Hardwood, softwood, engineered or laminate? These are the options you need to consider when you’re shopping for wooden flooring for your next project.
Though this may sound daunting, each type of flooring has its own merit, and our handy guide will give you all the info that you need to choose the perfect product.
In this guide we’ll look at what each type of wood is like, the price and the pros and cons.
What types of flooring are available?
Hardwood is generally considered to be one of the most durable and sought after types of timber flooring. Each board is made from a single piece of wood, meaning that every board could have knots and individual markings that give it real character.
Hardwood flooring tends to be one of the most expensive types of flooring you can buy, but with it you get a sense of real quality.
- It looks and feels fantastic, adding real character to any room
- Can sand down to restore finish
- Very hard wearing
- Can be difficult to fit compared to laminate
- Expands in damp conditions and shrinks in dry ones
- Highest entry price for a flooring product
For more information, and to see our range of hardwood flooring products click here.
Softwood (as may be implied) is generally softer than hardwood, but that does not mean that it cannot offer a warm, rustic look for any interior room.
About 80% of all timber comes from softwood, meaning that the uses for it are very varied. As with hardwood, each board is cut from a single piece of wood, but unlike hardwood softwood is generally more pliable and easier to work with.
Softwood is generally cheaper than hardwood, but more expensive than laminate and engineered wood, making it perfect for mid-range budgets.
- Looks and feels like hardwood at a fraction of the cost
- Can sand down to restore finish
- More pliable and easier to work with than hardwood
- More absorbent than hardwood, which means it will shrink and expand more in dry or damp conditions
- Generally softer than hardwood, meaning it can show marks easier (especially from high heels)
To find out more, and see our range of softwood flooring products click here.
Engineered Wood Flooring
Engineered Wood offers the benefits of fitting laminate flooring with the thickness and quality of real timber. It’s made up of three or four layers of wood glued together at right angles, resulting in an end product that is about 14 mm. The benefit of the wooden veneer on top is that (like hardwood or softwood) you can sand down to restore the finish.
As opposed to hardwood and softwood flooring, engineered wood flooring copes well with moisture due to its construction.
Engineered wood flooring can vary wildly in price depending on the wood and veneer finish used, making it a great choice for a range of budgets.
- Installation is easier than hardwood and softwood flooring, similar to laminate
- Pricing can suit most budgets
- A wide variety of colours and textures to choose from
- Can be sanded to restore finish
- Copes well with moisture
- 4 mm veneer on top means limited sanding before replacement
- Prices can vary to the extreme
To find out more about engineered wooden floor products you can read a great blog post over at abouthome.
Laminate flooring is not Technically a timber, but it’s one of the most affordable ways to get the real wood look for your interior flooring project. Laminate flooring is made up a of compressed fibreboard plank, which is then covered by a photographic or textured image.
Each manufacturer of laminate has their own unique fitting method, the most popular being “click-lock” making laminate very easy to fit.
Laminate flooring is the cheapest option for a “wooden looking” floor, although cheaper options can look unrealistic.
- Easy and fast to install
- Cheaper products can look unrealistic
- Easily damaged by moisture
- Once damaged it is very difficult to repair
If you think laminate could be for you then you can read a bit more about its construction on Wikipedia.
Things to Think About…
Each type of flooring has its own merits, but you have to consider budgets, style and where you are going to lay it before you can make an informed decision.
Hardwood flooring is suitable to almost any room (including bathrooms and kitchens if you treat it with a waterproofing finish), it’s hard wearing and adds real character to any room, but it’s also one of the more expensive and difficult to fit options.
Softwood flooring is a great compromise if you want a real wooden floor on a modest budget. It’s cheaper than hardwood and it’s also more forgiving to work with, however it damages slightly easier and is more susceptible to damp and dry rooms.
Engineered wood offers most of the benefits of hardwood and softwood, but the price can vary to from expensive to VERY expensive. Although it can be sanded down to restore the finish the 4 mm veneer on top mean that it does not have the same longevity as hard or soft wood.
Laminate is the best option for people looking for a wooden style on a budget, although there are certain draw backs. It cannot be sanded and damage is not easily repaired.
Over to you…