Solid Hardwood vs. Engineered Hardwood
About Solid Hardwood Flooring
Solid wood flooring is made of one piece of wood from top to bottom and can be used in any room that is on or above ground. One of the many benefits of solid wood flooring is it can be sanded and refinished many times.
About Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Engineered wood floors are also made of real wood, but include multiple layers, with the top layer (the wear layer) made of high-quality wood. Because engineered wood floors expand and contract less than solid wood flooring, they are ideal for basement installations. While this type of flooring can be sanded and refinished, it cannot be done as many times as solid wood flooring.
What’s the Difference?
The most commonly asked question asked by folks thinking about installing a new hardwood floor is the difference between solid and engineered hardwood flooring. Below, we break it down into the six areas that we find are most important in the decision-makings.
Solid hardwood flooring can generally be refinished many times because it can be sanded and re-sanded nearly all the way down to the tongue and groove of the boards. That could be as much as 1/4” or about one third of the thickness of the board and believe me, that’s a lot of sanding. But, most engineered floors can be sanded too, especially if you choose one with a thicker saw cut face. As a practical matter, for most residential uses, the new factory finishes are so durable that you will get a lifetime of carefree use before a new finish is ever needed. Refinishing, therefore usually becomes a secondary consideration in the selection process.
Versatility is always an important issue in choosing flooring. Today, engineered hardwood flooring is really quite versatile. It can be installed using either glue or staples, and as a result of recent developments in locking systems, now it can even “float”. It can also be installed over all types of sub-floors from suspended wood to concrete slab. Engineered hardwood flooring, given proper conditions, can be used below grade. Solid hardwood flooring, on the other hand, has the limiting requirement of needing to be stapled down over suspended floors – above grade. In order to fasten solid hardwood flooring over a concrete floor, plywood or firing strips would have to be installed first. It can be done, but it is time consuming and expensive.
Engineered hardwood flooring is generally thinner than solid hardwood. That means it can be used in many remodeling projects where a solid 3/4 inch solid floor would create a height problem. Engineered floors range in thickness from 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch
For the most part, hardwood flooring is quite dimensionally stable over time. Solid hardwood may, under certain climatic conditions, be subject to swelling or shrinking. Engineered hardwood flooring, on the other hand while still subject to slight movement is the better choice where extreme seasonal climate changes may cause problems. The plywood-like construction of an engineered floor gives it more dimensional stability.
Typically engineered hardwood flooring will cost you less than solid hardwood flooring for the same look because less of the valuable tree is used than with solid wood. Also, freight costs are lower because engineered flooring is lighter in weight and therefore less costly to transport. These factors also help make engineered flooring friendly to the environment.
If there is no limit to your imagination and no limit to your pocket book, then there is no limit to the variety of beautiful floors that can be created from custom patterns, imported exotic species and fine finishes. Some of the most expensive custom floors around the world are made from combinations of solid hardwood species, usually 3/4” thick. Solid hardwood floors do a better job of minimizing “bounce” over suspended floors. They convey a lasting sense of value and permanence to your home.