Wood Flooring Options for Every Budget
When it comes to home renovations, one of the biggest decisions you need to make is which flooring option to go with. What you go for is likely to depend on a number of factors; what’s your budget? Where will the flooring be laid? Will you be fitting yourself or hiring in a professional? You need to make the best decision for your individual situation.
Wood flooring is many people’s go-to choice when it comes to new flooring. It oozes style and elegance, whilst offering incredible practicality. Easy to clean and maintain, long-lasting and undoubtedly beautiful – it’s easy to see why it’s a popular choice. Although it may not be an easy decision, this guide should help shed some light on which type of wood flooring might be best for you.
Solid Wood Flooring
Let’s begin with what most people envisage when they think of wood flooring. Solid wood flooring is real blocks of wood that have been cut, sanded and finished to their individual specification. If you’re looking for an authentic look to your interior design, you can’t get much better than the real deal.
Solid wood works perfectly in bedrooms, hallways and living areas. The wood is well-suited to areas that are considered ‘high traffic’, due to the fact that they can be re-sanded and finished to restore them back to their best. This is perfect for when scratches and scuff marks begin to show (which the inevitably will). Hardwood floors often outlive their owners!
Although solid wood is considered an expensive choice, that money is well-spent due to the fact it offers serious longevity. Not only will it last a lifetime, but fitting your home with real wood floors can add value to your property in the long-term. When you pair this with the elegance a real wood floor can offer a home, it certainly seems like a worthwhile investment.
Whilst this all sounds perfect, there are of course some limitations when it comes to using real wood floors. You may already be aware of the fact that wood and water are not a good mix. Prolonged exposure to high levels of moisture can cause long-term damage to the wood. The planks will soon become warped, and your floor will be ruined. It’s therefore suggested you steer clear of real wood in bathrooms and kitchens.
If you’ve got underfloor heating (UFH), you’re best staying away from solid wood flooring as well. Similar to prolonged exposure to moisture, regular fluctuations in temperature will cause long-term disfigurement to your wood flooring. That again means that kitchens, and also conservatories and basements, could cause issues when it comes to the wood. Luckily, there is a more versatile option which handles heat and moisture much more effectively: engineered wood.
Engineered Wood Flooring
Created from multiple wood layers, engineered wood is a commonly used alternative to solid wood that’s constantly rising in popularity. There are a number of reasons engineered flooring has become so prominent in homes and commercial properties alike.
Because the boards are manufactured, rather than simply cut, they offer exceptional durability through their design. The numerous layers provide additional strength to each plank, whilst a top layer of real wood gives the flooring an authentic look that’s indistinguishable from the real thing.
Due to the multiple layers within each board, an engineered wood floor is less susceptible to damage from excess moisture and heat. Where solid wood will warp or cup, engineered wood can withstand these changes easier. That isn’t to say you don’t need to be careful, though. Any spillages of moisture should still be seen to immediately, and preventative measures should still be taken to mitigate the risk of damage.
Because engineered wood is more adept at handling changes in temperature, this makes it a popular choice for those areas that solid wood just won’t cover. Conservatories and kitchens are often found using engineered wood, as it won’t expand and contract the same as solid wood will when exposed to heat and moisture. This means it can also be used with UFH.
In terms of pricing, this of course depends on the quality of the wood you’re purchasing. Generally, however, engineered wood is less expensive than solid wood. This makes it a very viable option for those on a budget, without compromising on the look and feel of real wood.
Although engineered wood does have a real wood top layer, and it can be sanded and refinished, there is a limit to how many times this can be done. Where real wood can continue to be sanded down, with engineered wood there’s only 3-7mm of real wood. This may reduce the potential lifespan of the flooring.
With it being a manufactured product, you also need to be wary of who you’re buying from. Whereas you can usually tell the quality of a solid wood, poorly made engineered wood can be more difficult to spot. Make sure you always read product reviews, and only purchase from reputable companies.
Laminate is another wood alternative that offers a variation on the traditional wood style. It’s also made out of layers, similar to engineered wood, called high density fibreboard (HDF). This is then topped by a digitally-printed wood top layer and then covered with an additional protective layer – often referred to as a ‘wear layer’.
Laminate flooring is without doubt the most cost-effective wood flooring solution you can go for. Unfortunately, this cheaper alternative can get an unjustified bad rep just because it’s cheap. Whereas, in reality, good-quality laminate is often a very smart purchase for both residential and commercial properties.
Laminate is incredibly easy to clean and maintain. A simple sweep or vacuum will pull up most dirt. Anything left over can be dealt with by taking a slightly damp mop to it. There’s no need for waxing, as the top layer will maintain a fresh look by itself.
Not only is laminate cheaper to buy, the cost of installation is greatly reduced due to how quick it takes to fit. Most laminate flooring has a click-lock system, which allows each board to simply fit together then lock in place. Because laminate is often fitted as a floating floor, little to no glue is required, either.
When it comes to durability, you may be surprised to hear that laminate is one of the most popular choices for high-traffic areas. The top ‘wear layer’ means laminate is incredibly resistant to dents and scratches. Pair this with a stain-resistant surface (that’s also incredibly easy to clean), and you’ve got a pretty solid wood flooring alternative. The wear layer also protects from moisture, although large bodies of water will lead to damage in the long-term.
Because the wooden style on laminate is digitally printed, there are no real limitations to which design you’d like to go for. The huge range of product available on the market today ensures you’ll never be short of choice. The printed image also means there’s less likelihood of defects that there is with real wood. Real wood can occasionally come with natural imperfections – this isn’t the case with laminate. Although the image is printed, designs have improved and many now include life-like bevelling to give the texture of real wood.
Although there are an abundance of positive reasons to choose laminate flooring, there are some considerations to make before choosing whether it’s the right option for you.
Although laminate may be a durable product, often coming with a good warranty, it won’t last as long as real or engineered wood. This is because laminate can’t be sanded and refinished like real wood products. Because the image is printed, any sanding would completely ruin the flooring. This means that, if a board gets damaged, it will need to be replaced. However, the positive to this is that a click-lock system means boards can be replaced fairly easily.
Within a pack of laminate, you’ll often find some boards have the exact same pattern. Whilst this is common and unavoidable, it means you’ll have to take extra care when laying your new flooring. Otherwise, you could end up with two of the same boards side-by-side.
A final thought on laminate is with regards to the resale value of your home. If you’re investing with a view to later sell your home, real wood flooring will increase the value and be a smarter investment. Whilst laminate won’t do anything to harm your home’s resale value, a real wood floor will make a more positive impact on potential buyers.
While there’s no denying each option has its own unique charm that makes it a great choice, the decision is ultimately based on your own personal preference and situation. Hopefully, this guide will give you a good starting point when deciding whether to go for real wood, engineered, or laminate flooring.