminate flooring is moderately water-resistant. If installed properly, so that no seams are exposed, laminate can create a waterproof shield. However, when water infiltrates the lower layer it can swell up; and once swollen, the only recourse is to rip it out and reinstall new floors. This is important to consider when deciding on the material for your new flooring.
If you're looking to add luxurious warmth and timeless beauty to your home, nothing compares to genuine hardwood flooring. Although engineered and solid hardwood floors are very similar, there are significant differences in their overall construction. Engineered wood floors behave somewhat differently than solid hardwood does. Engineered wood flooring tends to be easier to install and, as a general rule, is usually less expensive than solid hardwood.
It should be noted that not all hardwood floors are created equal. The type or species of hardwood the flooring is made of will determine what type of performance qualities it has. Understanding these differences will go a long way to help you choose the best hardwood flooring option for your home and lifestyle.
Both cork and bamboo have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially here in Southwest Florida. Both are better environmental choices than traditional hardwood or carpeted flooring. Cork doesn't require the harvesting of an entire tree, only its bark, and even this is primarily done by hand. Cork feels softer under your feet and remains cooler than any other alternatives, even in the scorching heat of our tropical summers. Cork is also fantastic at reducing sound and is very easy to maintain. The installation process for cork floors is very easy as well, there is no underlay required and preparation of the subfloor is unnecessary.
Hypoallergenic and naturally anti-microbial and anti-bacterial, cork is an absolutely ideal flooring material for the humid, tropical climate of Southwest Florida. Cork planks can come in many different sizes, but are cut in the same dimensions as hardwood planks, giving it an appearance that is very similar to that of traditional hardwood floors. As mentioned above, cork flooring has been steadily increasing in popularity, making it a great option when considering resale value.
Bamboo flooring is an exceptionally durable flooring choice. Bamboo can be subjected to extensive usage and can stand up very well to any abrasion that may be caused by children and pets. Bamboo floors are even tough enough to withstand the impact of falling objects in the kitchen and other high traffic areas, such as living rooms and hallways. Another great characteristic of bamboo flooring is that it is naturally more scratch-resistant than the vast majority of hardwoods. In fact, bamboo is actually comparable (if not superior) in both hardness and durability to many of the most commonly used hardwood flooring materials such as oak and maple.
Due to its natural growth patterns, bamboo flooring provides a warm looking environment and adds a level of sophisticated coziness to an interior. Additionally, bamboo flooring is one of the most environmentally-friendly wood flooring options available on the market, as it is made from a highly renewable source. Bamboo is actually a grass that it is strictly monitored and will re-grow rapidly after being harvested. Sustainability, renewability, as well as simplicity of maintenance, all make bamboo flooring a very green alternative to traditional hardwood.