Most wood floors are between 5/16 and 3/4 of an inch in thickness. However, it is possible to get hardwood flooring that is thicker, but is it worth it? Here are the pros and cons of thicker wood flooring.
1. Pro: More Support
The thicker your hardwood floors are, the more support they can offer as 2nd level and higher up floors. This can be especially great when the subflooring on higher levels is not very supportive. Of course, the safest way to fix a subfloor that is not supportive is to replace or add more subflooring. However, using a thicker hardwood floor can add even more support to help ease your mind.
If you decide to choose a thinner hardwood flooring then you will absolutely want to make sure your subflooring is very sturdy and will not give out, because your hardwood will add little to no extra support.
For a hardwood flooring, subflooring should also be made of wood.
2. Pro: More Insulation
Lots of people who decided to use a thicker hard floor in their house have reported that it has helped insulate their house.
Some homeowners have reported that adding a thick layer of hardwood will help block some of the cold air from seeping in through the floors. Though because of this, it may be tempting to use your thicker hardwood floor in the basement, but you may not want to do that because of moisture. We will talk more about this later in the article.
It’s important to keep in mind that this has not been actually proven by professionals but comes from people who have noticed this in their own homes. It does make sense though that thicker wood would help block the climate. While this pro can be an added benefit, it most likely will not make a huge difference and probably shouldn’t be a huge deciding factor.
3. Pro: Lasts Longer
The maintenance of hardwood flooring does require sanding and polishing about every 7 to 10 years. Though this doesn’t seem that often, with each sanding and polishing some wood off the top layer is lost. Since a thinner wood can only be refinished about 4 to 6 times, it will only last about 28 to 60 years. This is also dependant on what type of wood it is as some wood is stronger and more durable than others. Softer woods are not going to last as many sandings.
The thicker your hardwood is the more sandings it can take and the longer it will last. This may be not super important to you now, but it could save you a ton of money down the road and should be considered. This is also a good place to note that hardwood is going to be stronger and more durable than engineered wood.
4. Pro: Better Appearance
Once installed, a thick hardwood is going to feel and look better than a thinner hardwood. And not only will it look better right out of the box, but because of its strength and durability, it is going to have a great appearance for many years to come.
Some solid thick hardwoods have been known to become treasured antiques because of their longevity. Though a thick hardwood floor will change in color and shape as many years go by, this will only add to its beauty and character. You may find in a few decades that people are extremely jealous of your beautiful hardwood floors.
5. Pro: Hides Damage Better
Since you will, obviously, be walking on your hardwood floor you will have to accept that your flooring will obtain some scratching. The thicker your hardwood floor is the better it will be at hiding these scratches. Especially if your flooring is made out of engineered wood.
Since engineered wood is made of layers with only the top layer being hardwood, if a scratch is deep enough then it may show the layers beneath the top. Because the layers beneath the top layer are not the same, any scratches could stick out like a sore thumb. The thicker the top layer of wood is, the less likely it is for scratches to show the beneath layers.
Engineered wood is different from hardwood, in that hardwood is just one piece of natural wood. Though hardwood is the more sought-after wood, engineered wood is also great and has its own benefits.
6. Con: Could Affect Heating System
It is becoming more and more popular to add a floor heating system in homes. I personally have enjoyed waking up on a cold morning and stepping on a nice warm floor. Though it is expensive, this is an upgrade that tons of people are loving in their homes. This is a feature that probably isn’t going away any time soon.
Now if you have installed or are planning to install a floor heating system, then the thickness of your hardwood flooring is something that you really should pay attention to.
Now, this may depend on the type and brand of heating system that you get so you may need to do some research into the heating system that you are installing. Whether you look online or talk to a professional, you should find out if the heating system is compatible with certain hardwood thicknesses.
The thickness of your hardwood flooring may affect how well the heating systems heat your floors. A thicker wood could potentially lose some of the warmth and make the heating system less effective. On the other hand, if you have a very powerful heating system then the extremely thin wood floor may allow too much heat to pass through.
7. Con: More Vulnerable To Water Damage
Thicker hardwood floors are much more vulnerable to moisture damage and warping. If you decide to install thicker hardwood into your home then you will need to be aware of leaks that could arise in your house and make sure spilled water is always cleaned as soon as possible. Improper installation can also cause warping by allowing moisture to leak in, so it is important that installing is done as perfectly as possible.
If you live in a location that is extremely wet or is subtropical/tropical then you will want to stay completely away from thicker hardwood floors. The only exception is if the wood is made from wood that is native to that specific climate.
Also, if you are installing a hardwood floor over a concrete floor, installing a subfloor first is a must. This will prevent moisture from entering the hardwood through the concrete. Do not install thicker hardwood floors in a basement.
8. Con: Less Versatile
Thicker solid hardwood flooring can be less versatile in that there are places that you should avoid installing it.
The bathroom is one of these places. Earlier in the article, it is mentioned that thicker hardwood is prone to moisture damage and warping. Because of this, you will want to avoid installing wood flooring in your bathroom where there is frequently steam and standing water.
The basement is another one of these places. The deeper a level goes into the earth the more moisture will be in the air. This makes the basement a place to avoid using thicker hardwood. Thick solid hardwood flooring should only be used at ground level and up.
Pretty much any place in your house where there may be lots of water spilled or lots of moisture in the air, you will not want to put a thicker hardwood. For these places in your house, you will want to choose a thin engineered wood flooring.
9. Con: Harder To Install
A thick hardwood flooring is going to be harder to install than a thinner one, especially if it is solid wood versus engineered. If you are skilled in home renovation then you may install it yourself, but if not I would recommend having a professional do it.
When installing a thick hardwood floor you can expect some swelling (which is natural) and most professionals will leave a small gap between the floor a wall to accommodate for this.
Also, you should note that while engineered wood will lock together, hardwood needs to be nailed into the subflooring. This contributes to it being so tough to install.
10. Con: More Expensive
This one is pretty obvious, but the thicker the hardwood flooring is, the more it is going to cost. Now, this shouldn’t be too surprising as usually with anything in life, the better the quality of the item the more it is going to cost. That being said, the price increase is not that extreme and to you, it may be definitely worth it.
However, in the case of your hardwood floor, it will probably be worth spending more to get a thicker and better hardwood flooring. Now this will depend on some things that have been mentioned above, but overall, going for a thicker hardwood flooring has many benefits and can be a great upgrade for your home.
Hardwood flooring is expensive so make sure to consider all things. You can always ask friends and family what type of flooring they have and how they have liked it to get a better idea of what you want.