Hardwood flooring is available in many different structures, profile types and finishes. It is important to select the right type of flooring, according with the needs and requirements of the area in question.

The question is: are engineered wood flooring types superior to others, such as laminate or solid hardwood flooring? In this article, we provide some insight into the choices available, along with their respective strengths and weaknesses.

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What are the Differences Between Wood Flooring Types?

First of all, do not confuse the wood flooring type with the wood species or variety, which determines the colour and pattern of the floor. Hardwood floor types refer to the way in which the material is put together, whether is it vinyl, synthetic wood, genuine hardwood or a wood composite with veneers.

All types of hardwood floors have unmatched natural beauty and go with any decor—modern, traditional, commercial, you name it.

There are five main types of hardwood floor. They are: vinyl, laminate, parquet, solid and engineered hardwood flooring. Here are some details on each variation.

Vinyl Flooring

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What is it?

Along with laminate, vinyl is one of the most popular floor types. It is adaptable and comes in a fabulous range of designs and finishes. Vinyl is highly resilient, which means it can be used to simulate a variety of designs including ceramic, hardwood, marble and stone.

Cost

All our vinyl flooring solutions are reasonably priced at £22.74 per square metre.

Where to lay?

Owing to its durability and versatility, vinyl flooring works well in both home and commercial interiors. It can be used in kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms alike.

Benefits

  • Vinyl is very durable. It stands up to ordinary wear and tear, and it avoids scrapes and marks.
  • It is inexpensive, which is why it is a favourite for many homeowners.
  • Installation is quick, since it doesn't involve any complex procedures; this can save money on labour costs.
  • It comes in a variety of designs and styles to match any interior, commercial or residential.
  • It is resilient and easy to maintain, as well as being slip-resistant (great for pets and children).

Drawbacks

  • Vinyl floors do not stand up well to very heavy loads (therefore, they are unsuitable for industrial spaces), and they can be marked by sharp objects such as high heeled shoes.
  • Colours can fade over time with too much exposure to direct sunlight; for this reason, vinyl is not recommended as an outdoor surface.

Laminate flooring

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What is it?

Laminate flooring is a multi-layer synthetic flooring product, fused together by a lamination process. Laminate flooring is a surface which simulates wood with a photographic applique layer under a clear protective layer.

Cost

Prices start at £3 per square metre, but the cheapest kinds appear smooth and unrealistic.

Bevelled edges and a varied set of photos and embossed features, such as knots and faux grain, from higher-priced brands like QuickStep (£13-32 per square metre) and Pergo (about £18-49 per square metre), give a more natural appearance and texture.

Where to lay?

Living rooms, studies and playrooms. Some products include a waterproof core which means they can be used in bathrooms and kitchens.

Benefits

  • The faux wood effect of laminate flooring means that you get a floor with all the aesthetic benefits of wood, but without the hassle of upkeep and at a cheaper price.
  • It is easy to install.
  • The surface is also less prone to scuffs and scratches, meaning it is a long-lasting and durable product.
  • A wide variety of imitations of natural materials are available (from wood to stone).

Drawbacks

  • Even the best laminate flooring won’t look or feel exactly like the real thing.
  • If it isn’t laid well, it can look shabby.
  • The joins wear over time, and once the surface is damaged it is difficult to fix.
  • Moisture swells it easily and the damage is irreversible.
  • It cannot be sanded or refinished, like solid hardwood, which means it must be replaced.

Parquet Flooring

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NB: Parquet flooring can either be laminate, vinyl, solid or engineered hardwood. So it’s not technically a hardwood floor type.

What is it?

Parquet flooring owes the origins of its name to the French word, parqueterie, and dates back to the 1600s. Typically laid in a geometric, angular style, squares, lozenges and triangles often feature in traditional parquet flooring.

Sometimes referred to as mosaic flooring, parquet flooring is appreciated for its decorative effect. Parquet flooring can be made from solid and engineered wood these days.

Cost

Parquet flooring is generally quite expensive (between £35-65 per square metre).

Where to lay?

It looks best in hallways and reception areas so that it can be shown off regularly. It requires a relatively constant atmosphere due to its susceptibility to water or humidity damage.

Benefits

  • Parquet flooring is elegant and adds warmth and beauty to most interior settings.
  • It is relatively easy to maintain. Abrasive materials can’t be used to clean it, but regular sweeping and cleaning using compatible products keeps parquet flooring looking its best.
  • It is durable and long-lasting.
  • Parquet flooring adds value to your home.

Drawbacks

  • Parquet flooring is susceptible to scratches and scuffs from small sharp objects, such as high-heeled stilettos. Once damaged, it can be difficult to repair and restore the floor back to its original look.
  • When exposed to sunlight, parquet flooring can fade.
  • Like all wood flooring, parquet flooring is subject to damage from moisture and humidity.
  • It requires frequent upkeep—it is important to polish, sand and seal as required; if this is not done, the floor will look dull and tired over time.

Solid Hardwood Flooring

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What is it?

As the name suggests, solid hardwood floors are made from solid wood. Each board of solid hardwood flooring is made from a single piece of hardwood that’s about 3/4 of an inch (18-20mm) thick. It’s usually fitted using tongue-and-groove.

All types of wood have a hardness score which indicates how easily they can be damaged, dented or worn by everyday wear and tear.

Cost

Prices vary, depending on the cost of the raw wood, from £15 per square metre for parawood to £86.99 per square metre for Junckers Beech Sylvared.

Where to lay?

Anywhere with a constant atmosphere, particularly in hallways where you can show it off.

Benefits

  • It has many aesthetic benefits and, for this reason, solid hardwood floor can add value to a property.
  • Solid hardwood floors can be sanded down and refinished regardless of how long they have been installed; this can restore the original finish after scuffs or scrapes.
  • Solid hardwood tends to outlast other hardwood floor types.

Drawbacks

  • Solid hardwood swells in damp conditions and shrinks in dry ones.
  • It is difficult to install because it has to be glued or nailed down, and fitting the boards together can be tricky because they change shape once they have been manufactured.
  • It is generally the highest price for entry level products.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring

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What is it?

Engineered wood flooring is a versatile and resilient flooring option. Each floorboard consists of three or four layers of wood, glued together at right angles to create a plank around 14mm thick.

It has a real wood veneer of around 4mm on top.

Cost

Prices range from about £19 per square metre, to more than £166 per square metre.

Where to lay?

Anywhere it won’t be exposed to water or humidity. Wooden stairs are very difficult to lay and fitting around places such as toilet pans is hard to achieve a good finish.

Benefits

  • It is more resistant to moisture and heat compared to solid hardwood.
  • It’s construction method makes it more stable than a piece of solid wood; it is less likely to buckle or gap.
  • You can install engineered hardwood flooring at any level, including below ground. In contrast, solid hardwood floors cannot be installed in basements.
  • It is more attractive than laminate flooring and cheaper than comparable solid wood planks.
  • It is highly durable and long-lasting.

Drawbacks

  • There are very few drawbacks, but tongue-and-groove is harder to install than click-lock.
  • It can be a lot more expensive than laminate.

Why Choose Engineered Hardwood Flooring?

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If you’re looking to add elegance and beauty to your home, there is no substitute for genuine hardwood flooring. Whereas both engineered and solid hardwood floors are both made from 100% real wood, there are significant differences in their overall construction.

These aforementioned differences give rise to two very different products with very different appeals.

Engineered hardwood flooring construction has several benefits over solid hardwood.

Firstly, engineered hardwood reacts favourably to temperature and humidity. With solid hardwood flooring, any changes in either temperature or relative humidity can cause the boards to warp, gap or buckle. Engineered wood flooring, on the other hand, is more dimensionally stable, due to its multi-layer construction.

The dimensional stability of engineered wood means it can be used with underfloor heating and in areas where humidity fluctuates, such as kitchens, conservatories, rooms with log burners and rooms with large amounts of glazing.

Engineered wood floors offer an advantage in their installation method. Solid hardwood must usually be nailed down to a plywood subfloor. Engineered wood can be either stapled or glued down over a wood or concrete subfloor.

Furthermore, some engineered wood floors can be installed using a ‘floating’ system, where the planks are fastened to one another, and are simply ‘floated’ over padding or underlayment.

There is little difference in cost between solid hardwood flooring and engineered hardwood flooring. In fact, engineered wood flooring will generally cost you less than solid wood for the same look, because less of the ‘species’ tree is used to create engineered wood.

Plus, freight costs are lower with engineered wood, because it is lighter in weight, and therefore less costly to transport; this also means that the product is more environmentally friendly, as it uses less CO2 to transport it in the long run.

In Summary, Engineered Wood Flooring is:

  • A fantastic option for your home or commercial space;
  • Easy to install and maintain;
  • More dimensionally stable, due to multi-layer construction;
  • Resilient and durable—it reacts well to increased temperature and humidity;
  • Environmentally friendly, due to lower transport emissions;
  • Versatile—due to its increased dimensional stability, it can be installed in an array of different spaces from kitchens to conservatories.

The range of engineered wood flooring available from the Hardwood Floor Store is the best in the UK, with a variety of resistances, colours and finishes to suit every home. So add long-lasting value and style to your home today with the experts at the Hardwood Floor Store.