How to Choose the Right Hardwood, Laminate, or Tile for a New Floor


Putting down a new floor? When you pull up old carpet or tile or buy a new house, the material that’s already, there will tell you what to do.

Depending on what you find underfoot, there are three main types of flooring.

Solid Hardwood Flooring is the first choice.

Hardwood flooring needs a wood or board subfloor. If you want a wooden floor, you’re in luck if you pull up the carpet and find a surface that holds nails or glue well.

On top of your flooring, floorboards, or subfloor, you might find something else. You might already see a dusty, scratched, and dirty wooden floor. It might look pretty bad, and you might think you must rip it out to get a new, beautiful wooden finish. Take heart, and ask a skilled refinisher to look at it before you rip it out. When old oak is refinished, the results are often surprising.

You can resurface an old wooden floor instead of tearing it out and putting in a new one. This saves money, time, and wood. A skilled refinisher will sand, stain, and put on a finish to protect the wood. Scratches, dirt, and other signs of use are gone. When people see what a skilled professional oak refinisher can do for them, they are often blown away.

If your subfloor is wood or plywood, you can choose between new and restored hardwood. But what if the floor isn’t made of plywood or floorboards?

Laminate or engineered wood flooring is the second choice.

If your base is concrete, you shouldn’t get solid wood flooring. So there is no way to put solid hardwood. If you want the look of wood, you or your floor provider must use laminate or engineered flooring.

Laminates and engineered floors are often made of boards that snap together and float on top of the concrete you’ve already put down. People make layers in laminates. The top layer looks like natural wood, often picturing birch, oak, pine, or maple boards. Engineered floors only have a thin layer of natural wood on the top. You don’t have to paint or finish these floors because they are already done.

When remodeling a basement, laminate and engineered floors are good options if you want the warmth of wood but can’t put hardwood. But what if your floor gets wet, or will it be used often?

Option 3 is to use tiles.

If your floor will get wet or have a lot of foot traffic and you can’t use wood look-alikes, ceramic tile or vinyl tile is a good choice.

People often use ceramic tile in bathrooms, kitchens, and mudrooms. You can put ceramic tiles over planks, backer boards, or concrete. A professional will have the tools to cut the tiles and plan out an even and balanced layout. Your professional installer will fit your plan from edge to edge without making any cuts that look funny. Your professional provider will also give you a safe, even surface that will stay stable and look great for years.

What goes under your new floor? Some facts about underlays

All floors should have an underlay or moisture protection unless you live in a desert. If you are working with a professional who cares about the quality of his work and your long-term happiness with the job, you should ask what will be done to keep moisture away from the bottom of your flooring.

Choosing the suitable foam underlay for your laminate floor will make it more stable, quieter, and better protected against mold, mildew, and wetness than other options. Knowing what kind of underlay works for your floor is not your job. A good professional will have much experience choosing the suitable underlay for your case.

Even floors that are made of thick wood need an underlay. If your bed is made of a suitable material, water can drain or move away from it. A big problem for new oak is too much water. If the water has nowhere to go, it can cause the wood to warp over time.

The Final Touches

Your worker should put in trim, moldings, and other pieces to make the space between your wall and floor look clean and finished. Ask if your price doesn’t include trim details like thresholds and moldings.

What does each kind of floor look like? On this Facebook page, you can see pictures of feet that have been refinished.

Your floor must be refinished in Maryland, Northern Virginia, or Washington, DC. Bryant Laschober owns and runs Bryant’s Floors. He refinishes and installs new hardwood and tile in the Greater Washington DC area. Bryant is an expert at installing and repairing hardwood floors and sanding, staining, and repainting them. Bryant will look at your base in person and give you a free quote and a list of references in your area. Visit the website for Bryant’s Floors to see before-and-after pictures and to get a free quote from Bryant.

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