You can whittle down all flooring to one of these two categories: floor coverings or structural installations. It’s easy to know if the floors you have are just floor coverings by process of elimination because there are only three floors the industry considers structural floor installations. The three are solid hardwood, ceramic tile, and stone. If you don’t have one of those floors, you don’t have a structural installation.

Structural installation flooring
Solid hardwood, ceramic tile, and stone flooring all become part of your home’s structure. They are considered a permanent floor. They add structural value to your home, too.

Floor coverings
Engineered wood, laminate, luxury vinyl tile, luxury vinyl planks, carpet, vinyl, and everything else — all of these flooring types are considered nothing more than floor coverings. They are not part of the home’s structure, even if you nail staple or glue them in. They may add an aesthetic value, but that will never be considered permanent flooring.

The importance of knowing your flooring
“So why does this matter at all?” you might ask. Well, first off, it matters when you are purchasing a flooring product through a flooring store. Authentic, solid hardwood flooring and tile installations offer a level of quality and aesthetic appeal that engineered wood or laminate flooring alternatives simply cannot match. You should also expect to pay more for the permanent flooring products and the process of installing them.

On top of this, there’s a rumor floating around that engineered wood flooring gives up nothing but the bottom half of the product, so it’s a structural installation, too. There are many differences between engineered and solid hardwood flooring, both pros and cons, but that’s a different article. The bottom line is that engineered hardwood is the same as installing carpet from a structural standpoint because it’s nothing more than a cover for the plywood subfloor.

Don’t let anyone mislead you. When in doubt, check this guide to decide whether a type of flooring will add structural value to your home or just look nice.

About the author 

Ralph Kuehn

Ralph Kuehn is the President of Champion Floor Company in St. Louis and has been in thee flooring industry for over 35 years. He has experience with everything related to flooring, from installation to estimating and sales. He is proud to work with his 2 daughters who are also part of the flooring industry, and share his passion and knowledge of flooring with them.

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