Ok! After a few days off (with the flu) I'm back in action! Today we're starting a new series - Material World, where we will be breaking down the pro's and con's of different materials. We'll begin with one of the most coveted - timber flooring. On the market today there are three main categories for timber flooring - Hardwood, Laminate and Engineered Hardwood Floors. We have all heard about these options but what's the real differences between the three that could effect your final decision? Hardwood Flooring - Hardwood floors are made from solid, natural wood and depending on the kind of finish you want, you can purchase a variety of wood species. Hardwood flooring is almost always the more expensive option but you can not beat how great it looks (or feels when walking on it). The entire plank is made from solid wood and modern hardwood is typically made with a tongue and groove system for easy installation. The boards can be easier to damage than the following two flooring types. Not only can they dent easily (i.e. if you walk with stilettos), but they also cannot be left wet as the timber can easily swell or expand. On the flip-side, hardwood floors are easy to sand and refinish, but require a healthy amount of maintenance to keep them looking their best.
Laminate - Laminate is the child and pet friendly, durable, cost-effective option. Finishes can be created in a variety of colours, textures and sizes and the boards are extremely durable. Boards are typically made of Fibre Board as opposed to actual solid wood. The top layer is a photographic layer which is designed to mimic the look you’re going for i.e. hardwood, bamboo, washed effect, aged, etc, but is much more durable than timber. This style of board has come a long way over the years and now finishes are very realistic.
Laminate planks are typically installed using a tongue and groove locking system, meaning you can install or uninstall with ease. Having the laminate top rather that solid wood, when you walk on the boards you hear a shallow tap rather than the deeper thud that comes from solid boards. I was very hesitant to go with this option over the solid wood option, but when we looked at the cost comparison verses durability, the laminate is streets ahead and the finished look & feel is extremely good.
Engineered Boards - Manufactured using a multilayered technology system, a timber surface is adhered to support layers for strength and dimensional stability. The core of Engineered boards is usually plywood or fibreboard and the top layer is a hardwood veneer (2mm slice of the solid timber) which is glued atop the core to mimic nearly any species of hardwood. Engineered hardwood has the natural characteristics of the selected wood species as opposed to a photographic layer (which is what you get with laminate). The reason people tend to choose engineered hardwood over natural hardwood is to garner greater moisture and heat resistance due to the core material. Engineered boards can also be constructed to be significantly wider than solid timber boards, creating a sleek, modern look.