People are making a huge effort to remove carpet from their homes in favor or hard surface materials. I am often, and I mean OFTEN asked about the various types of wood flooring available. In the show room I work from there are literally hundreds of choices when it comes to hard surfaces. I am going to explain a few of the choices you have to consider when ready to rip the carpets in favor of that new floor!
Wood, what we know as true hardwood is NOT what you want to use in our humid southern climate. Wood shrinks and expands, it is fine for dry western and northern climates but here in the south, it won’t take long before it is buckling all over the place.
What we use here is engineered hardwood. This is a layer of wood over a core material that is layered much like plywood. These layers are placed in different directions which causes them to pull against one another, keeping the product stable in our swampy weather. The price of your “hardwood” will depend upon the thickness of the top layer or wear layer. The thicker the wear layer, the more wood, the higher the cost. Pretty simple.
Sure you can get great deals on these products at local discount suppliers but buyer beware! Some of the great deals you see have paper thin wear layers. They can look great when you first install them but will not look great for long. Especially if you have kids, pets, etc. AND with that super thin wear layer, no chance to sand refinish! You will be through that wear layer and into the plywood core with a few swipes of some sand paper!
Discount wood also comes with other problems. The pallet you receive may have many damaged or unusable boards and many, many short boards. Most people are after the nice long plank material which is scarce to find at discounters. You really do get what you pay for. And good luck getting some of them to stand behind their products. They are known for blaming the installer for your “issues”. Think of hardwood floors as an investment for your home and shop carefully!
Hardwood floors are luxurious, beautiful and add value to your home. They do require some care and a certain amount of restraint as to what activities you permit to take place on them. High heels, roller blades, large dogs, rowdy kids etc. may/will take a toll on them! Fear not there are other options!
Wood look tile is an option and comes in manly colors, textures and price points. It is also available in many different widths and lengths. It requires an expert installation due to the length of the planks. They need to be perfectly leveled to avoid “lip-page” which can lead to trip hazards. It is an almost indestructible material and requires very minimal care. No need to worry about the toddler with the big wheel careening through the family room here! Porcelain tile is especially durable if your family is rough and tumble like mine!
Okay, there is always downside, right? Yep, tile is cold and extremely hard. In the south where temperatures are well above 80 for most of the year, not such a concern. However in the winter months when we can get quite cold, so will your tile. A few season area rugs can remedy this problem for you.
In the kitchen tile as most of us already know can be really hard on your back and legs standing for any length of time. And if you should drop something on it its gone! Unforgiving, completely. But the wood look tile is gorgeous and a great option for carefree living. Installation will also be more expensive as it is a much more laborious process with all of the leveling that must be done.
Option #3…..Luxury vinyl plank or LVP!!
This is a product I am very excited about! It has been on the market for quite awhile and been used primarily in commercial applications like medical facilities, shopping malls and restaurants. It is now surging in residential projects as well.
There is nothing I don’t like about this product for a busy home. It is so effortless to care for, nearly indestructible and cost effective both from a material and installation cost. I really believe this product will be pushing laminates right out of the market place and here is why. Laminate sounds like plastic when you walk on it, unless you use an high grade sound membrane beneath it. This adds cost $$$ to your project. It also “clicks” when you walk in it and you always know it is laminate. Not to mention if you manage to scratch it, that’s it. Not repairable, at least to the satisfaction of most, you’re done.
With LVP not so! If you can manage to scratch it, you just pull up the damaged planks and replace them with new ones! (Always buy an extra box or two and store them in the attic) LVP is soft, quiet and warm underfoot as well. It comes in hundreds of colors, lengths, widths and textures. LVP comes in planks just like wood and ALL of them are long and beautiful. It is very easy to install and very affordable compared to wood or tile. The only possible draw-back is you do need a smooth floor to accept the material, specially of you are using a thinner gauged product.
I hope I have addressed your questions about wood and wood look products. Just to let you know, I have intentionally paid no mind to the images the images I have inserted into this article. There are images here of wood, tile and LVP in no particular order! See if you can call them out! If not…..CALL ME!