Hardwood flooring can make any home look its best; wood floors go with virtually any décor and they can be cooler in summertime as well as more hygienic than carpeting, which holds quite a bit of dust and dirt. When shopping for hardwood floors, you might get a bit overwhelmed; knowing a few terms you'll see and choices you'll find can help you to select the best option.
Floating floors versus structural timber
Floating floors refer to wood planks or slats that are joined together by a tongue-and-groove design on their sides. They are then pounded into the sides of the floor, where it meets the wall. These floors literally float over your existing flooring as they're not glued onto the floorboards or subfloor. Floating floors can then be easier to install as you may not need to pull up your current tile or wood floors. They're also better for homeowners to install themselves since pounding them into each other is easier than installing a structural timber floor.
A structural timber floor involves wood planks or slats that are nailed or glued, or both, to the home's subfloor. This is a very difficult job that requires quite a bit of skill to ensure there are no gaps between the boards and that they're secured properly, and is always best left to a professional installer.
You may see a lot of bamboo flooring offered; this is because bamboo is very lightweight but durable and holds up well in both wet and dry conditions. It's also a very sustainable wood, meaning it grows quickly. If you're looking for an eco-friendly choice for your wood floors, consider bamboo.
Engineered timber versus laminate
Engineered timber refers to a top layer of a certain wood that is glued over a bottom layer of a less expensive and perhaps more durable wood. This might mean a layer of cherry or mahogany over plywood. This allows you to have the look and durability of the more expensive top layer of wood without the cost of using a solid plank of that species.
A laminate refers to a synthetic or artificial wood that is glued over a layer of fiberboard or plywood. Laminate flooring is very high-quality, and you may not be able to readily see the difference between a laminate and a real wood, but it's good to understand how they're different. The engineered timber may need more maintenance over time, as that layer of real wood on the top may get scratched or damaged more easily than laminate, and it may be more costly to replace.