Contractor Sound-Off Hard wood vs. Laminate House Counselor

Contractor Sound-Off Hard wood vs. Laminate House Counselor

On the Job Site. hardwood floors. laminate floors. Rob Robillard

Rob Robillard of A Concord Carpenter  is an extremely knowledgeable guy I like to bug when it comes to the details. He estimates he’s installed hundreds of floors on his jobsites and I knew he’d be the right person to grill about one of the most important and nerve-racking choices a homeowner can make: Hardwood or Laminate?

So whats the deal with hardwood vs. laminate floors? Inquiring minds wanna know

Rob: It’s not a simple question:

Laminate flooring is typically constructed with a high-density fiberboard core, sandwiched between a melamine laminate backing, high-quality photographic paper with an image of wood, stone or other natural flooring and a melamine laminate top. A few companies actually use real wood veneer.

Laminate floors cannot be refinished, but laminate flooring companies do make touch-up and chip repair kits as well as offer plank replacement. They dont last as long as hardwood. Hardwood floors are ¾ thick and secured to the floor with fasteners. These floors can be scratched, but scratches are pretty easy to repair. Hardwood floors can be sanded and refinished, or have the color changed 2-3 times to remove imperfections – making this floor a 100 year floor if cared for properly.

When should homeowners choose laminate?

Rob: Laminate flooring tends to be less expensive and can be a better option if you are trying not to raise floor heights. Another benefit of laminate is that it does not need polishing and does not yellow or fade from sunlight or other elements. Most stained wood floors will change color over time.

What flooring do you recommend for people with dogs?

Rob: ¾” Oak strip flooring that can be refinished. Keeping the dogs nails clipped helps tremendously too.

Rob: Love the idea, but make sure you have a rug under the sink to catch water drips. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

Construction can make serious dust. Whats the best way to clean newly stained hardwood floors?

Rob: Damp mop. Use water and a small drop of dish soap no products with oil. If you follow this you can “screen” your floors in 8-10 years and re-apply a coat of polyurethane. Screening is a lot less invasive than sanding.

Photo courtesy of: Rob Robillard

You’re a wood buff. Any wood floors in your home?

Rob: Entire house except baths!

What wood species are your favorite?

Rob: Wide plank pine or oak for its traditional look but Cherry sure is pretty.

I’m a sucker for Walnut myself. What are your clients current flooring requests?

Rob: Oak and Cherry. Many higher end jobs want borders and feature strips. I just wrote an article on this, which will be in the next issue of Extreme-How-To Magazine .

Photo courtesy of: Rob Robillard

Any thoughts on bamboo as a flooring material?

Rob: Bamboo is pretty interesting. Because bamboo is a grass and regenerates one third faster than trees, this renewable resource has grown in popularity as homeowners look for sustainable flooring options. It is recognized as a green material under LEED and solid bamboo floors are installed the same way solid oak strip flooring is.

Many people think that bamboo is a very hard flooring option – it is not. Check the finish quality of a sample by scraping the surface with a coin. If it flakes off, the product will not perform for more than a few years and complete refinishing may be needed.

Can wood floors of any type be laid over tile?

Rob: I’d be willing to bet that the manufacturers say yes, but I wouldn’t. I’d strip the floor to the subfloor, screw it down to eliminate squeaks and then install a proper underlayment.

Photo courtesy of: Rob Robillard

Whats your best advice to homeowners who are thinking about replacing their floors?

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