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Solid maple flooring © Daniel Friedman Types of Engineered Wood Floors, Wood Laminate Floors & Solid Wood Flooring

  • WOOD FLOOR ENGINEERED & SOLID - CONTENTS: Definition of Solid Wood Floors, Engineered Wood Floors, & Wood Laminate Floors. What's the difference between engineered wood floors and wood laminate floors? What types of wood floors can be re-finished? Can pre-finished solid wood flooring or pre-finished lamianate wood flooring be re-finished? Effect of pre-finished wood floor v-grooves on floor re-finishing projects
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about the proper names & terminology for different types of wood & wood laminate flooring
  • REFERENCES
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This article defines and illustrates types of modern wood flooring, including solid wood floors, engineered wood floors, and laminate wood floor products. We also illustrate wood lookalike laminate flooring products.

Our page top photo illustrates what can happen to an engineered-wood floor (or any wood floor for that matter) if it is exposed to flooding from a burst plumbing or heating pipe.



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Definition of flooring types: Hardwood flooring, Engineered Wood Flooring, Laminate Flooring

Solid maple flooring © Daniel Friedman

Here we define three basic types of flooring products: hardwood flooring, engineered wood flooring, and laminate flooring. We illustrate each of these floor covering approaches with flooring sample photographs below.

[Solid] Hardwood flooring is illustrated by our photo above. This hardwood flooring sample is Vintage Maple Natural 3/4" thick x 3 1/4" wide tongue and groove flooring produced by Tarkett and has a hardness rating of 4 on a 1 to 5 scale. Solid hardwood flooring is just that - flooring material made out of a single piece of hardwood, usually cut into a tongue-and-groove profile that is installed to the subfloor by nailing through the tongue on a diagonal into the floor board and into the subfloor below.

Engineered wood flooring is illustrated by our second photo at below. Shown is Click Bamboo-Toast 9/16" flooring available through Home Depot® stores. Engineered wood flooring combines a top layer of wood that is bonded to multiple plies of softwood that affords uniformity and dimensional stability.

Engineered wood flooring is sold in a variety of edge profiles including tongue-and groove and "click" flooring whose planks interlock together. Engineered wood flooring may be nailed or stapled to the subfloor or in some products it is installed as a floating floor over the subfloor.

Solid maple flooring © Daniel Friedman

Laminate flooring, including laminate wood flooring looks like a hardwood floor, provides a hard surable surface, but is usually less costly per square foot than the solid or engineered wood floor products above.

Just below is a laminate floor product that provides a thin vinyl skin with a wood grain image. This click-lock laminate floor product (Palace Oak Light) is produced by Home Legend™ and is warranted for 55 years in residential use.

Vinyl laminate flooring (C) D Friedman

Shown next - below - our photograph shows another Home Legend™ flooring product, Tigerwood, that is sold in three flooring versions: 3 1/2" wide x 3/8" "click" (shown in our photo), also available in 1/2" thick engineered wood design, and also sold in a 3 1/4" wide x 3/4" solid wood version.

Solid maple flooring © Daniel Friedman

Sorting out the Confusion: What's the Difference Between Engineered Wood Flooring and Laminate Wood Flooring

What's the difference beween an engineered wood flooring product and a laminated wood flooring product?

It's confusing looking through flooring types, labels, and samples at wood floor suppliers like Home Depot® where dozens of choices are available.

But the answer to the question of the difference beween engineered wood floors and laminate wood floors lies in the thickness of the top or exposed wood layer. Engineered wood flooring has a top or exposed real wood layer that is typically 1/8" or greater in thickness, bonded to plies of softwood below. Laminated wood flooring also has a top or exposed layer of real wood, but typically in a layer that may be just 1/16" or even less (shown at above right).

A laminated wood floor surface is not one that you are likely to ever try to re-finish by sanding - the top veneer is just too thin. But then, some of these laminates are warranted for a long time in residential use.

An engineered wood floor can often be sanded and re-finished if necessary - perhaps once.

FLOOR, WOOD ENGINEERED, LAMINATE, INSTALL provides details about the selection and installation of engineered wood and laminated wood floors.

Comparing Engineered Wood Floors to Solid Wood Floors

Solid wood flooring detail © Daniel Friedman

Both solid wood flooring and many engineered floor products include a sufficiently-thick sandable layer that the floor can be sanded and refinished if necessary. But with some caveats:

A solid wood floor may or may not be capable of being sanded and re-finished - it depends. While there are some pre-finished solid wood floors that are dead smooth (no V-groove), most pre-finished solid wood floors have at least a slight champfer along the floor boards' edges - see our photo at left.

That produces a shallow "Vee" groove between adjacent pre-finished flooring planks. The V-groove hides slight differences in flooring thickness or installation variaitons that otherwise might appear.

But the V-groove means that you cannot easily sand and refinish the flooring since doing so risks leaving Vees insome areas and not others - really a wierd looking result. Of course with the thickness of a full 3/4" solid wood floor you probably have enough thickness to sand shallow vee grooves right out of existence should floor sanding and re-finishing become really necessary.

Sources of Indoor Engineered Wood and Wood Laminate Flooring Materials

Prefinished Wood Flooring

Bamboo Flooring Producers & Sources

Cork Flooring Manufacturers & Sources

-- Above list adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.


Continue reading at FLOOR, WOOD ENGINEERED, LAMINATE, INSTALL or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see WOOD FLOOR DAMAGE REPAIR

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WOOD FLOOR ENGINEERED & SOLID at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

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