Q- What's the difference between engineered flooring and laminate flooring?
A: Let's start with the original term laminate flooring. Before plastic laminate flooring became popular in the mid '90s, those in the hardwood flooring business called today's engineered flooring laminate. Engineered flooring is constructed in layers similar to plywood with an actual finished hardwood veneer layer on the surface.
Today's laminate flooring is a photographed image of finished hardwood and cannot be refinished, whereas many engineered products can be refinished. How many times will depend on the thickness of the veneer, or top wear layer, and finding someone knowledgeable enough to handle the work.
Q- Can I have a solid 3/4" hardwood glued to concrete?
A: You'll find some retailers will say yes. However, those that have dealt exclusively in hardwood flooring for some time will say no. In recent times some of the big box stores and adhesive manufacturers have been advocating this procedure. Only time will tell if it's a viable procedure, but it's safe to find an alternative.
Q- What kind of hardwoods can I place on concrete subfloors then?
A: If moisture conditions are acceptable, two of the most widely used applications would be engineered hardwood floors glued directly with the proper adhesives and floating engineered flooring types. The latter are typically glued by tongue-and-groove and floated over a foam-cushioned underlayment. Floating floors are also available in the click-together or lock-and-fold style that requires no gluing.
More traditional 3/4" solid hardwoods on concrete can be accomplished with the addition of a plywood subfloor, used as a nailing base over the concrete. However, this raises problems with door entries and other items. Overall vertical height of the new floor will increase by 1 1/2 inches. Unfinished engineered hardwood floors eliminate vertical height issues and can be stained or finished to any desires.
Q- I have a particleboard subfloor. Can I have nail down hardwoods installed?
A: Many confuse particleboard with OSB (Oriented Stand board). True particleboard is commonly used in some manufactured homes does not have the holding power of hardwood flooring fasteners and will loosen over time. There are certain types of OSB that can be used for solid nail down hardwood floors. It is best to consult the manufacturer's warranty specs.
A: Ah, welcome to the new century. In the last five years alone, we've noticed the yellow page ads explode with so called "hardwood specialists." Our suggestion is to look far and deep for the right installer. After all, hardwood flooring doesn't come cheap, and replacing gets very expensive should installation problems occur.
A suggestion to ask installers right off the bat would be, what kind of moisture meters they use. Another useful question would be, how long should the flooring be acclimated? Some aren't aware of the need to acclimate material. This is especially important with solid hardwoods and not as much with engineered.
A: Today's prefinished hardwood floor finishes are vastly improved and finished in controlled settings. Many offer more than six coatings whereas a normal site-finished (sanded in place and finished) floor would be two or three. Prefinished warranties are exceptional but cannot be passed on from the original owner. There are advantages and disadvantages of both. Nearly all solid prefinished hardwood floors are beveled to some extent. On the other hand, a site-finished hardwood floor that has been installed in its raw unfinished form and then finished will have a flawless uniform appearance upon completion. However, maintaining the appearance requires close attention to climate control during seasonal changes.