The difference between solid and engineered hardwood flooring is a common question many consumers have when making the decision to beautify their living space with hardwood. While there are differences between solid and engineered flooring, the biggest factors in making the choice between the two will be your personal tastes and needs.
A common misconception between solid and engineered flooring is that engineered flooring is “fake” and contains no wood. Both types of flooring contain hardwood. The difference is in how the planks are constructed.
Solid wood flooring is any type of hardwood (whether it is strip or plank flooring) that is cut entirely from one solid piece of wood.
Engineered flooring consists of several different plies of wood glued together with the grains running in different directions. The surface can consist of either a very thin veneer or a thicker piece that can typically be sanded.
Engineered flooring is often called laminated because of the multiple layers. However, laminate flooring is not actually real wood at all. It’s a photographic image of wood that is made to simulate real wood or stone and covered with a thick melamine layer. Always make sure you’re buying a real wood floor!
Because of the difference in construction, solid and engineered flooring will behave differently.
Knowing where you can use both types will help make choosing between the two much easier.
Solid wood flooring is more susceptible to moisture and temperature changes. In the colder, dryer months the wood may shrink, resulting with minor gaps between each board. These minor gaps will close back up in the spring and summer months when the wood expands. Due to the expansion and contraction of solid wood, it can only be installed at or above ground level. Controlling your year-round indoor humidity levels will minimize any movement. The most common type of solid hardwood flooring is ¾” thick and will allow most species to be fully sanded 5-7 times and much more with some of the denser exotic species.
The construction of engineered wood flooring allows for greater stability when it comes to changes in temperature and humidity. Having the grain going in different directions, on each layer, allows for the wood to somewhat counteract itself when it comes to expansion and contraction. Engineered flooring can be installed below, on or above ground level. To give yourself options for long=term maintenance, make sure the wear layer of your engineered floor is at least 3/16” thick, providing enough thickness for 1-2 full sandings if needed.
Because of the differences between solid and engineered hardwood flooring, solid wood flooring is typically more expensive than engineered wood flooring. Both types look great when installed, and it is getting harder and harder for people to tell the difference.
Protect your investment. Buy a good quality flooring product, solid or engineered, and use a high-quality, recommended professional hardwood flooring contractor.
The range of styles and looks for both solid and engineered hardwood flooring gives you many different options that will fit any budget. However, while cost is important, consider how each type of flooring will behave in your home. Here are some questions to consider when making your final choice:
Where will my floor be installed? The location of your floor will be a strong limiting factor in floor choice. Solid wood flooring can only be installed at or above grade. Anything below grade will require engineered flooring.
What installation type can I use? Your existing subflooring may have an impact in your choice. Engineered flooring is more versatile and can be installed over many existing wooden and concrete sub-floors. Solid wood flooring is typically nailed to a wooden subfloor.
How often can I update my floor? Solid wood flooring allows for multiple re-sands throughout its lifetime, giving you the opportunity to change the look of your floor by keeping it updated with current styles, trends, and colors. Engineered hardwood flooring has limited re-sanding options.
With the advances in flooring technology, the look of solid and engineered hardwood floors are almost identical. While some may prefer the “prestige” of solid wood flooring, the practical applications of each will lead you to a more informed choice. Whatever you choose, proper care and maintenance are required to keep your floors looking great for years to come.
No matter what your floors are made of, we have effective floor cleaning systems that help protect and beautify your investment. Find the floor cleaner that best suits your floor.