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  • Writer's pictureZack Jurkowski

The Ultimate Flooring Showdown: Hardwood, Engineered Hardwood, and Vinyl Flooring

As a General Contractor in Montreal who specializes in bathroom and kitchen renovations, I often get asked about the differences between hardwood flooring, engineered hardwood flooring, and vinyl flooring. In this article, I'll break down the key differences between these three flooring options, their benefits and drawbacks, and where they are most suitable.

Hardwood Flooring: Timeless Elegance with a Vulnerability to Moisture

Let's start with hardwood flooring. Hardwood floors are made of solid wood, and they offer a timeless look that can add warmth and elegance to any room. They come in a wide variety of species, such as oak, maple, and walnut, each with its unique character and durability. The biggest benefit of hardwood flooring is that it can last for decades with proper care and maintenance, making it a worthwhile investment. However, hardwood floors are vulnerable to moisture, and they can warp or crack over time. As such, they are not recommended for rooms with high humidity levels, such as bathrooms and basements.

They have a rich history in North America and are generally regarded as the highest-end option of natural flooring. They do not get cold like tiles, and each piece has a unique grain to it, making sure that no two pieces are alike. They can also be refinished several times over the years, allowing for a "like-new" appearance or a color-change during refinishing.

A drawback is that they can squeak over time, and they tend to be relatively expensive compared to a common vinyl flooring, with both the raw material and the labour involved in the installation costing more. They also are not particularly suitable for areas that are exposed to things that could scratch the finish like our beloved furry friends or road salt and gravel.

Engineered Hardwood Flooring: Durable and Eco-Friendly

Engineered hardwood flooring is made up of multiple layers of wood, with a solid hardwood layer on top. The layer on top varies in thickness, depending on the brand and the quality, but this is known as a "veneer" or "lamination". This construction makes it more resistant to moisture and temperature changes than hardwood flooring. It is also a more eco-friendly option as it uses less solid wood, making it more sustainable. Engineered hardwood flooring offers a similar aesthetic appeal to hardwood flooring, but it is more affordable and typically easier to install. However, the thickness of the top layer determines how many times the floor can be refinished. With a thinner layer, the floor may only be refinished once or twice, whereas a thicker layer can be refinished multiple times.

Engineered flooring is no longer considered the new kid on the block, as it has been around for many years in the Montreal market. It's durability has been proven by time, and it's often slightly less expensive than hardwood flooring, while also offering a slightly easier installation, leading to a reduced price overall.

A drawback is the inability to refinish it as much as hardwood, due to the nature of it's veneered composition.

Vinyl Flooring: Waterproof, Scratch-Resistant, and Versatile

Vinyl flooring is a synthetic flooring option that is made from PVC and other additives. It comes in a wide range of colors and patterns, offering versatility in design options. There are several distinct types of vinyl flooring, ranging from very thin and flexible (great for uneven surfaces), relatively thick with either a hardened vinyl or stone core, and hardened or stone core with a backing, such as sound-dampening material or thermal insulation.

Vinyl flooring is also waterproof and resistant to scratches, making it a viable option for bathrooms and kitchens. Vinyl flooring is an affordable option, but it may not last as long as hardwood or engineered hardwood flooring. It also lacks the warmth and elegance that natural wood flooring provides.

A benefit is the ease of installation and typically lower price point which often makes vinyl flooring the least expensive option.

As far as drawbacks go: while it is more resilient to wear and tear, it can be sometimes be punctured or torn by sharp objects. When laid on surfaces that are not very level, the more rigid types of vinyl flooring may have a tendency to chip or have their corners break off over time. The same can happen in high traffic areas, like under dining room chairs or furniture with small concentrated legs or feet.

It is also a completely synthetic product, meaning it does not have the natural beauty of the previous two options. Even at the highest price point, vinyl flooring remains a product who's wood grain is a digital image printed on the top of the plank, and there will be repetition throughout the floor. While higher end models may have more patterns and cut the patterns at different places so that they have less repetition. a discerning eye (like mine) will be able to pick out the fake wood.

Choosing the Right Flooring for Your Home

When choosing the right flooring for your home, it's essential to consider your specific needs and preferences. Hardwood flooring is a classic option that offers a timeless appeal, but it may not be suitable for high-moisture areas. Engineered hardwood flooring is a durable and eco-friendly option, but it may require more frequent refinishing. Vinyl flooring is an affordable and versatile option, but it may lack the natural elegance of hardwood or engineered hardwood flooring.

Conclusion: Finding the Perfect Flooring for Your Home

In conclusion, I hope this article has helped you understand the differences between hardwood flooring, engineered hardwood flooring, and vinyl flooring.

Whether you're looking to add warmth and elegance to your home or need a practical and affordable option, there is a flooring choice that will meet your needs. And if you're still unsure which option is right for you, don't hesitate to reach out to a professional general contractor like myself to discuss your options.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some floors to lay down... and some floor jokes to make. Why did the flooring contractor refuse to sand the floor? Because it was a rough job!

Why did the contractor become a flooring installer? He nailed the interview!

Okay, okay, I'll stick to renovation work.


Montreal Contractors is a qualified company, holding an active bonded license as a General Contractor and Specialized Contractor with the Régie du Bâtiment du Québec (RBQ License: 5767-5480-01), ASP Health & Safety Certification and a $2M liability policy. Our employees have all passed background checks, are registered with CNESST and have their ASP Health and Safety certification.

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