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What is Hardwood Flooring?

By Nychole Price
Updated May 16, 2024
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Hardwood flooring adds a air of elegance to your house that can't be matched by tile or carpeting. It is often more expensive than tile or carpeting but it holds up well, even in areas of high traffic. There are several types of hardwood flooring, including solid, engineered, and acrylic impregnated.

Solid hardwood flooring is the preferred type for homes with basements. It is laid over the plywood that covers the floor joists, making for a very sturdy floor. Solid hardwood is 0.75 inches (1.905 cm) thick, and will last a lifetime if properly cared for. The biggest benefit to this type of flooring is that it can be refinished as often as desired and responds well to color change, when done by a professional. This is the best type of wood flooring for someone considering keeping it 20 years or longer.

Engineered wooden floors are gaining in popularity because they are less expensive. The slats of wood are constructed in a similar fashion to plywood, with a veneer surface on top, known as the wear layer. When selecting engineered hardwood flooring, look for a thick wear layer, as this determines its ability to be refinished and how often. If you plan on keeping your hardwood floor more than ten years, you will need a very thick wear layer, as the floor will have to be refinished a couple times, at least.

Acrylic impregnated hardwood flooring is similar to engineered wooden floors. The only difference is that the planks have been injected with a high strength acrylic solution for increased strength and durability. They are mostly found in areas of high traffic, such as restaurants, malls and stores. Many people choose to have them installed in their homes, in areas such as the living room or front entrance area, as they are available in a variety of colors and patterns.

When choosing the type of wood flooring to have installed in your home, there are several things to take into consideration, including which room it will be located in, the decor, traffic through the room and conditions that may adversely compromise the wood flooring. This will determine the color, width and type of flooring to have installed. For example, really dark and very light colored, or bleached, wooden floors will not fare well in the kitchen, due to the visibility of dirt and the damage high traffic will cause to the finish.

There are three styles of wood floor connections: strip, plank and parquet. Strip wood flooring is available in 1.5 inches (3.81 cm) and 2.25 inches (5.71 cm) widths and connects together with a tongue and groove construction. Plank is similar to strip hardwood flooring except it comes in wider widths, starting at 3 inch (7.62 cm) or 3.25 inch (8.25 cm) and increases in increments of 1 inch (2.54 cm). Parquet is the fanciest, and most expensive, of the wood flooring, as it is always constructed in geometric patterns or designs.

Before deciding on a type and color of wood flooring, as well as the connection style, meet with a professional. He can provide you with the pros and cons of every style and color, as well as the best type of finishing to meet your needs. There are other details that shouldn't be overlooked as well, including species, grade, cut, dimensions and patterns. Choosing hardwood flooring is a big commitment and should be well-planned.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Soulfox — On Sep 29, 2014

@Melonlity -- Laminate may be gaining in popularity, but don't make the mistake of thinking it is the same thing as hardwood. Laminate makes a "tapping" sound when you walk across it and doesn't have the same flex and "give" of hardwood. Heck, it doesn't even look quite the same as that top layer is typically photographic and is too uniform (real hardwood flooring is beautifully random in grain, knots and appearance).

That's not to say that laminate isn't a good choice. It is just not the same as hardwood flooring only more durable.

What is interesting is that laminate, hardwood and engineered hardwood flooring is usually taken care of the same way. A bit of dish soap (a drop or two) and perhaps a little vinegar in a bucket full of water is usually all you will need to cut through dirt and grease and clean your floors without harming them.

By Melonlity — On Sep 28, 2014

Laminate is gaining in popularity as it is less expensive than even engineered hardwood flooring and is more durable than either engineered or natural hardwood. A good laminate is usually little more than a strong, fiber core with a top layer that mimics real wood. Laminate can even be textured so it looks a lot like hardwood.

Again, the real difference is that laminate is more durable than hardwood and is the preferred thing to get if you have animals in your house because it is harder to scratch.

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