Solid vs. Engineered Hardwoods--Real, Fake, Better, Worse???

While engineered hardwood is now a serious contender in any homeowner's search for the perfect wood floor and has been for quite some time, there are still those that don't think engineered hardwood is a "real" hardwood option.  Many believe there is solid hardwood, then there is laminate, case closed.  

Engineered hardwood and laminate flooring are two very different species.  While there is nothing "real" about laminate, engineered hardwood consists of a solid wood veneer of varying thicknesses depending on the manufacturer, adhered to multiple layers of cross-directional sheets of wood.  It is this multi-layer ply that creates the stability of engineered over solid--it's main advantage, aside from using less raw materials, making it more ecologically friendly.  

After 23 years in the business, it's amazing to see the shifts and trends in the industry.  In the beginning, engineered hardwood was very expensive, and was mostly installed only in concrete homes or in the occasional basement which demanded glue-down installations.   Most people preferred the solid option, citing the ability to refinish the floor over and over, and its affordability over engineered at the time.  Truth be told, in these 23 years, we have yet to see someone refinish a pre-finished hardwood, be it solid or engineered.  We have seen site-finished floors refinished, and the reason for that is you just can't duplicate the factory finish with its consistency and durability.  While it's true that a solid hardwood will allow more refinishing than an engineered, hardly anyone seems to do it, especially with handscraped, antiqued, or brushed surfaces that are virtually impossible to duplicate after sanding.

I'm certainly not meaning to poo-poo solid hardwoods--they're equally stunning, but having lived with both solid and engineered, the solid woods do tend to gape in the winter and swell and cup in the summer, although very controlled humidity levels can help with this.   Also, with engineereds being in higher demand, there are more of them out there, covering more price points and aesthetic styles.  Lastly, if you really like the look of those wide planks, from 6 1/2 to 9" or more, you will never get that in a solid simply because it's just not stable enough to support that width, and it would eat up too much raw material to even try.  5" is basically the limit.

So moral of the story?  Trends come and go, styles change and evolve, but solid and engineered are BOTH hardwoods.  I've probably defended the engineered option more here because that's what I tend to do in my daily life.  It IS hardwood, and outperforms solid hardwood almost any way you cut it.    There will always be those who prefer solid hardwood and that is A-OK, but hopefully now, not because it's "real" while engineered is "fake"...

Celebrate Spring with $500 in free flooring products!

The season of renewal is almost upon us, so to celebrate, we're giving one lucky individual $500 towards the flooring products of his or her choosing--no minimum purchase required!

What can $500 accomplish, you might ask?  Well, imagination is your only limitation--area rug, backsplash, stone focal wall, or put it towards a bigger project for hardwood, tile, carpet, LVP, laminate--decisions decisions!

You can enter the draw by sending us your name and email address in the Contact Us section of our site, or visit us on Facebook and enter that way.

Good luck to all, and the winner will be drawn and notified on the first day of Spring, Sunday March 20th!

Fear Not the Natural Oil Hardwoods!

Fuzion Flooring's Classical Elegance "Quartet Oak" with a natural oil finish

Fuzion Flooring's Classical Elegance "Quartet Oak" with a natural oil finish

Natural oil-finished hardwoods are making a huge comeback in the flooring industry.  For centuries, the oil finish has been used to protect and beautify wood floors, traditionally done on-site after installation, but now increasingly applied during the manufacturing process, and the results are in--while natural oil floors may require a little more maintenance than their urethane counterparts, the finish provides some amazing benefits.  

Even though the urethane finish is typically enhanced with ceramic and aluminum oxide particles that make it a very durable coating on the wood, any scratches, gouges or dents sustained--and the planks will sustain damage--are very hard to repair or camouflage.  Ultimately, urethane floors may need to be sanded down and refinished or completely replaced once enough wear and tear is evident.  Oiled hardwoods however can last indefinitely if properly maintained, as the oil penetrates into the wood instead of coating it, imparting a gentle lustre and a softer, more natural finish.  Damage disappears with a light spot-sanding and oiling.

Because most of us are used to sweeping or vacuuming our hardwoods then doing a damp mop with general wood cleaners and DONE, oil maintenance might seem a little daunting at first.  It's basically a three step process every 1-3 years, and natural soaping as needed.  Upon installation, manufacturers recommend oiling immediately, which involves cleaning the floor, then oiling, then soaping--this is the 3 step process that only occurs every 1-3 years as needed.  To clean or soap, diluted cleaner or soap is applied to the floor with a damp cloth or mop that is rinsed in a bucket of clean water between each pass, and voila.  The floor should appear dry within 2 minutes.  The oiling process is a little more involved--after the floor has been cleaned, oil is sprayed on the surface and worked in with a cotton pad, then buffed with a cotton cloth, leaving no excess moisture on the surface that could become tacky.  The floor should cure for 24 hours, then a soaping is recommended  to complete the process.  The important points to remember are to ensure oils and soaps are the correct colour for your hardwood (they do come in different colours to enhance and protect different stains) and to dispose of used cotton cloths properly.  Mopping pads can be rinsed and reused indefinitely.  Oiling and soaping can also occur on high traffic areas only rather than tackling the entire floor.

Moral of the story?  Urethane finishes are tried, tested, true, and familiar to most, with less maintenance but a shorter lifespan.  Oils are historically proven to enhance and lengthen the life of wood, but there's no gain without a little tiny bit of pain.  Options are good, so pick what works best with your lifestyle and hopefully now you won't fear the oil if it happens to be a viable option for you.

Commercial Grade Luxury Vinyl in stock in London--$2.78/sf until May 31st!

Introducing Sonata Luxury Vinyl from American Biltrite--a very versatile flooring option available in wood and stone visuals that is graded for medium to heavy commercial use, making it more than fitting for residential high traffic areas.  Luxury vinyl has taken off over the last few years because of it's durability, versatility, affordability, ease of installation and great appearance.  This particular product requires a glue-down installation, and is currently $2.78/sf for the styles shown until the end of February--regularly $3.95/sf.

FEATURES & BENEFITS 

  • Commercial grade makes it suitable for high traffic areas.
  • Aluminum oxide wear layer (20mil) offers superior scratch and stain protection.
  • Easy to install.
  • Tiles available in 16 colors and patterns, in both traditional 18” x 18” and contemporary 12” x 24”.
  • Planks available in 20 colors and patterns, in 4” x 36”, 9” x 48” and 6” x 48” for an on-trend linear look.