Whether you are building a new home or remodeling your existing one, deciding on which product to use is more than choosing the color.

Thinking about hardwood? Should you choose a solid floor or an engineered? Exotic or standard wood? Narrow planks or wide? Matte finish, piano finish, handscraped or distressed? Glue-down, staple, nail or click installation. Wait, is hardwood right or is laminate better?

Here are several factors that can influence the selection.

*COST – Hardwood generally cost more for materials and installation. Because laminates are reinforced core board balanced on either side by a formica-type material, the product cost is less than from a natural resource.

*PETS – If you love your dogs and cats inside and are worried about them ruining your new wood floors, laminate may be the product for you. Larger dogs can easily scratch hardwood.  Laminate is manufactured to be structurally capable of withstanding a large can of tomatoes dropping on it from several feet up, denting not the floor, but the can.  Pet nails are no problem as well.

*HARDNESS – If hardwood is your choice, it is important to know that different woods have different hardness ratings. Hickory and Maple are two of the hardest species of wood and therefore more resistant to scratches. At the other end of the spectrum is Pine – a much softer product.  In the middle are Oak and Cherry.  

*SOUND – Laminate floors are floating floors. The boards click together and “float” over a thin layer of material designed to insulate and protect the floor from moisture. Because the space between the flooring, the underlayment, and the installation surface allows air to circulate through, a hollow sound can be heard when wearing hard shoes and heels, as well the sound of your pet’s nails. Hardwood is either glued directly to the concrete or nailed or stapled to a sub-floor making the floor much quieter.

*INSTALLATION ATTRIBUTES - Hardwood and laminate work well upstairs, downstairs and on stairs. Since laminate is a manufactured product that is fairly consistent among companies that make it, installation requirements are the same over concrete and wood subfloors. Hardwood has many different attributes that affect where and how it can be installed.

· Solid Wood – Must be stapled or nailed to a wood subfloor as the thickness of the product prevents adhesive from properly securing it a concrete floor.

· Engineered Wood – Can be glued to either a wood subfloor or directly onto concrete. The manufacturing process of alternating layers of wood make it a structurally–sound product

· 3/8 Solid Wood – Manufacturers claim this shorter, solid product can be glued on concrete, however, the prep process is quite costly. If not done properly, the installation will fail, so it is still best used over a wood subfloor.

· Click Solid – Equally strong installation over wood or concrete.

Wood products are not recommended for wet areas such as kitchens and baths as excessive water from a leak can damage the floor, causing it to swell and buckle. However, in all other rooms, hardwood or laminate floors will add value and beauty to your home.