Top 6 Types of Hardwood Floors for Your New Home
Until recently, hardwood floors were found only in high-end homes.
Now, hardwood flooring is one of the most popular upgrades in any new home in the Raleigh area.
Advances in wood flooring during the past few years means that you can now have wood anywhere in your home. Here are the top 6 different types of wood and hardwood floors.
1. Solid Flooring
Solid wood flooring refers to anything that consists of one piece of wood from top to bottom. Most often 3/4" inch thick, a solid wood floor can be sanded and refinished, making this an extremely long-lasting flooring.
Oak is the most common natural hardwood flooring, in white or red. A white oak is usually just a little more expensive, but red oak tends to pick up and reflect red tones in cabinetry and other nearby features.
Maple, ash, hickory, and a variety of exotic woods are also available as solid flooring.
Custom builders often include at least several rooms with solid or engineered hardwood floors.
2. Engineered Flooring
Still most often referred to as hardwood or wood flooring, this wood flooring product consists of layers of wood pressed together. Because grains run in different directions, it is more dimensionally solid wood.
If the top layer is thick enough, it is possible for the flooring to be sanded and refinished.
3. Site Finish
Solid or engineered wood floors can have stain and varnish applied in several ways.
The most premium is "site finish". Unfinished hardwood is installed in the home. The buyer or builder chooses a stain color, which can be customized at the time of application by mixing one or more standard colors together. This stain and a final coat of varnish is then applied to the floor over a period of 3-5 days.
Individual pieces are pre-stained and varnished, then installed in the home. This process is quicker and less expensive than site-finished stain, but can be higher quality.
Some manufacturers offer a 50 year warranty, and apply up to 12 coats of verathane.
5. Wood Laminates
Wood laminates consist of a plywood base covered with a layer of veneer. Plies and thicknesses vary, but three-ply, 3/8 inch flooring is most common (compared to 3/4 inch for solid hardwood).
The veneer topping of wood laminate floors (commonly 1/8 inch thick) can be sanded and refinished 3 times, at most.
Most manufacturers have 5-year finish warranties. Laminate wood flooring can be a great way for a first time home buyer to experience the benefits of a wood floor. It's a low-maintenance alternative to carpet, and great for pets.
6. Synthetic Plastic Laminates
Usually 1/2 inch thick, plastic laminate flooring consists of a fiberboard center wrapped in top and bottom layers of high-pressure laminate - a tougher version of the same material used in many kitchen countertops.
These floors cannot be sanded or refinished. They usually come with 10 or 15 year manufacturer warranties.
These laminate floors are very tough - they hold up very well, even under heavy traffic and pet claws. Because they are inexpensive and last 10-15 years, even if they eventually need to be replaced the long term cost is low.
Choosing Your Hardwood Floors
There are many colors, types, and styles of flooring within each of these categories.
Buyers should choose wood flooring based on both asthetic quality and cost (over the life of the home).
Solid or engineered hardwood floors cost more upfront, but are likely to last the lifetime of the home with proper care.
Laminates will most likely need to be replaced at least several times over the life of the home, but can be lower cost and allow buyers a low-maintenence alternative to carpet.
Talk to Your Builder
Buyers should ask their builder and/or real estate agent exactly what kind of flooring is standard in their new construction home, and which styles of flooring would be an upgrade.
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