Understanding Different Types of Wood Flooring

Have you ever wondered what type of wood floor is in your home? Or are you thinking about new floors and want to know what type to choose? This guide will tell you what you need to know.

Foyer with hardwood floor

There are several different types of wood flooring commonly found in homes. Each type has its own unique characteristics, appearance, and installation method. Here are some of the most popular types of wood flooring.

Related: How to Clean Wood Floors & Keep Them Looking Great

Types of Wood Flooring


Hardwood flooring is made from solid wood planks cut from a single piece of timber. It certainly gives you natural beauty, durability, and it can be refinished multiple times.

That said, it can be harder to take care of, which is why it fell out of popularity years ago when wall to wall carpeting became more available.

Common hardwood species used for flooring include oak, maple, cherry, walnut, and hickory. Hardwood flooring adds warmth and elegance to any space.

Engineered Wood

Engineered wood flooring is composed of multiple layers. The top layer is a real hardwood veneer, while the inner layers are made of plywood or high-density fiberboard (HDF).

Engineered wood is not “fake” wood. It’s all wood, but engineered to better handle moisture and humidity, and to be easy to clean.

This construction provides stability and resistance to moisture, making it suitable for areas prone to temperature and humidity fluctuations. Engineered wood flooring can be installed as floating floors or glued down.

Laminate Flooring that Looks Like Wood

Laminate flooring mimics the appearance of hardwood flooring but is made of multiple layers of synthetic materials. The top layer is a high-resolution photograph of wood grain, protected by a clear wear layer. When you look at it closely, you can see a reflective sheen that looks more like vinyl or plastic than wood.

Beneath this layer, there is a core layer and a backing layer. Laminate flooring is durable, budget-friendly, and easy to maintain. It’s a popular choice for areas with high foot traffic.

It is definitely not actual wood, but the higher quality laminates can look like wood, except on close inspection. This makes them a good choice for wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms, if you want the look of wood but the easy care and durability of laminate.

Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo flooring is a renewable and environmentally friendly option. It is made from the fast-growing bamboo plant, which is compressed and bonded together to form planks.

Bamboo flooring offers a unique and contemporary look, similar to hardwood. It is durable and resistant to moisture but requires proper sealing to prevent damage.

Reclaimed Wood Flooring

Reclaimed wood flooring is made from salvaged wood sourced from old buildings, barns, or other structures. It offers a unique character with rich patina and history. Reclaimed wood flooring is an eco-friendly choice and adds rustic charm to any space.

Which is Better? Solid Hardwood or Engineered Wood?

You may be wondering if this point which is better: solid hardwood or engineered wood flooring. Or you may assume solid hardwood is better because it usually costs more or because you think it’s more authentic wood.

But there are homes in which it is definitely not the best choice. Read on to learn more.

Advantages of Hardwood Flooring

If you’re considering hardwood flooring, here is the one advantage it has over engineered flooring:


Hardwood floors are known for their durability and longevity. When properly cared for and maintained, they can last for decades, and even generations.

Hardwood floors can withstand heavy foot traffic, making them suitable for high-traffic areas of the home. And you can refinish them or even restain them as many times as needed.

Disadvantages of Hardwood Flooring

More Work to Clean and Maintain

Hardwood floors are fussier to clean and maintain than engineered wood.


Hardwood flooring tends to be more expensive than other flooring options. The price can vary depending on the type of wood, grade, and installation method. Additionally, installation costs can be higher if professional installation is required.

Susceptible to Moisture Damage

Hardwood floors can be sensitive to moisture and are not recommended for areas with high humidity or moisture-prone environments like bathrooms and basements. Exposure to excessive moisture can lead to warping, cupping, or buckling of the wood.

Even just having high indoor humidity in your home can lead to damage with solid wood flooring.

Scratches and Dents

While hardwood floors are generally durable, they are susceptible to scratches and dents from furniture, pet claws, and heavy objects. Regular use of protective pads, area rugs, and furniture coasters can help minimize the risk of damage.

Maintenance Requirements

Hardwood floors require regular maintenance to preserve their appearance and durability. They may need refinishing over time to remove scratches, restore the finish, and maintain their overall condition.

Advantages of Engineered Wood Flooring

Moisture Handling

The construction of engineered wood flooring, with a top layer of real hardwood and underlying layers of plywood or HDF, helps it resist expansion and contraction due to changes in temperature and humidity.

This makes it suitable for areas with fluctuating moisture levels, such as basements or rooms with radiant heat systems. Or regions with high humidity.


While not as durable as hardwood, engineered wood flooring is very durable and able to withstand daily wear and tear. The multiple layers of construction enhance its resistance to moisture, warping, and cracking. Additionally, the top layer of real hardwood can be sanded and refinished a limited number of times, allowing for restoration and longevity.

Ease of Installation

Engineered wood flooring is typically designed with interlocking or click-lock systems, making it easier to install compared to solid hardwood. It can be installed as floating floors over various subfloors, saving time and effort. Some engineered wood flooring options also come with pre-applied adhesive for quick and convenient installation.

Less Expensive

It typically costs less than hardwood. Plus, it’s DIY friendly, which means you may be able to avoid the cost of hiring an installer.

Environmentally Friendly

Engineered wood flooring can be a more environmentally friendly choice than solid hardwood. The use of veneer allows for more efficient use of hardwood resources, reducing the demand for rare or slow-growing tree species.

Additionally, the underlying layers are often made from sustainable and renewable materials like plywood or HDF.

Disadvantages of Engineered Wood Flooring

Limited Refinishing

While engineered wood flooring can be refinished, it has a thinner top layer compared to solid hardwood. This limits the number of times it can be sanded and refinished.

It’s important to consider the thickness of the veneer when choosing an engineered wood floor, especially if refinishing capabilities are a priority.

Water Damage

While engineered wood flooring is more resistant to moisture than solid hardwood, it is still susceptible to water damage if exposed to standing water or excessive moisture for prolonged periods. Spills need to be cleaned up immediately.


It’s important to know what type of wood you have in your home, or what type you should choose if you’re getting new floors. Different types of wood floors have different characteristics and need different care. By knowing your flooring, you’ll be able to take better care of it and ensure that last for years.