The Hard Facts About Wood Flooring

27 May 2015

Wondering about wood floors? There are so many things to consider…

  • Laminate? Hard wood? Engineered?
  • Matt? Satin? Gloss?
  • Color?
  • Finishes?

This post will cover some of these topics in more detail, so you are prepared to make the most educated decision for your home.


Laminate has four layers: a wear layer, a design layer, an inner core layer and a backing layer.

Wear layer – clear top layer that protects the floor from stains and fading
Design layer – a photographic image of wood, stone, brick or ceramic
Inner core – plastic resin that keeps the laminate stable and flat
Backing – creates a moisture barrier that protects the floor from warping

Most wood planks come 4″ or wider.  There are a multitude of colors to choose from, allowing this flooring choice to be highly customizable.

Choosing a high gloss or low gloss laminate makes a huge difference as well.  Low gloss laminate hides wear and tear better than high gloss would.

The best laminate is thicker and denser so that it feels and sounds like real wood.  Choose a laminate that is at least 8 1/2 mm thick.

Laminate flooring is great for families with children and pets.  The durability of the flooring is created to withstand wear and tear, and if a plank becomes damaged it is easily replaced.


While laminate can be utilized in all areas of the home, solid hardwood is not recommended in bathrooms or below ground level.  Solid hardwoods are 100% hardwood milled from lumber. As a natural material, hardwood reacts to changes in its setting, like moisture and extreme temperatures, which cause solid wood to shrink or expand. All solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished if needed over the years.

There are several woods used for making flooring, the most common being oak, maple and cherry.  Different woods provide different levels of durability, harder woods are better able to withstand indentations than softer woods.

There are two different types of finishes for hardwoods: surface and penetrating. Polyurethane surface finishes form a protective layer on the flooring. They produce an extremely durable coating, which is moisture- and wear-resistant and suitable for use in any floor in the home. Penetrating finishes absorb  into the floorboards and are covered with a coat of floor wax. Penetrating finishes provide a good durable finish.

Hardwood flooring can come in strips or planks. “Strips” are board widths of less than three inches. “Planks” are three inches or wider. Board width dramatically affects the installed look of a floor. Wide woods are nice in a large room, but can overwhelm a small one.

Engineered Woods:

Engineered flooring is built up of layers of wood. It consists of three to ten layers, called plies, that are glued together. This multi-ply structure gives engineered wood superior stability, greater than solid wood, which reduces concerns associated with shrinking and expanding when temperature and humidity change. Engineered wood can be installed below ground level making it a great choice for finished basements.

The thickness of hardwood veneer, top layer hardwood, can typically be 0.5mm to 4.5mm or more in thickness. A quality hardwood veneer will provide many years of wear.

Which to choose?

That’s really up to the home owner.  For families on a budget with small children and pets, laminate is probably your best value.  Durable and relatively inexpensive.  There are so many options with all types of wood flooring, having an assessment is a great way to find what meets your needs and style.