Choosing the right Hardwood Flooring for your home Angies List

Choosing the right Hardwood Flooring for your home Angies List

Choosing the right hardwood flooring for your home

Bamboo flooring can add panache to your dining room. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member John M. of Virginian Beach, Va.)

Hardwood flooring can be an excellent investment for your home, but only if it’s the right type and the right species. Knowing your options can help you weigh the pros and cons against your budget, lifestyle and climate in your area. In addition, it can help you avoid a potential mid-project disaster.


Laminate flooring features a compressed fiberboard core, with a photographic image of wood grain adhered to the top. Once the image of the wood grain has been affixed, a protective coating is added to protect against damage and provide a shiny finish.

While it is a cost-effective option and is built to withstand a decent amount of wear and tear, even the top-quality laminates will not match the look and feel of a real hardwood floor. Unless you’ve opted for a waterproof core, it’s  not safe for kitchens and bathrooms where water can be an issue. Over time, the seams will become more apparent. Water damage will be easily visible and can’t be repaired.

Solid hardwood

Solid hardwood floors are made from real wood planks ranging from 18 to 20 millimeters in thickness, using a tongue-and-groove pattern for installation. Though this type of hardwood flooring is typically the most expensive with cost variables based on wood species, it can be sanded and refinished multiple times to a like new appearance before a completely new installation is required.

Solid hardwood floors will swell in moist conditions and contract in dry conditions. Over time, this can cause the floor to change its shape, which will also alter its appearance and potentially create problems. For this reason, installation must be done with care, and the floors should be properly maintained to extend their life.

Engineered hardwood

Engineered hardwood is the best of both worlds in terms of cost and appearance. While you will get a more durable floor compared to laminate, you won’t be stuck with the large investment of solid hardwood. Typically, you’ll have a 14-millimeter core, with four millimeters of real hardwood on top.

This type of construction makes for a more stable product, so you’ll be less likely to see changes in the floor as a result of expansion and contraction due to moisture in the environment.


Choosing the right Hardwood Flooring for your home Angies List

Compressing bamboo fibers together under high amounts of pressure creates this type of flooring. The floors are produced in China but are becoming more popular in the United States for their eco-friendly characteristics.

Bamboo grows much faster than the trees used to harvest wood for flooring. The floors are resistant to moisture and are softer than most hardwoods, so you can stand comfortably on them for longer periods of time. The softness will also help reduce noise. However, because Bamboo is so soft, the flooring is much more likely to scratch and ding compared to its hardwood counterparts. In addition, because of the expense to import the flooring from China, the investment is typically more than a solid hardwood floor.

Floor hardness

The Janka Hardness Scale is the industry standard for evaluating a wood species for its capability withstanding normal wear and tear. The rating on the scale indicates the amount of force required to embed a .444-inch steel ball to half its diameter in wood.

The harder the wood, the more it can withstand damage, but the more likely it is to be uncomfortable to bare feet. For perspective, hickory, the hardest commercially available hardwood, requires 1,820 pounds of pressure to mar it. Aspen, the softest hardwood available, requires only 350 pounds of pressure to mar it. Depending on the room where the wood will be installed, a certain hardness may make it a more desirable choice. However, a good rating on the Janka scale only serves as an indication of a floor’s durability because factors such as traffic and maintenance will also determine the appearance of the flooring years after installation.

You should choose your hardwood flooring based on the room where you’re installing it, the traffic you expect the room to get and the budget you have available for the project.

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