What's the best type of wood flooring?

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Timber flooring is a popular choice around the world, known for its warmth and unique character. Whether your priority is durability, aesthetics, or affordability, wood flooring is the most effective solution. 

However, choosing the ideal timber product for your next project can be daunting, especially when the floor will last for decades. In this article, we explore the range of wood flooring options available, as well as the pros and cons of each.   

Wood flooring products

There are several types of wood flooring available, including solid hardwood, engineered wood, parquetry, and bamboo. If you’re wondering which type of timber flooring is right for you, see the full breakdown below:

Solid hardwood timber flooring

Solid hardwood is a popular flooring option due to its unique colour, depth, and grain variations. This adds a timeless look and feel to any interior space. Another advantage of solid hardwood flooring is its durability. It can last for decades and be refinished several times, making it an excellent long-term investment.

However, there are also some drawbacks to consider when it comes to solid hardwood flooring. Firstly, a two to three-week period of acclimatisation is required before the installers can lay it. This allows the timber time to adapt to the environment and reduces warping over time.

Secondly, solid hardwood flooring is expensive, especially if you opt for site-finished boards. Lastly, regular maintenance is required to keep the floors looking their finest, and they need a flat subfloor or bearers and joists for proper installation.

Pros and cons of solid hardwood floors


  • Unique colour, depth, and grain
  • Can last for decades 
  • Can be refinished several times
  • Pre-finished options available


  • Professional installation is required 
  • Acclimatisation of two to three weeks
  • Expensive
  • Requires regular maintenance
  • Requires a flat subfloor or bearers and joists
  • Site-finished boards require additional work

Engineered wood flooring

With its authentic aesthetic, range of stains and styles, and quick installation, engineered wood shares many of the characteristics of solid hardwood, but with greater durability and affordability.

Engineered timber flooring consists of a real wood veneer overlaid on a reinforced plywood backing. With multiple layered components, engineered wood flooring is incredibly strong, meaning it can be laid over any flat surface, ensuring ultimate stability.

At Forté, our engineered wood flooring is specifically designed for New Zealand's variable climates and can last for decades. We also procure our timber from sustainable sources and use fewer natural resources than solid hardwood, leaving a smaller environmental impact.

Pros and cons of engineered wood floors


  • Cost-effective
  • Pre-finished boards for efficient installation
  • Can be installed on flat surfaces without nails or glue
  • Compatible with existing tiles

  • A wide range of thicknesses

  • Suitable for residential and commercial spaces

  • Ultimate durability and stability


  • Susceptible to water damage, like hardwood

Parquet flooring

Parquetry is created by arranging small pieces of wood in a geometric pattern on top of a solid backing material. This provides a distinctive appearance that can add character and interest to a room; however, it is not commonly used as it is expensive and time-consuming to install.

Parquetry is available in various timbers and layouts, making it easy to tailor them to match any decor style. However, as it wears out over time, the pattern can become disrupted.

Pros and cons of parquet floors


  • Unique design

  • Can be made from many types of timber (hardwood and engineered)

  • Can be glued down to timber or level concrete slabs


  • Complex installation

  • Expensive

  • High maintenance

  • Susceptible to water damage (as with previous options)

Bamboo flooring

Bamboo is a less common alternative to traditional solid hardwood flooring. As it is made from fast-growing bamboo stalks, it offers a relatively sustainable option. However, in some cases, harsh chemicals are used to manufacture it.

While bamboo can last for years with proper care and maintenance, it is more prone to damage than traditional solid hardwood. And, while the difference is fairly subtle, the appearance of bamboo flooring does not have the authentic wood look that many people prefer.

Pros and cons of bamboo flooring


  • Strength
  • Sustainable
  • Unique aesthetics


  • Chemicals and resin-based adhesives
  • Moisture sensitivity
  • Variability in quality
  • Susceptible to water damage

The best wood for flooring

While the above categories are a helpful place to start, there are still more considerations to make when choosing your type of flooring. We compare your options below.

The best type of wood

If you are looking for a durable and visually appealing timber, oak is difficult to beat. Other popular flooring timbers include maple, cherry, walnut, ash, and mahogany. If you are willing to spend more on an exotic species, consider teak, jarrah, or mesquite. Many of these options are available as a solid hardwood flooring material, engineered wood flooring solution and parquet.

Solid hardwoods vs softwoods

Flooring should measure at least 1,000 on the Janka hardness scale, which starts at 0 and runs up to 4,000, with 4,000 being extremely hard. This ensures it can withstand damage from heavy furniture, foot traffic, and general wear and tear. Softwoods like cedar, kauri, and rimu are not suitable for flooring, measuring below 1,000 on the Janka scale.

Pre-finished vs site-finished

Not sure if you should choose pre-finished or site-finished boards? The key distinction between these options is the amount of time required to install them. The upfront cost of pre-finished floorboards is higher but the overall installation is much easier and faster, resulting in lower labour costs.

Engineered wood vs solid hardwood

The difference between solid hardwood and engineered wood comes down to construction. With most engineered wood solutions it’s impossible to tell whether the finished article is one or the other without dissecting the wood. Both can be sanded and refinished until there is no more solid timber veneer left, which equates to dozens of times in its service life, but engineered wood is stronger and more cost-effective. Additionally, engineered wood can be installed above any flat surface with no need for glue or nails. Engineered wood is available in wider and longer plank options, whereas solid wood is thinner and shorter. This is because the stability is reduced as the planks get wider and longer.

Engineered wood flooring NZ

At Forté, our full range of engineered hardwood flooring offers the ideal combination of aesthetic appeal, sustainability, and long-term performance. Every board is pre-finished, making it easy for our nationwide network of approved contractors to install them efficiently.

Our strict quality control also ensures that each Forté flooring board is:

  • Sustainably sourced

  • Low in formaldehyde

  • Designed for New Zealand climates

  • Long-lasting in high-quality colour

  • Strong and robust

If you’re at all unsure as to which wood flooring option is best for you and your project, then speak with a member of our team first. While we genuinely believe engineered wood flooring to be the best overall solution for many projects, we will quickly be able to tell if your circumstances require a different application of timber.

Contact us today to find out more

Visit one of our Showrooms

If you have any queries about our products or need help with your project, we can provide you with expert advice. Visit one of our showrooms or book a consultation with our flooring experts today.