Hardwood Floor Questions

I'm hoping that there will be some people on this board who can help me with my home improvement plans.
I am considering having laminate or hardwood flooring installed in my place. I need to do a lot of research about this topic as I have amongst other things aesthetics, durability and cost to consider. On top of these, I'm sure that there are a dozen more issues that I am oblivious to at the moment to ponder.
Please, please, please if anyone knows of reliable and impartial websites to visit so that I can further my research into flooring installation then please share them. Also, please feel free to share any experiences you may have had regarding laminate/hardwood flooring installation and what I need to watch out for. I'm planning on having it professionally installed as I do not have the knack for carpentry whatsoever and neither do I have the time nor the patience for it.
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IMO, I'd have hardwood over any of the engineered woods or laminates. this is dictated by the location and type of existing flooring in many cases. Get a good brand and a reputable installer, of course.
Real hardwood is available in many woods.Durable, can be refinished many times, looks good. If real wood is not an option, I'd go with engineered wood. I used Mannington with very good results over a concrete floor. www.mannington.com
--
Ed
http://pages.cthome.net/edhome/




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wrote:

My experience:
Real old fashion solid hardwood 3/4" thk. x 2-1/8" (width varies) tongue and groove. Most expensive, can be refinished a number of times, difficult to install on a slab without furring, but OK on a conventional foundation with wooden substrate, usually installed unfinished, so finishing options are infinite, will probably squeak over time but that is part of the charm. I have this in my home office and like it the best.
Engineered hardwood 3/8" thk and varied widths. usually installed with an adhesive. generally prefinished but lots of choices. easiest real hardwood surfaced material to install on a concrete slab, however slab must have been poured with a vapor barrier or adhesive life shortened. slab also must be finished fairly level or a leveled substrate must be used. limited refinishing capability. I have about 600 square feet of this on the first level of my house on a slab. thing to watch is to make sure the installers use the appropriate type and amount of adhesive or it will pop up in places where there are voids. The old adhesives used to dry out and then the floor would lift, but I'm told these have been improved. Lots of people complain about lack of resistance to scratches. What I have is very attractive and the scratching problem has been minimal even though I have a large house dog.
Manufactured Laminates (as in Pergo type materials) Can be installed floating, that is on a pad with no adhesive. Most durable in resistance to scratches, stains and chemicals. Has a relatively soft walking feel therefore easy on the knees with the underpad. My wife's mother has a whole house of this and I like all the features except for the fact that it still looks fake (after all, it is).
I'm sure manufacturers of each type of flooring will have web sites that talk in more detail about the features and benefits of their products.
Frank
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No longer, you can put down a barrier easily. Today they are put down the same way you describe the laminates.

Can be installed as a floating floor and not have these problems.
Lots of people complain

New finishes will last many happy years. Tougher than you can do on a regular floor.
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(snipped for brevity)
I might add a few things. I'm in the process of doing about 800 sf of flooring as I type. I've got the first batch on order (only around 150 sf) and will have a whole lot more to say after I get it and install it (installing it myself). There are essentially 4 types of materials/install methods and variations within these groups. Within Hardwood, there is the traditional 3/4" thick type that is installed over a wood subfloor. This is perhaps the most desireable material/install if you have a wood subfloor. If you are slab on grade, this means you would have to raise the floor up with plywood etc.. which adds around 1.5 inches (plus the hardwood itself) to the finished floor. For some this is not a problem. For me, it would create too much of a difference between the hardwood floor and the rest of the house. I opted not to do this route. Engineered flooring is certainly an option. Essentially engineered flooring is nothing more than plywood with a face of the hardwood. You can get these with some pretty long living finishes pre applied. They say you can get 2 refinishings out of them but I'm not so sure of that. Not to mention, a somewhat deep gouge, and you've exposed the base material below. I decided against the engineered floor for that reason. Laminates are essentially "fake wood" if you like. Some of them look a whole lot better than they did a few years ago but to be honest, they still look "plasticky" to me. You can glue these down or do a floating install. The one option that hasn't been mentioned yet is gluing down 3/8" to 1/2" hardwood directly to a slab. This is the option I'm going with and time will tell if it's successful or not. You may have to apply a moisture barrier to the concrete depending on your locale prior to the glue down. Most, if not all of this material comes prefinished. I like the idea of having a full 1/2" (in my case) of wood to handle scratches, gouges, etc... and can refinish a number of times if necessary. I understand this is also the most difficult of all the installs (just my luck!) but we'll see. I've bookmarked a few sites showing the process if you're interested. Cheers, cc
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