Prefinished Wood floor vs. Laminate

Old 09-14-01, 08:47 AM
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Hi Everyone,
Hope someone out there can clear things up for me. We are in the process of making a decision about what type of flooring to replace our carpet with. This is in fact the first house I've lived in with wall to wall carpeting. I've always loved the feel of real wood floors. However, the price to have a nail down floor installed stained and finished is a bit too much for us to handle. We started to think about laminate floors which looks like we can handle the installation ourselves saving some money. I am a bit worried that after a few years, it will look worn and I may regret getting it. We have kids and animals and generally have a busy household.

With all this in mind, I came across Bruce prefinished solid wood flooring at the store and it looks like a good solution. It has the tongue and groove planks (similar to how the laminates go together, right?). It is $1 more per square foot than the Pergo flooring. What is the draw back? It looks good to me, but I am not an expert. I read in other discussions posted that some of these are not actually solid wood, but this stated solid wood on the package and the samples appeared to me to be planks of wood with finish on them. Is there anything I'm missing? I'm thinking the prefinished wood would be a better choice because if it does start to wear we can get it refinished, whereas laminate floors can not be fixed once they wear.

Please tell me...Are they hard to install? Is there any draw back?

Old 09-14-01, 04:38 PM
Join Date: Aug 2000
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Pefinished Wood Floors vs. Laminate

Sounds like you've already made up your mind which way you're going, but you are looking for someone to help back you up.

When shopping for floor coverings you will find many manufacturers, each of which offer a broad range of quality and price points and warranties. Buy the best you can afford to buy. Better products cost more and will have a 15 or 20 or 25 year warranty. There are some popular brand names on the market. The name does not necessarily indicate that you are getting the best bang for your buck.

Plastic laminate is a coated picture of wood on a composite board. Folks who market these products will refer to them as 'oak finished' when there is no oak anywhere in the product. As you say, there is no refinishing it. It meets the needs of our current throw away culture. There is a 50/50 satisfaction rate. Complaints tend to include the sound of walking on plastic, swelling of product due to improper glue application, and swelling from pet accidents and kiddie spills. Laminate fans claim ease of maintenance in an active household with kids and dogs. Read the fine print on your warranty.

Wood laminate, some times called engineered wood, is a veneer of real wood on top of 3-5 layers of plywood. Folks who market wood laminate floors frequently refer to them as an 'all wood' product. This product is more dimensionally stable than solid hardwood, as it is not given to expansion and contraction due to changes in temperature and humidity levels. Thus, it is great for a wood product below grade on concrete. Lots of DIY folks like it because it can be glued or stapled down and they don't have to nail. The better wood laminates have a thicker veneer (less than 1/8" is not recommended) and a good finish warranty. Wood laminates can be refinished 1-3 times depending upon the thickness of the veneer. The solid hardwood fans refer to this product as one whose beauty is only skin deep, whereas the beauty of solid hardwood goes all the way through.

Solid hardwood, no layers, is a nail down product. A tour of a 200+ year old historic home is testimony enough to its longevity. The best wood floors have a 25 year finish warranty with multiple layers of polyurethane topped off with a coat of aluminum oxide. Many products have a mixture of aluminum oxide an polyurethane as an additive. Expansion/contraction issues are not significant if the wood is properly installed and all installation safeguards have been taken. Prefinished hardwood gives you a factory finish that can not be equalled by in-home finishes, which tend to need to be refinished in active households every 3-5 years because of wear in high traffic areas.

Solid hardwood flooring offers the potential for generations of hard use. They are not imitation or synthetic or artificial. Their beauty is not skin deep. Solid hardwood floors are genuine, natural, and classic. When you are choosing for a lifetime, choose wisely. The choice is yours.

Standing liquids is not good for any type of flooring product. Thus, pet and kiddie messes need to be cleaned up immediately. Placing mats inside and outside entries will protect floors from grit that acts as sandpaper to ruin floor finishes. Frequent dust mopping, especially in high traffic areas will help control grit. Placing felt on bottoms of furniture and not scooting furniture will prevent scratching. Keeping pets' nails trimmed will help prevent scratching. Occasionally damp mop with a mop squeezed nearly dry to keep floors clean. Do not use soaps, oils, waxes on poly finishes. Use only cleaning products recommended for poly finishes. Placing runners in high traffic areas will help keep wear at bay.

Enjoy your new floor. Check back in for help with installation.
Old 09-15-01, 10:20 AM
Elite Flooring/Ken Fisher
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Great lengthy response there Patricia. I just wish I had the gumption to do so. Perhaps I can round up some of my older posts in other forums to add. I'll clarify one item though, if you don't mind.

Engineered products have a similiar type construction to that of common plywood. The better ones, IMO use all hardwoods in the construction, though some have common pine on the bottom layer. After looking at dozens of different construction methods I find the best to use are those that use similar hardwoods as opposed to softer woods and even luan.

Yea, believe it or not, some pack that stuff in there too. I just completed a 3 ply product made in China named Noblehouse. It's some sort of oak, grown somewhere, probably near or in China?

They use all sorts of materials in the construction and what appeared to be a jumble of stuff in the second ply. It's basically some sort of soft birch mixed up with you name sink parts? Fibers that hang out after making a cut, and I hit a couple of unknowns as well that actually started small fires on my chop saw. Really!

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