Wood flooring for the residential market is made from local species as well as various exotic species. The boards, or planks, are sold either unfinished or prefinished. Unfinished wood floors require sanding and varnishing after installation, while prefinished planks are sanded and varnished at the factory, which eliminates the need to do this at home.
Engineered (or composite) wood looks very much like solid wood flooring. The planks are composed of several laminated layers of derivative wood products that are cross-layered and bonded together. The top layer is made from a local or exotic hardwood species.
Laminate flooring is made from several layers of synthetic materials (such as melamine resin) or recycled natural products (such as wood chips) that are bonded together under high pressure. The top layer is not wood but a detailed photographic image creating the look of wood (and in some cases, stone).
Also known as mosaic, parquet flooring consists of small strips of wood assembled into squares or rectangles (wood tiles). Parquet tile was at the height of its popularity several years ago but has now been largely superseded by prefinished hardwood or engineered wood floors.
Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak tree, which is native to the Mediterranean region. Cork has many qualities: it is water-repellent, rot-proof and non-allergenic, it has excellent heat- and sound-insulation as well as anti-vibration properties, and it acts as a fire retardant. Cork flooring comes in a range of textures and colours and can also be colour-stained.
Bamboo comes from the bamboo plant, most commonly found in the forests of South-East Asia. The hollow shoots are harvested, sliced into strips and assembled into flooring planks of 3' or 6' long, which can be installed just like hardwood flooring. Bamboo is a high-quality, stable and flexible material, comparable to red oak and maple in terms of stability and durability (hardness). It is scratch resistant and also helps reduce static electricity.