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Hardwood Flooring vs. Carpet: How to Decide

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Flooring. To refinish or to carpet. That’s on Theresa’s mind in North Carolina. Let’s sort it out. What can we do?

    THERESA: Well, I’m hoping very much that you can help me make a decision with regard to going either to carpeting or to the new wood flooring.

    LESLIE: What do you currently have in the room and what room is it?

    THERESA: OK, it’s my living room and it could also encompass my dining room, which is two steps above the living room. And I’m on a concrete slab and needless to say right now it’s kind of cold. I was leaning kind of toward the carpeting but I was wondering if there was a way I could do the wood flooring and still get a certain amount of composition of insulation …

    LESLIE: Well, Theresa, because you’re on a concrete slab you cannot use a solid hardwood; only because it wouldn’t be structurally stable. All of that moisture would change the integrity of a solid hardwood. But thanks to different underlayments and different types of materials that are used for underlayments you can comfort, you can get insulation. You can use something that’s called an engineered hardwood which is made to go on a concrete subfloor or even a laminate. But they’re both very different and an engineered hardwood is going to be made similar to how plywood is made. So it’s built up in varying grains and textures. They oppose each other so that they become structurally stable. And then the top is about an eighth-inch of that solid wood veneer. So you have the wood look in exactly what you want and it’s a natural wood but it’s engineered below it and that’s a great choice. Or there’s laminate flooring.

    TOM: That’s right. Laminate flooring is installed much the same as engineered hardwood and generally there is an underlayment that goes under that as well. And that’s going to give you some additional level of cushion as well as some additional level of insulation. So while these products may not feel as comfortable to your bare feet as carpet, they’re not bad. And they really are far more durable and they’re also better for the environment in terms of less dust and better for folks that have any kind of respiratory or allergy issues, too.

    THERESA: And how about the insulation factor?

    TOM: Well, depends on the manufacturer but usually they have some sort of a very thin insulation that goes under it. Like I know that we put down Formica and there was a – like about an eighth to a quarter-of-an-inch-thick foam insulator that went under the whole thing. Armstrong has got a similar kind of spongy surface that goes under theirs. All the manufacturers have different ones. Some of them are even attached to the flooring itself. But it does give you an additional layer of insulation between the floor and the actual material itself.

    THERESA: Oh, great. I was unaware that Armstrong even dealt in the wood.

    TOM: Oh, no. They make engineered hardwood and they make laminate and it’s good stuff.

    LESLIE: And they have three separate companies all under the Armstrong umbrella and all of their residential floorings come with a 25-year warranty. So they’ll take care of you.

    TOM: You know in fact, Theresa, I’ll tell you what you should do. Armstrong.com has a book on it called The Guide to Flooring which is very, very well done. You ought to go download that at Armstrong.com. You can read all about it.

    Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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