With spring right around the corner many homeowners are getting ready to renovate. One area that always generates some confusion is wood flooring or its counterpart, laminate flooring. Here is some helpful information that will give you a broader understanding of the different products available today.
Laminate or Vinyl Wood - Depending on the grade and quality of this product imitation wood can give you the look and feel of real wood with an added durability factor. Some of the newer products out in today's market are quite beautiful and look very much like the real thing.
Laminates are easy to install yourself provided that you follow the manufacturers' instruction carefully and do the required prep work.
Engineered Wood - This type of flooring is made up of thin layers of wood which is glued together. It gives the appearance of solid wood flooring and comes in a variety of wood, including some exotic woods. It's a great way to get the look of an expensive wood floor at a fraction of the price.
Unlike a solid wood floor, engineered wood can only be sanded once or twice in its lifetime. Be sure to check with the manufacturer before purchasing the product to make sure it is best suited for your needs. It is also very sensitive to moisture so make sure that your environment is moisture free.
Solid Wood - There are dozens of different woods to choose from. Exotic woods have gained popularity over the past five years making them more readily accessible for homeowners. In fact, there are many pre-finished floors (flooring finished in the factory) that cuts down on the installation and finishing process. Here are a variety of different woods you can choose from:
- Brazilian Cherry - Also known a Jatoba is quite durable and has a reddish brown tone and lots of grain. Its popularity has increased significantly over the past several years.
- Brazilian Walnut - Also known as Ipe is extremely durable and water resistant. This South American wood has a rich brown color and is sometimes used for outdoor decking projects. It is not always available as a pre-finished project.
- Maple - Readily available and quite affordable. Its light blonde coloring goes well with many contemporary designed homes.
- Merbau - This type of wood has gained popularity because of both its durability and distinctive red-brown coloring. It pairs nicely with earth tones as well as vibrant color schemes.
- White Pine - While this wood offers a rustic feel it is a soft wood making it susceptible to dents and dings. It is not recommended for a high-traffic area.
- Red Oak - Red oak is reddish in color and one of the most popular flooring options in the United States. It is a dense wood with a course grain that is extremely durable.
- White Oak - Harder and more durable than Red Oak and with a bit more character, White oak is often brown with a grayish cast. It remains another very popular wood flooring option.
- Bamboo - While bamboo isn't exactly a wood product consumers and distributers are treating it as such. Bamboo is actually a grass which matures rather quickly (3 to 5 years) and helps preserve our forests because it is easy to grow. Bamboo flooring comes in many different colors; the darker bamboo often resembling black walnut. It also comes in vertical as well as horizontal patterns. Bamboo falls into the "green' category and is environmentally friendly. Be careful when choosing the right product. Engineered bamboo flooring is more durable than 100% bamboo flooring. It is not recommended for areas where dents could easily occur. While bamboo is gaining appeal be cautious--if the price sounds too good to be true it is. It's best to make sure your dealer is reputable.
With so many options out there it is extremely important to do your homework before investing in wood or wood flooring aternatives. Remember to take into consideration your lifestyle, weather conditions in your area and the ideal look you are after.