What Thickness of Wood Flooring is Best?

The best thickness of wood flooring depends on the type of wood, the subfloor, and the installation method. Generally, thicker wood floors are more durable, stable, and resilient than thinner ones. However, thicker wood floors also cost more and may not be suitable for some subfloors or installation methods. In this article, we will explore the different factors that affect the choice of wood flooring thickness and provide some recommendations for common scenarios.

Types of Wood Flooring

Wood flooring comes in different types, such as solid, engineered, and laminate. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the thickness of each type may vary.

  • Solid wood flooring is made from solid pieces of wood that are typically 3/4 inch thick. Solid wood flooring is the most traditional and natural type of wood flooring, and it can be sanded and refinished multiple times. However, solid wood flooring is also more prone to expansion and contraction due to changes in humidity and temperature, and it may not be compatible with some subfloors or installation methods, such as concrete or radiant heating.
  • Engineered wood flooring is made from layers of wood or plywood that are bonded together with a thin layer of hardwood veneer on top. Engineered wood flooring can range from 1/4 inch to 9/16 inch thick, depending on the number and thickness of the layers. Engineered wood flooring is more stable and resistant to moisture and heat than solid wood flooring, and it can be installed over various subfloors and installation methods. However, engineered wood flooring may not last as long as solid wood flooring, and it can only be sanded and refinished a few times, depending on the thickness of the veneer layer.
  • Laminate wood flooring is made from high-density fiberboard (HDF) or medium-density fiberboard (MDF) that are covered with a photographic image of wood and a protective wear layer. Laminate wood flooring can range from 6 mm to 12 mm thick, depending on the quality and durability of the product. Laminate wood flooring is the most affordable and easy to install type of wood flooring, and it can mimic the look of various wood species and finishes. However, laminate wood flooring is not real wood, and it cannot be sanded or refinished. It is also more susceptible to scratches, dents, and water damage than real wood flooring.
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Subfloor and Installation Method

The subfloor and the installation method are also important factors to consider when choosing the thickness of wood flooring. The subfloor is the base layer that supports the wood flooring, and it can be made from different materials, such as plywood, OSB, concrete, or tile. The installation method is the way the wood flooring is attached to the subfloor, and it can be done by nailing, gluing, floating, or clicking.

  • Nailing is the most common and traditional installation method for solid wood flooring, and it requires a wooden subfloor that is at least 3/4 inch thick. Nailing provides a strong and secure bond between the wood flooring and the subfloor, and it allows the wood flooring to expand and contract naturally. However, nailing is not suitable for engineered or laminate wood flooring, or for subfloors that are not made of wood, such as concrete or tile.
  • Gluing is an installation method that involves applying a special adhesive to the subfloor and the wood flooring, and then pressing them together. Gluing can be used for solid, engineered, or laminate wood flooring, and it can be done over various subfloors, such as concrete or tile. Gluing provides a stable and durable bond between the wood flooring and the subfloor, and it reduces the noise and movement of the wood flooring. However, gluing is more expensive and time-consuming than other installation methods, and it may not allow the wood flooring to expand and contract freely.
  • Floating is an installation method that involves laying the wood flooring over a thin layer of foam or underlayment, and then locking the planks together with a tongue-and-groove or click system. Floating can be used for engineered or laminate wood flooring, and it can be done over any subfloor, as long as it is flat and level. Floating is the easiest and fastest installation method, and it does not require any nails or glue. However, floating may not provide a solid and firm feel to the wood flooring, and it may create a hollow sound when walked on.
  • Clicking is a variation of the floating installation method, where the wood flooring planks have a special locking mechanism that allows them to snap together without any glue or nails. Clicking can be used for engineered or laminate wood flooring, and it can be done over any subfloor, as long as it is flat and level. Clicking is the most convenient and user-friendly installation method, and it allows the wood flooring to be easily removed and replaced. However, clicking may not provide a tight and seamless fit between the wood flooring planks, and it may leave gaps or cracks that can collect dirt and moisture.
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Recommendations for Common Scenarios

Based on the type of wood flooring, the subfloor, and the installation method, here are some recommendations for the best thickness of wood flooring for common scenarios:

  • If you want to install solid wood flooring over a wooden subfloor by nailing, the best thickness is 3/4 inch, as this is the standard and most widely available thickness for solid wood flooring. This thickness will provide the best durability, stability, and longevity for your wood flooring, and it will allow you to sand and refinish it multiple times.
  • If you want to install engineered wood flooring over a concrete subfloor by gluing, the best thickness is 1/2 inch, as this is the optimal balance between strength and flexibility for engineered wood flooring. This thickness will provide enough stability and resistance to moisture and heat for your wood flooring, and it will allow you to sand and refinish it at least once or twice.
  • If you want to install laminate wood flooring over a tile subfloor by floating, the best thickness is 10 mm, as this is the ideal compromise between quality and affordability for laminate wood flooring. This thickness will provide enough durability and comfort for your wood flooring, and it will reduce the noise and movement of the wood flooring.

Conclusion

The thickness of wood flooring is an important factor to consider when choosing the best wood flooring for your home. The best thickness depends on the type of wood flooring, the subfloor, and the installation method. Generally, thicker wood floors are more durable, stable, and resilient than thinner ones. However, thicker wood floors also cost more and may not be suitable for some subfloors or installation methods. Therefore, you should always consult with a professional wood flooring installer before making your final decision.