Few materials in our home represent the intersection of function and style lFe our floors. Not only do we walk—and if there are kids around, you can add scuff, spill and slide—on them every day, but they also cover our home’s entire footprint. That means that in addition to bearing the brunt of muddy boots, high heels, toy cars and spilled milk, our floors help to define our home’s aesthetic as a significant design element.
With that kind of importance hanging over our heads—actually, make that under our feet—it’s no surprise that homeowners often find themselves reviewing the pros and cons of different floor options before making a decision. Some prefer the comfort of carpet, while others gravitate more toward tile’s toughness and the wonders of the many types of wood flooring. If you’re someone who has been eyeing adding wood floors to your home, but you aren’t sure where to start, you’re in luck. Our team has done all the research to compile the guide to different types of wood flooring found below.
The tried-and-true of the different types of wood flooring, solid hardwood conjures up images of timeless and classic looks that many of us have gushed over for years. Solid hardwood is produced from real pieces of wood and is generally up to 20 mm thick. Among the various types of wood flooring, solid hardwood is often considered a long-term investment because it usually costs more than others and lasts longer.
Solid hardwood is very durable, though it is prone to wear down in high-traffic areas. One of the variables that can determine how long solid hardwood lasts is its hardness. The harder the wood, the less likely the floor is to become scratched or dented (remember those toy cars we talked about earlier?). Some wood species are naturally harder than others, which means you might find them to be better options for hallways, living rooms or areas of your home that receive a lot of foot traffic.
One of the benefits of solid hardwood that many homeowners love is the variations and available options. Oak, hickory, maple, cherry, walnut, bamboo, ash and teak are some of the most popular types of solid hardwood species. Depending on the species you select, you’re likely to find a color that works well with your design scheme, with white, gray, red, and brown tones among the most popular.
While the color and texture variations are nice from a design perspective, it’s solid hardwood’s long life that makes it a winner for many homeowners deciding between different types of wood flooring. Unlike engineered hardwood and laminate (more on both of those later), solid hardwood can be sanded down and refinished multiple times. This process can be handy for changing the color of the floor or just removing imperfections that have occurred over time.
If you’re looking for downsides to solid hardwood, there are a few that might concern you. First, installation typically requires nailing the planks to a wooden subfloor, which means you’ll have to add that in the event your home doesn’t have one. Additionally, solid hardwood should only be installed at ground level or above, which means it’s a no-go for basements. Lastly, when moisture is present, solid hardwood can warp and become damaged.
There’s a common misconception that engineered hardwood is the “next best thing” to solid hardwood, but it’s actually better in some ways. After all, there’s a reason why it’s one of the most popular and sought-after types of wood flooring.
For one thing, engineered hardwood can be waterproof if it is installed and sealed correctly. That functionality means you can install it below ground level, in wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms, and that it doesn’t have to go over a wooden subfloor like solid hardwood.
Those added benefits are possible with engineered hardwood because it’s a more stable product that can adapt better to temperature and humidity changes. Engineered hardwood consists of a real wood surface that gets adhered atop multiple layers of plywood. Since there’s that top layer of real wood, engineered hardwood can be sanded and refinished, though not as many times as solid hardwood.
There are several installation methods for engineered hardwood, but the quickest and easiest is floating or click-lock that connects via a tongue-and-groove system. Much like solid hardwood, engineered hardwood comes in a variety of colors and wood tones.
Read our full guide on engineered hardwood pricing and cost variables.
The least expensive of the types of wood flooring, laminate presents a desirable option for homeowners who appreciate the look of wood but may not have the budget for solid or engineered hardwood.
Technically, laminate is not really wood, but it closely resembles it. It’s actually compressed layers of fiberboard with a photographic image of wood grain glued on top. Because the top is a photograph, manufacturers are able to recreate stunningly accurate wood-look material.
Since some product lines are waterproof, laminate can be ideal for all living areas, and you’ll be happy to know that it also holds up well to scratches. Another plus for laminate is that compared to other types of wood flooring, installation is a breeze.
However, one thing to remember about this budget-friendly material is that what you see is what you get. Unfortunately, it’s not a product that can be sanded down and refinished.
Our Recommendation for Where to Get Different Types of Wood Flooring
As you consider the various types of wood flooring for your next home project, it’s in your best interest to compare and contrast the differences between them. While many retailers carry products within each type, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone with LL Flooring’s selection.
Formerly known as Lumber Liquidators, LL Flooring has over 400 locations across the country and specializes in high-quality types of wood flooring. In addition to just selling the product, LL Flooring can also help with professional installation to ensure your new floor looks as fabulous as you envisioned.
The LL Flooring website has a unique augmented reality feature that allows you to pick a product and use your phone to digitally add it to your space, which makes shopping for floors fun. To find a location near you or to browse the many different types of wood flooring available at LL Flooring, visit LLFlooring.com, or read our full breakdown of LL Flooring.