Solid wood floor vs. engineered wood

We are considering laying wood floor in our lounge and have heard differing opinions regarding solid wood floor and engineered wood. Today, someone told us that solid wood can gape and buckle, as it already contains water and can be very costly to treat and will need sever treatment ever few years.
Please could someone give us relative advantages/disadvantages regarding these two types of floor. We will be laying on timber floorboards, rather than concrete.
Hope someone can help :o)
Thanks,
Phil J
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On 4 Sep 2004 09:33:15 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@jacobs.demon.co.uk (Phil J) wrote:

solid wood flooring has been in use for what? thousands of years.... it's the real thing. it works and looks right.
laminate flooring looks cheap and fake. it's got paper in the core- what happens with spills?
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Two advantages to engineered wood. It is pre-finished and durable. It can be put down in places where real wood cannot, such as on slab, below grade, etc.
I have it in my family room and although I like it very much, I'd put real wood in a second if possible. Nothing compares with the overall beauty of real wood. FWIW, all wood container water, even furniture. Ed
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I have put down both in my house; laminate in hall, livingroom, two bedrooms and hardwood (ash) in the kitchen
Laminate: it floats on top of the subfloor, set on top of a foam sheet. You can get the "glue together" kind and can find it on sale regularly for .99 cents a sq/ft. I got mine at the Borg boxing day sale .49 cents. Available in different thicknesses: I have seen 6mm, 7mm & 8mm Yes, you can find click together laminate, which is easier to join (no glue) which costs more, but the joints are not sealed. So what happens when my daughter spills her grape juice and it seeps between the joints. Yuk! It looks cheap. Not bad, just cheap. No one will ever mistake it for real wood. Every piece is exactly the same as the next one in the box. It is durable. The dog's claws don't scratch it. Once it does get scratched badly, scuffed etc. you can't refinish it. But if you got it on sale, tear it up, throw it away and put it down again.
Hardwood: angle nailed through the tongue to the subfloor. It won't buckle if you put it down right by leaving an expansion gap around the edges which is hidden by the baseboard/quarter round. More expensive. I think the cheapest I have seen it is about $3.00 sq/ft. Looks like real wood, because it IS real wood. The dogs claws do scratch it. At 3/4 inch thick, it can be sanded and refinished a couple times. Many different levels of grain pattern. For a more rustic look (which I prefer) look for "tavern" grade which is cheaper. In tavern grade you will get knots, sap lines and different grain patterns. The ash I bought was a "tavern grade, shorts" Shorts meant that the box had different lengths of boards from 1 ft up to 4 ft. It was even less $$ because of the shorter boards, but required a little more work. Not harder to do, just more attention to fitting and making sure the seams weren't too close together.
As far as installation was concerned, I thought the hardwood was easier. I am not an expert. Both of the installations I did were my first time laying either hardwood or laminate. For hardwood you will need to rent the nailer. There is a learning curve with the manual nailer. The air nailer is easier to get going.
Hope some of this helps.
"Keep your stick on the ice." Tony

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Laminate differs from engineered wood. Even better laminates have some differences in coloring closer to wood, than the low priced stuff.
Engineered wood is real wood. It is multi layer like plywood and has a quality real wood veneer on top. Looks like wood because it is wood. Ed
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Another bonus to (quality) engineered wood, with a skillful touch & a floor sander you can generally refinish at least once before getting through the surface layer. Adam
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I prefer real wood anyday. The engineered stuff is cheap and fake. It feels spongy when i walk on it. Real wood is sturdy, has potential of lasting for generations if taken care of, and can be mother natures artwork. Real wood needs slightly more maintenance that laminated stuff, but not much, and are NOT considerably more expensive. If you were doing an exercise room by all means use laminate, but a lounge should have real wood in my opinion. I once did a bar floor in a customers house with real light finished oak and inlaid a big walnut "O" (for Ohio State) and it looked great! Another customer preferred a rustic look, so we went with a real wormy chestnut flooring. This was unbelievable fitting in his "saloon" , with old nail holes, worm holes and slight spots from water (sounds crazy, but the floor was breathtaking). Shop around, there are many options out there, you can even customize to your tastes. --dave

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Maybe you used a cheap brand. Mine is solid and looks like wood because it is wood. Sure, solid wood is preferable, but not possible in some cases. Check out the better brands, not the stuff at big box stores.
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We used solid wood for our floors, and I will never look back. The authentic look far exceeds the cost difference, and I think this floor will last long past our use of it. No fake stuff, that is my motto..

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Phil J wrote:

We used Cherry engineered wood flooring from Harris Tarkett to finish our master bedroom floor this past winter. We replaced 20 year old carpeting which just had a plywood subfloor. With the engineered flooring it took only a long weekend and we ended up with a beautiful floor that we will enjoy for a long time.
See http://tomstudwell.com/Projects/BedroomFloor/photoalbum.htm for pics of our floor. We used cork for the underlayment to dampen the noise from downstairs but got a big surprise when the cork shrunk about 20% overnight. Fortunately we waited until the next day to lay the flooring - we had to add more cork to fill the gaps left by the shrinkage.
I don't know if I would put engineered flooring in a high traffic area but it sure works well in the bedroom. The wood layer is a little thicker than 1/8 inch, 0.143 inches to be precise, so wouldn't take more than one resand/finish cycle but that would give you about 15 years of service I'm guessing.
TWS
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I put in Kahrs laminate flooring in my basement last year. It was the only product I could find that was warranted below grade (that also looked good). It was very cool (and fast) to install. The joints lock together and I challenge you to find a joint with a gap of more than 1/128" (probably less). It is really tight!
The planks were 7' long and about 8' wide. Each plank is made up of 3 strips. Each strip is made up of lengths less than 7' but usually not less than 24". The maple on top is 3/8" thick. According to the manufacturer it can be refinished three times.
The look is very nice. My wife and I get a lot of compliments from people that see the basement.
Downsides: - I don't think it wears as well as the solid oak upstairs in the kitchen. - It is noisy in spots (it creaks). This is partly my fault for not doing a better job of leveling the subfloor (I laid it over 1" wafer board that is on top of 12" joists that aren't very level). There is a plastic layer between the wafer board and the flooring. It is supposed to be a vapor barrier. - It doesn't sound as solid as the the solid oak upstairs. - $$$: This stuff was expensive. I think the retail price was $10.50 per square foot. I bought off the Internet for less than that though - Finish: it is rather slick. I practice TaeKwonDo on this floor. I had expected to be able to work out in my bare feet. But the floor is too slick so I wear shoes. This might be due to it being maple instead of oak.
Jim
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