Hardwood Flooring Types

Jim Williams
Posted in:
Buying Guides

Hardwood flooring is a time-tested classic for both homes and commercial spaces and offers a way to improve the durability and value of your property. There are many types of hardwood, divided based off of material and/or finish. Before you plan to build or refurnish a space using hardwood, it is important to note that different hardwood flooring types are suitable for different situations and places.

Here are some of the common hardwood types:

Solid Hardwood

Solid hardwood is the most common hardwood application you'll see. Oak, cherry, and maple are a few examples of solid hardwood. Suitable for floors that are on or above ground, solid hardwood comes pre-finished and in a variety of woods, stains, and edges. Like other hardwood varieties, solid hardwood is long-lasting and can be refinished and retouched over time. (Although, if you are the type of person who considers minor dents, cracks, and scratches in your hardwood flooring to be part of the "character" of a space, you can just leave them.) Solid hardwood expands and contracts with changes in humidity, so it's best to keep temperature and humidity levels stable using air conditioning and heating systems. While installing, keep an extra few centimeters between the wall and the flooring material for the expansion and contraction.

Unfinished Hardwood

Unfinished hardwood flooring gives you more options when it comes to the precise finish. Unfinished hardwood flooring gives you the ability to choose the staining and finishing style that you desire, including a variety of color options that are not commonly available with pre-finished flooring (think orange, black, or green). Unlike pre-finished or solid hardwood, unfinished hardwood required sanding and finishing, and is best done by a professional.

Pre-finished Hardwood

Pre-finished hardwood flooring arrives with a great and long-lasting signature manufacturer's finish that is consistent in appearance. A pre-finished floor is guaranteed to cut the costs of having hardwood flooring. It is also the choice for people who don't have the time to do a DIY staining and sanding job, without the possible inconveniences of additional blasting, sanding, or finishing fumes. Also, most prefinished floors come with a warranty that ranges from 15 to 25 years!

Engineered Hardwood

Engineered hardwood is man-made with layers of wood that are stacked and compressed. Each layer is stacked in a cross-grain configuration and bonded together under heat and pressure. Engineered hardwood can withstand changes in humidity and temperature, so it is a more suitable choice when it comes to sub-level hardwood flooring or areas that experience above average temperature or humidity changes. Engineered hardwood comes in a variety of finishes, designs, and colors.

Laminate Hardwood

Laminate hardwood is comprised of a fiberboard center with several layers of laminate. The outermost piece has a printed film image of the wood pattern and a protective surface that mimics the patterns that you'll find with real hardwood. This is a tougher version of what we see on kitchen counters. Although this is often a cost-effective option, it is important to note that this is not actually hardwood flooring. Cracks, chips, and scratches will require replacing the section of flooring that has been damaged. 

Different hardwood flooring types are suitable for different levels, rooms and homeowners, so choose the hardwood flooring that suits you, and your home best.