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 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 a 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 or 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. There is value attached to real, solid hardwood flooring and tile installations that you will never get out of engineered wood or laminate. 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 engineered and solid hardwood flooring, both pros and cons, but that’s a different article. The bottom line is: 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.