Hardwood lasts longer than other flooring options and can be refinished several times (solid hardwoods can be refinished an unlimited number of times) -- or even restained to change their appearance. Today's polyurethane finishes allow installation in kitchens and half baths, as long as you take precautions to minimize water spills. Engineered woods are considered more stable for kitchen and bath applications. Wood flooring is available in strips, planks, and parquet squares.
Unfinished flooring gives you almost unlimited color stain options. The drawback: Unfinished flooring must be sanded and finished after installation, which typically requires the expertise of a professional and puts the room out of service for several days.
Prefinished flooring features a factory-applied finish that remodelers sometimes favor because it eliminates sawdust and finish vapors, and the room can be used within 24 hours after installation. The color options for prefinished flooring are not as varied as for unfinished flooring.
Solid or engineered flooring consists of two or more layers of wood, similar to plywood. The top layer consists of a hardwood veneer, while the lower layers are typically softwood. Unlike engineered wood flooring, the most familiar wood flooring is comprised of solid one-piece boards. Most solid flooring is unfinished, while most engineered flooring is prefinished.
Continued on page 2: Ceramic and Stone Tile