Laminate Flooring – A Viable Hardwood Alternative

What is a cheap, easy to install, similar looking and easy to repair substitute for hardwood? The correct answer is: laminate. Quickly having become one of the most popular flooring type, it can be a great alternative to hardwood in many ways and has a lot of advantages.

The installation is easier and so is the repair. In comparison to hardwood which should be kept as far away from moisture and humidity as possible, laminate actually doesn’t have a problem and can even be installed “below grade”, making it a perfect fit for bathrooms, kitchens and even outdoors (parking lots, garage area).

Generally, of course, you should try to keep the area where the laminate floor is going to be installed as dry as possible, too but still it isn’t as prone to damage and fungi growth when compared with hardwood. Should you use your laminate in an area with high moisture, make sure your laminate uses joints impregnated with paraffin wax – this will repell water very well.

While finishing a hardwood floor can take several hours or even days, depending on the size of the area it’s being installed in, finishing a laminate floor can be done within a few hours.

Laminate Flooring

Versatile Laminate Flooring  1

Compared to other flooring materials, you don’t have to be an expert or informed yourself religiously about how to install it without making lots of mistakes.during installation.

When purchasing laminate, make sure to opt for a high-quality brand that comes with lifetime warranty – this is going to cost you more but in comparison to other materials, as noted already, it’s still cheaper. This is definitely recommended for high traffic areas but not necessarily needed in low traffic areas or if you don’t intend to live at your place for at least several years. In such a case, a cheaper laminate version with a warranty of 5, 10 or 15 years will do the job, too.

Laminate Floor Pattern

Doesn’t this look like hardwood? Honestly, it’s laminate!  2

Another benefit of laminate flooring is the look of it – some of the designs border common and popular hardwoods like brazilian cherry or other exotic imports, or traditional species like white/red oak, even imitating the patterns and changes of color. Of course, when giving it a closer look or touch the truth will become obvious, nevertheless it can go a long way of looking like luxurious hardwood yet coming with the benefits of laminate mentioned previously.

Similar to prefinished hardwood planks, laminate is often installed like a floating floor with the “lock & fold” method, where a tongue interlocks in the groove of another plank. However, laminate can also come in different sizes of squares, not only planks.

Traditionally, laminate flooring consists of 6 layers but I’ll just cover the most important ones: the surface layer is made of melamine, an extremely tough, durable and hard material able to resist stains, burns and scratches.

The next one is the print layer that pretty much gives the great look of colors and patterns to a laminate floor. Last but certainly not the least is the core layer which is made of a high densitiy fiber board, giving your floor the required thickness, stability and structure and resins of melamine, another level of protection against moisture.

I hope I was able to give you a birds eye view of laminate, it’s advantages and how it compares to hardwood. If you could choose, would you rather go for hardwood or laminate – and why? I’d appreciate your comments!

  1. © Interior Designs Idea Blog 

  2. © Floor Them All (Pty) Ltd. 

Different Hardwood Flooring Installation Methods + Tips and Tricks

In the following article I’ve collected 5 very useful and helpful videos made by Armstrong, a US based (but internationally operating) flooring and ceiling manufacturer. I’ve listed a short description as well as the tools needed for each installation method below the videos. If you’re facing a hardwood flooring installation or you’re simply not sure which method is the best, these videos are great, short, to the point and contain plenty of tips.


Video 1 – Installing Hardwood Floors: Estimating & Subfloor Preparation

Before purchasing any kind of hardwood flooring you need to properly estimate the amount needed. Also, the subfloor needs to be prepared prior to installing hardwood – learn how to do both in this video.

Tools needed:
certified designated dust mask
safety glasses
hearing protection (if using power tools)
tape measure
pencil & paper
claw hammer
work gloves
utility knife
pry bar
undercut saw
wood chisels
broom, dustpan & brush
putty knife

Video 2 – Lock & Fold or Floating Floor Installation

If you need step by step instructions on installing a floating floor with the lock & fold method, this video is for you. It is by far the easiest and fastest hardwood installation method in existence.

Tools needed:
certified designated dust mask
safety glasses
hearing protection
tape measure
pencil & paper
wedges or spacers
utility knife
miter or circular saw
table or saber saw
tapping block
pull bar
armstrong quiet comfort underlayment

Video 3 – Glue-Down Installation for Engineered Hardwood Floor

If you plan to install an engineered hardwood floor, this video will show you how to glue down your engineered hardwood over concrete or a suspended wood floor.

Tools needed:
certified designated dust mask
safety glasses
hearing protection
tape measure
pencil & paper
chalk line
miter or circular saw
table or saber saw
hammer & nails
pull bar
blue painter’s tape
armstrong proconntect glue or bruce everbond (or another certified glue)
adhesive trowel (3/16″ x 1/4″ x 5/16″)

Video 4 – Nail Down Solid Hardwood Installation

Here you’ll find out the “nail down” method of installing a hardwood floor.

Tools needed:
certified designated dust mask
safety glasses
hearing protection
tape measure
pencil & paper
putty & utility knife
chalk line
miter or circular saw
table or saber saw
tapping block
pull bar
3/4″ blind fastening tool
finish nail gun
air compressor

Video 5 – Installing Trims and Moldings on Your Hardwood Floor

This video will show you how to install trims and moldings on your hardwood flooring installation, including cleaning and maintenance tips to keep your floor looking beautiful for years to come.

Tools needed:
adhesive remover
broom, dustpan & brush
trims & moldings
miter saw
touch-up kits and fillers
hammer or power nailer
nail set

Have you found these videos helpful and successfully installed your hardwood floor?
Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

A Small Hardwood Flooring Maintenance Guide

As elaborated in previous articles, hardwood flooring is very versatile, comes in lots of colors, shapes, wood species and patterns and is usually a great fit for any home. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that you don’t need to care about your floor anymore as soon as it’s been installed.

Actually, before installing it, a wise thing to do is to measure the moisture and humidity in your home – preferably, your home is as dry as possible because even with pre-finished hardwood flooring boards, moisture can still be soaked in and lead to swelling and deformation of the wood, which in turn can lead to a loud and squeaky sounding floor.

To prevent moisture from the beginning, make sure your home has a very good isolation installed below the floor and that the hardwood flooring boards aren’t installed “below grade”, meaning below ground level. Over time this could lead to fungi growth, an eroded foundation and overall damaged flooring. This is especially true for hardwood, cork, bamboo and unsealed cement but not as important for chemical or stone flooring.

A last tip for preventing humidity from damaging your beautiful hardwood floor: Install a central air conditioning unit to keep the rooms dry and humidity at a low level at all times.

Damaged Hardwood Floor

This is what happens to hardwood if not cared about… 1

However, humidity and moisture aren’t the only enemies of your hardwood floor. It is important that you clean it properly once a week – either via a vacuum cleaner (make sure it has an anti-scratch protection) or via mopping the floor. This will get rid of dust, particles, little stones, sand and similar things that will lead to scratches and small degrees of wear that increases over time and makes your hardwood look blunt and lose color.

When using certain cleaning products with your mop, make sure to use those from your hardwood manufacturer or at least ones that are generally approved for use on hardwood flooring. It’s important to do this – by using the proper cleaning chemicals you can get rid of stains and spills without ruining the finish of the floor (which actually happens with agressive chemicals not approved for cleaning hardwood).

Dog on a well maintained hardwood floor

Even dogs enjoy a well maintained floor!  2

It would also be wise to purchase a few floor mats, put them at the entry door and ask visitors to wipe their shoes off before entering – this will keep most of the dirt and particles out right away.

Make sure these mats are made specifically for hardwood floors – there are rubber-baked mats and non-ventilated ones that could cause damage to your floor, too.

Nevertheless, whatever you do, over the years your hardwood is going to look more and more dull, blunt and lifeless.

It’s a scary thought but fear not, there is a solution to this and it doesn’t go by the name of “reflooring”! What you need to do is screening and recoating. In simple terms, screening means to grind down the polyurethane finish of the floor and afterwards re-applying fresh coating. This is a lot easier and cheaper to do than it sounds. Your floor is going to look like the first time it was installed!

However, there will be times where either the damage to your hardwood floor are so severe that even screening and recoating didn’t help. The last resort in this case is to sand and re-finish the floor again – pretty much what you did when you installed your floor for the first time, assuming you didn’t go for pre-finished hardwood boards. If your floor is only damaged in a certain area, make sure to get in touch with your hardwood manufacturer, since he will have replacement boards available that are going to cut down on the time you need to spend on sanding and re-finishing.

I’ve covered a lot of things this time and hope that I covered every and any situation possible. Do you have any tips to share on how to maintain and keep your hardwood floor in good shape? Please share them below in the comments!

  1. © Flickr, anyjazz65 

  2. © Flickr, clover_1 

6 Popular Hardwood Flooring Species

As shown in a previous article “The Hardwood Flooring Advantage”, wooden floors offer a huge versatility and variety of choices in terms of patterns, colors, finishes, stains and species available, leaving lots of room for your personal taste and making it possible to find the perfect match to complement the interior decoration of your home.

Today I want to shed some light on 6 of the most popular species used in hardwood flooring and their characteristics. The main points of consideration are Janka rating, color, durability and use. Here are some of the most popularly used hardwood flooring species. I’ve listed them in no particular order:

American Cherry: With 950 points on the Janka scale it is one of the softest woods out there. Does that mean it won’t be a good fit for a high traffic area? No. Depending on the care and maintenance given to your hardwood floor, a soft but cared for species can withstand time and use much better than an expensive exotic import that isn’t cared for! American Cherry is also used for making cabinets and is very easy to work with. Darkens over time to become more rich in tone.

Beautiful Hardwood Floor

Beautiful Dark Hardwood Floor  1

Red and White Oak: Naturally pale in color, with hints of pink running through the Red Oak. Also used as the starting benchmark for comparing woods on the Janka hardness scale, it comes with a low hardness rating of 1290.

Since Red and White Oak provide a low level of hardness, they are easy to nail and saw yet provide good durability and shock resistance, making it the wood of choice across all kinds of applications.

Ash: With a Janka rating similar to Oak, Ash comes with a score of 1320. Providing beautiful and elegant, curvy and wavy patterns, Ash is a rather pale white/light brown species. Due to its unique graining, it adds a bit more excitement to a room than White Oak does.

Versatile Hardwood Patterns and Colors

Versatile Hardwood Patterns and Colors  2

Hard Maple: With a moderat e Janka score of 1450, Hard Maple is more durable than Oak and American Cherry. It’s uniform texture and high levels of shock, scuff and scrape resistance make it a popular choice for high stress uses. The creamy white color of maple that can reach into a light reddish brown color offers a wide variety of decorative uses for any room. Relied upon by early north american settlers for its hardy and abrasion-resistant nature.

Santos Mahogany: A popular exotic import but with 2200 scores on Janka it’s softer than Brazilian Cherry (see below). Well known for its color variations and warm, medium brownish/orange to dark brown color.

Wavy graining with open patterns and as many exotic woods, continuous exposure to light will have the color turn richer over time with a stabilization point at approximately 3 months.

Brazilian Cherry, also known as Jatoba: Well known for its rich, reddish brown color that turns into a dark burgundy over time with continued exposure to light. More on the higher end of the Janka scale with a score of 2820, it’s more of a difficult wood to work with, yet it glues, stains and finishes well. The upside is the long durability and resistance to wear, it’s even more durable than Mahogany. Very affordable for an exotic import!

Did I miss to cover your wood species of choice? There is a great resource I can recommend you check out and dig into – it covers a huge list of wood species, alphabetically sorted and in great detail:

I’d appreciate if you could share your favorite species of hardwood in the comments below!

  1. © Sullivan Floors 

  2. © Flickr, seier 

The Janka Hardness Rating To Compare Wood Species

As mentioned previously, there is a huge variety of different wood species available for hardwood flooring. So how could you possibly compare them, apart from their color, pattern and texture?

Obviously, when it comes to flooring, concerns go beyond the looks of the material. A big question homeowners and remodel professionals face is the durability and resistance to wear of a certain wood species. And obviously, for high traffic areas a more durable, resistant wood would be more appropriate than for the bedroom, for example. However, if you are considering only pre-finished hardwood flooring boards then you can pretty much ignore the Janka rating (please see the last paragraph of this article).

Without wanting to go into the specifics and details, the Janka hardness test measures the resistance of a sample of wood to denting and wear. During the test a small steel ball is pressed into the wood until half the ball’s diameter and then the newton force needed to push the ball in is measured, then displayed on a scale in form of a score. Usually, hardwood flooring starts at around 1000 points on the Janka scale, which can be considered the rather softer woods (with American Cherry being the “softest” at 950 points), and can go up to 5060 points for Australian Buloke, one of the hardest woods on earth.

During the test, the hardness of the different wood species is measured to make it possible to compare them to each other in terms of durability as well as workability. The harder a certain species of wood is (displayed in a higher score on the Janka chart), the better it can withstand denting and wear in comparison to a species with a lower Janka rating, i.e. it has a higher durability. On the other hand, however, this also means that the harder a species, the more difficult it is to work with in terms of nailing. It will also show a decreased flexibility compared to softer wood.

Generally speaking, most of the hardwoods and softwoods used for flooring are durable and able to withstand normal flooring use, especially if installed and finished properly. Keep in mind that a harder type of wood doesn’t mean it needs to be maintained less! However, no matter which rating was scored on the Janka scale, over time all wood is going to dent with a hard enough impact.

Click to view larger version.

Click to view larger version.

On the right hand side, you can find a small graphic showing the Janka rating for a few select wood species. This list is by no means extensive and it’s a known fact that the Janka test isn’t 100% exact, yet it’s a good and widely accepted reference. Credit  1

Interesting to note is that the Janka hardness rating should only be of big concern when you purchase unfinished or oil coated flooring as this is the type of wood the test has been done on. For Modern-day hardwood flooring, the Janka test has basically become irrelevant since pre-finished floorings are usually treated with aluminum-oxide based sealers, effectively doubling or tripling the dent and scratch resistance of the flooring.

Did you purchase or intend to purchase your hardwood flooring with taking the Janka scores into consideration? Please leave your comments below!

  1. © NisslyProFloors 

The Hardwood Flooring Advantage

Hardwood is the flooring material that can show the longest tradition throughout the world. Being used for centuries, it has been the primary choice for all sorts of cultures and civilizations due to the permancence, class, structural strength and naturalness it provides to the interior of a home.

However, the advantage of using hardwood flooring for your home or office extends beyond the tradition attached to it: Hardwood can be a very practical choice and play an important role for the interior decoration due to the amount of different wood species, finishes, surfaces and stains available.

When you go out to purchase hardwood flooring, you’ll be faced with 2 options: pre-finished and unfinished hardwood flooring. Usually, most homeowners will opt for the pre-finished type due to the amount of time, hassle and “mess” saved. It’s convenient NOT having to manually sand your hardwood floor, then having to clean everything and last but not least, having to wait half a day for your finish to dry.

On the other hand, if you do intend to spend the time and energy to do the finish and sanding yourself, it will be very beneficial for your hardwood floor in terms of durability: While the finish on a pre-finished floor is done on a board-by-board basis, the disadvantage comes in the form of potentially existing gaps between the boards.

Hardwood Stairs  

Hardwood Stairs 1

With the unfinished type you can actually make sure that all gaps between the flooring boards are properly sealed before the finish is applied. This will make sure that there are less points of entry for moisture and wetness, effectively extending the life of your hardwood flooring.

Once you’ve decided on which option mentioned above to go for, you’ll now have to consider the different types of surfaces and stains available. For a long time, evenly planned hardwood from sawmills has been very popular, providing a polished, smooth and refined wooden surface which many customers have come to admire.

Lately, however, handscraped hardwood flooring is starting to increase in popularity as well. These boards are actually worked by hand and provide a contoured, seasoned surface that offers a rustic and lived-in feeling to every home. Comfortable for some, impractical for others, the choice is obviously up to your preference. There are no advantages or disadvantages to either.

Another characteristic that made hardwood flooring popular (and still does!) is the vast amount of different stains available. Like with different types of natural stone, each wood species has their own inherent characteristics, not only in color and feeling of surface but also in terms of patterns as well as changing of color that comes with continued aging of the species. Even with the same type of species used in a hardwood floor, depending on the finish and staining the outcome, look and feel of appearance can be very different to each other, which is the reason that makes hardwood flooring a very diverse choice offering room for all sorts of different personal tastes.

I hope this article provided you some valuable insight on the advantages of hardwood flooring. In the next article, I’ll look further into the different species available, the differences between them and what you should look out for. Please leave any comments or thoughts below!

  1. © Flickr, dexxus 

4 Different Types Of Flooring Materials And Their Pros And Cons

I’d like to start off this site by giving you a wide overview and the big picture of what kind of flooring materials actually exist and then shed some light on the advantages and disadvantages of each. Chances are, you are a homeowner and want to remodel your home and considering that the different types of flooring for a home can vary widely in price and usability, it’s a wise choice to inform yourself before actually spending money.

The 4 main types in flooring are wood, resilient, hard and chemical flooring. Soft coverings, like carpets and area rugs can also play a role but I won’t focus on these in this article.

Wooden floors have a long tradition used in homes and buildings throughout the world, providing a feeling of class and quality. In comparsion to cheaply produced vinyl they don’t have a nasty smell attached to them and don’t affect the room climate in a negative way. They mainly come in planks or parquet sets to easily fit into a room.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate Flooring 1

Wood floorings can be fabricated from a lot of different materials, mainly soft- and hardwoods. The latter provides a much higher durability than softwoods and is easier to keep clean and stain-free as well. Bamboo and cork flooring can also be categorized as wooden floors. Even though they are less commonly used, they make for the most environmentally friendly flooring materials that exist. The drawback to all wooden floors is that they’re prone to water and moisture.

Resilient flooring is used throughout homes but also very frequently in functional and performance oriented buildings like dance halls, gyms and similar. Among the materials used for this flooring type are vinyl, linoleum and rubber, due to the elasticity these materials provide. They are easy to keep clean but depending on how they were fabricated can impact the room climate in a negative way.

Another frequently used flooring type is hard flooring. Providing a rustical and antique feeling to a house, these materials have a high durability but also come with a high price attached due to the amount of work involved in fabricating them. Almost everytime you will encounter hard floorings in a tile layout, mainly made of either ceramic, concrete, terrazzo, a mosaic or simply natural stone.

optical illusion floor

Floor with optical illusion 2

There are a lot of different natural stone types available to be used in hard flooring tiles and they come in all sorts of shapes, thicknesses and sizes.

The drawback to hard floorings is that you usually won’t feel comfortable walking on them barefoot without covering them with rugs or some other kind of material, since they can feel rough on the skin and usually feel “cold”. That’s why these are used primarily outdoors or around a fireplace since they have a high resistance to heat.

In the 21st century, new technologies made it possible to produce another type of hard flooring which is used in homes quite often as the material for stairs: Usually consisting of a certain type of very hard and resistant glass, these tiles of hard flooring are transparent with build in LED technology to light up when needed. They provide a very modern and futuristic feel to a home but should only be used when they fit into the setting – which usually doesn’t apply to homes featuring a wooden floor.

The last type of flooring is rarely used in homes and can usually be found in laboratories or food processing plants: seamless chemical flooring. Usually made from latex, polyester, urethane or epoxy, these floorings are installed in liquid form to provide an absolutely even and seamless floor, making them a prime choice for frequently wet areas.

I hope the big picture I was trying to provide above gave you a few ideas of what to look for. Stay tuned for more articles about these different types of flooring, shopping guides, cleaning and maintenance tips and much more.

Feel free to leave some comments below!


  1. © Mark’s Floors 

  2. © Flickr, bertwerk 

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