Selecting the right flooring almost seems impossible as everyone seems to disagree on what the best option is – is engineered better than solid? Does laminate really look like wood? Is vinyl really as awesome as people keep telling me?
When we started planning our main floor renovation one of the biggest decisions we had to make early on was what to do with our flooring. We decided to replace all our flooring to create a consistent look through the main floor.
Let me just say here, we struggled with this decision, it’s a lot of flooring to replace and most of our existing engineered wood is perfectly fine. We decided to go this route because our particular engineered is not durable at all and we were not confidant that it would hold up in our kitchen (the fact our builder installed the wrong colour was only part of it). Don’t worry, it’s not going to waste – we’ll use some of the displaced planks to replace the carpeting in two bedrooms on the second floor.
So, how to pick a new floor? After doing lots of research and visiting multiple flooring stores here are my top pieces of advice:
- Work within your budget
- Pick what YOU like the best
Yeah, I know, not that helpful – but here’s the thing: there is no one perfect flooring for everyone. The first flooring store I went to told me that laminate was absolutely my best choice, another said vinyl, all the way…and the third? Solid hardwood can’t be beat.
Well that’s just confusing.
Sure, every type has pros and cons so how do you choose when no one seems to agree?
I say work within your budget, because there are beautiful floors to be had at every price point, it’s important to know what you can afford and what you’re willing to spend. In some cases, your budget might help making selecting your TYPE of flooring better – for example a really nice vinyl compared to a low quality hardwood. Your budget will also help you narrow the flooring brands you should be looking at, and if you’re interested in hardwoods, the species of wood.
Once you know your budget, pick what you like best. Yup. That’s it. Just as many people are going to tell you that laminate is fantastic as those that are going to say it’s the worst flooring ever.
It’s kinda ridiculous.
For us, our choices were narrowed down pretty fast – Chris doesn’t like the feel of vinyl or the look of laminate so our choices became either solid or engineered hardwood. We knew we wanted a certain colour and a matte finish and in the end it just happened that the floor we fell in love with is a solid hardwood.
Need a primer on the pros and cons? Here are the basics:
Made from composite wood pressed together at a high temperature laminate flooring features an image of hardwood as it’s top layer. Laminate can be smooth in it’s appearance or even mimic the feel of natural hardwood. Laminate can resist scratches better than a solid or engineered wood floor and is usually less expensive to buy and install. Unfortunately laminate is very hard to repair and cannot be refinished.
Vinyl floors are 100% plastic and water-resistant. Because vinyl holds up so well to moisture it is a great option for basements, kitchens and bathrooms. It is very durable against scratches but can be punctured easily by sharp objects. Vinyl can be embossed to create a texture to mimic a wood floor but does not have the same feel underfoot as a hardwood or laminate floor.
Engineered hardwood is a thin layer of hardwood layered with plywood. The layered structure of engineered hardwood makes it more stable to humidity and can be nailed, stapled or installed as a “floating” floor. Most engineered flooring can be refinished although depending on the thickness of the hardwood layer you may only be able to do it once. Engineered hardwood can also be the most expensive of these four flooring types.
Made of 100% wood, solid hardwood flooring is usually 3/4″ think and is installed using nails or staples. Solid hardwood can be refinished multiple times and can increase the value of your home. Solid hardwood does not tolerate moisture well and can be more susceptible to movement with fluctuating humidity levels. Solid hardwood is also (usually) not available in widths wider that 4 1/4″.
So, here you go – I officially give you permission to ignore people who try to tell you that one flooring is superior to all others. If you love it and for you the pros outweigh the cons – then it’s the right floor for you.