Published at Saturday, May 25th, 2019 - 05:37:34 AM. Laminate Flooring. By Rush Le Goff.
What to look for in hardwood flooring. The popular product today is hardwood flooring. It is making a gigantic comeback and everyone wants to jump on the hardwood band wagon. In our region, it seems everyone wants solid hardwood flooring. Let's talk about solid wood. Solid wood is great as long as you have a fairly constant humidity level in your home and the wood is going to be installed above grade. If your home has large fluctuations in humidity levels, then you may want to consider an engineered hardwood floor. An engineered hardwood is a hardwood floor that has plies or turned layers of material in-between a top and bottom layer of the species that you are selecting. This gives the product more stability to changing climate conditions. This type of floor is normally required for on or below grade applications. Engineered flooring is generally a little more price-friendly as the tree specie requirement is less to make the product. A concern with an engineered floor is what the inner core plies are made of. Be sure to ask and make sure a hardwood or hard material is used to create the inner ply as a soft material can make the top layer easier to dent. Solid floor hardness can be determined by researching or asking the Janka rating. Janka ratings are a scale used to determine the hardness by comparison of wood species. I believe that all finishes of hardwood today are good as long as it is a quality brand of flooring that can be found at your independent retailer. There are some new products on the market today that give 50-year finish warranties for what it is worth. I have always had concerns with lifetime warranties or other huge warranties, although I suppose it is something you can hang your hat on should there ever be a problem. Pre-finished vs. unfinished hardwood is always a debate and you will get differing opinions. Personally, I prefer pre-finished. You get more layers of finish and furniture-like quality without the mess. No sanding, better warranties, and a quicker finished product just make up my mind. Yet, we have top-quality intelligent builders who prefer unfinished. So who am I to argue? This product simply has two schools of thought.
What to look for in a laminate floor. I believe this can be answered pretty simply. Make sure the product has the styling that you like and falls in your budget. All laminates today perform extremely well regardless of price. Retail stores do carry many laminate products and I believe each one will perform as well as any. High- or low-priced, they will perform about the same. The technology today is superior to the laminates of even 5 years ago. Most of the old chip board core laminates from 10 years ago or longer look like the day they were installed. Gone are the old glue-together products, and now with the drop and lock technologies, joint separation is pretty much nonexistent. The biggest difference I see in pricing of products is that manufacturers extend the warranties and make more realistic looks in the higher-priced products. Performance will be very similar between all the products. The number one enemy of a laminate floor is water. If the laminate is going to get wet, pick another floor. I also get concerned with some of these high shine laminate floors. My company has seen some issues in that they will (not surprisingly) show abrasions to the finish much quicker than a lower luster finish. If it were my home, I would only use a high shine product in an area that gets minimal wear. I have seen some pretty flimsy laminates at big box stores and buying clubs. These laminates are not really any less expensive and are really flimsy when holding them. I believe they are products made especially for these stores, and really are no less costly. One trick of these stores is to put a low amount of square footage in each box, which makes the cost appear less. Always do your math and compare apples to apples.
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