The floors we choose for our home represent our lifestyle, aesthetics, and needs. Whether you wish to go classy, modern, or eclectic or you have to go rough-and-tumble because of kids and pets, choosing a floor can be challenging (or overwhelming). There are several things to consider before making this wonderful, yet sizable and long-term, investment.

Here are three different floor types to help you choose the best floor for your home.

The top flooring choices for most homes are solid wood, engineered wood, and resilient flooring, commonly known as vinyl flooring.

1. Solid wood floors

Solid wood floors are the traditional time-honored choice that provides both beauty and warmth to any space.

Solid wood is great for homes in very consistent climate areas. Climate and wood flooring has a very interactive relationship, so it is an important consideration before you choose your floor.

If your heart is set on solid wood floors, remember that they perform best in either consistently dry or consistently humid climates because it is the dramatic change in moisture that causes wood flooring to expand or contract. When flooring is exposed to a period of high humidity and then dry air, these fluctuations in relative humidity (RH) can cause some unwelcome results such as cracks, squeaks, and buckling.

Be aware that it’s a matter of keeping the RH in your home consistent. If you live in a high-humidity area, with lots of rain, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a problem. Once the wood acclimates to the high humidity, then it can be installed. As long as that RH is consistent, your floor will respond well.

The texture-rich solid floors from the Storehouse Plank collection.

If you’re a fan of heavy texture, like saw marks and scrapings, then you’re in for a treat with solid wood floors. Our Storehouse Plank is such a collection with its textured appearance as if it has been milled roughly, featuring boards with different textures giving off a rustic, authentic look.

Regarding installation, standard solid wood is a 3/4-inch wooden plank that has no layers or veneers and can be affixed to the floor by nailing or stapling. It can be used on a conventional subfloor or any subfloor above ground level.

The majority of solid flooring is sold as unfinished, but prefinished is also available in the marketplace. For more on the advantages of unfinished and prefinished, continue reading to where we discuss them in depth.

2. Engineered floors

Extra wide European oak engineered flooring.

Made with real hardwood veneer on top of a multi-layered core, engineered flooring is another option for your home.

Note: Engineered is not the same as laminate. Laminate typically does not contain any hardwood.

Engineered flooring is a really great choice because it offers many installations options, style options and overall cost and time savings. Because an engineered floor has more tolerance to relative humidity fluctuations than solid floors, it can be used in a greater number of climates and in a variety of areas of the home. This floor can also be installed below grade such as a basement if the moisture level is within acceptable measurements. You have flexibility in installation method, depending on the subfloor. Most can be either nailed or glued, and often floated. Comparing the two types of wood flooring, solid and engineered, the later offers more installation options.

Compared to solid wood, engineered flooring also uses less old-growth hardwood because the hardwood veneer is thinner that amount in solid floors, ¾”. The base of most engineered product is made of fast-growing plantation hardwood; thus, you get more product form the same amount of hardwood, which leaves less of an environmental footprint.

How much lumber is needed to produce solid flooring versus engineered.
The Vintage Loft collection

With an engineered product, you can use a variety of widths with less concern over movement in your floor like you might get with solid wood. With engineered, you can have a much wider plank that is much less affected by RH levels. The standard width for solid wood ranges around 2 ¼” – 5”, but with our engineered Tasmania Collection for example, you can get planks 9 1/2 or 6 1/2 inches wide, with variable lengths up to 7 or 8 feet. This allows you to create a classy traditional look, particularly in a large space, with less worry about movement problems.

Unfinished and prefinished flooring

Unfinished engineered oak flooring on left, prefinished on right.

For both solid and engineered floors, the options are available to buy them as unfinished or prefinished.

Unfinished floors, once installed, still require sanding and any staining you desire as well as sealing and finishing coats. More layers applied to the floor of course means more time involved and more money. Also, remember that each contractor will have different ways of applying finish and the number of layers. The methods of sanding, applying finish, and the products and tools used to do so are all subject to each flooring contractor. There is no single way it all has to be done, though there are recommended guidelines offered by the National Wood Flooring Association. All that to say, speak with your contractor beforehand to know exactly how they will install, sand and finish your floor. Or, if you choose to do the work yourself, seek out guidelines to ensure the best results.

A solid unfinished floor has a cheaper materials’ cost than prefinished, but the flip side is that it involves much more labor to arrive at the same result in terms of installation, sanding and finishing. However, on another flip side, you can have any color stain, finish and texture you want!

Prefinished floors are stained and finished at the time of manufacturing, usually with more durable methods and products than a custom, jobsite finish. As well, prefinished products offer tons of styles to choose from and typically include a longer warranty. Another advantage is time. Once you have the prefinished product installed, you can walk on it same day. Baseboards can be nailed back down, and furniture and personal belongings can be moved back in.

3. Resilient flooring

Toasted Almond, from the Reminiscent collection

Vinyl flooring boasts an appearance of real wood, with the advantage of vast resiliancy.

Resilient flooring is a non-wood flooring option. It’s commonly known as vinyl flooring, but not limited to only that type of product. It is designed to appear like wood, and we’ve been nearly fooled a time or two, because a quality resilient floor does a pretty good job of looking like hardwood flooring.

Your home may benefit from the vinyl flooring option because it is an appropriate choice for busy lifestyles and high-traffic areas. Also, if you live in a climate with varying moisture levels that you can’t control, then resilient works well. If you have a basement or level where you can’t control humidity or dampness effectively, then this product can be put down, and you won’t have to worry about RH level since it won’t be affected by moisture.

Installing Reminiscent resilient flooring.

For high-traffic areas in particular, Real Wood Floors offers a stone polymer core (SPC) flooring through our Reminiscent Collection, created with extreme durability at the forefront. That doesn’t necessitate “boring” as we have chosen colors and textures based on trends and popular styles.

Regarding the price point, resilient flooring is considerably less than both solid wood and engineered product, and the installation requirements are much simpler than wood products since no fasteners or adhesives are needed. The padded planks click together, with no additional finishes. Vinyl is also ideal for rental properties or short-term solutions .

If you have questions, let us know.

The Saltbox collection

Solid wood floors have stood the test of time, but engineered and resilient floors are two other excellent flooring options. If you have questions about choosing the best flooring for your home, please get in touch today via our website or by phone, 877.215.1831.