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Flooring - wood options
Old 11-26-2009, 01:09 AM   #1
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Flooring - wood options

I'm getting ready to re-do the floors in our kitchen/DR/living room and wanted to get some opinions about the question of engineered wood vs laminate vs solid wood. I saw a 2 year old thread on this topic and wondered about any updates.
I would like to DIY to save costs. Part of the floor will be over old vinyl, the rest over standard sub-floor.

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Old 11-26-2009, 05:47 AM   #2
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Consumer Reports did a nice article comparing the three types of flooring in their August 09 issue.

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Old 11-26-2009, 06:21 AM   #3
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About 3 years ago I ripped out all the w2w carpeting and base trim in our townhouse and decided on hardwood throughout, kitchen and bathrooms included. I'm a DIY posterboy but I had no experience with this job. Usually doors and jambs need to cut, thresholds figured out and a stair tread (top step) might need to be made if your doing the top floor, and the toilet flanges need to lifted 3/4" sometimes thats tricky.

I am a research maniac when is comes to this stuff and I learned:
I don't like any engineered floor. They clack when you walk on them and the repeating surface looks like (is) a photograph.
I don't like unfinished 2 1/4" wide oak strips, although it was the cheap but nice way to go.
I do like honey blonde oak with a gloss finish.
Finishing hardwood on site is nuts. Even the pros can't match the quality (no dust) and hardness and warrantee of factory finished planks and strips.

There are many brands. I went with Mullican prefinished planks. I chose a repeating pattern of 3", 4", and 5" widths for the downstairs and all 3" for the upstairs. I bought the material and hired an installer by the hour. I worked along side him until I got the hang of it. Basically he did the downstairs and I did the rest.
I love the look. Three years later, its still the highlight of the house IMO.
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Old 11-26-2009, 07:03 AM   #4
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I had laminate flooring installed in this house and after one year of suffering, had it ripped out and went to tile in the kitchen, laundry room, dining room and guest bath. Should have done this in the beginning but was too stupid to realize how hard it was to care for. I'll have to admit that it wasn't top grade but even when clean it looked bad. Water spots from the dogs dripping water from their bowl was a nightmare. Had engineered hardwood at the last house and it was easy to care for. IMHO, I'd go with engineered wood.
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Old 11-26-2009, 08:05 AM   #5
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I looked at the various options three years ago and went with engineered wood flooring (African chestnut) in my living/dining rooms. I did not like the look/feel of most of the laminate flooring I had researched but now there are some laminates that look more realistic. I decided on the engineered wood flooring due to ease of installation, the finished (top) layer is thick enough that the floor can be refinished two or three times, and the material I bought happened to be available and on sale locally. The floor has held up very well, even with a large black lab in the house, and I get lots of nice comments about the floor (have had several neighbors try to talk me into putting a similar floor in for them).
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Old 11-26-2009, 08:22 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by SciFiFan53 View Post
I'm getting ready to re-do the floors in our kitchen/DR/living room and wanted to get some opinions about the question of engineered wood vs laminate vs solid wood. I saw a 2 year old thread on this topic and wondered about any updates.
I would like to DIY to save costs. Part of the floor will be over old vinyl, the rest over standard sub-floor.
For the kitchen (and bath): I'd stay away from wood. I know many people have had good experiences with it and like the look, but deliberately putting a wood floor in a room with constant drips and possible mass water overflows is asking for trouble. Why count on a very thin coat of chemicals on top (which wear away with time) to protect the wood from its natural enemy: water. Consider ceramic tile for these rooms and you'll be set for life. We put high-quality sheet vinyl in our kitchen and like it a lot: No maintenance, no water worries, it is comfortable to stand on, and it has saved a lot of glass dishes that have found their way to the floor.

Other places: Look at and walk on a lot of floors before making a decision. You said you have a subfloor, so I assume your home is not slab-on-grade.
Differences to note about pre-finished wood (engineered or "real") vs a site-finished floor: A site-finished floor is raw wood and all the planks are sanded flat after they are installed. Then the finish is applied. The pre-finished floors are not sanded after they are in place (obviously), so they almost always have a bevel at the edge of each plank to mask the slight differences in the height of the boards (due to very slight differences in machined thickness or unevenness of the subfloor). Some folks like these bevels, and some folks absolutley do not. The dirt and drit will get into them, obviously. As BUM points out, the finish on the pre-finished floors is slightly more durable than what can be applied on site.

Laminate: Seems like folks either love it or hate it. You'll have to decide for yourself if it suits you.

Are you dead-set on wood? Cork is also very nice, it is renewable (like wood) and soft/warm underfoot.
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Old 11-26-2009, 08:38 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by samclem View Post
Laminate: Seems like folks either love it or hate it. You'll have to decide for yourself if it suits you.
I'll prove samclem right, by listing myself as one of those who absolutely detest laminate floors. I know there are a lot of others who think they are great and can't be distinguished from the real thing, and so on, and I am sure they will chime in. Personally I just can't stand them and to me they lower the value of a home because I would have to mentally add the cost of re-doing the floors.

Also, I agree with samclem about wood in kitchens and bathrooms. Why on earth do people think that is such a great decision? There is a reason why homes have traditionally had tile bathroom floors and so on. Be practical. You can look at the pretty wood out in the living room.

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Old 11-26-2009, 08:43 AM   #8
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We have wood throughout that was put in our place in 1903, mostly oak. I am surprised that the maple floors in the kitchen are still in good shape. We refinished them in the mid-nineties.

I do not like ceramic. Too hard and I don't like grout lines. In the north they are cold. We have marble on the bathroom floor that we put in about 10 years ago. We put electric heat underneath.

I like cork unless it is overly finished. I am looking at replacing the old linoleum floor in the kitchen at my family farm with cork. It is more forgiving than many flooring surfaces of the old not very level or flat floors.

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Old 11-26-2009, 08:52 AM   #9
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Personally, for expense and general appearance I love some of the laminates.
No, it isn't going to fool you into thinking it is wood, but it looks nicer than carpet or most tile and is much cheaper. It is also more durable to having things dropped on it.
Now, much of this depends upon the laminate, there are a lot to choose from.
If money, time and durability are no object, go with real wood.
If renewability is a consideration, check into cork or I would suggest tile.
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Old 11-26-2009, 03:51 PM   #10
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Strand-woven bamboo. I decided with my gardening habit it was the only thing tough enuf to stand up my tromping about, yet beautiful. I put a sample in a bucket of water for 24 hours, yet could not tell it had been so abused. The only way I could scratch it was with a nail and I think I only got the finish. It is so tough and water resistant, I decided it could be a good kitchen floor surface even with the dog dripping water from a drink.
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Boy, is this a topic for me
Old 11-26-2009, 06:54 PM   #11
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Boy, is this a topic for me

I have a hobby and that is researching kitchen/bath flooring. I semi retired 3 years ago and my wonderful (no problems ever) lino floor is getting tired and needs to be replaced soon. The trouble is that we have more money than we did 30 years ago, want to live in the house for a few years and figure while we are replacing we should upgrade. I has become a hobby to look at all the alternatives out there. I have friends who love the look of hardwood and will live with the problems. Same goes for tile/ceramic. Then there is commercial cork. At $10/ft it is pricy but still a wood product. Of course there is sheet lino for sheer practicality. Has anyone got any experience with luxury vinyl tile, the kind you grout. It looks great but I wonder if there will be trouble down the road with all the seams. I guess like a man there is no perfect floor. We make our decision and live with it
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Old 11-26-2009, 07:10 PM   #12
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I have some Bruce hardwood in part of my house. The installation (by the previous owner) was not that great, and the area near the window in the study has faded horribly. I've since replaced the windows with low-E glass, but the damage is already done.

This may not be for everyone, but I really like the cherry colored Trafficmaster Allure floating vinyl planks at Home Depot. About $2 per square foot plus quarter round molding, and it doesn't require much in the way of prep work since it doesn't adhere to the floor below. It seems like most of the people who have problems with it are installing it on a concrete slab, which isn't what I'd be doing.

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