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A. Both laminate flooring and hardwood flooring can beautify a home. While hardwood is often thought to be a superior choice, there are several advantages to laminate flooring. Distinct differences between the two types of flooring often make laminate a more attractive alternative. Solid hardwood of any thickness (most is 3/8” to 3/4”) should be installed only above grade. Laminate flooring can be installed above or below grade, and over virtually any other flooring surface. Some hardwood flooring is engineered, meaning that instead of solid hardwood, it is made of several wood layers with a hardwood veneer. Laminate flooring, usually 7mm to 8mm (5/16” to 3/8”), is also made of several layers. These are laminated together which makes for stability and strength. The top surface of laminate flooring is a photograph of hardwood. High quality photographs faithfully reproduce the grain and color of natural hardwood, and the surfaces on quality laminate flooring closely resemble real wood. Although many people insist on hardwood flooring, laminates are a long-lasting, durable, affordable option that are quickly becoming one of the most popular types of flooring.
A. Laminate flooring is a versatile, durable, attractive flooring with the appearance of a hardwood floor. Although laminate flooring looks like wood flooring, there is actually no solid wood used in its construction. Laminate floors are made up of several materials bonded together under high pressure. Most laminate flooring consists of a moisture resistant layer under a layer of HDF (high density fiberboard). This is topped with a high resolution photographic image of natural wood flooring. It is then finished with an extremely hard, clear coating made from special resin-coated cellulose to protect the laminate flooring. Laminate flooring is perfect for anyone wanting a durable floor for a fraction of the price and installation time of a hardwood floor, but with the attractiveness of real hardwood. This construction also makes laminate flooring more environment-friendly as it uses less wood in its construction and makes more efficient use of the wood fiber that is used.
A. Laminate flooring is long-lasting and highly durable. The surface is made with aluminum oxide which is one of the hardest substances on earth and provides a very robust and wear resistant surface relative to other types of flooring. The core is made out of high density fiberboard that makes laminate flooring highly dent resistant. However, they are not indestructible; care should be taken to help avoid scratching and damage. With a small amount of maintenance, laminate floors will last a very long time.
A. Yes, laminate flooring is a hard surface floor and is considered hypoallergenic. Its closed cell surface means that there is limited ability to trap dust, dust mites and other allergy-causing organisms. This can be important for people suffering from asthma or dust allergies.
A. Yes, the vinyl plank flooring is virtually waterproof and can be wet mopped frequently.
A. Yes, if a plank is damaged and needs replacement there are two options. The floor can be uninstalled and reinstalled. Alternatively the plank can be cut and removed.
Hardwood flooring can be installed on any grade in your home. If you’re installing below grade (in a basement), or over any concrete slab on any level you’d need to use an engineered floor. Engineered wood floors are manufactured with cross layers of plywood as a stable base, and then a top layer of real wood is placed on top (called a wear layer). Because these engineered wood floors are often more stable than solid wood floors, they can withstand minor moisture level changes better than solid Hardwood flooring can. The solid wood floor could possibly cup and buckle in high moisture prone areas like basements.
The only exception would be in bathrooms. We do not recommend any type of hardwood floor in a full bathroom where water will be splashed or spilled on it. Hardwood or Laminate flooring can work well in half-baths where there is no tub/shower or high humidity. The best option for full baths would be Ceramic Tile or Vinyl flooring.
Although engineered wood floors are more stable in below ground situations, you will still need to use an appropriate underlayment with a moisture blocking pad when installing using a floating method. If you are using a direct glue-down method for installation we recommend applying a coat of MVP (moisture block) over the concrete to block out moisture before putting down the adhesive.
A. Solid Hardwood flooring is milled from the log as a solid piece of wood. These boards expand and contract with relative humidity changes within its environment. In extreme relative humidity changes within your home, the solid boards can expand causing cupping and/or buckling of the floor boards. If the homes environment is too dry, the solid boards can contract (shrink), leaving gaps between the floor boards. Solid wood flooring is not recommended for below grade installation and must be nailed down or glued down. We recommend keeping the homes relative humidity level between 40-55%.
In comparison, Engineered Hardwood flooring is manufactured with multiple cross layers of plywood to increase stability with a thinner real wood top layer. This construction counteracts the natural tendency of wood to expand and contract with seasonal changes in temperature and humidity. Engineered wood flooring can be installed in any room in the home, whether on grade, above grade or below grade. Engineered wood floors are generally nailed or stapled down as well as direct glued. We recommend keeping the homes relative humidity level between 30-60%.
There are pros and cons when using either solid or engineered floors. Obviously stability is an advantage of using engineered flooring because of the cross layers. A disadvantage is that some engineered flooring styles have a very thin veneer wear layer, which cannot be completely sanded and refinished if ever needed (BR111’s 5/16″ engineered line). In heavy traffic areas of your house, you might want to consider an engineered floor with a thicker wear layer (Mercier’s engineered line).
A. No matter how durable the finish is, grit, stones, and water tracked onto a wood floor can cause premature wearing and scratching of the finish. High heel shoes can indent the wood’s surface. To make the floors finish last the longest, we suggest using heavy mats outside all exterior doors with small rugs on the wood flooring at all entrances and in front of sinks and stoves.
A. Dogs that are extremely large and actively run in the house will dig in to get traction, possibly scratching the surface of any wood flooring. There are also a lot of dog owners that have hardwood flooring and have no problems with their pets. Usually pets do not like the feel of wood flooring under their feet because they have a tendency to slip when they try to run so they usually learn quickly not to run on them. It is important to keep dogs’ nails trimmed and to possibly limit their areas. There are companies out there that make dog booties that will protect your hardwood flooring. Also, make sure your pets are house broken. Pet urine is an acid and will damage the natural color of the wood flooring if not cleaned up right away, leaving a black stain that does not always sand out.
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