When my family moved into our present home, the living room floor was covered with an ancient yellow shag carpet. There were things growing in that carpet that even our dog didn’t like. I replaced the carpeting with a nice, prefinished floor made from bamboo. The cost for the floor, not counting my labor, was less than the cost for a decent carpet. We have a couple of area rugs that can be taken outside and given a good shaking now and then.
PREFINISHED WOOD FLOORING. In the old days, wood flooring was installed “in the raw,” one tongue-and-groove strip at a time. Then it was sanded and finished. The sanding process covered everything with fine sawdust, and the oil-varnish finish filled the air with unpleasant (and often hazardous) fumes. Although it’s still possible to install wood floors that way, more and more people are choosing prefinished wood flooring. The installed cost is about the same for both flooring treatments,
but you don’t have to deal with dust or fumes. You also don’t have to wait for the multiple coats of finish to be applied. In addition, the factory — applied finishes on better-quality flooring are very durable.
I love wood floors. I prefer them over carpet. They are attractive, affordable—the installation price of a wood floor is often lower than that of carpet—and easy to clean. So it’s great to see such a wide selection of wood flooring available at home-improvement centers and flooring dealers. Good instructions are also available from manufacturers and in-store experts for installing prefinished flooring. As with traditional solid — wood floors, prefinished flooring is made to fit together with tongue-and-groove joints.
Prefinished hardwood floors come in many styles and woods. Some of the more popular choices are oak, maple, cherry, ash, and fir. You can also select the stain or clear finish and the edge detail. Most prefinished wood flooring is made by gluing wood plies together. Referred to as engineered wood flooring, prefinished wood
flooring is manufactured in strip, plank, and parquet form. Strip flooring can be up to 3//2 in. wide, planks are wider, and parquet flooring comes in square pieces. The overall thickness is usually 1/2 in. or less. Some prefinished strips and planks have slightly eased or beveled edges to make handling and installation easier. Basic, square-edged flooring is also available.
Wood flooring can be installed with a pneumatic nailer, attached to the subfloor with adhesive, or simply “snapped” together with an interlocking tongue and groove system. These floors “float” on a resilient pad. Manufacturers have even developed flooring that simply snaps together without glue. If you want to do the installation yourself, check with the manufacturer or with your flooring supplier to determine which type of installation is appropriate, and be sure to follow the installation instructions that come with the flooring material. PLASTIC-LAMINATE FLOORING. Like engineered-wood flooring, plastic-laminate flooring is a plywood construction, but the top, or “show,” layer is man-made rather than natural. Different colors and patterns are available, including some very realistic wood tones. The surface is extremely durable, though it can’t be sanded and refinished like some types of wood flooring. Shop around and you’ll find plastic-laminate flooring for about the same price as good-quality vinyl flooring. It’s easy to install, too. This type of flooring works well in kitchens and bathrooms. I have it in my writing room. The supplier taught me how to lay it by “snapping” the edges together. I installed about 100 sq. ft. without driving a single nail.