Laminate flooring is a
multi-layer synthetic flooring product, fused together with a lamination
process. Laminate flooring simulates wood (or stone, in some cases) with
a photographic applique layer under a clear protective layer. The inner
core layer is usually composed of melamine resin and fiber board
materials. There is sometimes a glue backing for ease of installation.
It has the advantages that it is durable, as compared with carpet, and
attractive, at a lower cost as compared to natural floor materials.
The top wear layer is incredibly durable and easy to care
for. It is also impervious to most stains, spills, burns and extremely
scratch-resistant, making it perfect for busy families and pet owners.
Laminate floors are installed by floating the planks over most substrates
including plywood, OSB, concrete slabs and some existing floor coverings.
The planks and tiles have tongue and groove edges that lock them together.
These floors are never secured directly to the sub floor, making
installation possible almost anywhere.
of laminate flooring takes less than hardwood and our
installers can finish a typical home in few of days.
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is any product manufactured from
timber that is designed for use as
flooring, either structural or aesthetic.
Bamboo flooring is often considered a wood floor, although it is
made from a
rather than a timber.
Solid hardwood floors come in a wide range of
dimensions and styles, with each plank made of solid wood and milled
from a single piece of timber. Solid hardwood floors were originally
used for structural purposes, being installed perpendicular to the
wooden support beams of a building. Modern construction techniques
now rarely use wood building frames and solid hardwood floors are
used almost exclusively for their appearance.
For flooring, solid wood has many limitations due
to the natural characteristics of wood. Expansion and contraction of
wood from moisture and temperature fluctuation puts many dimensional
restrictions on solid wood floors. Typically, 5" wide and 3/4" thick
boards are the largest that can be manufactured from solid wood
without compromising the structure of the flooring (some
manufacturers produce wider boards using proprietary milling
techniques). There is, however, no standard size which will perform
well in every environment. For contemporary construction techniques,
the most significant characteristic of solid wood floors is that
they are not recommended to be installed directly over concrete.
Engineered wood flooring is composed of two or
more layers of wood in the form of a plank. The top layer (lamella)
is the wood that is visible when the flooring is installed, and is
adhered to the core (or substrate) which provides the stability.
Laminate, vinyl and
veneer floors are often confused with engineered wood floors -
laminate uses an image of wood on its surface, vinyl is plastic
formed to look like wood, and veneer uses a thin layer of wood with
a core that could be one of a number of different composite wood
products (most commonly, high density fibreboard).
Engineered wood is the most common type of wood
flooring used globally. North America is the only continent that has
a larger solid wood market than engineered, although engineered wood
is quickly catching up in market share.
of solid wood and engineered wood
It is very difficult to compare a solid wood
floor to engineered wood floors, as there is a wide range of
engineered wood floor qualities. There are several limitations on
solid hardwood that give it a more limited scope of use: solid wood
should not be installed directly over concrete, should not be
installed below grade (basements) and it should not be used with
radiant floor heating. Solid hardwood is also typically limited in
plank width and is more prone to "gapping" (excessive space between
planks) and "cupping" (a
concave or "dished" appearance of the plank, with the height of
the plank along its longer edges being higher than the centre) with
increased plank size. Solid wood products, on average, have a
slightly thicker 'sandable area' (the wood that is above the
tongue), and can be installed using nails. Lastly, solid wood tends
to be less expensive than engineered wood, but this, as with the 'sandable
area,' depends on the quality of the engineered wood (most
inexpensive engineered wood products are 'veneer' wood floors, and
The installation costs of engineered flooring are
typically lower than solid flooring.
Engineered wood flooring has several benefits
over solid wood, beyond dimensional stability and universal use.
Patented installation systems (such as "unilin" or "fiboloc") allow
for faster installation and easy replacement of boards. Engineered
wood also allows a 'floating' installation (where the planks are not
fastened to the floor below or to each other), further increasing
ease of repair and reducing installation time.
In general engineered wood panels are longer and
wider than solid planks.
The top surface of solid and engineered flooring,
have the same properties of hardness and durability.
The development of "structural" engineered
flooring now means engineered floors (often with 1/4 inch lamellas
and birch ply backing)can be nailed directly over joists without the
need for plywood sub-flooring.
Solid wood can be cut in three styles: flat-sawn,
quarter-sawn, and rift-sawn. However, because only one side of the
wood is visible on flooring, "quarter-sawn" and "rift-sawn" will
have the same appearance.
Many solid woods come with "absorption strips" -
grooves cut into the back of the wood that run the length of each
plank. They are used to reduce cupping.
Solid wood floors are mostly manufactured with a
tongue-and-groove for installation.
The lamella is the face layer of the wood that is
visible when installed. Typically it is a sawn piece of timber.
The timber can be cut in three different styles:
flat-sawn, quarter-sawn, and rift-sawn. However, because only one
side of the wood is visible on flooring, "quarter-sawn" and
"rift-sawn" will have the same appearance.
1) Wood ply construction ("sandwich core"): Uses
multiple thin plies of wood adhered together. The wood grain of each
ply runs perpendicular to the ply below it. Stability is attained
from using thin layers of wood that have little to no reaction to
climatic change. The wood is further stabilized due to equal
pressure being exerted lengthwise and widthwise from the plies
running perpendicular to each other.
2) Finger core construction: Finger core
engineered wood floors are made of small pieces of milled timber
that run perpendicular to the top layer (lamella) of wood. They can
be 2-ply or 3-ply, depending on their intended use. If it is three
ply, the third ply is often plywood that runs parallel to the
lamella. Stability is gained through the grains running
perpendicular to each other, and the expansion and contraction of
wood is reduced and relegated to the middle ply, stopping the floor
from gapping or cupping.
3) Fibreboard: The core is made up of medium or
high density fibreboard. Fibreboard has minimal expansion and
contraction so the core is very stable. Fibreboard is also denser
and harder than most wood and is less prone to denting. Floors with
a fibreboard core are hygroscpoic and must never be exposed to large
amounts of water or very high humidity - the expansion caused from
absorbing water combined with the density of the fibreboard, will
cause it to lose its form. Fibreboard is less expensive than timber
but is not VOC free and is not environmentally friendly.
Wood can be manufactured with a variety of
different installation systems:
1) Tongue-and-groove: One side and one end of the
plank have a groove, the other side and end have a tongue
(protruding wood along an edge's center). The tongue and groove fit
snugly together, thus joining or aligning the planks, and are not
visible once joined. Tongue-and-groove flooring can be installed by
glue-down (both engineered and solid), floating (mostly engineered
only), or nail-down (not recommended for most engineered).
2) "Click" systems: there are a number of
patented "click" systems that now exist. These click systems are
either "unilin" or "fiboloc" A "click" floor is similar to
tongue-and-groove, but instead of fitting directly into the groove,
the board must be angled or "tapped" in to make the curved or barbed
tongue fit into the modified groove. No adhesive is used when
installing a "click" floor, making board replacement easier. This
system not only exists for engineered wood floors but also bamboo
and a small number of solid floors (such as "parador solido click")
and is designed to be used for floating installations. It is
beneficial for the Do-It-Yourself market.
3) Floor connection system: There are a wide
range of connection systems, as most of them are mill-specific
manufacturing techniques. The general principle is to have grooves
on all four sides of the plank with a separate, unconnected, piece
that is inserted into the grooves of two planks to join them. The
piece used for the connection can be made from wood, rubber, or
plastic. This installation system allows for different materials
(i.e. wood and metal) to be installed together if they have the same
4) Wood flooring can also be installed utilizing
the glue-down method. This is an especially popular method for solid
parquet flooring installations on concrete sub-floors. Additionally,
engineered wood flooring may use the glue-down method as well. A
layer of mastic is placed onto the sub-floor using a trowel similar
to those used in laying ceramic tile. The wood pieces are then laid
on top of the glue and hammered into place using a rubber mallet and
a protected 2x4 to create a level floor. Often the parquet floor
will require sanding and re-finishing after the glue-down
installation method due to the small size pieces.
The two most popular finishes for wood flooring
are oil and polyurethane. Within both categories there are many
variations and other names used to describe the finish. Oil and
polyurethane also have very different refinishing and maintenance
1) Oil - Oiled floors have existed for several
thousand years and is the most common floor finish used globally.
Oil finished floors are made from naturally derived drying oils, and
are not to be confused with petroleum based oils. Pre-finished oil
floors can be UV cured. Most vegetable based oils are 100% natural
and contain no VOCs.
1.1) Brushed and Oiled - Steel brushes are used
in the direction of the grain which opens up the surface of the wood
and removes splinters. The wood is then oiled.
2) Polyurethane - Polyurethane floors were first
introduced around 1940. There are several types of polyurethane
finishes that exist, but the two most common are straight
polyurethane and oil-modified polyurethane. Both products are sold
under various names including: urethane, lacquer, and varnish. Many
finish manufacturers and wood flooring manufacturers create a brand
name for their finish.
Sanding provides a method for smoothing an
installed floor, compensating for unevenness of the subfloor.
Additionally, sanding is used to renew the appearance of older
floors. Sanding using successively finer grades of
sandpaper is required to ensure even stain penetration when
stains are used, as well as to eliminate visible scratches from
coarser sandpaper grades used initially. Prior to modern
polyurethanes, oils and waxes were used in addition to stains to
provide finishes. Beeswax and linseed oil, for example, are both
natural crosslinking polymers are hardened over time. Modern
polyurethanes, and polyester resins, used occasionally, are superior
in toughness and durability.
Proper use of vacuuming, sweeping, and damp
mopping is usually all that is required to maintain the cleanliness
and appearance of a wood floor. Oil soaps should not be used to
clean the floors. The best suggestion is to use the manufacturers
recommended cleaning products. Like tile floors, excessive grit and
foot traffic will affect appearance. Unlike carpet or rugs, a
properly finished wood floor, like tile, does not accumulate hidden
soil or odorous compounds.
is a manufactured piece of hard-wearing material such as
stone, metal, or even
Tiles are generally used for covering
showers, or other objects such as tabletops. Alternatively,
sometimes refer to similar units made from lightweight materials
mineral wool, typically used for wall and ceiling applications.
Less precisely, the modern term can refer to any sort of
construction tile or similar object, such as rectangular counters
used in playing games (see
tile-based game). The word is derived from the
French word tuile,
which is, in turn, from the
Latin word tegula,
meaning a roof tile composed of baked clay.
Tiles are often used to form
coverings, and can range from simple square tiles to complex
Tiles are most often made from
ceramic, with a hard
glaze finish, but other materials are also commonly used, such
and reformed ceramic slurry, which is cast in a mould and fired.