Engineered hardwood vs. laminate?

Old 08-10-04, 07:14 PM
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Engineered hardwood vs. laminate?

I am currently considering engineered hardwood vs. laminate flooring for an upstairs home office/guest bedroom (about 160 sq ft). I work at home and would like to enjoy the flooring. Currently, we have wall-to-wall carpet with multiple stains. We moved in 7 months ago, and we're ready for a change.

We need an easy-to-install floor, and the debate continues about the ease of care of laminate vs. the beauty and sheer organic quality to the veneer on an engineered floor.

Can you share some advice for me?

Old 08-11-04, 06:04 AM
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I have never taken a hardwood up to install a disposable laminate floor.
I have pulled up many, many sq.ft. of disposable laminates, and installed engineered wood in it's place.

Laminates add no resale value to the home, because they are considered disposable flooring just like carpet and sheet vinyl.
Wood adds tremendous resale value.

A scratch on a wood floor adds character. A scratch on a laminate floor, is a scratch.
Old 08-21-04, 02:31 PM
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Laminate?? Flexura??

I have comments and questions ...

First off, I installed 1,800 sf of laminate flooring at our business because it was as cheap as carpet. HUGE mistake! I almost stopped a couple days into it, but my wife urged me on. It's a light color, so everything shows. It's so hard to get clean because you are constantly fighting a film, even when using the "no film" cleaners. Mostly, it sounds terrible when walking on it. I bought some terribly expensive underlayment boasting QUIET steps. It still sounds hollow cheap. I think it even looks cheap. I'll never use it again.

Now, as far as the manufactured hardwood, I have questions:

1. I want to buy the clicking planks because of ease of installation and low price. Even with underlayment, will this real wood flooring also have a hollow loud sound when walked on?

2. Is the finish identical to a solid, typical nailed hardwood floor?

3. Are the prejoined laminated hardwood rows/strips (in a plank) a continuous finish, or can you see a REAL division in rows/strips? In other words, when I installed the laminate flooring, it showed real joints where the real joints were, but obviously FAKE joints (even smooth surface) on the plank itself ... which looks silly and cheap. Does that make sense?

I guess my worry is: Does the manufactured click together hardwood flooring actually look like old style, solid hard wood flooring, once it's installed? I want a 3 strip plank to not show a joint every 3 strips. Is that possible, or is an unavoidable downside to using wide planks? I can't stand that look when light hits the laminate I laid where you can see my obvious plank size joints, even though they are tight as can be.

I've noticed a hardwood flooring product called Flexura. It's very inexpensive, but the thickness is around 1/3 of an inch, while some of the other products I found are about a 1/2 inch. I would love to know if anyone has used this product. They have 7 1/2" wide planks with one strip or 3 strips.

I'm really wanting this to work out. I can't afford the time or money of installing a traditional hardwood floor. But I have hope with the manufactured option, IF it is the real deal and not the joke laminate flooring clearly is.

Old 08-21-04, 03:42 PM
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First off, I must say that the salesperson who sold you the lam maybe did a lousy job.
Quiet step underlay should never be touted as a non hollow sounding product. it will still sound a bit hollow. Alot of them deal with sound waves, not walking. Plus they should have recommended a terrie cloth mop for cleaning. It should not leave a film unless the wrong cleaner or mop is used.

o.k. let's answer those questions.

1) yes it will not sound like 3/4 solid nailed to subfloor. It will not sound like laminate hollow, but still hollow indeed a bit. Unless you nail down and that will help, but do not expect the sound of 3/4 nailed.

2) there are sooo many finishes, but as far as comparing prefinished solid and engineered, then yes, the finishes can be alike.

3) Most engineered will look just like laminate when it comes to 3 strip floors. Mannington makes an engineered wood that comes in various widths, and looks just like 3/4 solid when down.
or you can just buy plank engineered wood.
Make sure the top layer of any engineered wood is thick enough. The thicker it is, the more sandings and longer lasting it will be.

good luck
Old 08-23-04, 11:31 AM
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I understand some versions of manufactured wood are click together floating floors, no nails or glue. I'm going to live in my house another 3 years. New carpet in my living will cost about the same as the 2.25 per sq ft. clicking Flexura. But this product sounds exactly like typical laminate, except that it has a thin layer of wood instead of plastic. I know the product is inferior to thicker and solid wood product, but since it's the same price (more or less) as carpet (except that I have to install), isn't it a much better choice than carpet? Kind of a stupid question, but I'm looking for a nice option that won't cost too much, but will still look as an upgrade to carpet.

Now let's say I decide it's not worth the savings and I want to take the next step up in both cost and labor. I'm guessing glue down of a thicker sandable product. Is that right? I'll be going over foundation, so dealing with a subfloor is not what I want to do. I'd like to glue to the foundation. I understand the manufactured wood flooring can be glued. But when glueing, do the strips/planks tap together tight, or do I have to use clamps or straps?

I'm very handy and have tons of construction experience. But we are planning on selling within 3 years. I want easy and not too expensive. What should I do??

Old 08-24-04, 07:43 AM
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You get what you pay for. Why dont you spend a few extra bucks and just do it right to make yourself content, increasing the value of the home, and knowing when you sell it you're giving the future home owners a quality product.
Old 08-24-04, 11:33 AM
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not all homes will go up in value if wood is put in. Best to check with an agent on that one.
Old 08-24-04, 11:45 AM
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There is more value in a home with quality components than with matter what part of the country you live in. Certainly with wood vs laminate.
Old 08-24-04, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by SJA1
There is more value in a home with quality components than with matter what part of the country you live in. Certainly with wood vs laminate.
Not true.

Most homes around here sell for 300,000 to 600,000. But just like any other city, there are areas that you can buy houses for 125,000 to 160,000. Your telling me that I can buy one of those houses, and soak 10,000 in hardwood thruout, and actually get more money for it?
I beg to differ.
Some areas have homes that will not sell for a penny more, no matter how much renovation you do to it.

or for instance, I could by a run down shack, and tearout all flooring. I could buy cheap laminate, vinyl, and carpet, and sell the house for a bit of a profit.
I could buy expensive carpet, expensive laminate, expensive wood, granite tops, corian bathroom sinks, marble entryway, ect...ect...Does that mean that I will get that much more for the house to constitute all that cost in remodeling?

Depends on the location of course.
Old 08-24-04, 10:11 PM
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Time for a VOTE!

In my case, you are right. My home is 1,800 square feet. I bought it new, but that was 13 years ago. The house isn't a dump, but is in need of updating. Home in my neighborhood are going for about 68.00 a sqaure foot. I have 20,000 to pump into updating. I'm putting carpet in the hall, spare bedrooms, and powder room. In the entry, kitchen, dinette and bathrooms I'm putting ceramic tile. So, that leaves the Den, formal living and our master bedroom. Those are the rooms I want to upgrade to something nicer than carpet ... WOOD. It's right at 1,000 square feet.

This is not a 250,000 home ... it's closer to 120,000. It makes little since to put 10,000 worth of wood flooring in those areas. I still want to get new appliances, build a deck with a hot tub, paint, fixtures ... lighting, etc. My budget for flooring for that 1,000 square feet is about 4,500. That's why I want to do it myself, and that's why I'm looking for something better than carpet.

So, let's assume I can't do it RIGHT, as some of you say ... meaning spend big bucks, WHAT should I do???? Should I go with a cheaper option in hard wood flooring? Look, I don't have the option of having the quality hard wood put in. So are you guys telling me I should put in carpet instead of a cheaper hard wood option, if that's all I can afford? That's the real question here. Which will be a better asset when selling ... 3 year old carpet or a cheaper choice in hardwood flooring? I think the answer is obvious.

I'm guessing that when I sell my house in about 3 years, the 20,000 in improvements I'm fixing to spend will probably be a break even deal. And that's me doing most of the work!!

So, without lectures, lessons, criticism, please vote for A,B, C or D BASED on the facts, as follows (objective comments encouraged):
I have 4,500 to spend on 1,000 sqaure feet and I'd prefer it be wood. Not carpet, not tile ... WOOD. I should:
A) install carpet
B) install a cheaper version of hardwood flooring ... manufactured, I'm guessing. Oak is my preference, but what about the bamboo????
C) stain the concrete
D) install ceramic tile

If b is your answer, PLEASE give me your opinion on what you believe will be my best choice, considering that budget. Keep in mind, I will be doing the work. I really don't want to have to install a subfloor, so the surface is concrete.

I value everything everyone has to say. I take each opinion into consideration ... I truly appreciate this boards advice. Cheers, Joe
Old 08-25-04, 05:59 AM
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I suppose I coud offer my views..

I'd run the hardwood in all common areas inlcuding the hallway. Going from hardwood to carpet into a hallway that has no common door openings looks perty tacky to me. Leave carpet in all the bedrooms. I rarely see carpet in powder rooms as well(vintage 70's) i it connects to the hardwood use hardwood in that area. I would also prefer hardwood in the entry.

B) You can find some lower priced hardwoods in the $4.00- $ 4.50 range prefinished. Bamboo? Difficult for a DIY if glueing down. I'm wondering how people will feel about it 10-15 years from now.
C) Please no.
D) Your decision.

Good luck

DIY Hardwood Floors--Easy or Hard?
Old 08-25-04, 07:32 AM
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Good morning.
Yes you are correct about location. And the sky is the limit to how much you can do in a remodel. Budget and these other factors though are ultimitly determined by the homeowners judgement. All other things being equal, wood will add more to a house than a disposable laminate floor, although there are certainly benefits to laminate. In 'doing it right' my intention was not to advise spending more than you will get in return. Also, there was no previous mention of a $20,000 home improvement project. This changes things quite a bit.
My .02. For a max of 4.50 a sq (you mentioned $4500 for 1000 sq ft) , and if you want WOOD, I would opt for a floating floor with a hardwood wear layer that you could live with. Easy to install. You can get it for approx. the same price as laminate and looks better IMHO. Remember the underlay in the budget. Try and also. The Mannington product sounds interesting. The other is tile. Not knowing the condition of the substrate and such, tile could be more $$$ and a LOT more work . But you can get a decent tile with the extras (mortar,grout etc) for about the same. You also need to factor in the tools. Stained concrete looks OK if the rest of the house (and decor) was designed for it. Tough to walk on unless polished to a smooth finish before staining, but still uncomfortable IMHO.
I have click together floating bamboo in 2 rooms, pergo in 2 rooms and porclain ceramic thoughout the busy areas. The click together has seams like you described, more evident when the light hits it, but does not detract from its good looks, and still looks better than the pergo and is refinishable. It also is thicker and with the quiet-step underlayment sounds and feels more solid than the pergo. The pergo is more scratch resistant. As far as the bamboo, the jury is still out on longevity, but i did double vapor barriers and a small amount of glue in the joints in one of the rooms as an experiment.
My thinking was a repairable and richer looking product than laminate and carpet for the same cost, easy to install over a concrete slab foundation and more stable than real wood in my South FL climate, and a quality floor that a future homeowner can enjoy, or easliy change out if they so desire.
I love real wood solid floors but it is not always feasible, so trade-offs and compromises are required. Yah know??

Last edited by SJA1; 08-25-04 at 08:38 AM.
Old 08-25-04, 10:12 AM
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A thin engineered wood floor would be an affordable option, and it can look just as bit as good as the thicker stuff. It will last plenty of time for you to live on it, and sell the home, and the new owner will still get some time on it too.
the thinnest you can buy is Kahrs Linnea
VANEER wear layer cannot be sanded, but it can be screened and finished if you want, you probably will not have to. Plus it can be taken apart and put back together if you have some plank damage.

Mannington has some nice thinner woods

There are tons of other manufacturers as well.
Old 08-25-04, 10:50 AM
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There are wear layers 3/16" and up, and thinner ones also. All directly related to cost of course. But what I like about wood wear layers are the repairability - deep scratches/gouges etc. Naturally, the thicker the material the better. They CAN be sanded, but again depends on the thickness, and aggressiveness of the sanding. Many boast up top 3 sandings, but this is based on what? I dont know...and they dont tell you. Buyer beware...and use your own judgement. If you just screen it, it virtually could be re-finished indefinitely. Depends on the usage. Also the thicker stock just feels more solid....the underlay is just as important IMHO. Like the foundation of your house, chassis of your car or substrate of a good paint job. Plenty of food for thought here......
Old 08-26-04, 06:28 AM
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Yes to the wood floor in hall ... that makes perfect sense. My powder-room area has the garden tub, two sinks and sep shower. I'm not sure why, but my wife prefers carpet there, which is what's there now.

I'm going to move forward as though I've decided to go with a less expensive manufactured real wood floor that I can float. This is all I can afford, so I might as well shop for such. I've noted my dislike for the multi-stip planks, as they look too much like plastic laminate. But I found an interesting product this is a single strip, uniclic product. The planks are 4 3/4 wide and come in 45 and 69 inch lengths per bundle. I like this idea because it's NOT those silly 4 foot, 7-8 inch wide laminate looking planks. Maybe other drawbacks, so I want to know what you folks think about that find. The price of about 3.50 a square foot is quite reasonable.

I have two questions about this product:
1. Does the uniclic method work well? Is it easy, joints tight, etc? I can see the long surfaces snapping tight, but what about the ends? Do they need to be tapped tight once it snaps?
2. It states micro-beveled edges. I'm a major novice here. What is that, and does it intall nice and look appealing? What's the purpose?

I had a bad experience with the floating plastic laminate. If I still go the floating route with the hardwood, does it help to use the thickest underlayment allowed? The hollow noise when walking really bugs me. In a way, it almost seems that a thinner underlayment gets you close to walking directly on the cement, which I would think would sound more solid. Certainly, the surface would need to be very flat if I was to use a thin underlayment.

I'm getting there ... keep the knowledge coming!

Old 08-27-04, 07:28 AM
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LOL! That is a full blown bathroom you have there! Powder room? It has a bathtub and shower. Powder rooms are toilet and sink only, in my neck of the woods, Hehehehe. I thought that was funny, so I had to say it, no harm intended.

The uniclic method works well if you can rotate lock and not tap the installation.(look at all the installation pictures) The ends get insterted and rotated, then the long joints get rotated. Tapping will damage the T&G, by cracking the MDF. It is better to cut the lock off and glue the rows that you cannot rotate to get installed, like doorjambs or undercut fixtures.

Micro beveling is at the joints. The edge of the planks have a slightly beveled edge, This hides lipping, but also adds a distinct look of each plank with a joint around it. Makes it look more like an old wood floor, with slight gapping, but there are no real gaps.

It is still going to sound hollow, no matter what underlayment. Some reduce the hollow sound more then others. Attached cushion reduces it the most. I have attached the underlayment to each uncushioned planks, before installing. It is a time killer, but the hollow noise is dramatically reduced.

There are floatable engineered wood floors, that are in the same budget as your looking at. I don't trust the MDF as the core! It reacts just like particle board.

At that link you posted, click on the installation link. Read and fully understand all the specifications for a warrantable installation. It is a European company.
Old 08-28-04, 07:29 AM
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Well, the toilet is in it's own private area off the BATHING AND WASHING AREA. I guess my intensions when calling it the "powder room" was to suggest that an overflowing toilet wouldn't be a direct problem. Besides, my wife calls it the powder room, so it's what ever my wife says it is, because like most wives, she is never wrong. No harm done.

Well, new developments. After beating the topic like a ragdoll, I finally went and put my hands on the different options. I DON'T LIKE IT! When I picked up a plank of the multi-strip real wood flooring ... click stuff, I thought I had plastic laminate in my hands. The finish is too smooth and perfect, much like plastic. It shows so little grain, if any. So, without question, I'll have to go with single stip planks. Also, single strip long planks. Now that will improve the look ... not so much like plastic laminate planks, but the finish still may look cheap and like you said, also still sound hollow. I'M SO CONFUSED.

I'm starting to think I'll skip the hardwood in the Master Bedroom. This will free up more money for the Living and Dining. If I upped my budget in those areas, I can get a better product. So, more questions:

1. I was looking at 3.00 - 4.00 sq ft. If I bump it up to 6.00 a sq ft, are there any DIY options? I mean install friendly for the handy, but not pro.

2. If I had all materials on-site, rooms cleared, carpet and tack strip up, what would be a typical labor only charge for floor installation (per sq ft)?

3. Also, how many square feet can be laid per day, both nail down and glue down? Keep in mind it's cement now, so the nail down would require the subfloor, which I would do first. This question is in case I can find an installer willing to work by the day with me helping.

4. I've seen many ads, internet and paper, with solid prefinished hardwood bargains. I've seen some pallets as low as 3.79 sq ft. I've also notice many quote "grades." They claim "clear" is the best. So, if I found a bargain on solid oak, clear grade, should that be a safe purchase?

I won't drag this string on forever. I'm getting close. Before I went to look, I made my mind up that forum education was goint to come first. The forum has been tremendously helpful. Thanks everyone!

Old 08-29-04, 06:31 AM
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1.) All wood flooring, pretty much installs the same. One brand over another, isn't going to make the installation any easier.

2.) That would be hard to say, as every installer, has a value on their time. I could tell you what my pricing would start at, but without actually seeing the layout in person. I would not be able to put a firm price on it. Over concrete, the prep charges to bring the concrete subfloor up to flatness specifications, could take more time and cost more in labor, then the actual physical act of installing the finished flooring.

3.) Once the floor prep is finished, I can install as much as 320 sq.ft. in a square room, during an 8 hour day, working solo by myself. That is gluedown. 250 is about all I can get installed as a nail down. Some installers are just opposite. They can install nail down faster then glue down.

I personally will not touch a solid wood over concrete installation. Too much risk involved. I have never lost money on a job I didn't do.

4.) Hard to say if it is safe? Prefinished is more of a gamble then an unfinished board. The milling says it all with a prefinished. Site finished is sanded and filled to take care of the overwood/lipping & gaps.
Old 08-29-04, 08:10 AM
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Suprised no one through moisture into the mix here.Wood on grade or below should be placed on a sleeper system of 2 x10's or 12'sto keep the moisture at bay and to remove it from the equation.If using the glue down method you should do a calcium chloride test to see how much moisture is in the concrete before you even consider using wood, cause if you need to use the sleeper system that will blow that budget all to h@##.So wood ,after all this, may not even be a viable option only the laminate.

I don't know about other areas of the country but around St. louis here they used to put hardwood all through the house exept kitchen and bath back in the day of course,so that would not be a factor in the resale of the house , the older ones i mean,the newer high end homes it is considered a major selling point of the home as well as tile.

You should probably shop around a bit cause you can get prefinished hardwood here for around $2.50 ,$2.75 square foot,that would be bruce hardwood they are a little lower on the food chain as far as hardwood goes,so do the homework before you commit to anything,cause after all this you sure don't want any problems

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