There’s nothing like the feeling of real wood. Sure, plastic laminate is cheap and easy and can emulate the pattern of a real hardwood floor; but it won’t fill your home with the timeless naturalness of real hardwood. Hardwood floors have an elegant, but subtly strong and rugged essence that fills a home with the feeling of open-air spaciousness. By combining one hardwood color with a darker border around the perimeter, perhaps with four intricately-patterned decorative granite corners for an added touch, you can still achieve polished sophisticated designer looks – without the vacuuming.
Fortunately, we don’t have to be Paul Bunyan to get our natural hardwood. Manufacturing technology has simplified the hardwood floor installation process for wood enthusiasts. You can buy ¾ inch slabs of wood and take days to lay and prepare the wood. Or you can buy real hardwood engineered floors that have baked on sealer and primer and simply “click and lock.”
It’s easy to get confused when you hear the word “laminate flooring” – and plastic laminate may easily come to mind. But laminate simply means that there are layers of material bonded together. Laminated hardwood flooring has a hardwood surface and a hardwood core typically coated with an acrylic finish that is UV-resistant. Plastic laminate flooring on the other hand is coated with melamine, has only a wood-grain print film and a fiberboard core. Needless to say, plastic is cheaper than the hardwood. But hardwood can increase your homes resale value about 6%, it can be sanded if needed, and it will last for decades. Plastic laminate won’t.
Wooden floors are laid “floating.” You have to allow room for it to breathe, expand and contract with environmental influences. Depending on the moisture levels of your home, you may want to lay down a “vapor barrier.” If you’re installing wood on concrete, you definitely need a vapor barrier. The next step is to put down the underlayment which simply needs to be rolled out and trimmed. Before you lay down your hardwood, let your natural wood breathe out of its packaging for a few days.
When you begin installing your tongue and groove hardwood, the first board should be placed down in a corner with the tongue facing into the room and the groove towards the wall. You want to leave some expansion room around the perimeter edge of the room. (You’ll fill this later.) Depending what type of laminate hardwood flooring you chose, you will either “click and lock” around the room, or you’ll join the pieces together with glue and knock each one tight together as you go along. Of course, you’ll always be able to find hardwood flooring that uses good ‘ol hammer and nails, but the process may take days instead of hours. Your thumbs will appreciate the ease of “click and lock.”
Hardwood floors aren’t that hard to install thanks to advanced engineering. You can thank them as you get down on your hands and knees and lock that last board into place – and still have your hands intact to give your new hardwood floor some well-deserved applause.