10 Differences between Solid, Engineered and Laminate

One of the most important parts of flooring installation is deciding what type of hardwood is right for you. Before choosing solid wood, engineered wood, or laminate flooring it’s crucial to look at all the facts, so I have compiled the following list showing 10 differences in types of hardwood.

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Solid Hardwood

Engineered Hardwood

Laminate Hardwood

Solid Hardwood Floor:

Manufacturing:

It’s a bit more complicated than chop tree, saw planks, and nail down but roughly that is the point. Solid wood floors are typically comprised of a plank of wood with ‘tongue and groove’  sidesThese sides are used to interlock each plank with another.

Eco-Friendly:

Solid hardwood floors are 100% wood and all natural so they are extremely eco-friendly.

Stability:

Because it’s a natural product, hardwood flooring expands and contracts in response to seasonal change.

Characteristics:

The main characteristic of solid flooring is that it responds to air humidity variations. Also, solid hardwood emits a warm, classic, and inordinately valuable sense to a home.

Maintenance:

Solid hardwood floors are among the easiest to keep clean. The main things to do are: keep floor mats at entrances, wipe up an spills ASAP, don’t use oil soaps, use felt contacts on furniture, sweep and dry dust mop regularly.

Durability:

Both solid and engineered hardwood floors are very durable. Surface wear depends more on the finish of the flooring rather than on whether it’s solid or engineered.

Plank Size:

Since solid wood is more sensitive to moisture the plank size shouldn’t exceed 4¼”-5” wide. However, the exact size depends on the finish as well.

Appearance:

The appearance of solid hardwood flooring depends on many things such as wood species, specific grain and, of course, the stain you choose.

Installation:

Before installation the finished planks should sit in your home for a period of time to acclimate. To learn more about acclimation and why its very important click here. Afterwards, solid wood should be installed on or above grade and should be nailed down or stapled down. At Evergreen, we mainly focus on solid wood installation both for the quality and longevity of the product.

Engineered Hardwood Floor:

 

Manufacturing:

It all begins with 2-5 thin sheets of wood being laminated together in opposite directions (Cross-ply construction). Since engineered wood floors are comprised of several layers the finish of the top/visible layer can be completely different than the other layers.

Eco-Friendly:

As long as the adhesives used to bond the layers are non-toxic, engineered floors can be equally eco-friendly to solid hardwood.

Stability:

The advantage of cross-ply construction is that the layers of engineered floors counteract each other so seasonal changes are less of a problem.

Characteristics:

Engineered wood flooring has many of the same characteristics of solid flooring, except it maintains stability through seasonal humidity variations.

Maintenance:

The maintenance of engineered hardwood is the same as solid hardwood flooring.

Durability:

Both solid and engineered hardwood floors are very durable. Surface wear depends more on the finish of the flooring rather than on whether it’s solid or engineered.

Plank Size:

Engineered wood’s stability allow for a wider plank.

Appearance:

Since the top layer of engineered flooring is made of real wood there is virtually no difference from solid hardwood.

Installation:

Depending on construction, nail down, glue down or floating methods may be used.

Laminate Hardwood Floor:

Manufacturing:

With laminate flooring there are 4 basic layers: the balancing layer, the core layer, the pattern layer, and the wear layer. All layers are combined in a high-pressure, high-heat process to press them together. Once pressed they are cooled, and stacked and stored to acclimate.

Eco-Friendly:

Laminate flooring’s appearance is a high-definition photograph that provides the desired look without felling a tree, this being said, laminate flooring vary in glue and other bonding materials used that are not always eco-friendly.

Stability:

Laminate flooring does not expand or contract since it is not a natural product and so isn’t effected by seasonal changes. However, excessive moisture is still not good for it.

Characteristics:

Laminate floors are impact, scratch, and stain resistant.

Maintenance:

Do not use steam cleaners or wet mops on laminate floor. Use a damp cloth to blot up spills, and use nail polish remover on a clean cloth for tough spots.

Durability:

Laminate resists scratches, moisture, and wear and tear.

Plank Size:

There is no standard size for laminate flooring, every manufacturer produces dimensions based on product lines and plank styles.

Appearance:

Because laminate is made up of images of wood planks it may not look as close to the real thing, however laminate has come a long way over the years.

Installation:

Laminate is a fairly easy installation as it is installed using floating methods and can be laid down in almost any area of the home.

 

CONCLUSION

The best value is with having a solid hardwood floor.  The durability and longevity, is hard to beat, they can last the life of your home.  When it comes to pricing there are many factors including plank size, cost of materials, glues, and installation method.

Contact us for a free estimate on your hardwood flooring needs!

Tools of the hardwood flooring professional

Tools of the hardwood flooring trade

I wanted to provide a little insight into my trade after going to see a client who tried to refinish his own floors with some rented equipment.  Some things are fairly DIY safe but some are a little more complicated.  I liken it to car maintenance.  I have no formal training, but I do have wrenches, screwdrivers, and Youtube, so I can do oil changes and basic maintenance but should I take apart my transmission? That is a recipe for disaster, trust me.

Our friend finally gave up after about 2 1/2 days on his living room, and still not getting the results he wanted.  As a professional with the proper equipment, in that timeframe I would have already been finished that clients hardwood, and he would have his house back in order.

So just how does a professional belt sander help?  I’ll explain.

First, what do I use? I have a professional hardwood flooring sander that is called the Bona Belt or Big Momma as I like to call it. 

Hardwood floor refinishing
Refinishing an oak hardwood floor with a professional sander

It’s from Sweden and runs like a top.  It removes that old finish with ease and gets your floors nice and flat.  There are many different types of professional belt sander, they all look fairly similar, and one that is properly tuned up will do a great job.  I do proper maintenance, replace parts when needed and keep it free and clean of built up dust.

The rental machines are usually in pretty rough shape.  Kinda like a rental car or your own personal car.  Which one will you take better care of?

A sander that has been taken care of will run better and give you better performance, just like your car. This will affect how your hardwood floor will look.  A sander that has not been taken care of can leave an uneven floor which will not look good in any light, this is important.

Hardwood floor refinishing
You can see divots and stains left that this rental sander cannot get out.

The main difference between a pro and a rental is the power and weight. 

All pros should use 220V power, from your electric stove or dryer outlets.  That gives it the juice to power through all the tough coatings.  A rental sander uses 110V, which is from a normal outlet in your room.The other big difference is the weight.  The rental sander usually top out at 100 lbs, while my professional sander is around 200 lbs.  So that gives it the weight to  really bite into the floor and start removing those old coatings with ease and get your floor nice and flat.  This is important because if you don’t get it flat now it wont look as good when the finish goes on.

Hardwood floor refinishing
Another common type of rental floor sander, you can see the difference in size as compared to a professional sander.

Another big difference between pro equipment and rentals is the sandpaper. You may think that sandpaper is sandpaper, it all does the same thing.  I used to think the same way, but, some paper is better than others, especially for difficult floors.  A lot of new floors are coated with an aluminum oxide.  This can be difficult to remove with a smaller sander, with the wrong sandpaper.  You have to get very aggressive with it at the beginning.  But with a sandpaper that has been specifically designed to remove these finishes, it makes sure that the job will be a lot easier and faster.  Overall the floor will look better as well, because you didn’t have to get so aggressive with it, so there will be less scratches.

So those are the main differences in the types of sanding machines available.  One you can rent for yourself from a big box store, and use up your weekends working away.  Or you can hire one from us, Evergreen Hardwood Floors, that even comes with a hardwood flooring professional, with all the experience needed to do a quality job on your floor, and you can get your home back sooner.

Contact Evergreen Hardwood Floors if you would like to know more about our hardwood floor refinishing services.

Common questions : How should I clean my hardwood floors?

I get this question a lot, especially right after I have refinished someone’s hardwood floors. They want them to look new for as long as possible. So I thought I could make a list of some things to do and not do.

Cleaning hardwood floors
Hardwood floor cleaner

DO keep a walk off mat, at every outside entry. Make sure it is suitable for hardwood floors. This will catch any dirt or small rocks before they get on your hardwood floor.

DO vacuum or dry mop the hardwood floor regularly. This will remove any dirt or grit before it can damage your floor.

DO clean up any liquid or sticky messes quickly. You can use a damp cloth, or a hardwood floor specific cleaner for this.

DO use any cleaner that’s recommended by your hardwood floor finish manufacturer.  Some hardwood floor finish manufacturers have a specific cleaner they make or recommend.  Such as a hard wax oil, like Rubio Monocoat, has it’s own cleaner.  It’s best to use that.

DO NOT use a steam mop to clean your hardwood floors. These mops force moisture down into the wood, and over time this can break down the finish and the structure of the hardwood. Too much moisture and hardwood floors do not mix.

DO NOT mop your hardwood floor. Again this goes back to the point of too much moisture is a bad thing.

DO NOT use any “soap” or “rejuvenation” products. Most of these products are not compatible with modern polyurethane finishes. Also they can leave a film that attracts dirt and dust, which can build up over the floor, leaving a streaky mess on top of your hardwood floor.

These are a few things that I have found help keep a hardwood floor clean.  If you have any tips of your own, please share.

Thanks for reading.

What’s a better option, replace or refinish?

Is it cheaper to replace our hardwood flooring or refinish?

I am getting this question more often nowadays, so I thought I would put my thoughts about this on record.

This question usually comes up after people may have been given some misinformation about refinishing, like “no one does that anymore” or “these floors can’t be refinished” or after knowing the price of refinishing their hardwood floors. Continue reading What’s a better option, replace or refinish?

Protect your hardwood floors

Maintain your hardwood floors

Refinishing your hardwood floors is a big investment, not only with your pocket book, but emotionally. You have taken the time to choose someone you trust to come into your home, you have made sure that the colour you have chosen, you will love now, but also for the foreseeable future. The hardwood floor has come out great, it looks like new, and now you want sure your hardwood floors look that good for a long time. Continue reading Protect your hardwood floors