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Spotlight: Hardwood Flooring

What’s best for hardwood floors – solid or engineered?

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What’s best for hardwood floors – solid or engineered?

Stylish, hard-wearing flooring options are everywhere these days, and for some people, it can be hard for many to decide which product is best suited. Solid wood has long been the preferred option, and it still is among the purists. But for those who consider practicality and price equally, engineered wood floors have carved out a notch in the interiors industry – and it’s a deep one. Modern engineered wood makes up the majority of wood flooring products on the market, and gives its solid wood counterparts a run for their money. Here’s how these different hardwoods stack up.

With solid hardwood, what you see is what you get – a single, solid piece of wood, through and through. This also means that solid hardwood floors are susceptible to expansion and contraction due to changing temperatures and humidity levels, and can cause floors to shift and buckle, if not installed properly. Engineered wood is made with a plywood base, glued and topped by a thin veneer of hardwood, giving you the look of solid hardwood at a fraction of the price. Engineered wood can also be installed over different surfaces, such as existing wood. Cost aside, there are some other big differences to consider.

When it comes to finishes, both solid hardwood and engineered wood floors can be pre-finished, or finished on site. However, one benefit to solid hardwood over engineered wood is that it can be sanded and refinished numerous times, whereas engineered wood can only be sanded twice, before the veneer wears through. Keep this in mind. Most of us will refinish a floor only once or twice in our occupancy of a particular home, so this isn’t typically a deal-breaker.

In terms of durability, the battle between hardwood and engineered wood is a draw. When making your decision, consider how you intend to wear – and tear – your floors. Because engineered wood only consists of a thin top layer, it’s easier to chip or scratch than hardwood. When it comes to water, engineered wood wins, withstanding exposure to moderate moisture better than hardwood. This means in hallways and living rooms, solid wood works. In a kitchen, powder room or bathroom, engineered wood is more practical.

I seem to be singing the praises of engineered wood floors thus far, but remember that not all are created equal – “created” being the operative word. Engineered floors are manufactured, and quality can vary. If you’re considering engineered wood, ensure you’re sourcing a quality product from a trusted manufacturer.

One of my go-to choices for quality, colour and style options is Canadian brand Fuzion Flooring. I love working with this brand for their engineered woods, and many of my clients today have opted for this alternative, thanks to its price, practicality and beauty. Engineered wood now comes in a range of types, such as oak, maple, birch, cherry, as well as more exotic options. All wood products, solid and engineered, have their pros and cons. Make an informed decision and work with a professional to ensure you’re selecting the best product for your home and lifestyle.

Andrea Colman is Principal of Fine Finishes Design Inc.

With almost two decades of reno and design experience, her firm services clientele throughout the GTA. The growing boutique design firm is known for creating stylish, harmonious, livable environments.


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At Home With Men At Work

Colour Theory 101: A main floor renovation in Little Portugal hits all the right notes

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Colour Theory 101: A main floor renovation in Little Portugal hits all the right notes

Photography by Valerie Wilcox

Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane, and revisit those lessons on colour theory from high school art class; I promise this detour will be quick. Everyone knows that the primary colours are blue, red and yellow. Secondary colours are made by mixing two primary colours together: purple, orange, and green. Tertiary colours are made by (you guessed it), mixing one primary colour and one secondary colour together.

Opposites attract

Now that we’ve got those three terms straight, let’s move on to complementary colours. One common misconception about complementary colours is that they are similar colours. When we say “complementary,” we are actually referring to two colours on opposite sides of the colour wheel. A complementary colour pairing is made up of one primary colour, and one secondary colour that was made without the primary colour it is paired with. The pairs are blue and orange, red and green, and yellow and purple. Scientifically speaking, complementary colours simultaneously stimulate different parts of the eye, which is why we find the combination so appealing. It’s a natural example of opposites attracting. When we are describing similar colours, the technical term is “analogous” colours. They are groups of three colours that are next to each other on the proverbial colour wheel. An example of a trio would be blue, teal and green.

Mood-enhancing hues

Now that we are up to speed on our colour theory, let’s apply it! This is the fun part. First of all, don’t get hung up on the colour of the year. Rather, think about the colours that evoke the atmosphere you want to create in your space. Some may find peace in darker, more dramatic hues, while others find solace in brighter spaces with varying shades of analogous colours. The latter was the case for our client’s ground-floor renovation in Little Portugal. The main goal for the space was to open it up by removing the partition walls. In doing this, we shifted the location of the kitchen toward the back of the home to provide a more formal living/dining space at the front of the house, and a family room right off the kitchen at the back of the house.

Family heirloom plays a new tune

One of the major influences in this design was finding a way to transform the client’s family piano. The piano was no longer in great musical shape, but it had been in the family for decades, so it was an important piece of family history that needed to be preserved. The piano was lovingly disassembled, and the salvaged pieces of mahogany were stripped and sanded, revealing a beautifully rich reddish-orange wood. The family heirloom was then reconfigured into a functional and original desk in the kitchen. Considering the open-concept floorplan, we chose a classic white-and-grey paint combination for the kitchen cabinetry. To add a hit of timeless contrast, we selected a moonstone marble backsplash in a herringbone pattern.

Colour’s transformative power

Knowing that blue and orange are complementary colours, it is no surprise that the hints of blue found in the backsplash, as well as the undertones in the dark grey colour of the island, are the perfect pairing for our custom mahogany piano desk. The vibrant runners are an excellent way to add colour and pattern to the neutral backdrop of the walls and cabinetry. By simply changing the runners, some accessories, and the artwork, the colour story of this space was completely transformed, without another major renovation.

If you are like me, and constantly thinking about your next design project, take the time to consider the colour story of your home, because great spaces are carefully and selectively curated to present a cohesive story from the foyer to the back door, and everything in between. Now for your homework – because I have to give you the full high school experience – do a little colour soul searching; discover what colours empower you, energize you, console you, and then create your new space with unapologetic conviction.

Sources:

KITCHEN CABINETRY PAINT: Chantilly Lace OC-65, Midnight 2131-20 Benjamin Moore KITCHEN COUNTERTOPS: Noble Grey from Caesarstone KITCHEN BACKSPLASH: Moonstone Herringbone from Creekside Tile KITCHEN CABINETS: Merlo Woodworking WOOD FLOORING: Bistro Collection, Maple French Roast, Fuzion Flooring

Natalie Venalainen is a Senior Designer at Men at Work Design-Build.

She has 10 years of industry experience and has won several awards including the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s top 30 under 30 design professionals across North America in 2018.


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