Which Type Of Wood Flooring Is Best For Your Home

Which Type Of Wood Flooring Is Best For Your Home

From modern laminate to reclaimed hardwood, the warmth and texture of wooden floors – whether faux or the real deal – is a popular choice for homeowners. Before you make your choice, familiarise yourself with the various types of wood flooring.

In our guide to wood flooring, we reveal how much you should expect to pay for wood flooring and which rooms it’s well-suited to. We’ve also explained the difference between tongue-and-groove flooring and click-lock flooring.

Keep scrolling to explore the pros and cons of flooring types including laminate, reclaimed wood, parquet and bamboo.

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Tongue-and-groove flooring

Although tongue-and-groove might sound like jargon, its actually a straightforward description of the way that individual planks fit together.

Each plank has a protruding ‘tongue’ along its length that fits into a ‘groove’ on the adjacent plank.

Fixing tongue-and-groove together can be quite complicated. Once the tongue is in the groove, you have to knock it firmly into place. If you get the angle wrong, you could dislodge planks that you’ve already joined.

They also need to be glued into position and wedged or strapped together until the glue is set. Using insufficient glue or failing to hold it tightly together before it sets can lead to gaps between planks.

Laying laminate

Click-lock flooring

This has edges that are machined to form an interlocking joint, so that you have to click them together with a particular action. Once they are in place, they can’t dislodge and move apart.

It’s generally considerably easier and quicker to fit a click-lock floor, as they don’t need to be fastened with an adhesive. What’s more, the interlocking mechanism creates very tight-fitting joints, reducing the chances of gaps forming after it has been fitted.

Opting for click-lock flooring means the planks can be unfastened and lifted out if you need to get access under the floor, which you can’t do with tongue-and-groove flooring.

If you want to enlist the help of a professional, use the Which? Trusted Traders tool below to find local traders.

Laminate flooring

  • Pros of laminate flooring: Cheap and hard wearing, click-lock designs are simple to install, wide range of styles available
  • Cons of laminate flooring: Won’t look or feel exactly like the real thing, the joins wear over time, poorly laid laminate can put off homebuyers

This is a compressed fibreboard plank, covered with a photographic image of wood with a protective overlay. Quality can vary considerably, so it really pays to buy the best quality you can afford.

The edges of some laminate flooring boards have a slight bevel to create a more realistic appearance. It also helps to avoid damage caused by moisture-induced swelling at the edges of laminate boards.

Avoid laminate flooring with a chipboard core, because it expands and contracts a lot. And don’t buy damaged packages where water vapour might have swollen the boards. Look for a fibreboard base with a plain-coloured underside – usually green or brown – which gives added protection against moisture.

Laminate flooring

How much does laminate flooring cost?

Prices start at around £3 per square metre, but be aware that the cheapest types are smooth and don’t look particularly realistic.

Bevelled edges, a more varied set of images and embossed features, such as knots, will give a more natural look and texture, but they cost more. Brands such as QuickStep (about £13-£32 per sq m) and Pergo (about £18-£49 per sq m) offer more premium options.

Where to lay laminate flooring 

Laminate is well-suited to high traffic areas that need frequent cleaning, such as living rooms, studies and playrooms. Check the guarantee carefully before buying to ensure you won’t invalidate it.

Some include a waterproof core, which manufacturers claim makes them suitable for bathrooms and kitchens. If you’re thinking of tackling these rooms, see our expert advice on planning a kitchen and planning a bathroom.

Engineered wood flooring

  • Pros of engineered wood flooring: More stable than a piece of solid wood, and less prone to changes caused by temperature, cheaper than comparable solid-wood planks
  • Cons of engineered wood flooring: Tongue-and-groove planks are harder to install than click-lock ones, generally more expensive than laminate

Each engineered wood floorboard consists of three or four layers of wood, glued together to create a plank around 14mm thick. It has a real-wood veneer of around 4mm thick on top, which means it can be sanded back and treated to restore the original finish if it becomes scuffed, worn or damaged.

Engineered wood flooring is sometimes available with click-lock installation, which doesn’t require any adhesive. Tongue-and-groove versions will need to be glued into place.

Engineered wood flooring

How much does engineered wood flooring cost?

Prices range from about £19 per square metre, to more than £160 for expensive woods.

Where to lay engineered wood flooring

Living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and kitchens. While it’s more resistant to warping than solid wood, it’s still best avoided in places where it will be exposed to a lot of humidity, such as a bathroom. It’s also best avoided on stairs, where it is time-consuming and fiddly to lay. 

It can be tricky to achieve a good finish around corners, too – for instance, around sink pedestals.

Solid wood flooring

  • Pros of solid wood flooring: Has a classic look and feel, appealing to buyers if you decide to sell or let your home
  • Cons of solid wood flooring: Swells in damp conditions and shrinks in dry, tough to install because it has to be glued or nailed down, has a more expensive starting price than other wood flooring options

Each solid wood board is made from a single piece of wood, which is typically 18-20mm thick. It is usually fitted using a tongue-and-groove system.

Solid wood flooring can be sanded back to restore the finish – the number of times you can do this is determined by how deep the tongue is set from the top of the board. It’s also worth seeing how well the planks fit together on in-store display panels, so look at the quality of the finish and the size of any gaps between the planks.

Wood is a natural material and the planks will vary a little in colour, but some more than others, so think about whether you want a uniform look or a set of planks with a range of light and heavy grains.

Note that solid wood floorboards can amplify sound, so rugs are a good option if you have boards upstairs.

Solid wood flooring

How much does solid wood flooring cost?

Prices vary depending on the cost of raw wood, from £15 per square metre for the cheapest options to £82 per square metre for some tropical hardwoods.

Where to lay solid wood flooring

Anywhere with a relatively consistent humidity – particularly in hallways and living areas where you can show it off.

Reclaimed wood flooring

  • Pros of reclaimed wood flooring: Environmentally friendly, vintage wood is aesthetically pleasing and will add overall value, can be painted, white-washed or stained any colour.
  • Cons of reclaimed wood flooring: Can often cost four or five times more than new floorboards, can contain hidden dangers like protruding nails, unless you purchase it from a company that will process it for you.

Reclaimed wood flooring is timber that has been used in another, older property that has been salvaged to be reused. Generally, it is very durable.

If you live in an older property, you might be lucky and discover perfectly preserved original floorboards under decades-old carpet. If not, you can source your own vintage planks. 

Reclaimed wood flooring

How much does reclaimed wood flooring cost?

Prices vary depending on where you buy. You might find someone giving floorboards away free or cheaply on marketplace sites like Gumtree and eBay. At salvage yards, boards tend to start from about £25 per square metre. This can rise to well over £100 per square metre depending on the condition, age, wood and width of boards.

Where to lay reclaimed wood flooring

Reclaimed timber flooring can be installed anywhere, but it’s best avoided in bathrooms where moisture may cause the timber to swell and crack. If you do lay reclaimed wood in bathrooms, wipe up spills quickly and keep the room well ventilated.

Parquet flooring

  • Pros of parquet flooring: Can be used to create interesting patterns, can handle high levels of traffic
  • Cons of parquet flooring: Expensive, fiddly to install, can fade in direct sunlight and be damaged by moisture

Parquet flooring is easily recognisable and formed of short, wooden blocks or strips arranged in a geometric pattern – usually herringbone or basket weave.

Visually, you might find this wood flooring type more interesting than others.

Parquet flooring

How much does parquet flooring cost?

Parquet prices start from £25 per square metre and go well into the hundreds.

Where to lay parquet flooring

Parquet flooring is suitable throughout a property, but best avoided in humid areas like bathrooms.

Bamboo flooring

  • Pros of bamboo flooring: Sustainable resource, strand-woven bamboo is tougher than oak flooring, good for allergies as bamboo is inhospitable to dust mites and repels dust and pollen
  • Cons of bamboo flooring: In some bamboo flooring, the adhesive used contains formaldehyde, a toxic substance that can release small amounts of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) over time

Technically a grass rather than a wood, bamboo forms its own unique grain pattern and can be worked into extremely hard-wearing floorboards that look and feel very similar to natural hardwood. It’s also easy to clean.

Bamboo reaches maturity in a quarter of the time of hardwood trees, which means it’s more sustainable to harvest. 

The material is water resistant (so less likely to develop mould and mildew) but not waterproof – too much water can leave unsightly spots and cause the flooring to warp. Darker bamboo has been through a carbonisation process, which weakens the material, making it softer and more prone to scratching.

Bamboo flooring

How much does bamboo flooring cost?

Prices vary, but start from about £20 per square metre.

Where to lay bamboo flooring

Bamboo works well in most rooms. Although it’s more water resistant than hardwood, it’s not waterproof, so it’s best avoided in bathrooms.

Wood-effect tiles

  • Pros of wood-effect tiles: Suitable in any room, won’t rot or warp when they get wet, easy to maintain
  • Cons of wood-effect tiles: Can be cold without underfloor heating, can be noisy to walk on

Combining the beauty of natural wood with the durability of ceramic tiles, wood effect tiles are affordable and practical. You’ll have a wide range of colours and styles to choose from.

Remember that tiles require grout, which can be a trap for dirt and debris – see our guide to the best vacuum cleaners that can lend a helping hand.

Wood-effect tiles

How much do wood-effect tiles cost?

Prices vary from around £12 per square metre to over £150 per square metre.

Where to lay wood-effect tiles

Wood-effect tiles are waterproof and much more resistant to wear and tear than hardwood and laminate floors, so they’re ideal in bathrooms, kitchens and high-traffic areas like hallways.

Some brands make matching indoor and outdoor tiles, so that you can continue your flooring out onto patios and porches.

Cork flooring

  • Pros of cork flooring: Absorbs sound, keeps naturally warm all year round, doesn’t absorb dust or mites (making it good for those with allergies), shock-absorbent and durable, so it can withstand plenty of foot traffic
  • Cons of cork flooring: Unlikely to last as long as hardwood floors, can be scratched and is susceptible to furniture damage

Eco-friendly and sustainable, cork is actually the bark of the cork oak tree. Bark naturally splits periodically – around every 9-15 years – and can be safely harvested without harming the trees. The bark regrows and the cycle continues. 

For flooring, cork is ground up, compressed and formed into sheets bonded with resins. Natural, quickly renewable cork is biodegradable at the end of its life cycle, so it’s an eco-friendly option.

Cork flooring

How much does cork flooring cost?

Prices start from about £20 per square metre for cork tiles.

Where to lay cork flooring

Cork has a soft surface that can have a slight cushioning effect, so it can be a great choice for children’s bedrooms or playrooms. Don’t be afraid to use it in the bedroom, either – cork retains warmth so feels cosy underfoot. It’s also a good choice for those with allergies, as it doesn’t absorb dust or mites.

Cork floor tiles are finished with a clear varnish that gives protection against water stains and damage. However, if the seal isn’t perfect and the room floods, the cork will probably warp and discolour. High humidity can also cause cork to curl, so it’s best to avoid it in bathrooms.

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