At Professional Installed Floors, we stock a wide range of flooring options for our Atlanta area customers. And while we offer the entire gamut, from laminate floors to stone tiles, we still hold a special place for true hardwood floors. We truly believe it’s unique, and while Bob Villa’s website recently made a statement about how hardwood floors may have better alternatives, we believe otherwise.
Hardwood Flooring: Still Our Choice Over Laminates
Of course, things like budget and personal circumstances factor into it, but if we could borrow an analogy from the car industry, it’s basically like saying a luxury car may have better alternatives in an economy sedan — which is a fallacy, comparing apples to oranges. Both will get you from A to B without an issue, but one is a notably smoother, more comfortable ride with better features.
That’s how we feel about hardwood flooring, and here are four specific reasons why:
#1 There’s Nothing Like It
Many laminate and vinyl products mimic hardwood floors. They may use a layer of wood in their engineered design or they may have some sort of visual imitation to have the same appearance as hardwood. Yet for each of those instances, most people can simply tell the difference between true hardwood and a manufactured product.
That’s not to say that the latter doesn’t have its merits; there are reasons why laminate and vinyl products work better for many customers. However, hardwood is simply what some people want, and when that is the case, there’s simply nothing that matches the real thing.
Why is that? It’s a number of things. The look of hardwood is distinctive — to use a food comparison, you can usually tell when you’re drinking a real Coke versus a store-brand’s cola. The latter is just off a little bit. Hardwood just looks like hardwood, and technology still hasn’t been able to perfectly replicate it.
At the same time hardwood feels much more distinctive than laminate or vinyl. Now, this does ultimately come down to personal preference — in many cases, hardwood isn’t necessarily better or worse when it comes to feel. But much like the look, it simply is unique and some customers want that for their home.
#2 It’s Customizable to Any Taste
Engineered flooring comes out of a catalog, both in terms of size and look. So while you have a choice, that choice is ultimately limited to existing inventory. Hardwood flooring opens the door to much greater flexibility. This works in a number of ways.
The most known technique is staining. With staining, even old hardwood floors can be revitalized with a new look — no replacement necessary. It is, of course, also possible to paint hardwood floors with things like borders, and the great thing about the material is that it can be sanded and stained later should you decide to change your interior design.
Other customizable elements with hardwood flooring include incorporating mixed media elements (stones, tiles, or other textures), unique borders, or even visual designs integrated into the overall presentation. For example, if this is for a commercial enterprise, an expert hardwood floor designer may even be able to incorporate your company logo into the floor. While there is some customizability available to people using engineered flooring, it doesn’t match what is possible with true hardwood materials.
#3 It’s a Lifetime Floor
Hardwood floors can last a lifetime after you install them. That’s one of the big differences between true hardwood and any engineered option. As a start, hardwood surface seal is tougher and lasts longer, and in general, hardwood is more durable when it comes to stains and discolorations. Repair is also feasible.
You could, of course, remove the damaged plank and find a replacement — the nice thing is that a good professional will be able to recommend a similar match to your existing floor, then stain the piece to seamlessly fill it in.
The other option is to spot-repair where there’s damage. Through the use of a filler, sanding, staining, and some careful installation, anything from cracks to divots to missing chunks can be handled to smoothly match and restore the flooring. And even if there’s no damage, you can still remodel hardwood flooring without tearing the whole thing apart. The ability to sand, restain, and reseal hardwood flooring means that your floors can be with the home across its entire lifetime.
#4 It Adds Value to a Home
A hard-surface floor has been the floor of choice by home buyers (and thus, realtors) for the past decade. As the trend is to move away from wall-to-wall carpeting, any sort of hard surface — be it laminate, hardwood, or stone tile — instantly adds to a home’s resale value. But hardwood in particular adds to a number of resale elements.
As mentioned above, hardwood has a unique look that many people simply prefer. It’s the inherent unique quality that is inherent in the material — many people simply see and feel something different with true hardwood flooring. And that comes across when talking about buyer interest, much like having a pool or solar panels.
It’s hard to actually quantify it, but it’s a luxury that people will actually pay for. This has been documented in surveys and studies, so while there’s no specific way to provide a dollar or percentage value, the pulse of the industry definitely agrees with this idea.
The Cons of Hardwood Floors
Of course, hardwood floors are not perfect for every situation. There are reasons why specific traits are engineered into laminate and vinyl flooring — in fact, it’s safe to say that a number of those are specific responses to the limitations of hardwood floors, such as:
Moisture: Hardwood floors are much more susceptible to damage from moisture and water exposure, even with sealant. On the other hand, many vinyl/laminate floors are designed specifically to maximize water resistance, and some even go far enough to call themselves waterproof. In a bathroom or kitchen environment, there is simply less overall concern for any impact from water exposure with water-optimized laminate/vinyl pieces.
Scratches: Engineered flooring usually has a protective layer to protect against dings, scratches, and other forms of impact. This can be anything from a big dog’s nails to stiletto heels to children’s toys. True hardwood is durable and can be repaired from this type of damage, but it doesn’t come with that specific type of impact protection made possible by engineered materials.
Heavy foot traffic: As with above, hardwood floors are durable but don’t necessarily provide the type of protection that laminate does against wear and tear. Of course, you can always resurface and restain hardwood floors, which also opens up other types of flexibility. But for high-traffic areas — especially in commercial environments — hardwood flooring may not be the most practical choice.
We Can Help You Decide
Still not sure which flooring choice is right for your situation? Contact the experts at Professional Installed Floors. We offer a free initial consultation, including driving out to see your home or office. Or we invite you to drop by our Marietta showroom, where dozens of samples await you — along with our friendly expert staff ready to help you make the right flooring pick.