What is the best wooden flooring

Do you want to achieve the perfect wood-look for your floors?

There are a few options to choose between, from natural wooden flooring to synthetic products that provide the aesthetic effect of natural wood. The main contenders are hardwood, engineered wood, laminate and vinyl.

However, choosing the right flooring for your home often requires more consideration than just aesthetics. In this article, we’ll go through the main features that may be your deciding factors when choosing your new flooring, ranking each type from best to worst.

Lifespan and durability

  1. Hardwood

Hardwood has the longest average lifespan out of these options, lasting around 30 – 100 years. The boards are strong and durable, and even if they do get scratched, scuffed or dented, they can be sanded and refinished multiple times to restore their original appearance.

  1. Engineered wood

With an average lifespan of 20 – 40 years, engineered wood is the closest comparison to hardwood in this section. The top layer of an engineered wood plank is composed of hardwood, meaning any imperfections can be sanded and refinished away. However, as this layer is relatively thin, engineered wood planks cannot be sanded as many times as solid hardwood planks.

  1. Laminate

Laminate flooring is composed of compressed wooden material, with an uppermost layer that protects against scratches, scuffs and dents. If the boards are to get damaged, they can’t be fixed, requiring a complete replacement of the affected area. The average lifespan of laminate is around 15 – 25 years.

  1. Vinyl

Vinyl flooring is completely synthetic and, similarly to laminate, has an uppermost protective layer. Standard vinyl products are relatively durable and can last between 10 – 20 years. Luxury vinyl floorings, like plank (LVP) and tile (LVT), have a slightly improved expected lifespan of 15 – 20 years.

Water-resistance

  1. Vinyl

Of all four contenders in this article, vinyl flooring products have the best water-resistance properties, with some products being completely waterproof. Prolonged water exposure can cause problems with the adhesive underneath vinyl flooring, but the planks or tiles themselves should remain mostly unaffected, making water damage a relatively easy fix.

  1. Laminate

Laminate flooring has good water-resistance, but prolonged exposure can cause the boards to warp, swell or crack. There is no way to fix the planks if damaged in this way – they will require complete replacement. Assuming that any spills are promptly cleaned up, laminate boards should hold up well.

  1. Engineered wood

Natural wood is very susceptible to moisture, and since the top layer of engineered wood planks is composed of hardwood, they can be vulnerable to moisture damage. The planks may deform when exposed to liquids, a problem that cannot be resolved by sanding and refinishing.

  1. Hardwood

Being entirely composed of natural wood, hardwood flooring is the most vulnerable to moisture damage out of the products in this article. Water exposure can cause the boards to expand, contract or warp, and this damage is irreparable.

Sound reduction

  1. Vinyl

The sound reduction qualities of vinyl flooring are the best on this list. Many vinyl flooring products are engineered with acoustic properties designed to reduce noise.

  1. Laminate

Laminate has relatively poor sound resistance, but this can be enhanced with specific sound reduction underlays. Although a simple fix, these underlays are an additional investment when purchasing and installing new flooring, so keep that in mind if you’re sticking to a strict budget.

  1. Engineered wood

There is nothing special to say about the sound reduction qualities of engineered wood. There are worse options available if noise reduction is a priority, but there are plenty of better options too. Certain underlays can be installed to increase the sound reduction of engineered wood, but even then it’s not particularly impressive.

  1. Hardwood

Compared to most flooring options (including others not mentioned in this article), hardwood has poor sound reduction. Similarly to engineered wood, underlay can help make small improvements. However, this will not cancel out all noise reverberation.

Cleaning & maintenance

  1. Vinyl

If you’re looking for a flooring solution that is easy to clean and maintain, vinyl is the clear winner. Regular vacuuming or sweeping can keep the floors clear from dust and debris, and mopping with standard floor-care products will sanitize the boards. Due to its inherent water resistance, mopping vinyl is relatively risk-free, but avoid using excess water.

  1. Laminate

Just like vinyl, laminate floors can be vacuumed or swept, then mopped with standard floor-care products to maintain smart and sanitary floors. However, as laminate is not as water resistant as vinyl, more care should be taken when mopping to ensure the floors are not left too wet for an extended period.

  1. Engineered wood

As above, engineered wood flooring can be vacuumed or swept and then mopped to keep them looking fresh. The key difference is in the maintenance: it’s recommended to regularly wax and polish the floors to maintain the original shine and luster of the boards.

  1. Hardwood

The cleaning and maintenance requirements of hardwood are the same as engineered wood. However, hardwood has a longer expected lifespan, so it’s more important to keep up with regular waxing and polishing to ensure you get the most out of your floors.

It’s important to note that a steam mop is not recommended for any of these four flooring types. The heat from the steam can damage the design of both vinyl and laminate and cause moisture issues for engineered wood and hardwood.

Cost

Everyone’s budget is different, and you may have specific features in mind that are worth paying more for. But for those sticking to a stricter budget, we’ve ranked the cost of these flooring types from lowest to highest.

  1. Laminate

Laminate flooring costs around $1 – $3.50 per square foot, depending on the design of the boards.

  1. Vinyl

Vinyl flooring can start as low as $1 per square foot, but luxury vinyl products like LVP and LVT can cost around $10 per square foot. The price of vinyl flooring can also depend on its features, such as whether it is water-resistant or waterproof, or has advanced sound reduction qualities.

  1. Engineered wood

Engineered wood can cost around $3 – $11 per square foot, so is fairly comparable to higher-end vinyl products.

  1. Hardwood

As the entire board is composed of hardwood, these products have a higher price range than engineered wood. On average, hardwood flooring can cost anywhere between $6 – $24, so can be a much larger initial cost than other flooring options we’ve discussed. Due to its impressive lifespan, hardwood flooring is more of a long-term investment for most homeowners.

What’s the best wooden flooring?

There is no simple answer to which flooring type is best – it will entirely depend on your requirements.

If the natural wood-look and feel is your biggest priority, both hardwood and engineered wood are great choices. These flooring materials have great durability and expected life spans too, which is a good way to maximize your initial investment. However, if you’re looking for something easy to clean and maintain, has good water-resistance, or you’re sticking to a tight budget, laminate and vinyl products will often be your best bet.

Whichever flooring you choose, always have it installed by a professional to ensure maximum safety and longevity.


Powerhouse is a full-service home and commercial services company based in Texas.

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Susan Kare happens to be a talented and experienced digital marketing professional who specialises in home décor as well and pursues it as a passion. Being a prolific blogger, she shares her immense knowledge about both these fields through a number of blogs in various topics. She has always strived to provide valuable information through her writings so that the readers get answers to the question lurking in their minds for a long time.