Best Types of Hardwood Floors Of 2021
Solid? Engineered? Bamboo? Don’t be floored! Here’s the easiest way to pick the best hardwood floors for your new or renovated home.
You’ve decided to install hardwood floors in your living space, but now you have a problem:
What type of hardwoods should you choose?
There are quite literally dozens of hardwood flooring options. And choosing the wrong one could be a disastrous–and expensive–mistake.
Here we help to break down for you the pros and cons of different types of hardwood and offer some solid choices to get you started. This way, you’ll have a clearer idea of which type of flooring will best suit your lifestyle and home.
Types of Hardwood Floors
It’s important to remember that there isn’t only one “best hardwood floor.” All homes are different, and so are the needs of the people who live in them. But once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll be able to locate a contractor who can help you get it.
With that in mind, there are three main types of hardwood flooring:
- Solid Hardwood
- Engineered Hardwood
- Laminate Hardwood
Solid Hardwood Flooring
Solid hardwood is exactly what you think of when you imagine traditional hardwood floors. These boards came from a tree, and so their natural look is just that–natural!
Solid hardwoods can be nailed or stapled to sub-flooring, and in some cases where the boards are very thin, glued.
Best Solid Hardwood Flooring Brands:
- Bruce Flooring
- Carlisle Wide Plank Floors
- Hearne Hardwoods
- The Woods Company
- Lumber Liquidators
Additionally, solid hardwood floors can have an extremely long life if taken care of properly. Over time, they can be sanded and refinished to maintain their appearance. Therefore, solid hardwoods are a very smart investment.
But you cannot just jump into a marriage with solid hardwood floors without considering your other options, because solid flooring can have some substantial drawbacks. Before pursuing solid wood floors, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you live in a humid area?
- What type of sub-floor are you working with?
Solid wood floors require consistent atmospheric moisture content. Real wood expands and contracts with changes in the atmosphere. What does that mean for you? It means your nice hardwood floors will warp and buckle if exposed to too much humidity!
Similarly, if you have concrete in your sub-flooring, solid hardwood floors aren’t recommended. Concrete is more susceptible to moisture, which again means that your floors could be ruined.
If neither of these things are an issue for you, then great! You can move ahead to choosing what type of solid wood you would like. Otherwise, you have more options.
Engineered Hardwood Flooring
A great alternative to solid hardwood is engineered hardwood. Engineered boards are partially human-made, and partially real wood.
Why is this an advantage? Because you get the best of both worlds!
Best Engineered Hardwood Flooring Brands:
- LM Flooring
- Garrison Collection
The layers of an engineered board are built to create opposing forces within the wood, which means that the board doesn’t have the same options for expanding or contracting. They are more resistant to humid weather, and can easily be used on concrete subflooring.
However, you still get the appearance of real wood! The top layer of each board is real, so you don’t have to sacrifice appearance for functionality.
But here’s some insider’s advice: if you go with engineered hardwood, choose one that has a thick top layer. This way, you’ll be able to sand and refinish the board over time, keeping its real-wood appearance and drastically increasing its lifespan!
Engineered hardwoods are also flexible when it comes to installation. They can be nailed, stapled, or glued. In some cases, they are even designed to fit together, making installation much easier.
Some brands, like Anderson Hardwood Flooring, have both solid and engineered options for you to consider.
Laminate floors do not bear as much of the “real wood” look, but they can come pretty close. These human-made boards are designed to be resilient. They can withstand exposure to sun, water, and stains more easily than their competitors. Do you have small children or pets? Laminate flooring might be for you.
Best Laminate Flooring Brands:
- Mohawk & Pergo
- Shaw Laminate
- Dream Home
- AquaGuard Laminate
- Select Surfaces
Solid, engineered and laminate are the main types of hardwood floors, but you have a couple more niche options as well. If you are interested in a more environmentally friendly floor, you might consider bamboo or cork material for your hardwood. Did you know, cork can be harvested from live trees without cutting them down? While neither of these options look exactly like a traditional hardwood flooring, they’re both very aesthetically pleasing. Consider brands like HAWA Bamboo & Wood and Harris Cork.
Now That You’ve Chosen One of Those…
By now you probably have an idea of which one of these options could be right for you. But there are still a lot of things to consider! Within each of the above options, there is a lot of variety and differentiation.
For most solid and engineered hardwood floors, you have the option to get them “prefinished” or not. Both options have advantages. If you go with prefinished boards, once they’re installed they’re usable, and there aren’t any troublesome fumes.
On the other hand, if you decide to have the hardwoods finished once they’re installed, you have some flexibility about what the finished product will look like. You can customize stain to match other fixtures or accents already in your home, and you can alter the coloring if it doesn’t turn out the way you want.
Now, if you chose solid hardwoods, you have even more options. With any type of flooring, you of course have a bounty of color choices. But with solid hardwood floors, the type of wood you choose is also very important and is going to depend on what kind of lifestyle you live.
What room is the flooring going into? Is it a room that gets a lot of traffic or is susceptible to things spilling or falling? In a room like a kitchen, you’ll want a harder wood that is tougher against incessant use. Oak and hickory are hardwoods that look great and will hold up for you. Oak is one of the most popular flooring materials in the United States.
For a bedroom or a study, a softer wood might be better suited to your needs. Cherry and walnut woods have nice warm colors that can transform a living space into a home. To see a complete list of wood types and their corresponding hardness to help you make your decision, consult the Janka Wood Hardness Chart
What Are You Waiting For?
Now that you have an idea of what type of hardwood floors will fit your flooring needs, there’s no reason not to go for it! Check out local resources to find contractors in your area, and you’ll be one step closer to the hardwood floors of your dreams.