Love the look of hardwood floors but not sure if you want to spend the money for solid wood? The alternatives of engineered wood and laminate flooring confusing you? Let’s take a look at the similarities and the differences.

Solid wood flooring is exactly like it sounds, planks of solid wood through and through. This is the most expensive of the three options and offers several choices. The type of wood can play a major role in your cost. Brazilian cherry, at the higher end of the spectrum, is often found in more upscale homes or as a border or inlay with other wood choices. Oak, the most common is very durable and looks as rich in natural tones as it does in the darkest stain. Maple, though a hardwood, is a bit softer than oak and great for standing on for extended periods of time which is why you find this in the kitchens of many century old homes. This is also currently very popular with its minimized grain and lighter appearance. Bamboo is very popular due to its environmentally friendly properties, light and airy appearance and more affordable cost.  All costs will be further affected by the thickness of the planks and whether you lay it straight or at an angle, which requires more cuts.

Engineered flooring starts with a man-made core, commonly plywood, then is topped with a thin layer (about 1/8″ thick) of real wood.  Adding to the convenience is the fact that it does come pre-finished which means that it is ready to use as soon as it’s installed. Another advantage is that the real wood layer is thick enough to allow it to be sanded and refinished once or possibly even twice before needing to be replaced. Though more expensive than the laminate alternative, this choice offers the appearance of real wood (because the top layer is real wood) while costing less than solid wood options.

Laminate flooring also begins with a man-made core but is covered by paper imprinted with a photographic image of a wood plank. This photo makes the floor look very realistic. A finish layer on top protects the image and adds to the durability of the floor. The downside of this choice is that laminate is not real wood and so cannot be refinished. Once it is worn it must be replaced. On the other hand, it is far less expensive than real wood and available in styles that replicate the look of almost any type of wood, including rare and exotic species.

When deciding which option to choose, consider the look you’re desiring, the durability you need and how much you want to spend. That way once you have completed the project you can sit back and enjoy the view!