Learn ad­van­tages of all three

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Contents -

Whether you're build­ing a new home or you've de­cided to in­vest in new floor­ing for your ex­ist­ing home, choos­ing the right type of floor­ing can be over­whelm­ing. One of the most sought-af­ter ameni­ties in a home is wood floor­ing be­cause of its nat­u­ral, time­less ap­pear­ance. It is pos­si­ble to achieve the look of hard­wood floor­ing in your home with­out break­ing the bank, but which route should you take?

HER spoke to in­te­rior de­signer Ash­ley Camp­bell to break down the dif­fer­ences and pros and cons be­tween lam­i­nate, en­gi­neered hard­wood and tile floor­ing.

Lam­i­nate is a multi-layer syn­thetic floor­ing prod­uct fused to­gether with a lam­i­na­tion process. The bot­tom layer, or the back­ing, is de­signed to re­sist mois­ture that could cause boards to warp. The next layer is the in­ner core, made from high-den­sity fiber­board re­in­forced with a spe­cial resin to fur­ther en­hance mois­ture re­sis­tance and in­crease dura­bil­ity. Next is the im­age de­sign layer. This is where the high-res­o­lu­tion im­age of wood, stone, metal or other ma­te­rial ap­pears, giv­ing a stylish de­sign that looks like high-end floor­ing at an af­ford­able price. The top layer is the wear layer, which pro­tects the de­sign from fad­ing, scratches and dam­age from ev­ery­day wear and tear.

En­gi­neered hard­wood is also a multi-layer floor­ing prod­uct. It's made up of a core con­sist­ing of mul­ti­ple ply lay­ers that are cross-lay­ered, glued and pressed to­gether un­der ex­treme heat and pres­sure. The in­ner core lay­ers are gen­er­ally built up with ei­ther a hard­wood and/or soft ply­wood ma­te­rial and the thick top hard­wood ve­neer wear layer is then glued and pressed onto the top sur­face of the core. The top wear layer is typ­i­cally a high-qual­ity hard­wood, giv­ing the il­lu­sion of real, solid hard­wood boards with­out the price.

Tile is a man­u­fac­tured piece of hard-wear­ing ma­te­rial such as clay, ce­ramic, stone, metal or glass, gen­er­ally used for cov­er­ing roofs, floors, walls, show­ers or other ob­jects such as table­tops. Ad­vance­ments in tech­nol­ogy and man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses have cre­ated un­lim­ited pos­si­bil­i­ties with tile. Tile can be made to look like real hard­wood floor­ing, prod­ucts that look so real that to the naked eye it's nearly im­pos­si­ble to know that what you're see­ing is not real wood. Tile is no longer lim­ited to the tra­di­tional square sizes; it can now be man­u­fac­tured into planks, or tiles that are long and rec­tan­gu­lar in shape.

“On the lam­i­nate, some of the ben­e­fits are that it's very pet-friendly. The lam­i­nate is your low­est main­te­nance, very pet-friendly, you can pretty much clean it with any­thing,” Camp­bell said. “On the clean­ing as­pect, of course on hard­wood you're not sup­posed to wet-mop, you're not sup­posed to soak it, but with lam­i­nate and tile you can.”

Long gone are the days of lam­i­nate, or vinyl, floor­ing only be­ing avail­able in a sheet roll.

“Back in the day ev­ery­one thought lam­i­nate floor­ing was those rolls that would look like tile but it would be the big sheet you would roll out,” Camp­bell said. “That's not what it is any­more. It's so much bet­ter look­ing now and it's very pop­u­lar.”

With en­gi­neered hard­wood, Camp­bell said the one ques­tion she is con­stantly asked is if it can be sanded down and re­fin­ished, if needed, over time.

“With some of the en­gi­neered hard­wood, say your fin­ish wears off over time or you want to change it. You can have it sanded down and re­fin­ished be­cause it's so thick. But, if you do that two or three times, you might even­tu­ally get down to the en­gi­neered part of it so you're lim­ited on the num­ber of times you can do that with the en­gi­neered wood ver­sus real wood,” she said. “Or, if it's real thin — some of these are thin­ner — you might not be able to do that. So, yes, you can, just not as many times as you can with real wood.

“Real hard­wood is just solid, real, hard wood. It can be sanded down and re­fin­ished. En­gi­neered hard­wood has lay­ers of a ply­wood or some­thing, and then you see just that top layer, that's what the real wood is, and then it's en­gi­neered be­cause they take all these lay­ers and com­press them to­gether so it looks and feels like hard­wood but it's not 100 per­cent real wood. It's less ex­pen­sive than real wood.”

Camp­bell said she sug­gests tile for out­door floor­ing.

“Out­side decks or pa­tios, if you want your deck to look like hard­wood or be a con­tin­u­a­tion of your house — that's the new look, where you have hard­wood on the floor and you want it to con­tinue to your out­side liv­ing space — do tile. If you have a deck or a pa­tio, you can't put real hard­wood out there and you can't put lam­i­nate. That stuff can be wet but I don't think it's meant for out­doors. Tile can get snowed on and bake in the sun and get rained on,” she said.

An­other good as­pect of tile is that it is not eas­ily scratched.

“You're mov­ing in, your mover's drag­ging a piece of fur­ni­ture across your hard­wood — it's scratch­ing,” Camp­bell said. “Tile isn't scratch­ing. I guess tech­ni­cally you could scratch it but it's not go­ing to scratch like hard­wood. Again, you've got the thick­ness. This is the only one that can be put out­side.”

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