Hard wood floors
If you're being advised that the 3/4" flooring is 'not good' for your part of the country, it's probably true. I know the FL is humid a great deal BUT if your home has a dehumidifier on your HVAC system, then obviously you can control the humidity. With that, you should reask your question: solid flooring vs. engineered flooring ...
Now, Pergo flooring is a disposable floor. When it's ruined, you throw it away. It's a laminated plastic; it's NOT wood. Since I have a bias towards solid wood, Pergo is FAR from receiving a recommendation from me, especially in your particular situation.
Engineered flooring comes in MANY varieties. There is refinishable and non-refinishable Engineered flooring. There is Engineered flooring that has 'soft' vs. 'hard' wood as its substrates. There are floating vs. non-floating floors. You need to ask questions as to how one floor 'performs' vs. another.
RE: Alumide - It's a type of finish that's supposedly VERY hard vs. standard poly, and it comes w/something like a 25 year warranty. I don't know what it would take to 'remove' that type of hard finish if your particular flooring needs to be refinished (assuming you buy a floor that CAN be refinished.) When it comes to refinishing a standard, poly floor, the sanders work fairly hard as it is. To add a VERY hard finish (when it comes time to remove it to refinish the wood floor), I suspect it will work all the harder. Hence, the refinishing cost would be higher. I'm not trying to deter you from this but I'd ask a few Retailers about refinishing (if it's what you're interested in doing.) H-T uses it. I dont' know of any other Mfgr. that does. It's a fairly new technology so, at least, ask questions AND be skeptical.
Now, since you asked, I'll give you my suggestion for your particular. The bedrooms (in my home) aren't used that much. Our 5 year old daughter doesn't really play in hers. In short, they're used for sleeping and changing clothes in. WITH THAT, there isn't much 'floor activity' in them. What this translates to, for you, is I think you're fine with installing an Engineered floor w/a traditional poly finish. (I'm assuming your bedrooms are on a 2nd floor; NOT on concrete as in a Ranch House. I would answer differently if you were on concrete.) I'd get a floor that can be refinished 2-3 times. You should get one that can be nailed or stapled; not glued. Stay away from floating floors because they have a 'hollow' sound in them AND they're annoying to hear downstairs. Be SURE you're installing over a plywood substrate. You can buy an Engineered floor that uses soft woods underneath. You DON'T need one that uses TRUE solid woods. (Soft woods will save you $$$ in this case.)
One VERY important thing I suggest you do is this: Get a copy of the Warranty AND the Installation Instructions even if you're NOT installing it yourself. Reading this info BEFORE you even buy the material will help you understand if the flooring is 'appropriate' for your particular situation. If the Retailer doesn't have this info, ctc. the Mfgr's. WEB Site, e-mail them, or call if necessary. Just be SURE you get the paperwork that applies to your situation. (You can always 'compare' it to what comes w/the material once you buy it, so SAVE it.)
I like Bruce for 3/4" solid flooring. Price and quality are just fine. Not that there's anything wrong w/ H-T's solid wood. As for Engineered flooring, if H-T has what you want, just get it. If Bruce has what you want, just get it from them. They're all comparable.
Well, I've said a lot. For now, good luck! My best to ya and hope this helps.
Jay J -Moderator
Jay's advice about using the traffic anticipated in the room as a guide is useful, but only if you want or need to cut corners. Otherwise, go with the best stuff available.
After researching it extensively and balancing the costs/benefits, I originally decided upon Universal Engineered Floors from Home Depot. The fact that engineered floors use only the top layer of premium wood and thus save money by using plywood milling for the rest of the layers made me think I would get a better floor for less by doing so. Also, because the plywood layers of Engineered wood floors are criss-crossed, they work together to avoid warping. I also liked the plan of "floating" the floor over foam because I have a concrete subfloor and wanted to cushion the floor.
Unfortunately, I think my reliance on Home Depot as the supplier limited my choices and led me to a bad choice. Before I installed the Universal flooring, I researched it some more at other stores and on the Internet, and developed a much better appreciation of the different types of Engineered wood and solid wood.
First, you can get solid wood floor direct from wholesalers off the Internet for less than anything available at Home Depot, which surprised me.
Second, not all engineered wood floors are created equally. They use different glues, different thicknesses, different number of layers, different finishes, and different quality "stuffing" for the lower layers. There is no magic rule such as "think is better" or "more layers are better." All thing being equal, those two guidelines are legitimate, but things are never quite equal. Thick top layers can be made of shoddy wood, and nice top layers of fine wood can be so thin that they will scratch off with a single, deep gouge.
Third, warping is not a huge problem on most wood floors, so that benefit of Engineered wood is not that great. Good installation should eliminate almost all warping, and warping can be fixed by nailing the offender down.
Fourth, the Universal floor product I bought comes in tiles that are three planks wide. They pitched it as making installation easier because you installed one-third the number of rows. Although it looked o.k. on the display at Home Depot, I finally saw some installed in a neighbor's apartment, and I could very easily see the seams every three planks, especially in the sunlight reflection near windows. It looked like a tile floor, not a plank wood floor. Some engineered wood products come in single-wide planks, but be advised that those that use multiple-plank widths do NOT look the same as those with single-plank widths.
Fifth, floated floors tend to produce an undesireable, cheap, "clicking" noise when walked upon with hard-soled shoes. Glueing is an option, but it often yields a surface that is no more comfortable than the subfloor. I did not want a concrete-hard wood floor. So I opted instead to lay down 3/4 inch plywood as a underlayment, and nail the wood floor to the underlayment for stability. Thus, I did not need engineered floors for my installation; I could go with either one.
Last, I came back to the ultimate point that I have been in 300 year-old homes and public buildings with still-beautiful, original, solid wood floors, and none with Engineered wood floors. Perhaps 300 years from now, people will talk differently, but Solid Wood has stood the test of time, whereas Engineered wood has not been able to do so. Cared for properly, I decided that solid wood floors would be the best bet, and nailing them down the preferred installation method.
The final decision is finished vs. unfinished. Although pre-finished floors significantly reduce the costs and hassles of installation, and although the factory-finishes are often smooth as silk and stronger than polyurethane, you need to have some bevel on the edges so that you do not have ridges. On unfinished floors, you just sand out the microscopic difference between plank heights, which creates a smooth, level surface that I wanted. By installing and finishing onsite, you also can create a truly sealed finish, where the polyurethane seeps between the microscopic seams between planks and seal them better. So I opted for unfinished solid wood.
[This message has been edited by Lawrence (edited August 25, 2001).]