Engineered Hardwood or Solid Wood?

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When choosing hardwood flooring for your home, one thing you will want to think about is whether you want to go with engineered hardwood or solid wood. When asked to choose between the two, some homeowners react as if they are being spoken to in a foreign language! If you are one of them, do not fret. This article highlights the differences between both types of flooring so that you can make an informed decision as to which will work best in your home.

Engineered and Solid Wood Defined

Engineered wood is a layered product, meaning that the base is a high quality plywood with a thin slice of hardwood on top. Solid hardwood, on the other hand, is not layered as it is hardwood only, a homogeneous product from top to bottom.

Features of Solid Wood vs. Engineered Wood

Design Options: Both solid hardwood and engineered floors provide a wide range of design options including multi-tonal colors and hand-scraped woods. However, certain looks, like extra wide planks, may only be available in engineered wood.

Wood Species Options: Solid hardwood is available in wear resistant species like Oak, Maple and Hickory. Engineered hardwood offers all of these options as well as softer species including Birch, Cherry and Walnut and exotic woods like African Mahogany, Acacia and Tigerwood.

Installation: Engineered wood is easier to install than solid wood as there are a variety of installation methods available including nailing, fold and lock, or glue. Solid wood can only be nailed or stapled down and is never installed on a floating basis. However, engineered wood can also be installed in places where solid wood cannot such as in basements and over concrete floors or radiant heating systems.

Moisture Resistance: Engineered wood tends to be a bit more moisture resistant than solid wood. Its plywood base makes it dimensionally stable so that it warps and flexes less easily when in contact with moisture. The fibers in the plywood also run in cross-wise layers which are a more stable structure as compared to solid wood’s parallel fibers.

Thickness: Solid woods are traditionally ¾” thick in comparison with engineered flooring which is slightly thinner at 3/8” to ½”. This is why engineered wood cannot withstand sanding and refinishing as well as solid wood can. However, some engineered floors have a thicker top layer that allow them to be sanded several times. They are also a good choice if you need thinner wood for an existing space.

Durability: When it comes to durability, solid wood can be more durable because it is thicker. However, the fact that engineered wood holds up better to moisture makes it more of a draw between the two in this category since solid wood can experience significant expansion/contraction when exposed to liquids.

Green: The world is headed in a direction of becoming more sustainable so this is a great factor. Between the two, engineered hardwood is more eco-friendly as it contains at least two different types of wood adhered together. This meaning that the top layer can be a slower growing wood (such as oak) while the bottom is a faster growing species (like birch). However, wood overall is a great renewable resource as it uses less raw materials in creating as well as less energy and natural resources.

Cost: Engineered hardwood tends to be the winner if you’re constantly thinking about your budget. Although bear in mind that a number of factors can come into play, including plank size, lumber cost, as well as the cost and quality of glues (for the adhered layers in engineered flooring). Additional factors such as enhanced wood layers or special designs can also affect pricing.

Now that you understand the difference between engineered hardwood and solid wood, you are ready to make a choice that works best for you. Both options provide their own pros and cons which may make one more suited for your living space. Given this information, which will you decide is best for you?

Also, since we specialize in beautiful engineered hardwood floors, feel free to check out our catalog to see all of our different collections!

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