If you are looking for new flooring in your home, or even your office, there are a range of different choices. These can be narrowed down somewhat when you take into consideration the use of a particular space. For example, you probably wouldn’t choose to carpet your kitchen (although you could) because it is a room where there are likely to be food and liquid spills which would very probably cause damage to carpet: at the very least you would have to wash it if it suffered from a food spill.
However, many people choose carpet for the bedrooms because it is soft and comfortable to walk on and is a room where you would often have bare feet. So, the use of any individual space needs to be taken into account when you make your choice.
Equally, many people choose carpet for the living room but there are several other options. For instance, you might be a fan of wood, and there are many choices using just that material alone. You can have straight planks of wood, or you could have them laid in a herringbone pattern, and of course there are an almost endless choice of different timbers with different colourings and grains available.
However, you can also have wood flooring that uses very little wood, just for the surface, and you can have flooring such as laminate flooring that can look like wood but actually contains no wood at all!
Real hardwood flooring is solid wood and is not cheap by any standards. Then again, some people prefer the beauty of a real timber, and that is obviously a personal choice.
However, you could also opt for engineered wood flooring which looks like real wood, although it is formed using layers of plywood, and only the top, or the veneer, is real wood. This means that you can have the effect of real wood on your floor at less cost than using solid hardwood. You can also get a similar effect using laminate flooring which can be produced to look like many different woods, but actually contains no wood whatsoever. Of the three options, laminate is the cheapest.
Advantages And Disadvantages
However, as with most things, there are advantages and disadvantages. While laminate is the cheapest option, it doesn’t have the life of natural hardwood, or for that matter engineered wood, so at some point you will have to replace it. It can last for between 10 and 20 years depending upon the environment and how well it is maintained.
Laminate flooring is actually HDF – High Density Fibreboard – upon which is placed a photographic layer that has the appearance of wood, and which is in turn covered by a clear wearing layer. It has an underlayer of foam or felt which gives it a slightly springy feeling when you walk on it.
Compared with engineered wood, laminate is very easy to install. It can be installed directly on to the sub floor, and it comes in boards which connect together, so it is possible to install it yourself – again saving some money on the overall cost.
Engineered wood is produced in tongued and grooved boards which can be either glued or nailed to the sub floor. However, it is much more difficult to install than laminate and is not really a DIY project: you need a professional to do the job properly.
When it comes to cleaning, both laminate and engineered wood are relatively delicate surfaces that should not be wet-mopped. Cleaning should be done using a dry mop or a broom. You should certainly never use ammonia-based cleaning products on either.
Engineered wood with a thick veneer layer can last for up to 50 years and even longer if properly cared for. However, it does cost quite a bit more than laminate, although less than hardwood. The surface can also become scratched, so could be damaged by pets or the terrible twins or walking on it in hobnail boots. But if this should happen the surface can be lightly sanded until it looks as good as new again.
Laminate is unlikely to become scratched because of the tough wear layer. However, if it should suffer damage the best option is to replace the damaged board or boards.
So, if you want the perfect appearance of solid hardwood you should go for engineered wood. If you want the cheapest option, then it is laminate.