When shopping for wood flooring, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the choices. There are different sizes, different materials, different colors, different prices, and so on. The first thing you need to decide when shopping for wood flooring is the type of wood flooring you want. Here is a list of the different types of wood flooring available with the pros and cons of each.
Solid hardwood flooring is flooring made of one piece of wood. The wood can generally be refinished and sanded a few times (the thicker the wood, the more times it can be sanded and refinished). They are available both factory finished and unfinished. Unfinished hardwood will need to be sanded and a finish applied after they are installed. Unfinished hardwood floors are cheaper to purchase and you can get a custom finish to your specifications, but they require much more labor and additional time to sand, finish, and dry. Real hardwood floors should not be used in a basement.
Engineered hardwood is a thin layer of hardwood on top of plywood. Engineered hardwood is very stable since the wood below runs in different directions. It can be installed in basements since it expands and contracts less than solid hardwood. Unfortunately, it typically can't be refinished as many times as solid hardwood since the top layer is much thinner.
Bamboo is not actually a wood but a grass. The good news is that bamboo grows quickly so it is a renewable resource, but the bad news is that the process for making floors uses many chemicals and they have to be shipped from overseas using many fossil fuels. Bamboo should not be used in humid environments, such as a basement, since they can swell and crack.
Although it may look like wood, laminate "wood" flooring is a picture of wood stuck to compressed wood chips. It is typically easy to install, inexpensive, and very durable. The surface is water resistant, but don't get water in the joints. Since it is only a picture, it is not able to be refinished.
There are many wood looking plank vinyl floors available. These floors are extremely durable, totally water resistant, very easy to install, very inexpensive, and a great solution for a wet environment.
Wood looking ceramic or porcelain tile has become very popular recently. This is very trendy but does not mimic the look of hardwood very well.